Work-Life Balance

How to keep in the best mental and physical shape when you’re working

Written by Peter Jones

You might think having a desk job or working long hours means that you have no choice but to eat poorly, sit around all day, and generally not take care of yourself during business hours. Sorry, you don’t get a free pass to let health matters fall by the wayside, even if you’re stuck indoors for hours at a time.

Here are a few great ways to make better choices and stay (or get!) healthy—even at the office.

Wear comfier shoes.

Do you find yourself taking the elevator for 1-2 floors instead of the stairs or skipping opportunities to take quick walks between meetings or calls or during your lunch break because your feet hurt in your dressy shoes? You might have to leave the sneakers at home, but from now on choose your work shoes wisely. Switch to something sturdier, where your toes move freely and your heel doesn’t slip. Once you’re free of the pinching and pain, you’ll be more apt to log some extra steps and get up and move.

Bring your food from home.

Making your own lunch and bringing your own snacks means that you’re not constantly beholden to take-out, cafeteria grub, and vending machine snacks. You’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your body and can make more conscious food choices. With tupperwares full of healthy noshes like nuts, dried fruit, and yogurt, you’ll avoid sugar cravings and crashes. Plus, you’ll save money! Make sure to include plenty of vegetables—try to scoot one or two into every meal or snack.

Set an alarm to get up and move.

Set yourself a timer so that every hour, on the hour (or something that works with your schedule), you get up and do a quick lap around the office. Maybe refill a water bottle, tea mug, or coffee cup, or eat your packed apple on the go. The bit of movement will keep your blood flowing and your muscles moving—and your brain more alert.

Don’t skip breakfast.

Jumpstart your metabolism in the morning with a healthy breakfast. If you don’t have time or energy to eat at home before arriving at work, then pack some Greek yogurt with pre-sliced fruit, or granola, or an oatmeal packet. The fiber and carbs and protein will perk you up for the long day ahead.

Sit up straight.

Stop slumping over your computer. Remain aware of your body placement throughout the day, and as soon as you feel your shoulders start rolling forward, straighten out that spine and place your head upright. Sitting up straight eases pressure on your spinal nerves and might even make it easier for you to concentrate.

Exercise outside of work.

Thirty minutes a week is all you need, provided you up the intensity enough. And keep in mind: little things add up. Can you park a 5-minute walk away from your office instead of vying for the closest spot? Can you walk somewhere for lunch instead of hopping in a car to drive a few blocks? These small things can make a real difference. Then, add in some daily post-work stretches, try a bit of light weight training to counteract some of the ill effects of sitting all day, and you’ll be good to go.

Get enough sleep.

Getting adequate sleep is a must for your sanity, your productivity, and your physical well-being. Start prioritizing sleep and you’ll see a noticeable difference in your energy and concentration.

Smile when you can.

Put on a happy face, even if you have to fake it until you make it. Just the simple act of smiling can release a physiological, hormonal response that makes you happier and relaxes muscles deep within.

About the author

Peter Jones