I have decided that working is bad for you! After a particularly long day at my desk I had a headache, back ache and I was feeling a bit sick. Was I coming down with something? No. I had been sat down, staring at a screen all day without drinking enough and stuffing my face full of biscuits!! Obviously work is the problem here and I need to retire ASAP. It couldn’t possibly be that I am my own worst enemy, could it?!?!
All joking aside, when we are in full concentration mode or we have a deadline looming it is easy to forget the importance of looking after ourselves when we are super busy, but how can we expect to remain productive in our work if we don’t take steps to keep ourselves feeling as healthy as possible. Here are my tips for keeping healthy while working so you can work to the best of your ability.
- Stay hydrated – This may seem super obvious but it is the one thing that I forget to do and then I wonder why I’ve got a headache!! As well as the physical side effects of dehydration it also massively affects our productivity and I recently read that just a 1% drop in hydration can cause an up to 12% drop in productivity. If like me you simply get carried away with what you are doing and forget to top up your glass why not keep a large bottle of water (or squash if, also like me, you know you should be drinking water but find it really boring!!) on your desk at all times so it’s one less thing you need to think about. Try to avoid too much coffee or fizzy drinks as the energising effects of these are often short lived and can feed any anxiety.
- Be mindful of what you are eating at your desk – A chocolate biscuit or two is a nice treat with a cuppa (and I wouldn’t dream of telling you to give up the biscuits completely!) but trying to survive on biscuits alone is never a good idea (and believe me, I HAVE tried!). If you need quick and easy snacks to keep your energy levels up try blueberries, bananas or nuts which are healthy and shouldn’t leave you feeling sluggish. When possible try to make sure that you leave your desk for lunch, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. This will break your day up and help you to get a fresher perspective on things when you return to work.
- Watch your posture and move – If you often have neck, shoulder or back pain after a few hours at your desk then your posture is probably to blame. It’s very easy to find ourselves hunching over the keyboard without even realising it so try to be aware of how you are sitting and make sure you stand up and stretch regularly. Better yet, go for a walk. This will help to stop you from seizing up. If you are already mindful of your posture but are still experiencing back pain your chair may be the problem. Consult an Osteopath who will be able to pin point the problem and advise on how you can change small things in your day to day life to keep your back happy and healthy.
- Don’t sit in the dark – This time of year is pretty gloomy and the evenings draw in much quicker than previous months. Make sure that there is plenty of light in your office and that any artificial light is conducive to a healthy working environment. Staring at a screen for too long will cause eye strain (I recently learnt that there is a condition called CVS – computer vision syndrome which causes headaches, blurred vision and neck/shoulder pain) and sitting in the dark staring at a bright screen will make this even worse. Rest your eyes regularly by looking at something else (not your phone!!) or closing them for a minute or so.
- Get some fresh air – This isn’t always easy during the autumn and winter months but a bit of fresh air can make all the difference both physically and mentally, especially if your office can get a bit hot and stuffy. If the weather isn’t too unbearable, a quick walk outside will be good for your body and mind.
These simple things may seem really obvious but when you are fully engrossed in an important job they can easily slip our minds. I know some people who set regularly alarms to remind them to eat/drink/stand up etc and after making myself feel particularly rubbish by not doing those things, I’m starting to think that may not be such a bad idea!