How can I be healthy at work if I sit at my desk all day?
So many jobs today require that you spend a large amount of time glued to your computer, from the minute you walk in the office, till the minute you walk out. This can take a serious toll on your health, whether it’s on your eyes from staring for too long at the screen, or your back from sitting for too long. So what are some simple things you can do to look after your health at work?
Move at least every hour
Even if you’re really busy try to at least get out of your chair every hour. Walk to the bathroom or get a drink, you might even try delivering that message to your colleague on the other side of the office in person rather than via email. An easy way to make sure that you don’t miss this hourly ritual is to set an alarm on your phone or to find an App that reminds you to move so you don’t have to think consciously about how much time has passed.
Look away from your screen
The blue light from your computer screen and your other devices can lead to eye strain. This might cause you to feel fatigued or to have dry eyes which can be exacerbated by bad lighting and how you sit in front of your computer. An easy way to fix this is to install an extension or alarm on your computer that tells you that you need to rest your eyes or look away from your computer screen after a certain period of time (for example it could go off every 15 minutes).
Another interesting tool for this is Flux a free software tool you can download onto your computer which automatically adapts your computer colour temperature according to the time of day to support your eyes. It helps to reduce eye strain during the night-time and also to avoid disruption to sleep patterns due to the blue light which can keep you awake.
Spend lunch away from your desk
It may be tempting to spend lunch at your desk reading the news or on social media, but is there something more active you can do? Is there a lunch spot a little further away that you could walk to, or a shop that you would like to visit which will help to add to your total steps for the day?
Create a micro-movement plan
Every hour or two hours stand up and repeat a sequence of 4-5 different movements to release tension and move the body. This could include squats, star jumps or more static exercises like stretches. Any movement is better than just sitting stationed at your desk.
Keep moving every day
A simple way to check your current activity status is to track your steps. Whether you use a pedometer or your phone, the average person should be aiming for around 10,000 steps or more per day. This piece of data could encourage you to get out walking before work or to take the stairs instead of the lift, all small actions that will add up to a big positive ongoing impact. Other options might also include getting more involved with the fitness options available in your local area (like Park Run) or in your office like your company’s running team or their discounted gym membership options.
Have a moment of silence every day
Offices can be chaotic places where a moments silence is difficult to find. On your lunch break or as you leave the office you might like to try and spend 2-3 minutes just breathing in silence. This will help to slow your mind down, or to make you actively aware of how fast your mind is currently racing. This is a great post-work activity before you reach home, so that you can relax as you get in the door, not let your mind continue racing into the evening.
Try to engage meaningfully at least once a day
Sometimes organisations can be so frantic that you get to the end of the day and you realise that you haven’t talked about anything besides the priority tasks. This can seem necessary, but over time, if this is the status quo, you, your team and your organisation will start to get pretty lonely. Try no matter how busy you are, to have one meaningful check in with your colleagues or even your friends outside of work each day. It doesn’t need to be especially deep and meaningful, but it is important to feel like you’re regularly connecting with people around more than just spreadsheets and ‘to do’s’.
Bring some nature into the office
It may sound a little bit boho or hippy but sometimes just having more references to the natural world, whether it is air flow, a view of the ocean or plants in the office will help to bring more vitality to your day. Even a simple succulent for your office table could bring you a little bit more joy each day.
Take your nutrition and food seriously
What you put in your body is key to building a healthy and sustainable approach to work. Spend some time thinking about how you can better fuel your body for work. For example, you might focus on lowering the amount of caffeine your consuming, or planning ahead with healthier desk snacks to avoid the afternoon urge to eat your entire work kitchens stock of cookies and chocolates. One of the keys to this is planning ahead and making sure you have an attractive healthy alternative.
Break up your computer time
Try to find at least one task you can complete without using your computer each day. It might be a face-to-face meeting, a creative brainstorming activity or a reflective exercise that will give your brain and eyes some time to relax away from the screen.
Experiment and find what works for you!
There is no one size fits all approach to creating healthier habits in the workplace. We recommend that you run a range of small experiments to test out what works for you.