For many of us, our job requires you to be pretty stationary, and, most likely, hunched over some form of keyboard, staring at a screen for the majority of your work day. And while you (hopefully!) enjoy what you do and can see yourself enjoying your occupation well into the future, it may well be taking a serious toll on your overall health!
Studies have even revealed that this type of sedentary lifestyles can lead to reduced muscle strength and weaker bones, inflammation, weight gain, and a weakened immune system.¹
It’s a bit of a scary thought that just doing our daily job may be detrimental to our bodies!
And if that’s not enough to make us sit up and take notice of the hazards of sitting still, some studies have also indicated that all this sitting and staring at screens all day may be detrimental to our mental health.²
So to combat these super scary stats, we’ve compiled a go-to list of 20 strategies to help you stay healthy if you’re stuck at a desk all day!
1. Have A Morning Routine
While not everyone is a morning person, waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to face the day ahead, everyone should develop a good morning routine. The way you start a day often sets the tone for the rest of the day to come, and if your mornings involve stress inducing mad rushes to get ready and get to work on time, you’re going to be adding unnecessary stress to yourself, and stress is at the root of so many illnesses and conditions.
A calm, productive, and overall healthy day starts in the morning, so find a morning routine that works for you, and allows you to start the day’s tasks positively, rather than the mad rush that always puts you on edge.
Related read: Making Your Morning Routine Work For You
Stress is another thing that can be seriously detrimental to your health. So take (some of) the stress out of your work day by planning! Setting up a workable schedule is one of the best ways to help keep you on top of all that you have to do and all that you want to accomplish. And this planning is important because it gives you a workable plan for accomplishing all that you want to achieve.
Whether it’s on your digital calendar or in your bullet journal, take a few minutes every morning to plan all you’ve got to do. That way, you can alleviate some of that hazardous stress!
3. Write Things Down
Mental fatigue and exhaustion are only two of the negative effects of a stressful, unhealthy work environment. And overcrowding your mind with your (ever-growing!) mental to-do list is a quick way to drain your mental energy.
The solution? Write things down! As soon as you write down all those little things you want to remember, the appointments you need to keep, the meetings you need to attend, you can conserve that energy and save huge amounts of stress.
4. Take Regular Breaks
One of the easiest ways we can counteract the negative effects of sitting still is simply to take regular breaks. Not only will regular breaks help keep your focus levels high, but they can also help refresh your energy so that you’ve got what you need to crush that to-do list and conquer the day’s goals.
You could set alarms (set them to vibrate if you’re in a co-working space!) on your phone or smart watch to help remind you to take that break. And while taking breaks might seem counterproductive at first, you’ll more than likely find that knowing that a break is coming up gives you that extra drive to complete your tasks before your break, and you’ll complete more tasks than before.
5. Practice Good Posture
Bad posture plays a huge role in the aches and pains we often experience at the end of the day, but with a few minor adjustments, these could be a thing of the past. First up, make sure you’re keeping your feet on the ground or on a footrest. Try and avoid crossing your legs and ankles as this can inhibit blood circulation. Sit up straight, keep your shoulders relaxed, and you should begin to feel that tension melt away! If you are prone to backache or simply want to improve your sitting posture, you could consider swapping your desk chair for a large exercise ball. These are a great way to improve your posture and overall balance, but it will also help work your core muscles, all while you’re working on your next episode.
6. Stand Whenever Possible
Standing can improve your circulation, prevent or ease digestive issues, and can even boost your energy levels.³ So be sure to stand whenever possible!
Think of tasks you can do out of your seat. Phone calls, reading emails, even some meetings with colleagues are just some of the tasks that can be done standing.
You could also invest in a standing desk. These make it easy to incorporate standing into your workday, and help you reap all the benefits a little standing brings to your mind and body.
7. Take The Stairs
Besides finding as many opportunities as you can to stand, to keep your body moving throughout your day, always choose to take the stairs. Elevators are great, but they don’t exactly get the heart racing and the blood pumping. So wherever you can squeeze in some extra steps, do it! Park a little further from the office, find a new lunch spot that requires a bit of walk, simply find ways to add extra steps to your daily routine.
8. Embrace Ergonomics
Ergonomics is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.”⁴ So another way you can improve your desk life is to survey your work environment to see where a little applied ergonomics could make a big difference to your overall well being.
You could check that the height of your chair in relation to your desk is correct, that your chair provides as much support as possible, and that you get enough light in your workspace. You should also make sure that your computer screen is at the optimal level and at the right angle to prevent any strain.
Fun fact: According to the American Optometric Association, your computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.⁵
9. Squeeze in a Little Stretching
A really easy way to reverse some of the effects of sitting is to simply do some stretching while you’re at your desk. It might sound a little strange and you may feel a little silly at first, but as soon as you experience the perks of a little – dare I say it – deskercise, there’ll be no going back!
There’s a whole host of exercises and stretches you can do without even leaving your chair! From your triceps to your torso, your legs to your lats, there are many options of stretches you can incorporate into your daily routine to keep your muscles loose and your body strong.
If you need a little help getting started, check out this post for some great examples of stretches you can do from the comfort of your desk chair.
10. Give Your Eyes A Break
You’ve no doubt noticed that increased exposure to your screens in all forms has to lead to a marked decrease in the optimal functioning of your eyes. If they’re burning, itchy, or just plain sore at the end of the day, chances are high that damage is being done. But thankfully, there are ways to reduce and, to some extent, prevent the negative effects of prolonged screen time. One of the best ways to do this is to simply take regular breaks from your screens. These breaks allow your eyes to refocus and readjust, which can help ease the strain.
