Whether you’ve always worked from home or the lifestyle is new to you due to COVID-19, you’re probably well aware by now that the benefits of WFH also come with their downsides. While not needing to commute every day or dress in your finest might be a perk, it has pitfalls of many varieties.
Migraines are the #1 work-related annoying that WFH folks are experiencing nowadays. Especially if you live with a partner, and even more-so if they also work from home. While we are allowed more control in our environments, eye fatigue and strain from staring at a laptop all day isn’t ideal. Here are all the ways that working from home is triggering migraines.
1. Too much screen-time and Zoom fatigue
Conferences and meetings were never fun, but they helped give you a break from all that screen time. If you’re stuck doing meetings on Zoom now, you’re pretty much immersing your eyes in blue light all day long. Luckily, there are orange light filters that can help reduce that screen-time, and hence reduce migraines. You can also add a screen time tracker onto your devices.
2. Lack of routine
At the office we have a routine, and it shouldn’t be any different at home. Routines that are regular are a blessing for migraine-prone folks. After all, change can be a major migraine initiator. If you’re dealing with lack of stability, consider a routine with staples like making tea, getting dressed in the morning, and setting arranged coffee breaks in order to avoid downing too many cups daily.
3. Working from the couch
We can’t all afford to have an office in our homes, but if you don’t have a proper chair and table (ideally a desk) but working from a couch can promote migraines, causing distractions and back pains. That back pain and migraines can come hand in hand, so see if you can purchase your own fancy ergonomic seat, or borrow one from the office until you save up. This can also cause poor positioning or posture, which can lead to tension and hence migraines.
4. Lack of blinds
Too much light, even sunlight, can be a bad thing. Super bright spaces aren’t too great for people prone to migraines, since they are frequently photosensitive individuals. Cosier investing in blinds or using the dimmers on your indoor lights. Working in the dark can also have these negative effects, even if it feels soothing to you and you’re used to watching movies in that environment.
5. Being distracted by housemates
Whether you live with roommates, kids, or a romantic partner, being distracted from the people you live with can be very headache-inducing. Often, family members or roomies don’t really respect WFH boundaries and just assume you’ll be around, or make a lot of noise that’s way worse than co-workers chomping on salad. The same goes for kids who are experiencing hybrid schooling.
6. Not taking breaks
Take more breaks — burnout when working from home is just as real! Just looking away from that screen once in a while or doing a quick workout can help prevent migraines from being triggered. This mentality can also cause you to work around the clock and neglect self-care, healthy eating, and sleep hygiene. These all increase stress (as well as insomnia induced migraine attacks), which are major migraine triggers.
How to tweak your set up to stop migraines in their tracks
- Since you do have control over many of the factors here, you can adjust the smells, sounds, and ambient light in your setup. Consider switching to warm light instead of cool lights, drink tea all day, and surround your home in smells that are soothing rather than triggering.
- In an office environment, we often forget to be consistent with hydrating and nutrition, but if you have the luxury of working from home, you can control these factors. You just have to be more aware of them. Set an alarm or reminder on your computer, if you need to.
- You can buy LED bulbs with green light, which can reduce migraine symptoms.
- If external factors like noise are bothering you, consider investing in noise-canceling headphones, which can help you tune out external stimuli while getting in the zone.
- Get an anti-glare screen cover, or set your computer to “Night Shift” if you have an Apple product. There are also anti-glare lenses and ones that filter out blue light, if you’re a regular glasses wearer.