Derval O'Rourke: Home-working health tips and mid-week noodles

Plus: Mid-week noodles with a five-minute prep time with a recipe from the Ireland's Fittest Family coach
Derval O'Rourke: Home-working health tips and mid-week noodles

Mid-week noodles: quick, easy and satisfying

In the past 12 months lots of us have needed to adapt to working from home. It has been a surreal experience for lots of us and this week I want to share my top tips for a healthy work- life balance. I will also share a recipe that is great for whipping up quickly at home — my mid-week noodles.

1) Physical activity

Though the days are short and darkness falls quickly, try your best to get in some physical activity. Aim to get outdoors at least once a day. Even if that is simply going outside your door and taking a minute to get some fresh air into your lungs.

While you are indoors and mainly at your desk there is still potential for you to stay physically active.

A few things you can do:

— Going up and down the stairs, this will help with your steps and keep you moving through the day.

— Getting onto the floor and doing some stretches (focusing on your back and shoulders if you’re sitting at a desk)

— Do a mini workout (20 jumping jacks, 20 squats, 10 push-ups, high knees for 20 seconds — repeat twice)

2) Stick to a schedule

Try your best to maintain a regular routine when you are working from home. It can be tempting for a lot of people to do that “one last email” or a “quick phone call”. Setting yourself a regular clock-in and clock-out time and ensuring you stick to it as closely as possible, will help support you in a healthy work-life balance.

It is important to create a clear boundary between your personal and work life, to reduce the likelihood of burn-out.

Personally, I don’t have email notifications turned on on the phone. This means that I choose when to engage with emails and when not to. I put my phone on silent regularly and give myself time to detach from work.

3) The Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique was designed to help people to maintain a good level of productivity and complete their tasks in a timely manner.

To try the Pomodoro technique see these steps:

· Get a to-do list and a timer.

· Set your timer for 25 minutes, and focus on a single task until the timer rings.

· When your session ends, mark off one Pomodoro and record what you completed.

· Then enjoy a five-minute break.

· After four Pomodoros, take a longer, more restorative 15-30-minute break.

To check out more details on the Pomodoro technique and learn about the effectiveness of it, you can read more about it here.

4) Actually, take your breaks.

The greatest challenge for me from adapting to working from home has been to take breaks. I like to take a few minutes of a break in the mornings and a lunch break followed by a few minutes of a break in the afternoon. The challenge in this is that I’m often juggling my kids with my work. I recently had to accept that I cannot be all things to all people and while trying to juggle at home I needed to mind myself, if that means the kids get extra screen time to give me a few minutes to have a break then it’s important that I do that.

5) Your work environment

You likely didn’t plan to work from home, so maybe your setup is not the most ideal. There are a couple of factors you can focus on, to provide you with a healthier and more comfortable work space.

 — Allow yourself plenty of space. Use a large desk if possible and dedicate a room to being the 'office'. It is best practice that the room you will create your office in, is not your bedroom. This just helps with a healthy work-life balance and stops you creating a correlation of 'bedroom = work, when it’s supposed to be 'bedroom = rest'.

If you have no choice other than to use your bedroom, try to have a distance between the desk and bed. If it’s possible at all to have some sort of divider up, that helps it seem like there is a physical boundary splitting the room up, go for it!

— Use natural lighting. Work in a room that offers plenty of natural light and open a window for some fresh air. The natural light cycle of the day is much better for the eyes, rather than relying on a static white light. It also decreases the chances of headaches and eyestrain.

— Be aware of your set-up ergonomically:

— Chair quality: is it supporting your back?

— Monitor or laptop: do you need a second monitor or maybe invest in a laptop stand?

—Keyboard and mouse: are they in comfortable reaching position?

I am fully aware that many people were thrown into a position they may never have anticipated. It’s possible that some of these tips still might not be easily applied but even if you could be mindful of creating a healthy balance and try your best to create a healthy workspace by trying one of these tips, it might just help.

Health Tip: Think of three exercises or movements you enjoy doing and create a mini-workout from them. I mentioned above: jumping jacks, squats and push-ups. You can also try sit-ups, lunges etc — get creative with it.

Wellness Tip: Do a quick analysis of your home office and see if there are any small changes you can make to improve the space. This might be purchasing a back-support or a better keyboard. Small changes make all the difference.

Derval O'Rourke: "small changes can make all the difference."
Derval O'Rourke: "small changes can make all the difference."

Recipe: Mid-Week Noodles

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Serves: 2


  • 1 tbsp of oil (whatever oil you have at home)
  • 1 packet of stir-fry vegetable mix (1 handful of stir fry veg of your choice, I suggest carrots, peppers, courgettes, and spring onion)
  • 2 tsp garlic (2 tsp of garlic cloves minced)
  • 2 tsp crushed ginger
  • 3 tbsp dark soy
  • 1 packet of straight-to-wok rice noodles
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds, to garnish


1. Heat the walnut oil in the pan; add the vegetables and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, and continue to cook until the vegetables are slightly softened.

3. Add in the noodles and cook until heated through — roughly 2-3 minutes.

4. Squeeze the lime juice over them and drizzle with sesame oil, toss well to combine.

5. Serve sprinkled with some lightly-toasted sesame seeds and enjoy

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