I recently had the pleasure of being a guest speaker on Martha Stewart Radio. I was asked to speak to the audience on how to create a healthier and more relaxed work environment. We had a lot of great calls come in and it seems everyone, whether they they work in an office setting or at home, is looking to feel better, eat healthier, reduce stress and make the transition from home to work (and back!) more pleasant.
Being healthy at work doesn’t have to be more work. Even little changes add up to a healthier lifestyle.
Here are 20 simple tips to create better health and happiness at work.
1. Don’t boot up your email until you get into the office.
Working from 9 to 5 has become working 24/7. Don’t grab your phone the minute you wake up. Reserve this precious time for your morning rituals: showering, stretching, eating a healthy breakfast, spending a few moments with your family, taking the dog for a brisk walk. It’s OK and healthy to set boundaries.
2. Lay your clothes out the night before.
A huge time saver and stress reducer. There’s nothing more frustrating than hunting around for the right thing to wear while the clock is ticking.
3. Identify your energy levels and schedule your day accordingly.
What time of day do you feel the most creative? The most productive? Schedule bigger projects during these peak times and save the lower energy time of day for things like catching up on emails or going through paperwork.
4. Eat breakfast.
This is one of the top reasons people fizzle out a few hours into their day and end up craving junk later on. Eat a healthy breakfast. Opt for things like oatmeal with fresh berries and nuts, scrambled egg whites with fresh veggies, a green-protein smoothie, greek yogurt with flaxseeds, a banana or apple with nut butter, low-sugar granola with almond milk.
Avoid the bagel and pastries route. If eating first thing isn’t your deal, listen to your body and eat something healthy when you feel it’s best for you.
5. Get plants!
Green up your space and improve air quality while reducing stress and creating productivity. Tending to our plant helps remind us to be more eco-friendly and focus on world-related, health-conscious habits, too.
6. Have pictures around that make you happy.
Gazing at a picture of the beach, mountains, pets, or family members that you love helps improve your mood.
7. Sit up straight.
Good posture not only boosts your physical health, but also supports mental wellbeing. Sitting up straight helps strengthen core muscles, protects your back and some studies have shown sitting up straight reinforces confidence in decision making.
8. Stand up when taking calls.
Too much sitting increases inflammation, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Try standing up and walking or pacing in the office when you have to make a phone call.
9. Take movement breaks.
To get in the habit of taking breaks, try setting an alarm on your phone for every hour to remind yourself to stand up and stretch a bit, go for a short walk, or do other simple exercises.
10. Schedule walking meetings with coworkers.
Good for your body and your brain! You can also walk to visit a colleague instead of emailing them.
11. Surround yourself with positive affirmations.
Jot down positive affirmations and confidence boosters like “breathe,” “relax,” “eat clean” and “you are enough” on post-its and sprinkle them around your work space. Get creative and use bright, fun colors.
12. De-clutter your workspace.
Excess clutter causes stress and anxiety. Try setting aside at least 15 minutes in your day to tackle one specific area (a drawer or a stack of papers) and you’ll feel lighter right away.
13. Create a healthy stash.
Designate a small drawer or basket for your stash. Place healthy snacks and beverages inside, like trail mix, fresh fruit, roasted edamame, crisp breads, nut butter, 85% organic dark chocolate, organic dried fruit, almonds, walnuts and your favorite herbal teas.
14. Steer clear of the vending machines.
The candy bars, diet sodas, cookies and chips are always beckoning, but you have your stash!
15. Suggest healthier foods at the office.
Band together with co-workers and ask for a weekly fresh fruit delivery. When celebrating birthdays in the office, suggest ordering from a healthier bakery.
16. Lighten your lunch.
Eating heavy foods make us tired and sluggish. Avoid the bread basket and fried, fatty, creamy dishes. Shop the menu and opt for salads, steamed veggies, lean protein and broth-based soups. And anytime you can bring a healthy lunch from home, do it.
17. Think healthy hydration.
Not drinking enough water leaves us de-hydrated and prone to aches and pains. Skip the diet soda and drink plenty of water (with lemon/citrus) and herbal teas. We often confuse hunger with dehydration. Create your own vitamin water to help detox and flush the system.
18. Avoid the 3pm slump.
Instead of reaching for a sugary coffee drink or junk food, try going for a brisk walk, taking a break to stretch or having a ritual cup of herbal tea.
19. Do a seated cat-cow stretch.
Push your chair away from your desk and bring both feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands onto your thighs, just above your knees. As you inhale, arch the back and look up forward to the ceiling, keeping your shoulders down and back. On the exhale, round the spine and let your head slowly drop forward. Repeat for 5-8 breaths.
20. Take a one-minute mini-meditation.
Place your hand beneath your belly button so you can feel the gentle rise and fall as you breathe. Inhale and pause for a count of three. Exhale, pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation. You can even quietly repeat to yourself “I am” as you inhale, and “at peace” as you exhale.
We’re all burning the candles at both ends and technology has forced us to feel we should constantly be on and available at all times. The bottom line is, if we take better care of ourselves we are more focused, efficient, out sick less, and more productive.
We’d love to hear any tips you have for creating better health at work.