Following on from my blog last week, here’s a further 10 tips to help you stay healthy while at the office. One or two of these in isolation probably won’t make much of a difference to your everyday life however if you can introduce more and more of these into your office routine then you will notice sustained health benefits over a prolonged period of time.
1. Exercise at commute or lunch time
Can you turn your commute into a form of exercise? Can you walk, run or cycle to work? Maybe you can get out for a run during your lunch break? At a minimum you should be getting outside for a walk and to get some fresh air and clear your mind at lunch time. Struggling for healthy commuting ideas? Here's 25 that you can try.
2. Sit correctly
If you’re sitting at a desk all day then it’s important that the desk, computer and chair are all in the correct position so as to avoid unnecessary injury.
- You should have a good chair that can fully support your lower back. Your knees should be level with your hips so adjust the chair height, back position and tilt to accommodate this
- Wrists and forearms should be straight and level with the floor so adjust the chair height to allow for this. Elbows should be by the side of the body forming an L-shape with the arm at the elbow joint
- Feet should rest comfortably flat on the floor. Don’t cross your legs
- The screen should be directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at eye level. If not then adjust this however you can (I use 2 packets of photocopying paper to prop up my laptop!)
- Place keyboard directly in front of you with a gap of about 5 inches at the front of the desk so you can rest your wrists
3. Keep your distance if you’re sick
If you’re sick then don’t bring the germs to work with you. Many office workers have the option to work from home or at a separate location so if you’re unwell but still capable of working then do yourself and your colleagues a favour by keeping your germs away from the office. If you really have to be on site then try and keep your distance from your co-workers. If you mention that you’re not well then I’m sure people will understand why you are staying away from them!
4. Have some inspirational quotes or photos at your workspace
Cool photos of friends and family, especially if you have young children, can help remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. A bulletin board of tasks and to-do lists can be a great way to help you stay organised too. If you do have such a bulletin board, I think it would be rude not to have at least one inspirational quote up there as well. I’ve included a favourite of mine below. A quick glance at this can often give the motivation levels the boost they need.
5. Stand up meetings
I’m a big fan of stand up meetings. Standing is healthier than sitting so that’s benefit number one. You should also find that stand up meetings in general are shorter than regular meetings. People seem to get to the point a lot quicker and there’s usually very little time wasting. Why not introduce or suggest stand up meetings at your workplace? It’s not exactly revolutionary but it can add a fun element to the work environment as well as a health focus.
6. Take regular breaks
You should take a break from your computer screen every 30 to 40 minutes. Get up, stretch your legs, go for a walk around the floor. Even better, go outside for 5 minutes to get some fresh air. If there’s a smoker at your workplace I bet they take regular breaks? You should be doing the same (minus the cigarette of course!).
7. Reduce the noise
The modern office can be a loud place. Sometimes I find it difficult to concentrate when there’s a lot of hustle and bustle going on around me. If I need to get in the zone, I’ll try and find a quiet room to myself to get my work done. If that’s not an option then I can use my noise reducing earphones with some light music playing to drown out all the fuss around me. You’ll know what works best for you.
8. Get enough sleep
The last thing you want to do is fall asleep on the job! How much sleep do you actually need? There’s so many different reports on this that it can be confusing. The general consensus is that the average person needs between 7-9 hours sleep each night to function properly the next day. The magic number for me seems to be about 8 hours and I went into more detail on that in a separate article. Listen to what your body is telling you, if you’re constantly feeling tired during the day then it’s probable that you need more sleep. Don’t use coffee to substitute for lack of sleep. Get into a regular routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time and you should notice improvements over time.
9. Spend 5 minutes each day doing nothing
I love this one. I think I read a quote attributed to the Dalai Lama a number of years back mentioning this. 5 minutes is the bare minimum, take more time if you have it. I usually do this just before going to bed. It helps clear the mind and (usually) sets me up for a good night’s sleep. The idea is to find a quiet place to relax, then try to clear your mind of all thoughts and worries. Easier said than done I’ll admit however you can teach yourself to do this. Use a meditation podcast or app if you’re struggling. The Calm app is a great place to get started. Like anything, practice makes perfect!
10. Change your work environment, even temporarily
Sometimes it’s impossible to have privacy in the open office, sometimes it’s really difficult to concentrate when you’re up against a deadline or when you’re co-workers around you are focused on a completely different task. Can you try to work remotely on occasion? Can you take a laptop to a cafe to work? What about working from home one day a week? If that's not possible, then schedule meetings off-site. Even a small bit of privacy and a change of scenery may result in you feeling less tense and accomplishing more than you might have when surrounded by distractions.
With the above recommendations and our previous article you now have 20 tips to get you started on a path to a healthier and more positive office lifestyle. Don’t wait any longer, start introducing these changes into your work life today. These tips in conjunction with regular exercise and healthy eating can promote real health benefits for you and your colleagues. Spread the word to your co-workers today and be sure to keep us updated on your progress!
Yours in health,
P.S I love talking about wellness so feel free to drop me a line to discuss any of the above. Contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Low Down
Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant specialising in the design, improvement and auditing of wellness initiatives for Irish businesses. He is the founder of Office Worker Health, a platform dedicated to promoting health and wellbeing to the working population.
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