Although working at a desk involves almost no physical exertion, it somehow manages to leave you feeling exhausted and mentally taxed at the end of the day. Desk workers often eat poorly and exercise too infrequently.
Adverse Affects of a Desk Job
A desk job leads to a general trend of inactivity, ultimately causing weight gain, poor health and potentially reduced life expectancy — and that’s all without taking the high-stress environment of New York City into account!
The good news is that you have the power to improve your own health and mental state. Staying healthy when you work a desk job is really a matter of training yourself to make the right choices.
How to Improve Your Health
Eating healthier foods and setting a bit of time aside for physical activity each day, for example, can have a profound long-term effect on your health and ability to handle stress.
Are you ready to prove that a desk worker doesn’t have to be overweight, stressed and constantly tired? We’ve got five great tips that can help you feel better — no matter what you do for a living.
Find Excuses to Move
One of the biggest problems with working a desk job is that it leads to a sedentary lifestyle.
You sit at your desk all day, but you still come home feeling tired because of the stress that you handled at work. Break that trend by finding excuses to move during work. By doing this, you’ll probably improve your interpersonal relations as well.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator if possible.
- Instead of emailing your coworkers, get up from your desk and talk to them face-to-face.
- Consider walking or riding a bicycle to work if you can.
- Move some items out of arm’s reach, so you’ll need to stand up to retrieve them.
- Take a brisk walk around the building during your lunch breaks.
Do you find it difficult to resist going to the local slice place at lunch? Convenience food may be tasty, but eating it doesn’t do anything positive for your health.
Stave off that ravenous lunchtime hunger by eating a large, healthy breakfast before going to work in the morning. It’s also a good idea to keep a supply of snacks in your desk. Nuts, for example, pack plenty of protein and fiber to keep your hunger at bay.
It is equally important to drink plenty of water while you’re at work — particularly if you drink coffee or an energy drink in the morning. Caffeine can dehydrate the body slightly.
Dehydration can lead to confusion, irritability and a general feeling of malaise — so drinking extra water can improve your physical state as well as your mental state.
Something I’d personally recommend is buying a bunch of protein or nutrition bars and bringing one with you to work everyday. They’re a great source of energy and extremely healthy for you. It can also curb your appetite until you get home and can cook up something healthy. You can check out this list of the best protein bars if you need help finding a good one.
Protect Your Eyes
Spending too much time in front of a computer can cause a great deal of eye strain. If you frequently suffer from headaches, blurry vision and dry eyes at work.
You may have a condition that the American Optometric Association refers to as “Computer Vision Syndrome.” Some of the causes of CVS include flickering monitors, poor ambient lighting and preexisting vision problems.
The AOA suggests resetting the eyes by focusing on an object 20 feet away — for at least 20 seconds — after every 20 minutes of computer work.
Also, make sure that the lighting in the room doesn’t cause glare on the computer screen. Position the center of the monitor slightly below eye level and about 40-75 centimeters from your head. Also, remember to blink frequently to prevent the eyes from drying out.
Stretch Your Muscles
When you spend long hours at your desk, you’re likely to develop occasional soreness and stiffness in your neck, shoulders and back. Stretch frequently at your desk to keep yourself feeling limber.
The Mayo Clinic recommends stretching your shoulders by holding each arm by the elbow, stretching the arm across your chest and pressing on the elbow gently.
Some of the other stretches that can help you feel more comfortable at work include:
- Upper arm stretch, with your arms above your head and hands touching your back
- Chest stretch, with your arms raised and your hands behind your neck
- Neck and shoulder stretch, with your chin touching your upper chest
- Slow head turn, to relax the neck and shoulders
- Side-to-side neck stretch, bending the neck so the ears nearly touch the shoulders
- Lower back stretch, bringing the knees up toward the chest
- Thigh stretch, bringing each foot up toward the buttocks while standing
Stay Active Outside Work
Does your place of work have a weekend golf or softball league? Join it! Staying fit is much easier when your friends take part as well. If there isn’t a weekend sports league for you to join, consider starting one.
Whatever you do, staying active on the weekend can greatly improve your health and mental state. If you aren’t athletically inclined, you can still find the time go to to the park for a walk.
Whatever you do, make the time to keep your body moving as much as possible.