Bringing Health To Your Desk Job

Happy Wednesday! If you're like me you're thinking it's halfway to the weekend, glorious weekend.

I work a full time desk job and, while it's good for the rent and I'm grateful for the work, I know it can definitely take a toll on my health. I can sometimes feel like I need to work hard to fight the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and that creating balance can be a definite challenge. 
Photo by ainudil
I certainly notice the difference between a full-time sit-down gig and one that requires a bit more activity. So, In my continuing quest for absolute health (and awesomeness), these are a few simple things I've found I can do at work to help me feel a bit better and combat the effects of a computer gig. 
  1. Breathe- This is obvious, but I mean pay attention to your breath. Having done some vocal study, I've learned a few breathing exercises and I find the same ones I can use to help warm up also help to energize and relax me. One of my favourite quiet ones is the leaky tire- I just breathe in and slowly release the air in an almost silent SSS sound. I feel good in my body and also personally as I lengthen my time. (Stay tuned as I explore breathing exercises for singing, asthma, and life in general). I find that even a short amount of time where I breathe deeply can help to calm me down and make me feel a bit more alive.
  2. Photo-Greg Riegler Photography

  3. Drink- I don't mean a bottle of scotch in the desk. I mean stay hydrated. I started keeping a glass of water on my desk and filling it up whenever it's empty. It's recommended that we drink about 2 litres of water everyday and keeping the glass in sight helps me reach this goal. By doing that, I know I'm hydrated for any singing/ dancing/ running/ living I want to do.

  4. Stretch- I felt a little funny at first, but coworkers who saw me were pretty supportive of my efforts to stay flexible. It's easy to find lists of stretches and exercises you can do at your desk or modify your favourites for the office. I had to remember to include my eyes. It seems a little harder to take my eyes off the screen than my hands off the keyboard, but it's extremely important and takes very little time. Your body will thank you.

  5. Move- When one of my coworkers went on vacation, she lent me her exercise ball and I was very happy. At first it just made my day seem a little more exciting, but later I found myself stretching my legs and hips and "dancing" around on the ball as I typed.  There are varying opinions on the ball. Some say it is supposed to help with posture by engaging core muscles and I have noticed less upper back pain, it's also supposed to help with balance. Some others say it's not very ergonomically friendly and can cause more damage than good. I, personally, like it for most of the day. If you do try it out, remember to get the right size for you. More info here.

  6. Photo by o5com
  7. Walk- Sometimes an email is the right way to go, but sometimes popping over to another person's desk will be the best route. When I jaunt over to a colleague, not only do I get away from the computer and stretch my legs (eyes, arms), but I find it helps me to feel a little less like I live alone in a world of only computers and I get to exercise that speaking voice of mine.

  8. Sit properly- A quick search will yield a good amount of diagrams and information on proper lighting as well as the what the height and position of your chair, arms, screen, and keyboard should. If you're going to be sitting in a spot all day, you're going to want to make sure you're doing it as healthfully as possible. This may mean adjusting your chair, placing large books under your screen, or asking for a light bulb changed, but it will be well worth it.

  9. Photo by matthewvenn
  10. Take time off- Breaks, lunch, vacation, weekends, mornings, evenings- this is your time. I mean really, unless you want your job to be your life, leave it at the door. I found that it can be challenging (and I'm still trying to figure out the not dreaming about work), but I try to make sure I have a full life outside of the 35 hours I spend at the desk each week. For me that means that I make time for my interests and people in my life. I go home, to the gym, museum, or someplace that's not my desk for my lunch break. If I have some time during the day, I'll try to plan what I'd like to do in my free time after work and on the weekends. I really try to avoid sitting down in front of the tv when I get home because I know that the struggle to keep my energy up will be lost. Since it's my time, that's when I want my vitality. I prepare by keeping hydrated, snacking a little towards the end of the day, and now, taking a 5 minute breather before I leave the place!!!  (If you don't know why I'm excited, read this.)
As I get more used to the lifestyle and see things that need to change, I find more solutions. Onwards and upwards.  What do you do to stay healthy, keep up your energy, or stay calm with the things that keep you busy?  Leave a comment, I'd love to hear about it.


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