For most of us, sitting at a desk for at least 40 hours a week is the norm. We stare at computer screens, type and use a mouse. All of these limited, repeated actions can cause lower back aches, headaches and possibly even lead to exhaustion.
We all have a lot to accomplish every day, but we shouldn’t forget about ourselves and our health in the process. We will never be able to put 100% into our work and personal life if we're not taking care of ourselves. That is when self-care at work becomes super important.
Here are some quick small adjustments you can make during the day to reduce stress, feel better and have enough energy to exercise after your work day.
1. Never Skip Breakfast!
Before you even get to work make sure you have had a filling and energizing breakfast. This will help keep you alert and focused on your work tasks. Some healthy breakfasts suggestions are oatmeal, steel cut oats, a green smoothie with kale, spinach, bananas and other fruit, or organic eggs anyway you like them with whole grain toast.
2. Don’t Just Sit There
Sitting all day is not good for your body. Try doing what you normally do sitting down...but do it standing up. You can make a phone call or even type this way. The more you can stand during the day the better your body will feel after your work day is over. Also take a walk around the office every hour to get water and stretch your legs.
3. Stretch At Your Desk
There are simple stretches you can do at work every day to keep your body free of pain.
a. Do shoulder rolls back and forth every 20 minutes. We hold a lot of tension in our shoulders, so envision that stressful project you are working on just rolling off your back with each shoulder roll.
b. Stretch your neck. Tilt your left ear to your left shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Then do the right side by bringing your right ear close to your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Do this every hour.
c. Interlock your hands behind your back and straighten your arms. This will stretch your shoulders and arms.
d. Release your lower back by doing a seated forward fold at your desk. Sit in your chair and just hang over your legs and let your arms dangle. You can also do this standing up.
e. Your posture is important. Sit nice and tall with your feet on the ground.
4. Eat Better Snacks
Avoid the vending machines. They are usually full of white carbohydrates and artificial sugars, which will only give you limited energy before bringing your energy levels down (and you will feel like you need a nap). Keep snacks like almonds in your desk drawer -- just a handful of almonds give you plenty of protein for your lasting energy.
5. Drink Plenty of H20
I can’t stress this enough: drinking water is very important. Our bodies are mostly made up of water and in order to function properly we need to keep hydrating. Aim to drink at least one glass of water an hour. This will keep your energy level up and it is a great excuse to rise from your desk and walk to the water bubbler to exercise your legs.
6. Take Care Of Your Eyes
Try to not stare at the computer screen all day. A good practice is to look away from the screen every 20 minutes and stare at something in the distance for a minute. This gives your eyes a break from being so close to the computer screen. Or try closing your eyes every 20 minutes -- whatever feels the best for your eyes.
7. Eat Lunch And Enjoy It
I remember in my early twenties I ate lunch every single day at my desk. I would also eat too fast and then feel bloated. Now I take my lunch break away from my desk and eat nurturing, energizing foods. I like salads with beans on top, warm soups and stews and stir fry veggies with brown rice. By enjoying this time I recharge my body and mind so I am ready to tackle whatever happens in my afternoon. If you are so swamped at work that you can’t go outside, try and find a place you can eat in your office that is not at your desk.
Always remember to know your true limits. It is important to create balance in your work and personal life so you can be healthy and happy. Don’t forget to add fun into your life and take your vacation time. It is there to help you recharge, relax and have adventures.