Take it from someone who spends most of her day staring at a screen—office jobs can be hard on your health. After I graduated from college and began working full time, I started to realize how important it was to integrate activity into my workday. Things I had taken for granted, like walking an hour or so a day around campus, were no longer present in my life—and I could feel the difference. Between back pain and headaches from staring at a bright screen for too long, I knew I needed to make some changes.
After some research and experimentation, I’ve figured out a few simple ways to stay healthier at the workplace each day.
1. Use a standing desk
You’ve surely heard by now how terrible it can for your body to sit for a majority of the day. Setting up a simple standing desk has reduced my back pain from sitting for extended periods of time and helps me feel alert throughout the day. You don’t need anything too significant—I purchased this small shelf to hold my mouse and keyboard and stacked up some old magazines to get my monitor at eye level. Not the most sophisticated solution but it serves its purpose! Although I do switch from sitting to standing throughout the day, the change in position makes a world of difference.
2. Follow the 20/20/20 rule
If you work an office job like I do, chances are you spend the majority of your day staring at that dreaded computer monitor. The 20/20/20 rule protects your vision with a simple rule: Every 20 minutes look away from your monitor and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. While it might be simple in theory, remembering to do so (especially when you get caught up in a work project) can be challenging. That’s why I love eyeCare, a Chrome extension that will pop up a reminder window every 20 minutes you are on the internet as a friendly reminder to protect your eyes.
3. Stay hydrated
Drink, drink, drink your water! And then drink some more for good measure. Keep a full water bottle within arm’s reach on your desk so you can stay hydrated. For those who struggle with drinking enough water daily (raises hand), it’s good to have a reminder system in place. Personally, I like to combine my 20/20/20 break with my water break—that way I can kill two birds with one stone.
4. Stretch throughout the day
Stretching the muscles in your neck and back can make you feel great and will have a lasting impact on your health. This can be especially easy to do if you use a standing desk. I like to do a few sets of calf raisers and back stretches periodically to keep me from tensing up and hunching over my computer. If you decide against a standing desk, you should at least try to get up to move around or stretch for 5 minutes every hour.
5. Spend at least 15 minutes a day socializing
Mental health can be just as important as physical health at work! No matter how stressed or busy you get, strive to spend a small portion of time talking with coworkers or others in your building. Chat about last night’s episode of your favorite show. Look at family vacation pictures. Compliment a coworker’s outfit. You’ll be surprised by how much a little bit of lighthearted interaction can lift your spirits.
Most people spend a significant portion of their daily lives at their job—why not make it an opportunity to better your health? Give these tips a try or share your own favorites!