March is the perfect time to take a moment to reflect on our health. Winter is still in full swing, and for many, this is when resolutions to exercise more and eat better fall to the wayside. I suspect it’s part of the reason why March is designated as National Nutrition Month.
Research proves that professionals everywhere struggle to find a healthy professional lifestyle, with 53% of all office workers saying that their health is negatively impacted by their workplace. In the daily grind it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important, but only when we are healthy can we be as creative and productive as possible. Whether you’re seeking ways to improve your own health in the office or are trying to help your employees, there are certain tips that have worked wonders for me and my staff.
Start the Day Healthy
We’ve all been there at one time or another. You jump out of bed at the last minute, rush to get ready, and get to work right when the clock hits nine. It creates a rushed feeling that derails your morning and creates a hectic day. That’s why it’s so important to start your day early, and start it right.
For me, that means going to the gym at six every morning. It gets my blood flowing and ensures I’m completely alert and ready to attack the day when I get into the office. For others, it might be reading a book, meditating, tending to a garden, or listening to/playing music (I studied opera for two years and can attest to the power of music in making one feel good!). The key is setting aside that first part of the day for yourself, to find some peace and allow your brain free to wander. I’ve often thought of my best ideas during this time frame.
Starting your day healthy also means starting it early. I’m typically in the office by 7:30 a.m., a solid half hour before most others. This is valuable time where, uninterrupted, I’m able to focus completely on my priorities for the day. I catch up on emails and voicemails, adjust my to-do list, and calmly begin the work day. That first part of my morning is incredibly productive, and sets the right tone that lasts well into the afternoon.
Find Your Charger
Just like our phones, our bodies and minds need time to recharge. When we stretch ourselves too thin, our health takes a hit and our work product suffers. It’s important to remember there is no industry, job, call, meeting, or project as important as your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Everyone recharges differently. It’s often said that introverts feel refreshed by spending time on solo hobbies, while extroverts are energized by being around others. There’s no one right answer. After a long day, some love a true crime binge on Netflix while others plan dinner and drinks with friends. The idea is to find what refreshes you and build it into your day.
For me, watching the Golden State Warriors play basketball, whether on TV after work or at Oracle Arena, is energizing. I’m an avid golfer and love being outside on a gorgeous day. I also look for any opportunity to get inspired, whether it’s watching moving speeches at the Golden Globes, mentoring young girls with big dreams, or volunteering with a stellar local charity. Doing good truly makes me feel good, keeping me motivated and making me better at my job.
Adopt Healthy Office Habits
In addition to starting your day early and in a healthy way, there are many little changes you can build into your work day that add up to improve your health:
- Take the stairs, park far away from the entrance, and go for walks around the building. While 42% of office workers say they don’t have a “breakout area” that they can go to from their desk, these can still help build more activity into the day.
- Use your full lunch break. Don’t be tempted to cut it short, and rather than eat at your desk, seek out a break room, communal area on another floor, picnic table outside, or restaurant down the street.
- Eat healthy. We all can agree that fast food and snacks high in sugar, salt, and fat taste delicious, but we also know what it’s like trying to be productive after eating a huge burger for lunch.
- Take a page from The Guardian and build tiny, 1-minute workouts into your day if possible.
- Get enough sleep. It can be hard when there never seems to be enough hours in the day, but we can’t be at the top of our game without solid sleep.
- Give your eyes a break. Look away from your computer screen regularly, use an app or wear glasses that filter out blue light, and turn your brightness down so your eyes can recharge too.
- Bring nature indoors. It’s scientifically proven that even pictures of trees can calm us, so consider changing your background, bringing in a small plant, or looking out the window more.
- Talk to your supervisor. If you ever feel you’re burning out, have a frank conversation about why you’re so taxed and any good boss will help you plan a better, more sustainable way forward.
Improving Your Health in the Office
It’s great to work hard in the office, but balance is important. Without my morning workouts and personal hobbies, I wouldn’t be nearly as professionally successful as I am today. I also treat myself from time to time and suggest you do as well. March may be National Nutrition Month, but I find it appropriate that it comes directly after National Snack Food Month. As long as you’re making your health a priority in life, go ahead and enjoy your guilty pleasure. Sometimes it’s the best way to recharge yourself.
Whether you’re an employer or a professional, if you want to work with a company that values your health, let’s chat.