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5 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy at Work (Both Physically and Mentally)

Written by on August 19, 2019

A healthy mind resides in a healthy body.

Health is all we’ve got. And being healthy is an essential part of having a productive day. As passionate as you might be about your work, remember – health comes first.

Without health, taking care of work, chores, side gigs, just about anything really, becomes next to impossible. You need to prioritize health before everything else. And for those spending their nine-to-five in an office – this might be particularly hard.

Probably the most common excuse for people is that they just don’t have enough time. Well, unless you’re working 3 different jobs back to back, this excuse isn’t really valid.

Let’s face it, you can somehow squeeze in at least 30 minutes or so in your heavy work schedule to either stretch or just take a quick break. Yes, we are busier than ever but this doesn’t mean you should neglect your health.

Being healthy, especially at work, is easier than you think. “Easier said than done!” – you might be thinking. But, no, it actually can be easy. There are a lot of life-hacks you can incorporate into your daily life to stay healthy at work – here are 5 easy ways to help you stay focused and healthy.

1. Exercise ball / Standing desk

Sitting all day is bad for you.

So, why not switch it up? There are 2 options you can go with here and both of them are better than sitting all day long.

1.1. Exercise ball

You might’ve heard of the recent trend of swapping your office chair out for a gym ball instead.

Well, this trend is popular for a reason. And no, it’s not just a “startup thing” either. There are actual proven health benefits to using a gym ball instead of the same old boring office chair.

For one, they’re great for your posture. Sitting on an exercise ball forces your body to sit up straight, and fix your spinal alignment. Good posture also makes you look confident, and allows your body to breathe properly.

Exercise ball in action.
They’re not just for the gym.

Aside from that, sitting on an exercise ball strengthens your core, hip, and leg muscles. And well, it’s also just fun. Who cares what your co-workers think when it’s boosting your mood and staying healthy?

However, if you do decide to go with this route and adopt an exercise ball at your workstation, there’s one thing you should know.

Gym balls are healthy, but only for a limited amount of time.

According to Dr. Henry Goitz, from the sports medicine at the Medical College of Ohio: Twenty minutes is good, 30 minutes is great, but 8 to 12 hours, some time in that span, you may have fatigability

So, with that said, some things you should keep in mind if you decide to switch up your sitting patterns:

  • Keep it moderated – alternate between an exercise ball and a regular chair every 30 minutes or so.
  • Make sure you buy the right size ball so you sit at the right height and feel comfortable.
  • Keep your body stable and most importantly – try not to fall off!

In short, exercise balls can be a fun and a healthy way to switch up your work patterns. We spend too much time sitting. So, as long as you approach this tactic with caution – you should see results in your health and mood alike.

1.2. Standing Desks

Meanwhile, the other end of the spectrum suggests getting rid of seats altogether.

Standing for eight hours (or more) might seem intimidating at first but this approach has a lot of added benefits.

For example, a standing desk can be a huge boost to your productivity. You’re less likely to feel sleepy when you’re standing and you’ll need fewer coffee breaks too. Standing, stretching, taking a quick walk around the office are all great tactics that keep you thinking and alert.

Standing desk in action.
Changing your posture is a great way to stay focused too.

According to a 2018 studyAdjustable workstations may also have social and mental health benefits concerning job satisfaction, coworker communication, and work efficiency.”

Though, just like overusing the exercise ball, standing for too long can put a strain on your body and make you feel sore the next day – so, don’t overdo it.

Of course, you don’t have to start standing the whole day at work straight away. Try switching it up and alternating between sitting, standing or hopping on the exercise ball, and you’re sure to see your productivity levels skyrocket.

2. Bring your own food to work

You are what you eat.

This may sound obvious, but it’s an important step nonetheless. Your diet is an essential part of your health, so it’s worth taking this one into consideration.

A visit to the vending machine might be tempting, but at the end of the day – it’s just not worth it. Both, in terms of productivity, since you’ll be feeling sluggish after eating junk food, and in terms of your health.

