I never thought I would find myself in a career that meant I was in an office for the better part of 10 hours a day.
In fact, growing up I would have bet my life on it.
But here I am, successfully living life in the corporate world and enjoying it. About a year ago I realized that you are able to live your life full of passion and implement your passions into your daily life, without making it your whole life. That is something that I have found so incredibly important in order to keep myself feeling fulfilled and happy and like I am living life as my true self. Horrible things happen when you don’t follow your heart.
I do this by continuously learning about topics that interest me – namely the human mind and body, nutrition and how they are all interconnected. I do this by listening to podcasts, reading books and research articles, connecting with people, writing and discussing with those who have the same interests as me, but hold more knowledge.
Working in the corporate world I have noticed the dangerous detachment between work and wellness, which for me, is a little unnerving. There’s a saying that goes ‘sitting is the new smoking’ which I somewhat have to agree with. However, there are simple and effective ways to minimize the health risks associated with the inactivity of sitting down all day which I implement into my everyday life.
Set an alarm on your phone for every 1 – 2 hours to get up and move. I don’t mean go for a run, bang out 20 burpees or leave the office for a walk because, you might be asked to walk on out of the door and not come back. Simply get up and go get a glass of water. Walk around the office to speak with someone on the other side of the room instead of sending an email, get up and stretch your legs, even if it is only for a minute.
When I had a Fitbit I found it unbelievably helpful in reminding me that I had been sedentary for a long time and all I needed to do was 60 steps. Easy. Set a silent alarm on your computer or your phone to remind you to get up off your bum and get in some movement.
Sitting on our bums all day means we are not using our gluteus maximus muscles which can lead to serious imbalances in your body. The old saying goes, ‘use it or lose it‘ and this could not be any more correct. Muscle atrophy is very real when there is such inactivity in a muscle group meaning, your muscles begin to waste away.
Our butts aren’t just there to look good but they also play a key role in functional movement and supporting our hips and hip flexors, as well as aiding pelvic stability. The bum plays a big role in supporting the back and if the glutes are not engaged while doing certain movements like the squat, it can cause serious imbalances and problems in the hips, pelvis and lower back. Sitting all day every day means we aren’t using these muscles as much as they need to be which can lead to atrophy, causing more posture and muscular problems later down the track and minimising the engagement of these imperative muscles. Sitting all day puts the body in a strained, curved and unnatural position that causes tension on the hip flexors, so making sure you get up and move every hour or so will minimise the strain on other areas of your body.
Go for a walk on your lunch break. Not only do we sit down all day but we are breathing in circulated air, staring at the harsh brightness of a computer screen and bathing in artificial lighting. Getting some exercise and breathing in the fresh air is invaluable for your mind and body during a work day when you are trying to maintain focus and attention on the tasks at hand. Not only does it get you outside and moving, but also it allows you to refocus when you come back and you might even solve a problem or generate new ideas while you’re outside in a different environment. Research also suggests that exercise promotes creativity, information retention and productivity. These are all things that will help us in being successful in our careers.
Walking or exercising on your lunch break also helps blood flow to your muscles and increases heart rate. If you’re anything like me, your muscles hurt more than they don’t and this increased blood flow assists with muscle recovery and repair.
If you go with a friend from walk it is also a good opportunity to catch up and make it fun and social.
I am also a big advocate for walking meetings. Getting out of the office for meetings and doing something active helps the creative juices to flow and the problem solving capacity to increase. You are also in a neutral environment and won’t have the same pressures you may feel in your boardroom, which will assist you to think and speak freely without restraint and have a productive and positive meeting.
Make sure you have a healthy diet throughout the day that assists with your brain functioning. Vegetables, fruit, nuts and complex carbohydrates are your brain’s best friends when it comes to fuel. Filling up on pastas or burgers will leave you feeling lethargic, flat and unmotivated, as well as limiting your ability to think clearly and make decisions. Ensuring you are fueling your brain and glucose throughout your day is essential to maintain a clear, working mind that can maintain focus and perform optimally.
I also eat every few hours when I am at work for a few reasons:
- Firstly; It sustains my energy throughout the day so I can maintain attention and momentum. I snack on things like Greek Yoghurt and protein powder, smoothies (banana, berries, protein and almond butter), rice cakes with avocado and tomato and scrambled eggs with feta and spinach. All of these meals taste good, can be made or eaten at work with ease and have a combination of healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates.
- Not only do regular meals help with energy, but they also break the day up into smaller blocks which I find helps me to maintain focus and attention. Rather than thinking “I have all day to get this task done” I will set myself mini goals and tasks to achieve within those smaller blocks. “By the time I go for my next snack I want to have X done”. Every few hours I will have a break, get up and go make some food, come back to my desk and eat. This is getting me away from my computer, moving my legs and refueling with healthy food.
Lastly, I make sure I exercise my eyes. Staring at a computer screen for 50 hours a week is a guaranteed way to cause sore, red and tired eyes, not to mention adversely impact your sight. I use the 20-20-20 rule. This is; every 20 minutes look at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes to adjust to a point that is further away to help your eyes adjust and use their muscles, and gets them away from looking at bright lights consistently.
And there you have it! Not groundbreaking stuff but certainly simple and effective tools that can make the world of difference if you care about your health, well-being and performance at work.