Staying healthy while at the office

The workplace is changing for the better (we hope), and workers have more flexibility in how they work. So why not take advantage of this, and make your workstyle more wellness-friendly? Working on the computer can cause exhaustion, back pain, and eye strain. It can also lead to other unhealthy habits. Here are some small changes that you can make, to help you stay healthier at the office.

Try the Pomodoro method

You need to take breaks. One of the biggest health problems that we see in the office is neck and eye strain. 

The Pomodoro technique can help with this. Italian for tomato, the Pomodoro is simple – you work for 25 minutes, and then you take a small break. You work for another 25 minutes, and then you take another break. Repeat, until finally you take a longer break. The short intervals were designed by a medical student, who understood that our attention span gets worse over a certain amount of time. The short breaks force you to stand up and move around, so you don’t sit still for too long. The Pomodoro technique is meant to improve productivity, but it also forces you to give your body a well needed break. You can’t stay hunched over the computer all day, so it’s better for your back and neck muscles. Here is a timer on Youtube if you don’t want to download an app.

Blue light filter

Again, eye strain is one of the main dangers of working on the computer all day. You can’t prevent all of it, but there are some things you can do to make it a little less. Your phone, laptop, and tablets all have ways to limit their blue light. Try going on settings and searching ‘blue light filter’ or ‘night light’. Usually there is an option to turn this on. With some devices, you can even set a timer for when it turns on and off. This will have a double benefit – your eyes will be less tired and you might sleep better at night. Keep it turned on while you are working – you might not notice the effect now but it will make a difference in the long run. If you have the extra money for it, you could even buy a pair of blue light filter glasses.

Low-effort healthy meals

Eating healthy is one of the biggest challenges when you’re a busy bee. If you only have half an hour for lunch, it’s tempting to go for instant noodles or takeout. One idea is to meal-prep during the weekend, so that all your food is already cooked. But you want to use your weekend to relax instead, so why not make a quick salad? Salad doesn’t have to be boring. Add whatever you want – the more variety the better. One idea is to grab some pre-chopped lettuce, baby tomatoes, canned mackerel, white cheese and a packet of seeds. Add vinegar and olive oil instead of a mayo-based dressing, and you have a fast and filling salad. Hot tip – crumble up a cracker for some ad-hoc croutons! The process shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes, and doesn’t need any cooking.

Ask how your office space/employer can help

There are some things that are too difficult or expensive for you to do alone. Some offices offer healthier chair or desk options such as standing desks or yoga balls. With yoga balls you always have to keep your balance, so your muscles stay active the whole time you are working. The same with the standing desk. These aren’t for everyone, though. Some people find it hard to concentrate if they can’t stay upright. 

Many younger companies have yoga or fitness programs in the morning. An optional yoga class is a great way to start the day, and helps keep everyone healthy. Your office could also provide blue light screens to put over their computers. If you feel like your office could make some wellness improvements, talk to your Human Resources department to see what they can do.

Finally, keep a work-life balance

All the ‘wellness’ techniques in the world won’t help you if you’re still working too hard at the office. Most office workers are used to working regularly under pressure. You get used to it, but it is important to know when it is becoming too much. If you are always tired and have no motivation, you might be in the middle of a burnout. When this happens, the only thing you can do is decrease your workload, or take some days off. A good manager will understand that this happens sometimes, so speak to them about what you can do. Sometimes a day or a week off can be enough to get back on your feet.

Remember that your health is important. Make sure that you know how to look after yourself, and that you keep a balanced and healthy lifestyle.