Working in an office isn’t always conducive to those maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Long hours of work in a cubicle all day with little time for meals and exercise can make healthy choices tough for even the most health-conscious person. Microwaveable meals for lunch and snacks from a vending machine become the daily norm.
Sitting at a computer for eight or more hours a day can also take a toll both physically and mentally. Repetitive hand and arm motions from using a computer can put strain on neck and shoulder muscles. Staring at a screen can create eye strain, and sitting for hours on end can cause cramps and swelling in legs. Long hours, heavy workloads and office politics can cause stress and burnout. After several years of office work, I realized that all of the above applied to me. I was burnt out and not making my usual healthy decisions when it came to work, and I knew I needed to make a change in my routine.
Office life can certainly be draining mentally and physically, but it’s not all bad news! There are several easy steps you can take to make the best of your office routine and keep yourself happy and healthy.
1. Get Up and Get Out
When you’re working toward a big deadline, it can be hard to pull yourself away and take a break. Some days I would only leave my desk a couple times to use the restroom and microwave my lunch. I started to realize that taking a break here and there wasn’t slacking — it was necessary to keep myself sane and stay sharp. Try to get up and move at least once an hour. Get some coffee or use the restroom. You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day anyway. If you’re doing that, one trip to the restroom per day won’t cut it. I also found that getting a few minutes outside each day did wonders for me, and a 15-minute walk was even better. Your body will thank you!
When you care about your job, stress is pretty much inevitable. Tight deadlines and impossible clients can really pile it on. Aromatherapy is a great, natural way to help relieve some of your stress. I keep a tin of stress-relief moisturizer with organic essential oils of tangerine, lavender and rosemary directly on my desk. You can buy scents specifically designed for stress relief at your local natural foods store. I like the balm as it moisturizes my dry hands and the scent isn’t strong enough to bother my neighbors.
3. Enhance Your Atmosphere
You can make the best of dull cubicle walls and fluorescent lighting! It seems like a no-brainer, but bringing in photos of your family/friends, places you’ve traveled, bright calendars and fun stationery can do a lot to spice up your space. Bring in an extra lamp to brighten up a dim area. If your office allows it, put on some headphones and listen to relaxing music. I love listening to jazz or classical music on Internet radio while I work; it keeps me relaxed yet focused.
4. Make It and Take It
Though many frozen microwave lunches may claim to be healthy, take a closer look. Many of them are chock full of sodium and preservatives, which can be major saboteurs of a healthy diet. Impromptu trips to the vending machine for snacks and sodas can also add up to a lot of not-so-great choices. Bring your own homemade meals and snacks, or seek out a store or restaurant nearby that will help you stick to nutritious choices. I recently hit the jackpot when I discovered a local health food store near my new office that makes fresh, organic salads and sandwiches and offers a great array of beverages such as coconut water and 100% fruit juices. It’s a great way to take a little break for lunch and still make good meal choices.
5.Soothe Those Sore Muscles
Sitting at a computer all day can be a pain in the neck and back and shoulders. I recently started having trouble with my shoulder after years of using a computer mouse on a daily basis. Find a good masseuse or spa and go as often as you can afford to, as they can work wonders on muscle pain. In between massages, if I’m having a sore day I use a homeopathic muscle rub that can be found at any natural food store and most drugstores. It’s chemical-free and works wonders for easing my muscle pain, naturally.
Office life and healthy living don’t always go hand in hand, but you can successfully work them both into your life with a little planning and effort.