One easy solution would be to bring your own home-made food to work.

Salads, granola bars, fruits, yogurt and more, are all great alternatives that will have you feeling refreshed for the rest of the day. If possible, try to plan your weekly meals in advance.

Working with a healthy snack.
Fruits and tea are great substitutes for coffee. Healthier too.

This is an efficient way of saving time on cooking. It’s better to prepare all your meals in advance on a Sunday and eat healthy throughout the week than be forced to settle for junk food from the vending machine.

If, for some reason, you have no time to plan and prepare your meals in advance, try to find a place that sells healthy food nearby. This also has the added benefit of leaving the office and refreshing your mind by going for a walk.

3. Practice better computer habits

If you’re going to be starting at a computer screen all day – it’s best to minimize the risks.

There are a number of ways you can fight back against eye strain, and most of it comes down to brightness and the lighting.

To protect your eyes, try to keep the monitor glare at a level that doesn’t hurt your eyes, take a short break between tasks, and use eye drops if your eyes feel too dry.

Glare from laptop in a dark room.
Be sure to decrease your brightness when it feels too much and the lighting around you is dark.

As a rule of thumb, your computer should be positioned at least 20-30 inches away from your face.

But if you feel that the glare from your screen is still too much sometimes – consider using f.lux or Iris. Both apps adapt your screen’s brightness to fit the time of the day. This, in turn, prevents eye strain, reduces eye pain and helps with sleep.

Optometrists suggest incorporating the 20-20-20 rule as a part of your daily life. This means looking away from your screen every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, looking 20 feet away in the distance. This is a great habit to have if you’ll be staring at the monitor the whole day.

Speaking of breaks,   

4. Have an exercise break

Exercise is a great way to keep your blood pumping and your creativity flowing.

One of the best ways to make use of your break is to focus on something completely different. When you come back, you’ll have a fresh state of mind and a new perspective to focus on things with. Running, for example, is a great way to take your mind off things even if it’s only for a short period of time.

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Get up, stretch, go for a run – there are no wrong answers here. You don’t even have to leave your office, you can work out right there, at your desk.

A quick stretch break from work.
Something as simple as stretching can be the much-needed break to take your mind off of things.

As long as you take a break from your work and focus on other things for a change – you’ll come back refreshed and be with more energy.

Even if you lose an hour or so of work due to exercise, you’ll gain it back through sheer productivity and efficiency.

Here’s what Stacey Gawronski had to say after taking an hour off work to head to a nearby yoga studio or for a run:

Ideally, if you can go for a quick jog during your work break, you should. But, if not, even a few stretches here and there is a great way to exercise your mind.

5. Change up your workplace

Did you know where you work from matters? It also has a direct effect on your productivity levels.

If you feel like you have a terrible case of writer’s block, try changing up your workplace. Try the kitchen, conference room, venture outside – see what place works best for you.

Contrary to common misconception, most people are more productive when they work from somewhere else than the office. A change of scenery can work wonders and completely change your approach to work.

Working remotely outside.
A change of scenery can boost your productivity and get your creative juices flowing.

If you’re worried about being distracted – don’t be. People have reported fewer distractions and higher productivity when working from home.

If you’re unsure about your productivity levels and that you’d still get distracter, know there are tools to help you monitor yourself. From toggl to desktime, there are a lot of different ways you can make sure you’re on the right track.

Putting it all together

With all that being said, basic tips still apply: be sure to drink plenty of water, focus on what you eat, take a break here and there, and finally, get quality sleep.

If you’re ever feeling groggy at work – it’s probably because you didn’t get enough sleep. So, start from there. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep on average, and after that start incorporating the above tips.

Remember: health is the most important thing we’ve got. 

Without it, we’re nothing. To get the most out of your day, you need to be healthy both, physically, and mentally. All other things follow from there.



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