Now that sitting is the new smoking, I needed to come up with things that make being in the office a lovely experience. I’m the first to admit that I can get so caught up in my work that I lose track of time. Then, I discover that I haven’t budged from my desk in hours.
Here are my top 10 ways to stay healthy and happy in the office:
1. Get the Pomodoro app that encourages you to take a regular break after intense, focused work.
Alternatively, I have a kitchen timer on my desk and use that to remind me to stop what I’m doing and take a break.
2. Keep a plant or fresh flowers in your office or on your desk.
Green is a calming color and some plants (e.g., spider plants) can refresh the air in a stale office. This is especially important if you can’t open a window. I’d also consider adding a salt lamp to ionize the air.
3. Have a light, healthy lunch so that you don’t get bogged down by carbohydrates that can make you sleepy.
Keep peppermint or herbal tea sachets in your desk for a refreshing pick-me-up instead of a caffeinated beverage. Too much caffeine can disturb your sleep for days, as it can take 48 hours to eliminate caffeine from the body. If you are prone to anxiety, you might want to avoid caffeine in all forms (including chocolate).
4. Keep eye drops by your computer if you tend to stare at the screen for a long time.
This will help prevent dry eyes. Check with your eye doctor on a good brand that is safe for frequent use.
5. Go for a 10 to 30 minute walk at lunchtime to get some fresh air and move your muscles.
Some of my executive coaching clients have a personal trainer come to the office to do a lunch time workout in a conference room. Make sure you check with your boss first to make sure this is okay. If you are lucky, then your boss will think it is a good idea. Maybe they’ll even pay for the trainer to give everyone a workout break.
6. Keep a bottle of filtered water by your desk.
Drink throughout the day to stay hydrated. Our body is mostly water and dry offices can suck the moisture right out of you.
7. If you need to do some focused work and can’t shut your office door for privacy, try a change of venue.
For example, book the conference room or ask your manager if you can work offsite so you can avoid the inevitable interruptions from colleagues. Alternatively, put on headphones to signal to others that you are focused. If you work in a cubicle with your back exposed, put a small mirror up so that you can see who is approaching you. This will also help make you feel more secure.
8. Do a few quick stretches to work the kinks out every hour.
Try a simple shoulder stretch while sitting in your chair. To do this, raise your arms as you inhale, interlace your fingers above your head, and push your palms toward the ceiling. Then bring your arms out in front of you and let your head drop as you push your arms out. As you inhale again, raise your palms back up to the ceiling. Do this a couple of times. Another simple chair stretch is to put your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Then raise your right ankle to rest over your left knee. Next, lean forward to rest your right elbow on your right knee and your left elbow on your left knee. Go gently, as this is a deep stretch for the right hip. Take five deep breaths while you hold this position. Then do the same on the other side. Heaven!
9. Build in more movement with a standing desk that can go up and down.
But don’t always leave it up–it isn’t good to stand all the time, either. Additionally, take the stairs whenever you can. Also, get up and make a cup of herbal tea or get some water. Maybe you get up and walk to speak to a colleague instead of calling or emailing. Whatever you can do to get some walking around in at work will help. Since I work at home, I take breaks by throwing in a load of laundry or weeding in the garden for a few minutes. I’m amazed that when I shift my focus, I often come up with better ideas.
10. Stay clear of the donuts and candy bars.
Instead, keep some healthy snacks in your desk (i.e., fresh or dried fruit and nuts). If you stay hydrated and don’t allow yourself to get overly hungry, it’s easier to avoid the vending machines or unhealthy treats brought into the office by others.