How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle When Working in an Office
Working in an office has its fair share of positives – most people who have worked in one will tell you stories of the sense of culture, team bonding events and the (often wild!) staff Christmas parties that they’ve encountered over the years. However, working in an office can have some challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
In this blog, we will unpack aspects of maintaining a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle when working in an office environment.
Being physically healthy doesn’t always mean you have to smash out a gym session every morning at 5am. In one of our recent blog posts, we delve into detail about 4 Ways to Stay Active While Working a Desk Job, however, there are other you can look after your physical health when you work in an office.
Make your commute more active –while it might not be feasible for everyone to walk to work every day, there is always a way to add some exercise into your morning routine. Try to add in a walk, run or cycle on your office commute – it doesn’t have to be the whole way either, part-active commutes also help to get you moving. When you get to work and throughout your day, try to take the stairs rather than the lift or park further away from the building than you usually would. It might take a few extra minutes, but it’s another simple way to get your body moving.
Stretch (discretely!) at your desk – some workplaces have gotten more proactive at adding stretching into their daily routines, but sometimes, not everyone will feel comfortable stretching in front of people, or even feel like they have time to stand up and do some stretching. We spoke to WorkFocus Australia’s Exercise Physiologist, Emma Falkenberg about some stretches you can do at your desk without drawing attention to yourself. ‘I love a seated figure four-stretch for the glutes, as well as anything for the neck and shoulders’ she says. ‘Taking your ear down towards your shoulder is nice and simple, as well as some slow neck rolls.’
Meal prep – working professionals often complain about being time-poor, so it should come as no surprise that this carries over to what they are eating too. Fast food and other ready-made meals are often the easiest solutions to a busy schedule. However, they’re not always the healthiest. Giving your body the correct fuel is important for optimal performance throughout the day. If you are a 9-5 weekday worker, why not take one day of your weekend to do some meal prep for the coming week? It’s definitely not the most enjoyable way to spend your weekend, but we guarantee future you will be grateful for it!
Check out some great meal prep ideas here.
Watch your posture – shoulders back, stand up straight - we can practically hear our mothers telling us not to slouch! Having good posture is important to your overall health – probably more than you realise. Reduced back pain, fewer headaches and increased energy levels are all benefits of good posture. ‘To promote good posture, try actively rolling your shoulders back and down, as well as giving your shoulder blades a gentle squeeze to reset your posture,’ Emma says.
Drink lots of water – this is a no-brainer but it’s something we don’t often think about, and that’s drinking plenty of water – even when you’re not thirsty. So many of us wait until our throat starts to feel dry before taking a sip, but it’s important to drink constantly throughout the day to ensure your body is adequately hydrated. Try to keep a big water bottle on your desk with a goal to drink a certain amount per hour or day. If this doesn’t work, you can also set an alarm on your phone every hour to have a quick stretch and drink.
Schedule in time for exercise – the thought of having to pump yourself up to work out before or after work can be draining – especially if you’re not an early riser naturally and need to find some extra motivation after work to exercise when all you want to do is binge watch Netflix! Scheduling in time to work out will give you more motivation to exercise, as you know that it’s coming and can plan for it during the day.
Reimagine your workstation – to keep your body and posture healthy, perhaps try reimagining your workstation. There are so many different office ergonomic options that range from sit-to-stand desks, using exercise balls for posture, or investing in a good office chair, that you could be doing that work wonders to your body by making small changes.
Join a gym close to work – if your local gym is nowhere near work and you’re worried about making it on time in the morning, or by the time you’ve driven from work to the gym near your house you feel far too unmotivated to go inside and work out, how about joining a gym closer to your work? That way, you can either hit the gym on the way to work or go after work without having to stress about running late or losing your motivation on the drive over.
We’ve taken a look at some ways to keep your body physically healthy, but mental health is an equally important aspect when working in an office job. Over the past year, office jobs have changed how they look, with working from home becoming a new normal for some office workers. Here are some ways that you can ensure you are looking after your mental health when working from the office, to make certain that you’re living a healthy lifestyle.
Meditate or practice mindfulness – when was the last time you truly stopped and appreciated the world around you? We are so busy now that it’s so easy to forget to practice mindfulness and enjoy the smaller things in life. Practicing mindfulness or meditating each day will help you to become more self-aware and allow you to ground yourself in stressful situations.
Switch off – with everything being online these days, when we leave work a lot of us don’t truly ‘leave work’, with our smartphones and laptops still giving us access to our work emails and programs. Although the line may have gotten a little blurred when working from home, train your body to save your home for relaxation and ‘you’ time, and work for work. Better yet, try and have an hour each night where you turn your phone off or leave it in another room, to give your mind a break from endless scrolling.
Take proper breaks – sorry but a lunch break isn’t eating at your desk while still working! No matter how busy you are, to keep being healthy make sure you are using your lunch break to actually have a break. Physically eat lunch in the staff room or somewhere away from your desk where you won’t be tempted to check your emails. If you struggle with this, have a teammate hold you accountable and get them to be your lunch buddy.
Talk to someone – one of our greatest fears as humans is often opening up to someone and telling them how we feel. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting help and telling someone that you are struggling. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, or family member, reaching out is a sign of strength. If you notice a workmate struggling, ask them if they are ok and offer to listen if there’s something wrong that they want to get off their chest. For professional help, there are a number of services available including Headspace, Lifeline and Beyond Blue.
Living a healthy lifestyle as an office worker can often be difficult as it is quite easy to fall into an unhealthy routine. From meal prep to mindfulness, there are so many simple ways to ensure that you are looking after your body and mind at work, to make sure that you are living your healthiest possible life!