Deviating from the “tech” norm this month, I wanted to share some ideas of keeping healthy while working in a standard office environment. The type of days many of us have in the office usually involve spending most, if not all, of our time sitting down and staring at a computer or speaking on the phone. While we may be getting quite the workout of the mind, we may also be leaving our bodies much to desire. With that being said, there is definitely truth to the saying of “sound body, sound mind.” If we neglect taking care of ourselves, our minds can get tired and affect the way we think or make important decisions. Unfortunately, the easiest thing to do is neglect ourselves for the sake of sparing the extra time needed to get a project finished or meet a deadline. There are only 24 hours in a day, so until any marvels of time travel are made public, that has to be the window of time that we work with. This means likely getting a bit better with sticking to time management; however, we can’t just plan for what our work days will be like in terms of appointments, we need to set aside time for ourselves and what we need. Trust me, prioritizing time for yourself will benefit your career by giving you more energy and positivity to face each day. You may also be much more pleasant person in the office.
Your body needs sleep to be healthy or even properly functional.
First things first, working in a standard office environment with a 9 to 5 or 8 to 5 schedule gives us the benefit of our days being mostly predictable. For myself, I know that I need to wake up at a certain time to get ready and get to work. At the end of the day, I usually know when I can cut out, fight traffic, and make it home. Of course, unusual circumstances do arise, but in general, this reliable routine is a benefit we are afforded. with this foundation in place, you can begin budgeting your time and learn to stick with the things that will help you. Learn how much sleep your body NEEDS. There is a sleep cycle for everybody and giving your body this consistent rest is important. Many of us think of sleep as being completely disposable and we end up burning the candle at both ends. In reality your body NEEDS to catch up on its sleep. It may be a week, two weeks, or whatever undetermined amount of time until it happens, but it will happen. All the while, being sleep deprived will negatively affect your day. How many of us catch ourselves yawning at 3PM barely able to keep our eyes open? What’s the solution usually? Coffee. Red Bull. Splash of cold water in your face. That can work in a pinch, but you’ll be back where you were shortly and compounding this with day after day of neglect will get you when you least expect it. This can mean sleeping a good portion of your weekend away or oversleeping because you didn’t hear your alarm: it always catches up to you eventually.
Coffee/caffeine is something that temporarily gives you a “boost” and wakes you up. But, If you begin treating sleep as a necessity, you’ll understand what your body wants. Getting enough rest should allow you to run your whole day without needing stimulants and also allow your body to feel as it should naturally. Not to mention, coffee can disrupt your sleep cycle as well. I know of many times where I’ve felt completely drained but couldn’t sleep, and that’s because all of the caffeine I put into my body to keep myself awake fighting off that rest I needed.
Just as important as sleep is what you eat.
In our fast-paced lives, the idea of putting time aside to eat healthy can seem like an impossibility. To go along that road, a #5 value menu meal for $2.99 seems great as you can hop into your car, give someone cash at a drive-thru and eating your quickly-made lunch on the way back to the office seems like great time management. Just as true as “sound body, sound mind,” is also “garbage in, garbage out.” If you’re constantly putting unhealthy foods in your body, this can affect how you behave and feel. Once again, the benefit of working a job with a fairly set schedule is being able to set a pattern. Try a weekly plan for what you would like to eat. Write this down and go to the store and get exactly what you need. Ideally, I would recommend putting the time aside to make dinner every night and stick with the routine of when you eat. This may come as huge “culture shock” when beginning this process. If this feels overwhelming, begin by taking this in weekly increments. Take a larger amount of time on your weekend and make yourself meals for the week. This way you can reheat and eat. Once you’ve established a more positive pattern then you can look at revisiting the idea of taking a little time every day to do this.
The small things can add up.
Finally, there’re other small things you can do throughout the day that will be great benefit. It may not seem as much at first but making these small changes and being consistent with them will lead to even better changes as you go. Skip happy hour! Sometimes it seems like a great way to blow off the steam and the funk of the day or week. It may be these things at the moment, but how many times are we so in that moment that the next day feels awful? Many people go out to a happy hour for the social aspect, how about trying to get together with a group of friends with a similar goal and go jogging, to the gym, or to your local recreation center? While working, try and maximize the amount of time you walk or are on your feet, park at the end of the block and give yourself a brisk walk to the front door and convert your desk to allow standing while working.
Try the as many or all of the above ideas and these changes will show you great benefit in time, as long as you can stick to them.
Alex Hoosz, PEI