For those of us who work in an office setting, staying healthy always proves a unique challenge. Hardly a week goes by without someone bringing in some delicious recipe they made, and as birthdays or holidays approach, the tasty treats seem to multiply. But we hate to admit what we all know to be true – indulge too much and we’ll pay for it later…not only when stepping on the scale, but in terms of work productivity as well. Let’s look at some ways to stay healthy and productive at work.
Eat Healthy: Most office workers will say that eating healthy poses the biggest challenge to their willpower. While the temptation to snack on junk food or sample goodies brought into the office is strong, moderation is key. Try to resist overdoing it, opting instead to limit yourself to what you try and when. Also, maintaining a healthy eating schedule on a regular basis will help minimize the effects of the occasional indulgence. Avoid lunches you know are unhealthy, such as greasy fast food. For mid-morning and afternoon snacks, stay away from the junk food that office vending machines are known for, such as chips and candy. Bringing in fruit, nuts, granola bars or a protein shake will hold you over just as well until your next meal, but without giving you that lethargic feeling that junk food will.
Lastly, avoid eating lunch at your desk whenever possible. While you may occasionally need that extra hour of work, without the time constraint of your lunch hour ending, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten, or for how long. Leaving the office for lunch gives you a time limit that will help curb overeating, as well as providing enough of a break to allow you to return to work feeling refreshed.
Stay Hydrated : On a particularly busy day, the last thing you’re thinking about is whether you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can cause a number of problems – from feeling sluggish at work to causing kidney stones and organ damage. According to WebMD.com, drinking 6-8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day is recommended, with some adults requiring more based on their health, the amount they exercise and the climate in which they live. Fruits are also good sources of water, and can keep you hydrated while fighting hunger.
Take Frequent Breaks: According to a survey by workplace consulting group Right Management, only one in five office workers takes a lunch break away from his or her desk. However, the urge to forge ahead and continue working without a break can ultimately be counterproductive. In fact, Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC-Davis who studies the psychology of the workplace, states that “never taking a break from very careful thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative” and “exhausts your cognitive capacity.” The bottom line – make an effort to get away from your desk during the workday, even if it’s only for a few minutes. The break will allow you to return rejuvenated and improve your concentration level.
Make Sure You’re Comfortable: Considering how many hours you spend seated at work, making sure your body is in a natural and comfortable position is essential. If you sit or hold your hands or head in an awkward or crooked position, you will eventually feel pain in some form. Tension Neck Syndrome (TNS) can occur when the neck is held in an awkward position for long periods of time, causing neck and shoulder pain. Similarly, prolonged use of a computer mouse and keyboard can cause pain, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, occasionally leading to tendinitis or carpet tunnel syndrome. Make sure that your posture is good and that you are always seated in a natural and comfortable position when working. Any discomfort you experience is sure to manifest in eventual pain and possible injury if allowed to continue.
Hold Meetings on the Move: Is it a nice day outside? Why confine your meetings to the office? “Meetings on the move” are preferred to seated office meetings by a number of CEOs, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and even the late Steve Jobs. Recently, Nilofer Merchant, a former technology executive and Apple employee, spoke of the advantages of walking meetings at a TED conference, citing not only the obvious health advantages and exercise benefits, but the closer connections that are formed when outside of the office. Merchant states, “By walking side by side, it reinforces the perspective that you’re working on something together.” Proponents say that walking improves circulation and increases the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, allowing a better flow of ideas. Additionally, walking prevents meeting attendees from being distracted by e-mail and portable electronic devices. So the next time you schedule a meeting, consider venturing outside the conference room.
Staying healthy while working 40+ hours a week in an office is a constant challenge, and throwing caution to the wind is always the easiest option. But with a little discipline and a lot of willpower, following the above advice should leave you feeling healthier and more productive during those long work hours. What advice do you have for maintaining your energy and concentration levels at work?