During the workweek, it’s easy to fall into some unhealthy habits. Some we do because they’re easy, such as going out to lunch. Some we do because they’re part of our job, such as sitting all day. And some we do because we’re just plain hungry or stressed out, such as visiting the vending machine. Although doing these things from time to time won’t hurt us, for most people work is a huge part of our lives, and the habits we fall into during the workweek add up quickly to impact our overall health. With this in mind, here are a few changes you can make in your workweek to make yourself healthier.
1. Bring your own lunch. It may not come as a shock that eating fried foods for lunch each day isn’t doing any favors to your health. But even seemingly healthy restaurant foods, such as Caesar salads, are sometimes packed with calories and fat. Make your own lunch and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Include some fruit, veggies and lean protein, and your week will instantly be off to a healthier start.
2. Cope with stress by going for a walk. When work gets stressful, get moving. Getting up from your desk for a few minutes will do wonders for your mental health when you’re feeling stressed out, and getting your blood pumping will benefit your physical body. Getting out into nature for a few minutes will do the most good, but if you can’t leave the building, even a walk around the cubicle maze will benefit your health.
3. Stand up. Sitting down for 40 hours a week not only makes you sleepy and unproductive, recent research shows it has a whole host of other negative health consequences — many of them quite serious, such as risk of earlier death. Standing desks are gaining popularity around the country, but even if your boss isn’t willing to spring for new desks, do whatever work you can while standing up, or make a countertop into a makeshift standing desk. Propose walking meetings, ask a coworker a question in person rather than over email, or find some other excuse to stand rather than sit. At the very least, get up and move around at least once an hour.
4. Avoid the vending machine. Vending machines are packed with tantalizing packages clothed in bright colors designed to appeal to our senses, but the content of those packages will rarely do you any good. Bring your own healthy snacks to help you resist temptation, and don’t tell yourself you’ll just buy the healthiest option available — studies show that when a healthy option is available in a vending machine, people are much more likely to buy the least healthy option! As odd as it sounds, this effect is even truer for people who strongly believe they wouldn’t fall prey to such a mentality.
5. When you take a break, take a break. When you get away from work for a few minutes, don’t pull out your phone. Don’t check Facebook. Don’t look at your to-do list. Don’t even pull out a Sudoku puzzle. It’s important to take breaks that really allow your brain to relax and unwind, and doing any of these things keeps your brain engaged — so you’re not really benefiting from your “break” at all. Instead, do something quiet and calm — close your eyes, take a walk or listen to soothing music for a few minutes.
About the Author:
Valerie Cecil writes about all things “career” for Outbounding.com. In her spare time, she works toward workplace safety certifications through ETrainToday.