Infuse Your Workday with Wellness
Does the phrase “burning the candle at both ends” ring true for you?
If looming deadlines, office politics, the constant stress of technology, and lack of free time have got you practically living at the office, your physical and mental stress may be begging for balance.
The good news is that you can create a healthier and more relaxed work environment to help you feel better, look better, eat healthier, get more physical activity, and reduce stress with these ten simple changes…
1. Start the Workday With a Healthy Breakfast
The number one reason why your candle burns out before noon, not to mention the prime reason for that daily 3pm snack attack, is that you don’t eat a nutritious breakfast, or gasp, you don’t eat breakfast at all! Focus on morning meals that are high in complex carbohydrates (like oats), low fat proteins (like Greek yogurt or low almond milk), healthy fats (like nuts and eggs), and fresh fruits and veggies. If you don’t eat breakfast, start with a light bowl of yogurt and fruit, and be sure to steer clear of white starches (i.e., white bread and bagels) and sugar-filled pastries.
2. Set Status to Unavailable
If you’re practically attached to your work smartphone, laptop, or tablet, do yourself a big favor and ban work from your at home, relaxation time. That means, you can make yourself available during work hours, but unplug from work when you get home—this applies even if you work from home. These healthy boundaries will allow you to focus on what’s important (family, pets, friends, social activities, hobbies, and you) when you’re out-of-office so you can return to work productive and refueled the following day.
3. Grow Vegetation
So you don’t go vegetative at your desk mid-day, spruce up your workspace with a bit of greenery—plants, mini shrubs, and even herbs. Growing plants will help to detoxify stale office air of harmful chemicals and toxins (found in furniture and carpeting), reduce oxidative stress (or counteract free radical damage on the body), and bring a little of the outdoors, indoors.
4. Posture Perfect
Sitting up straight like your mother told you to is actually good for your health—thanks mom! Physically, maintaining good posture in your desk chair protects your back from repetitive injury and supports the muscles in your core. But there are mental benefits too, according to research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, impressive posture boosts self confidence reinforces confidence. So show yourself some self-love by pulling those shoulders back and lifting that chest and chin forward!
5. Take a Little Stroll
Even if I only have a 20-minute lunch break, I use that time to leave the office and take a brisk walk around the block. If you sit most of the day, it’s important to stand and stretch frequently during the day to prevent repetitive stress injuries. So make an excuse to go the bathroom on another floor, get coffee at the farthest work kitchen, and volunteer to run for office supplies when a coworker needs more paper clips.
6. Make Face Time
I know it’s much easier and faster to email your boss back—even though his or her desk is less than 50 feet from yours. However, making face time, or actually addressing a question or conversation in person, will support human collaboration and team work, keep your brain active, and break up the time you spend sitting in a chair all day long.
7. De-Clutter to De-Stress
If your desk has a stress-filled cloud looming over it, take a look at your messy desk. If you work in a cluttered environment, chances are it’s stressing you out, according to a study published in Psychology Today. Findings support the fact that clutter sends signals to our brains that we have unfinished work by overloading us with visual and tactile stimuli and distracting us from the project at hand. So take a quick 10-minutes before the end of the day and straighten your workspace so you don’t return to work anxious and overwhelmed.
8. Squirrel Away Healthy Snacks
Take inspiration from the squirrel. Our furry friend always ensures that he has healthy snacks at hand so he doesn’t get hungry during winter. Stash a healthy array of fruit, raw almonds, trail mix, natural granola bars, and herbal teas in your desk drawer to prevent a vending machine dash for Cheetos or chips at 3pm.
9. Drink Plenty of Water
One common source of mistaken hunger is dehydration. We often feel like a snack, when in fact we’re actually in need of h20. So fill a large water bottle and keep it desk side all day. When it’s empty, either refill or make a trip to the coffee station for a hydrating herbal tea. If you don’t like the taste of plain old water, try slicing lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber for a lively infused water.
10. S-T-R-E-T-C-H and Breathe
“Take a breather,” you understand the importance of this term, and should take it literally, when the stress sets in. Daily mini breathers can be practiced as needed throughout the day to reduce stress and muscle pains, improve concentration, lower blood pressure, and calm your mind and body. In fact, Laura Maciuika, clinical psychologist and author of Conscious Calm: Keys to Freedom from Stress and Worry, suggests taking a brief mini mediation with gentle stretching on your lunch hour, whenever you feel anxious throughout the day, and at the end of the workday to create a clear boundary between work and the rest of your evening.
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