How to Take Care of Yourself When You Work at a Desk All Day
If you work a desk job, whether from home or in an office, you already know it's not the healthiest thing to do for 8 hours a day. Being sedentary and sitting for hours is not good for the body or the mind. The good news is that you can make changes that are good for you and still get your desk work done. Here are some helpful tips to take care of yourself while maintaining your productivity. How many of these things do you already do? Do you have any other tips to add?
HEALTHY TIPS WHEN WORKING AT A DESK ALL DAY
Give yourself mindful morning time
How you start your day sets the tone for the remainder of it. If you're frazzled from the moment you wake up, it's likely you'll feel frazzled all day long. Take a few minutes each morning to do something that starts your day in the right way whether it's enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, writing in a journal, setting your daily goals, or just taking a few mindful minutes to mentally prepare for the day ahead.
Make your workspace a happy place
When you arrive at your desk each morning, you want it to feel welcoming. If you leave it messy at the end of the work day, it's not going to be a very welcoming place to start your next one. Take a few minutes at the end of day to straighten up papers and piles—and do some quick organizing. You spend 40 hours of your week here, so make it feel as welcoming and comfortable in whatever ways you are able. Your favorite photos, potted plants, inspiring quotes are all good options—whatever makes your work space feel happier, fill it with those things.
The ergonomics of your office chair, desk, keyboard and monitor all matter a lot when you spend 8 hours of the day in one place. You want to make it as easy on yourself and your body as possible. Look into your ergonomic options and make changes where needed. Your back, neck, hands, wrists and eyes are things you want to invest in now and for the long term.
Take screen breaks
We've all heard how too much screen time is bad for all of us. It's not just a mental thing, it's a physical one too. Your eyes definitely need a break. It's recommended that you look away from your screen at least every 20 minutes. You can practice the 20-20-20 rule which can help with eye strain. All you need to do is take a break every 20 minutes or so to stare at an object about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps to give your eyes a break from focusing on a bright screen that is close to you. Make this rule a habit, and you’ll feel the difference in your eyes over time.
Stand up hourly
Stand up and get moving as often as you can to counterbalance how much sedentary time you're spending sitting in a chair. If you have an Apple watch, you already have a Stand Reminder built in that encourages you to do it at least once every hour for 12 hours. If not, you can set an alarm or use Siri, Alexa, or any of the modern voice assistants to set your reminders and stand goals.
You definitely want to make time to stretch throughout the day and work in movement whenever you can. It's not only good for your body, but it helps your brain too. You'll feel more revitalized and refreshed when you take time out to stretch. However you do it is up to you, but you can find helpful deskercise stretches here.
Make meetings on the move
If you're not tied to your desk for meetings, then try to use that time to move. Bring your headphones for audio meetings or schedule your in-person meetings outside where you can walk and talk. These are wonderful opportunities in your day to break away from your desk and get your blood circulating and your creative juices flowing!
Walk whenever you can
Even if you can't walk during your meetings, you can use other breaks in the day to get moving and get outside if at all possible. Split your lunch break in half and use the first part to eat and the second to walk. Even a 15-minute desk break is enough for you to get some steps in.
Be active before and after work
Allow yourself a little bit of time before and after work to add more activity into your day. It can be as simple as walking a few laps around the building or parking lot. Meet a coworker in a nearby park for a walk after work. You can also take a workout class after work but before you get home, so that you're sure to fit it in before the rest of your day's demands consume your time.
Drink water and lots of it
You may not feel like you need to drink much water if you're spending a great portion of your day at your desk, but you do! You need it to stay hydrated, keep your brain functioning optimally, and to flush out toxins. As an added benefit, it will force you to get up and take more bathroom breaks which absolutely count toward your daily movement.
It's entirely too easy to snack on unhealthy things that are readily available at your home or office. From the donuts in the break room to the candy dish at the reception desk, you won't have a hard time finding a quick, sugary snack. Instead, be proactive by bringing some of your own healthy snacks to your desk so that you are prepared when hunger strikes. Nuts, fruit, and protein bars are better options than the previously mentioned.
Trade coffee for herbal tea
We all know that 3pm slump that tends to happen each work day. You may be drawn to the coffee machine or the soda machine for an afternoon boost, but we encourage you to trade that for a healthier option like herbal tea that comes in a variety of flavors and doesn't require added sugar.
Skip eating out for lunch every day
You may be tempted to go out to eat over your lunch break, especially if you work in an office setting where others are inviting you to join. That's fine every once in a while, but eating out every day leaves too many unhealthy options on the table (literally) and you don't really know all that's going into your meal. Instead, pack your own lunch and be in control of what you're consuming. It can be as easy as leftovers from last night's dinner paired with some fruit or veg. Or you can take the time to pack a quick salad or sandwich that is both filling and satisfying. Here are some wonderful and healthful office lunch ideas for you if you need them.
Take your breaks and use them wisely
It's incredibly easy to work through your break time, especially if you're wrapped up in a project and tuned in to your work flow. But breaks were given for a reason and you should definitely use them wisely. Instead of standing around chatting, opt to walk and talk. Or if you have to make some personal calls, make them while you're on the move. If you're feeling stressed, step outside and find a quiet spot to just take a few breaths to reset and relax before heading back to your desk.
Avoid toxic coworkers (and don't be one)
Don't underestimate the power of a negative coworker. Unfortunately every work place has at least one—and while you may not be able to totally avoid them on a daily basis—you can set limits and make choices on how much time you spend around them. Even more importantly, don't BE the toxic coworker. We all have complaints about our respective workplaces, but constantly focusing on them and voicing them to others creates a cloud of negativity that you don't really want to surround yourself or others with. Alternatively, try to stay positive and focus on the good things about your job and others will be inspired by your example. You can also avoid feeding into others' negativity by simply choosing not to engage in it.
WATCH THIS VIDEO FOR MORE HEALTHY TIPS!
We think this video goes in-depth on a few of the above-mentioned tips and has some other good ones for you, so it's definitely worth the watch.
What healthy habits do you do on a daily basis when working at your desk?
Let us know in the comments below.