We can all relate that at the office, a significant part of our day consists of sitting for extended periods.
Being sedentary for long periods does not encourage a healthy metabolism or good posture. The lack of movement throughout the day can also result in a serious lack of energy and mental alertness.
Here are a few suggestions to keep your body and mind moving through your busy day:
Get up & move:
Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move. Avoid sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Try taking breaks and walking around.
If you are a busy desk dweller hunched over a computer all day, posture is crucial to overall fitness. Correct posture allows you to breathe more deeply and easily and improves circulation. Avoid “hunching” over your keyboard, and sit up straight.
A new chair:
Change your chair for something more supportive, promoting good posture and not adding substantial pressure to the neck, shoulders, and spine.
Walking around the office may seem like a small amount of exercise, but you will soon notice a significant increase in the number of steps you take. Make opportunities to get on your feet: walk a longer route to your desk or around the building in the fresh air. It keeps you mentally alert and aids overall health.
Walk & talk meetings:
A 15-minute standing meeting will ensure you get straight to the point, and data shows that standing meetings are shorter and more effective. If you need a private conversation, why not try a walking meeting instead? It eases tension and helps get the conversation flowing. A change of scenery can often inspire brighter thinking.
Stretch 3 to 5 times per day. Stretching can go a long way to improving your health and increasing confidence, productivity, and happiness.
And ten ways to boost your mental health at work:
Begin your day with mindfulness:
Studies show you are priming your brain for distraction by checking your phone right after waking up. That is not the best way to start the day; try meditating or the positives of the days to come.
Focus on your strengths:
Take advantage of your strengths and seek out projects that give you satisfaction.
Stop comparing yourself to others:
Teddy Roosevelt stated that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparison to others leads to low self-esteem and unhappiness. Focus on healthy improvements, like measuring yourself against specific, realistic goals.
Start a gratitude culture:
Studies of gratitude are linked to less stress, fewer sick days, and higher fulfillment with our jobs and coworkers. One way to start a gratitude practice is by writing down one thing that went well that day and why. One more idea is merely writing a note (or email) and expressing gratitude for them.
Talk it out:
One of the best ways to improve mental health is to recognize that you are not alone. First, find somebody you can trust, like a friend, family member, therapist, or coach. By joining in the conversation, you will be aware of your emotions and accept them for what they are right now, knowing they will not last.
The average American spends over seven hours observing a screen each day. Unfortunately, that means we spend more time inside than we should. Studies show that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological wellbeing. For instance, a University of Chicago study found that exposure to nature improves attention, memory, and cognitive flexibility. Watching one less screen hour daily gives you back 15 days per year!
Do things for others:
There are so many ways to do things for others at work. In addition, evidence shows that helping others can also benefit our mental health by reducing stress and improving mood, self-esteem, and happiness.
Find the humor:
Have you heard the saying that laughter is the best medicine? Well, it is no joke! Laughter has short-term benefits like stimulating organs, increasing the endorphins released by your brain, and enhancing oxygen intake, according to the Mayo Clinic. It also has long-term effects like strengthening your immune system, relieving pain, and improving your mood.
Learn something new:
Learning new skills can improve your mental health at work, build a sense of purpose, raise self-esteem, and boost self-confidence.
Slowing down will help you make better decisions and connect deeper with people. Be available for self-reflection, journaling, meditation, and/or taking breaks. Remember, while you may go slower, you will go further. By embracing these strategies, you will take an initiative-taking approach to improve your mental health and movement at work and pave the way for others to do the same. While challenging to combat a sedentary job, increasing activity and mindfulness a little at a time will work wonders…and your body and mind will thank you!
Written by Joddee Jacobson, University of Wyoming Extension Community Vitality & Health Educator
- WebMD; How to Make Your Desk Job Healthier by Lucy Miller
- Forbes; 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health at Work by Caroline Castillon