7 Painless Ways to Stay Healthy In The Office
“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.”
Anyone working in a desk-based job will know the daily — almost hourly — temptations that arise. Whether it’s a colleague offering home-baked cookies, or your team deciding to order takeout, it’s all too easy to get led astray.
Add to that eight hours of sitting in a chair, in front of a bright screen, all day long, often with high levels of stress … and you have a recipe for poor health. After running The Office Diet for five months, these are are my top seven ways to stay healthy in the office:
1. Take your own lunch.
I can’t stress this one enough. Pack your lunch in the morning; it needn’t be anything fancy, just fruit, a sandwich on wholegrain bread, and some raw veggies. The nutritional content is certain to be vastly superior to a mayo-gloop-laden, wilted-lettuce adorned creation from the sandwich bar round the corner from your office.
Plus, you’ll save a lot of money: taking five minutes in the morning to throw together some lunch could mean spending five dollars less a day … adding up to an extra hundred dollars in your pocket every month. Plenty to pay for gym membership, or some new workout gear.
2. Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Do you begin the day with good intentions, only to raid the office cookie jar when you feel peckish at 11am? Maybe, like me, you’re fine when snacks are out of sight, but find it very hard to turn down those cupcakes which your colleague is waving under your nose.
Stock up on some healthy snacks: wholegrain cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, easy-to-eat fruit like bananas, apples and satsumas. Ensure you have a few of these in your desk drawer, and they’ll make it much easier to resist the unhealthy fare.
3. Get outside in your lunch break.
It’s bad for your body and your mind to be stuck inside for eight or nine hours straight. If getting away from your desk for an hour seems impossible, read my tips on taking your full lunch break – and however busy you are, get out of the building every single day, even if it’s just to walk around the block.
Your lunch-hour is a great time to exercise; if you’ve got a gym nearby, power-walk there, and do a quick, intense workout. This will leave you refreshed and relaxed for the afternoon ahead, and is a great way to forget the stresses of work and enjoy a proper break.
4. Check your desk/immediate environment.
Keyboards and telephones harbour all sorts of bacterial nasties — especially if your desk is used by several people. Wipe handsets and keyboards regularly with anti-bacterial spray, and give your keyboard and mouse a thorough clean from time to time.
If your mouse is “sticking” when you move it, the rollers inside are probably clogged up with dust and fluff — take a toothbrush (or even a fingernail) to them. And your keyboard might not look too bad on the surface, but try putting a sheet of plain paper on your desk, turning the keyboard upside-down over it, and giving it a good shake. Then remember that the things which fall out are just the loose stuff… Borrow a can of compressed air from the IT department to get the rest of the gunk out.
5. Drink more water and less coffee.
Although some of us need that first cup of the morning to look like something resembling a human being rather than a zombie, over-consumption of coffee isn’t healthy. Turning to caffeine as a quick “wake-me-up” throughout the day will often leave you feeling overly buzzed and wired, and the surge of energy that follows a cup will be quickly followed by a slump … leading you to drink yet more coffee.
Plus, coffee and tea act as diuretics, dehydrating you. Regular office headaches can sometimes be blamed on stress and staring at a bright screen all day, but they’re often caused by mild dehydration. Try swapping every other cup of coffee for a glass of water, and see how much better you feel!
6. Get away (briefly) if you’re getting stressed.
I’m not advocating leaving work behind altogether and running for the hills (however tempting that might be), but if your stress levels are high, get up, walk around the corridors for a few minutes, and grab yourself a glass of water.
We all know how our bodies and minds react to stress: tense muscles, leading to shoulder and back-ache, poor posture (hunched over a keyboard, typing frantically), feeling angry, tearful or even despairing. Taking a two-minute break can snap you out of that feeling of being overwhelmed, and help you get immediate perspective.
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