Over a lifetime, the average office worker spends 5 years at a desk. That’s half a decade seated in one position, repeating the same tasks and similar movements.
Lower back pain, muscle spasms, and alarming conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and computer vision syndrome are virtually accepted as “collateral damage” for the modern day office worker.
Before you resign with immediate effect, read through our simple tips and tricks for staying healthy at work. Adopting just a few habits and sticking to them consistently can help keep you physically fit and mentally alert, so you emerge at the end of each day with a flexible body and a spring in your step.
Create a best-fit workstation for your body
We all have different body shapes and sizes. A “one-size fits all” approach to workstations simply isn’t practical or healthy.
Most modern office furniture is adjustable. Take the time to tailor your seating arrangement so it supports all parts of your body. Ensure the desk is at the right height to support your arms, while leaving sufficient room underneath for the free movement of your legs.
Also invest in a vertical mouse or cushioned mouse pad contoured to the shape of your hand. These low-cost workplace modifications can make a significant difference to your health and comfort at work.
Move: in and out of the chair
Move around as much as possible, both in and out of your chair. Use the built-in flexibility and mobility of the office chair to stretch your back.
Swivel your hips, swing your arms horizontally from side to side, and, if your chair is on castors, take little steps so that you glide back and forth in front of the desk. Stretch the wrists by pushing each hand gently up and down, holding the position for at least 5 minutes.
Reach forward slowly while seated and try and touch your toes, and be sure to rotate your head in both directions whenever you have a moment to spare. Do these little stretches and exercises throughout the day and you’ll banish fatigue, muscle spasms and general body stiffness.
Be eye aware
Many of us spend hours in front of a computer monitor. Focussing our eyes on the display without interruption and for prolonged periods often results in eye strain and vision-related problems.
You can avoid the worst effects by blinking your eyes frequently and using eye lubricants or natural tears. Be aware of your eyes.
Look away from the display often and focus on the middle distance. Move your eyes up and down and from side to side, and invest in a computer display screen or anti-glare glasses.
Nibble on small, healthy snacks
We are what we eat. Dieticians suggest frequent small meals made from nutritious, healthy ingredients. Ideally, aim to eat lots of fruit, yoghurt and salads. If you feel the need for a sandwich, opt for whole-wheat or rye bread.
Avoid too many fast foods and ready-made meals. These tend to be high in fat, salt, preservatives and colourants.
Of course, too much sugar isn’t good either. Instead of biscuits, chips or doughnuts, keep the proverbial wolf from the door with raw and unsalted nuts, or dried fruit.
Power up with a power nap
A quick 20- to 30-minute catnap, especially after lunch, is a great way to refuel the brain. It boosts your memory, cognitive skills, creativity and energy levels, leaving you fresh and ready to tackle the second half of the workday.
Extend the nap to a full hour if possible, and your decision-making skills will be on top form.
Power down with a bit of socialising
You can power down and relax during a lunch break simply by interacting socially with your colleagues.
Also take time to unwind before you start your commute home. You’ll get to know your fellow workers better, and it’s more likely you’ll be in a positive mood when you get home.
Yes to water, no to too much caffeine
Hydrating properly is essential for good health and wellbeing. Water increases energy and relieves fatigue, boosts the immune system, prevents cramps and strains and flushes out toxins. It also promotes weight loss, regulates body temperature and ensures nutrients are transported in the body.
When all your focus is on your work, it’s easy to forget to drink enough. Install an app, set a reminder or automate water drinking notifications. Do whatever you have to do to get your daily dose of H2O.
Coffee, on the other hand, may be hot, full of flavour and delicious, but there’s a limit to the amount you should drink. More than four cups can lead to headaches, nausea, muscle tremors, anxiety and rapid heart rate, and those are only the short-term complications.
Sure, a latte or cappuccino is a great way to start the day, but be sure to limit your caffeine intake.
Choose an active commute
If you live close to the office, cycle, jog or walk to work. Exercise gets the endorphins going and can boost your physical and mental energy – and you’ll avoid the daily traffic jams.
If you can’t get to work under your own steam, choose the stairs over the lift, and turn your lunch hour into a gym, yoga or workout break. You’ll feel great, look great and work at your best!
Work at The Workspace
Working in an airy, spacious, properly equipped environment is a passive way of staying healthy at work.
At The Workspace, we offer ideal serviced offices and coworking facilities, in spaces designed to optimise health and productivity. Our clients enjoy an ideal balance between private work areas and open spaces for relaxing, socialising and brainstorming.