Day 37: Healthy at the Office

Human beings are not made to sit looking at bright screens all day.

But many people, including myself make a living this way. Nothing against companies or computers. It’s just the way it is. Because of this, we go to the doctor for carpal tunnel syndrome and restless leg syndrome and headaches from eye strain and diseases associated with being overweight.

It makes sense that articles are being published about “How Your Office Job is Killing You”. Being cognizant of the decreasing health of office workers, more companies adopting stand-up desks and ergonomic accessories. Google even has a gym for employees to use.  To me, it’s not the responsibility of my employer to protect my weight and encourage me to be fit; it’s mine. Here are some of the obstacles I’ve faced in various office environments, and how I handle them.

1. Give Your Eyes A Rest

Backlighting is one of the worst things for your eyes.  Your computers at work and home, cell phone, TVs and even your screen in your car are ll bad. I had a really hard time with headaches and neck strain because of this, and haveve learned ways to work without the computer without limiting my productivity. I draft articles on paper, which translates into a second, better draft when I type it into Word. I schedule phone calls throughout the day that take my eyes away from the screen. When I notice myself squinting and tensing up, I take a moment to stretch.

2. Walkabouts

Okay, so I don’t venture into the desert on a search for myself, but I do make it a point to leave the office during lunch. I try to walk to my destination as much as possible. When I’ve brought my lunch, I walk around the block. This clears my head, gets my blood flowing and lets me soak up essential vitamin D.

Of course, this is easy when the weather permits. What do you do when it’s raining, snowing or just to cold or hot to function? Walking around the block just isn’t an option at these times. Still take time to stretch and clear your head.

3. De-germ Your Desk

An office is an enclosed area where people sneeze and cough and spread germs. Desks are germ collectors, with the deep spaces between keys on the keyboard and places where the cleaning people just don’t go. I wipe down my desk, keyboard, mouse and phone with clorox wipes regularly. Also, make sure you wash that office sweater that you keep on your chair.

4. Avoid high-calorie snacks

It’s just office culture for someone to bring in bagels, doughnuts and pizza. It’s easy for me to walk by the communal plate of carbs, simply because I’ve done it so many times. I’m also lucky that I don’t sit in front of these snacks all day. I also have a generous coworker who enjoys treating people to food. It’s nice, and hard to politely turn down. “I’m on a diet” or “I’m trying to eat healthy” don’t work anymore because everyone is on a diet these days. It’s difficult, but it’s still important to keep to the healthy eating plan. Have something healthy and delicious to look forward to at lunch.

5. Make time and energy for exercise

This, of course, gets easier the more you do it. When I go without working out, I feel worse at the office the next day. No matter how tired or stressed you are, make it to the gym!

6. Achieve work/life balance

When you leave work, make it stay there. This is hard, especially when you are excited about a project, but make a place for work and a place for not work. I used to think about work all the time, and my burnout rate was frequent. For me, this changed when I moved farther away from work. With this longer commute, much of it with farmland on both sides of the road, gives me the chance to literally put work behind me in my mind. It also helps me gear up for work in the morning. I’m relaxed and happier at home now and more ready to work when I get there.

Know of another way to be healthy at the office? Let me know!

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