It’s easy to ignore your health while at work. Maybe you’re confined to a chair all day, parked in front of a phone or computer. Or perhaps you’re constantly tempted by the humming candy machine across the hall.
Even with good intentions, incorporating healthy habits into your workday is not always easy. So what’s a businessman or woman to do? First, make your health a priority. This means not skipping meals, fitting exercise into your day, and securing a little ‘me time’.
Remember, healthy habits become habits through routine. Try integrating the following health-conscious practices into each workday.
1. Take a Walk
Desk jobs have their perks, but promoting fitness isn’t one of them. If you sit all day at work, then go home to rest and relax, you’re living a rather sedentary lifestyle. Even if your job requires you to be desk-bound, it’s still possible to fit exercise into your day.
Get up and stretch a few times every hour. Take a walk during your morning break. Do 10 wall pushups every time you go to the bathroom. These things take just minutes, but can have a big impact on your productivity.
Researchers agree. Several studies have shown that a short walk improves energy, mood and overall work performance.
2. Look Away
Your eyes are one of your most valuable assets. As so, it’s paramount to keep eye strain to a minimum.
Looking at your computer screen for hours on end can cause an abundance of visual symptoms. In fact, 50 to 90 percent of computer users suffer from the effects of computer vision syndrome, a condition resulting from focusing the eyes on a computer or other device for an extended, uninterrupted amount of time.
Give your eyes a break every 15 minutes by briefly looking away from the screen. Look at something around the room or out the window for a minute or two and let your eyes relax. Eyes feeling a little dry? Blink rapidly for several seconds to refresh the tear film.
3. Soak Up the Sun
Sunlight does more than light up our world. It also has healing and health properties. Moderate sun exposure is believed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, increase oxygen content in blood, cure depression, and build up the immune system.
If that isn’t enough, sunlight can also make your day at work a little brighter. By taking a few minutes of your day to step outside and into the sunlight, you can return to work in a better mood thanks to the release of serotonin in the body caused by sun exposure.
4. Drink Up
Skip the soda. Water is the best thing you can drink bar none. Consuming more water is also one of the easiest health habits to adopt.
Approximately 60 percent of the human body is composed of water. Each time you sip on H20, you’re helping to maintain the proper balance of fluids, while flushing out dangerous toxins. Water also helps the body to absorb nutrients for better digestion and prevents dehydration.
Increasing your daily water intake is easy. Carry around a water bottle with you throughout the day and leave a filled bottle on your desk. With it in direct sight, you’re bound to drink it. It’s human nature.
5. Get Organized
Piles of papers. Crammed files. Pens thrown about. This is the quintessential desk of an unorganized worker.
Having a clean and organized workspace is not just important for your professional image, it can also impact your health.
Let’s start with your physical health. Stacks of books and other materials can collect dust, pollen and lint, which create breathing hazards. Leaving empty food and candy wrappers can attract disease-carrying vermin.
How about your emotional health? A cluttered workspace can cause your productivity to plummet, your efficiency to drop, and your mood to shift. At the end of the day, all these things cost you time and money.
6. Stop and Refresh
It doesn’t matter where you work, what you do, or how much you love your job – everyone needs a break. Keep your workspace positive by stopping to de-stress and refresh throughout the day.
Everyone has different ways they relax. Maybe you like to meditate. For some a brief session of yoga works to calm the nerves and open the mind. When all else fails, just sit back, close your eyes, and clear your mind of anything negative.
Once you’ve recharged, you’ll be able to return to work at peak efficiency.
7. Talk It Out
While gossiping in the workplace can quickly turn into a bad habit, healthy conversation between colleagues can foster beneficial relationships.
While it may seem natural to only want to talk about work while at work, discussing your personal life can promote happiness through friendship. Strike up a conversation about food, sports or family. Steer clear of certain topics that could cause controversy, such as religion, salaries or politics.
Of course, you’ll want to keep the non-work-related conversations limited to breaks.
8. Fuel Your Body
Nutrition is just as important in the workplace as it is at home. Regular balanced meals promote weight management, reduce the risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, and enhances energy.
Consider having your next workplace meal with a colleague. One study suggests that employers may see a jump in productivity if they encourage their employees to eat meals together.
Food essentially acts as fuel for your body. To keep the machine going strong, you need to feed it a sound diet of fresh fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and heart-healthy fats.
To keep your energy levels up and fatigue down, don’t skip meals. If you’re constantly in a state of utter hunger when you get home from work, you may also want to consider having a light snack in the afternoons to tide you over and deter visits to the drive-thru.
9. Watch Your Posture
Sitting and slouching is an inevitable job hazard for many workers. At the end of the day, your back, neck and shoulders may pay for your poor posture.
Good ergonomics is key in the workplace. This means adjusting your chair to reduce strain on your back. Make sure that your wrists and forearms create a right angle with your body when typing on a keyboard or performing desk work.
When in a seated position, your feet should rest flat on the floor. Your computer screen should be eye level and be as anti-glare as possible. Keep your keyboard four to six inches away from the edge of the desk, and position your mouse as close as possible.
Make your work environment work efficiently for you by placing frequently used objects, such as your writing utensils, stapler and phone, within easy reach.
10. Bring Your Gear
It’s easy to blow off the gym when you’re not prepared to go. Bring your workout gear to work with you and you can scratch that excuse off the list.
Choose a high-quality workout bag large enough to hold all the essentials, like one of our popular LUXX bags.
Next, fill it with everything you might need at the gym, including an extra set of clothes, a good pair of sneakers, a refillable water bottle, protein-rich snacks, a microfiber towel, and of course your music-loaded smartphone or device to power through your workouts.
11. Limit Caffeine
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with caffeine. Sure it’s great in the morning and afternoons when you need a little pick-me-up. The downside? Too much caffeine can give you the jitters. As the effects of caffeine wear off, fatigue is likely to overwhelm you.
While quitting coffee or pop will give you more consistent energy levels throughout the day, not everyone can go through life without their morning cup o’ joe.
If you must consume caffeine, limit your intake at work. For the average healthy adult with no medical problems, the recommended daily allowance of caffeine is 300 mg to 400 mg per day if consumed without any ill effects.
This amount is equivalent to four 8 fl.oz. coffees, 5.2 shots of espresso, 11.7 12 fl.oz. Cokes, two 5-Hour Energy shots, or five 8 fl.oz Red Bulls.
12. Get Some Z’s
Sleep is oh-so important to our health. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough of it.
Sleep deprivation can have a slew of adverse health effects, including cognitive dysfunction, memory problems, moodiness, depression, weakened immune response, weight gain, high blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular problems.
When possible, take a power nap at work to restore your mental alertness and boost your energy, creativity, memory, and cognitive skills.
What exactly is a power nap? It’s described as a short nap during the day that lasts for approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
During this short spurt of sleep, the brain goes through a light sleep and the individual wakes before moving into a deeper sleep. This is crucial to avoid developing a sluggish or groggy feeling associated with a deeper state of sleep.
Have you ever stopped to think about how your worktime habits could be affecting your health? If not, you may want to consider adjusting your workweek habits to better benefit your health. By incorporating a few simple healthy habits, you’ll likely discover new-found energy, a positive change in your mood, and an overall increase in wellness. Sure, you may still hate waking up at the crack of dawn to go to work, but at least you’ll feel healthier and happier doing it.