Even though I spend a fair amount of my work week working from home, I find that incorporating healthy habits at my other place of work makes a difference in how I feel over the course of a work week (both while I’m at work and after I’m done with work. No one likes a work hangover!) Those of you who work in non-traditional offices or work from home full-time can adapt these healthy workplace habits to suit their work environments.
1. Create a calming environment. You may not have much control over your work environment, but even if you don’t have a cubicle or even a desk to yourself, there are small ways to soothe your nerves. In the room where I work at the university, we share a common table where we wait for our consulting appointments. No one is going to decorate it—but that’s okay. I use my own laptop at work, and I always have a pretty desktop background (and lock screen for my phone). Also, since no one can really set up candles—and I love working beside a fragrant candle—I wear a wellness essential oil blend on my wrists. This one by Uma Oils is lovely!
2. Stay away from the break room—or at least the free food in there. Those orange Halloween cookies may be calling your name, but you can do without the artificial coloring and refined sugar that will ultimately result in a sugar crash later in the day. Even if the break room table offers somewhat healthier options, like innocent-looking whole wheat crackers, be careful about grazing between meals and snacks. You may end up eating more than you’d planned to, leading to bloating and digestion-induced fatigue. When I work from home, it would be easy for me to graze—the kitchen is right there!—so I follow an eating schedule to keep me on track. For example, I have my afternoon snack around 3:00/3:30, depending on my hunger.
3. Pack healthy snacks. Maintaining healthy blood sugar will make a big difference in how you feel at work. Although packing your own snacks may require a few extra steps in the morning, the process doesn’t have to be too elaborate. Some of my go-tos include veggie sticks and hummus, sliced fruit, and coconut yogurt with homemade granola. All of these options take about five minutes to put together, and I’m so grateful for them when I feel my blood sugar taking a turn for the worse.
4. Minimize caffeine to minimize jitters and crashing. I savor my morning cup of coffee, but after that, I switch to water and herbal tea. After lunch, when I’m craving a little boost, I’ll make a cup of peppermint tea. It’s refreshing and hydrating without causing the anxious energy that sometimes accompanies coffee. (Peppermint tea is also good for easing digestion, so it makes a perfect afternoon drink.)
5. Bring filtered water in a healthy container. Simply having water on hand at your desk will help you stay hydrated, alert, and productive. Carrying your water in a cute container may make you more likely to take sips regularly. I love my glass bkr bottle and carry it everywhere.
6. If your work environment allows for it, take your shoes off under your desk and roll a reflexology ball under your feet. If you like heels like me, you feet are probably begging for a little TLC. A reflexology ball can help bring a life back into your feet, reduce stress, and improve circulation.
7. Take stretch and movement breaks. Most of us have heard about the dangers of excessive sitting. In some work settings, we don’t have many alternatives, so it’s important to find movement where you can. Instead of emailing a colleague, walk to their desk. Take the long route to the copy machine, or go for the stairs instead of the elevator. If possible, do a few yoga moves at your desk and stretch your neck and shoulders. In one office where I worked, I would spend a minute or two in the bathroom doing forward bends and ballet arms!
8. Save yourself from Computer Screen Vision (CSV). Feeling bleary-eyed after an hour of emails really puts a pin in your energy. To avoid the dreaded CSV, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every twenty minutes, look at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds.
While we’re on the topic of email, don’t succumb to email burnout! Give yourself set times to check your email, so you’re not scrambling your mind in order to answer emails as they come in. For example, why not check your email every two hours and answer everything new in one swoop. By minimizing the amount of multi-tasking you do in a day (like switching back and forth between emails and projects), you’ll be saving yourself mental fatigue.
How do you stay physically and mentally healthy at work?
More career advice: How to Take Responsibility for Your Work
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Photo: ANTHONY DELANOIX via Barn Images