If you’re like me and spend most of your day in an office, you probably think it’s impossible to practice healthy habits on the reg. (Unless your company has an in-office gym or catered meals every day—if that’s you, you’re a lucky duck.)
Well, I’ll prove you wrong. I came up with not one, not 10, but 19 easy ways to have a stronger mind, body, and spirit in just your average workspace. By easy, I mean these are so quick and simple you wouldn’t believe you can actually improve yourself by doing them. And yet, I have proof you can!
Read on to learn my healthy little secrets!
1. Keep Healthy Snacks Nearby
As Muse writer Nina Tamburello says, “When the vending machine or leftovers from the 3 PM meeting tempt you with their ease and convenience, it’s hard to just say no to chips and cookies during that mid-afternoon slump.”
So, instead, leave a bag of almonds or kale chips next to your laptop. It’s much easier than getting up to snag something from the office kitchen.
2. Bring Your Own Lunch
When you make it, and the local sandwich shop doesn’t, you get to control what kinds of foods you choose to eat. Yes, this takes work, but it’s so worth it for your health and your bank account.
3. Hang Out With the “Health Nuts”
Science says you eat what your friends eat, so try surrounding yourself with people who’ll unintentionally help you kick your bad habits.
4. Stand Up and Stretch Often
Even if it’s just to tackle some emails or short to-dos, spend 30 minutes a day standing at your desk—we bet it’ll boost your energy. Oh, and if your office doesn’t have any place where you can work standing up, then just literally make sure you’re physically standing up and stretching at least once an hour.
There’s also nothing worse than leaving work at the end of the day with a kink in your neck or sore muscles, so avoid the pain with these 17 exercises that you can do right at your desk!
5. Practice Smart Computer Habits
Staring at a computer all day is exhausting, and hard on the eyes, neck, back, and head.
So, remember to take short breaks between tasks, turn the brightness down on your computer, sit up straight, use eye drops, and shift positions occasionally.
6. Schedule Walking Meetings
Take your meetings on a stroll, where you can enjoy some sunshine, stretch your muscles, and maybe get those creative juices flowing.
7. Take the Stairs
It’s a quick way to get your heart rate up when there’s no time for a workout. (If you work on the 20th floor or higher like I do, maybe try taking the stairs halfway and catching an elevator when you’ve exhausted yourself.)
Tiring idea? Yes, but science says it’ll make you smarter!
8. Work Out in the Middle of the Day
If you can, try taking an hour off work to head to a nearby yoga studio or go for a run. Muse Senior Editor Stacey Gawronski found that after doing so, her day flew by and she still got a lot done, despite losing an hour: “I [felt] so productive from my exercise boost that I barely noticed what time it was.”
9. Try a Quick Nap
It can be hard to just conk out on your desk without concerning your boss, but if you’re able to—and desperately need it—let him or her know you could use a bit of shut-eye to refocus and excuse yourself to a couch or private room for a quick nap. You’ll be more productive for the rest of the day. (Just don’t do it every day.)
10. Work Outside
“Believe it or not, your natural habitat is not a room filled with fluorescent lights and computer screens,” says Muse Career Coach Lea McLeod.
Grab your laptop, or an old-fashioned notebook, and get some work done (even if it’s just for a bit) at a park nearby, on a bench outside your office, or in an outdoor restaurant. It’ll reduce your stress, and give you a healthy dose of vitamin D. (And, if you’re not sure how this will work, try using these 16 items to help you shift your desk to a new space.)
11. Carve Out Personal Time
You can’t work all the time, it’s just not good for you. As Muse Writer Lily Hermanrealized, “My constant desire to work came to a head when I start showing signs of ‘brownout’—it’s the notion that while I was performing fine from the outside, I was slowly becoming exhausted, unmotivated, and uninspired.”
So, literally set aside a slot on your calendar for “you” time—whether that means getting yourself a coffee, scrolling through social media, or chatting with a co-worker.
12. Drink Lots of Water
It goes without saying, really. Water equals a happy body (and less mid-day headaches).
My secret for success? A fun water bottle. Try out one with a straw, or a button, or a flippy lid.
13. Buy a Stress-Relief Toy
Take your frustrations out on something else besides your co-workers or boss—it’ll salvage your relationships and ease your stress. For some great ideas, check out these 18 options that’ll fit right on your desk.
14. Start an Office Workout Tradition
Here at The Muse, we’re big fans of the 3 PM “judgment-free” push-ups—it’s when members of our team stop what they’re doing to do a round of push-ups together. Besides getting in a quick workout, it’s a great way to bond as co-workers.
Did I inspire you? Get a group together and start your own healthy tradition! It can be as simple as swapping tea for coffee in the afternoons or taking a 10-minute mid-day walk.
15. Stare Out the Window
Science says that just looking at a tree can reduce stress and make you feel better overall. This is probably the easiest health tip I’ve given you all day. (Unless you live in a city, then maybe try purchasing a plant?)
16. Replace That Second (or Third, or Fourth) Cup of Coffee
Rather than shoving more caffeine into your body, try replacing an afternoon coffee with de-caffeinated tea or sugar-free gum.
17. Turn the Music Down
Loud music is harsh on the eardrums, so if you’re constantly blasting it through your headphones, turn the volume down a notch. And this way, you’ll be able to hear if your boss is calling for you.
18. Give Your Hands a Break
They’re doing the legwork all day (unlike your legs), so give them a rest by stretching them out or taking a second to relax them in your lap. You don’t want to get carpel tunnel, do you?
Cheesy, I know, but if you just take one minute (or more!) of your time a day to stop, look away from your work, and just breathe, you’ll feel a heck of a lot better. If you’re feelingreally ambitious, you might even practice mindfulness or meditation.
My final tip for you: Everything in moderation. Healthy habits are about balancing work and pleasure, cookies and vegetables, sitting and standing. You don’t have to stop having fun or enjoying a beer with co-workers, but be mindful of how much and how often you choose one thing over another possibly better option.
Did I miss anything? Got any secrets to smart office living? Tweet me!
Photo of woman smiling courtesy of Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images.