Which brings us to…
11. Work Those Eye Muscles
You could also consider doing some eye exercises during these breaks. The American Optometric Association recommends looking away from your screen or simply closing your eyes for a few seconds at least once every 20 minutes, and taking at least a 15-minute break for every two hours you spend staring at your screen. During these longer breaks, they recommend doing some eye exercises to get your eyes to refocus and the eye muscles to relax.
You can find some examples of eye exercises you can try here.
12. Update Your Eyewear
Another easy way to help reduce eye strain is to invest in a pair of anti-blue light glasses. These help filter out that pesky blue light that does the damage to our eyes. If you already wear glasses, you can ask your optometrist to apply an anti-blue light filter to your lenses. Trust me, if your job requires copious amounts of screen time during the day, these anti-blue light glasses are an absolute must! I noticed an incredible difference from the first day I used mine!
Bonus Tip: To help ease eye strain to an even greater extent, try adjusting the light settings of your computer screen. Aim to get the brightness of your screen to match that of your workspace. That way, your eyes don’t have to work so hard to adjust to the different light sources, which is a prominent cause of computer-related eye problems.
13. Stay Hydrated
Another key strategy to keeping you healthy and happy at your desk is making sure you stay hydrated. Water aids circulation, delivers much-needed nutrients throughout the body, and flushes out unwanted toxins, and these are just some of the many reasons why health professionals promote the drinking of water.
An easy way to do this is to keep a water bottle at your desk to sip on throughout the day. You could even get creative and add some fruit or herbs to your water, or go wild with a combination of the two!
HINT: As an added bonus, drinking plenty of water will force you to take more breaks and get in more steps, either to refill or use the restroom, helping you tick off two of the other strategies with one simple move.
14. Snack Smart
All this means is simply picking food that keeps you fueled up and energized. Remember, your body and your mind are your greatest assets in terms of maintaining high levels of productivity, so you need to give them what makes them function at their optimum. Everyone’s body works a little differently, but we all know what food makes our body feel good, and which ones tend to make us feel bloated or sluggish, so make sure you pick the ones that fuel your body best!
And to help you make sure you’re fueling your body with the right nutrients, you should consider preparing healthy meals and snacks beforehand. This will help you make the best choices, rather than letting your ravenous hunger come lunchtime lead you to the vending machine, or that fast food joint down the street.
15. Get Good Zzz’s
Yup, one of the best ways to take care of your physical and mental well-being is simply to make sure you consistently get enough sleep. Sleep is important as it’s the time when our bodies restore our energy levels, as well as giving our bodies the time to heal and repair, or simply process all that happens in a day. When we get enough sleep, we have the energy to accomplish our tasks and the emotional capacity to successfully navigate challenges.
16. Exercise Regularly
Another way you can practice some self-care is to make sure you exercise regularly. Finding the time to fit in regular exercise amongst your other responsibilities can be a challenge, but if you draw up a weekly schedule, and work exercise into your daily routine, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can fit in! Exercise gives endorphins, known as the happy hormone, and who wouldn’t want more of that, right? With the extra energy and endorphins coursing through your body, you’ll begin to feel more energized and positive. And you’ll be able to transmit that positivity to your podcast. Whether it’s increased inspiration for when you’re creating content or just an extra dose of enthusiasm you send streaming through your episodes, there’s no doubt your show will benefit from you feeling your best. So whether it’s yoga or rock climbing, trail running, or water aerobics, find something that brings you joy and gets you feeling great.
17. Build Some Good Habits
Almost all of the strategies we’ve shared will require you to change many of your daily habits. And this is usually easier said than done. But some habit changing is exactly what needs to happen if you want to keep your body in a healthy state while you continue crushing your daily tasks.
Changing your habits might not be as easy, or as speedy as we would like, but it is possible. Check out this post that shares 10 Habit Building Strategies That ACTUALLY Work.
18. Try Productivity Techniques
Incorporating some productivity techniques to your daily routine could help you save time during your day, helping you stay in control of all you have to do. When you’re always running behind schedule and always running late, your adrenaline is working overtime and you’re in danger of reaching burnout level. And that’s why productivity techniques can be so helpful.
They put you back in control, allow you to save time during the day, which you can then use to rest, work on your side hustle, spend time with your family, or whatever activities rejuvenate your soul and mind.
Related read: 10 Top Free Resources To Boost Your Productivity
19. Clock Off
When the end of the working day comes, it’s time to clock off – both physically and mentally! If you’re goal-driven and results-oriented, you more than likely end up taking work home with you, as you’re always trying to “get ahead.” But if you keep doing that, and don’t give yourself time to debrief and decompress, you’re eventually going to burn out.
So, make sure that you learn to clock off each day, and make time for other things you love! Go for a walk, take part in a family activity, listen to your favorite podcast, have a hot bath – whatever gives you the time to debrief from the day’s activities and charge up again for tomorrow.
20. Incorporate Some Self-Care
Self-care is way more than just a fad. Self-care is really just making the time to take stock of our mental health, and implement techniques that help us keep focused, motivated, and happy. We all know the importance of developing healthy food habits and exercising to keep our bodies strong. Well, our minds need this kind of care too!
We need to deliberately carve out the time in our busy schedules for activities that help us recharge, debrief, or just slow down a bit, as taking care of our mental health is just as necessary as the exercise and healthy food we give to our bodies.
Run a hot bath, make a cup of tea or coffee and curl up with your favorite book for an hour, exercise, journal, anything that allows you that time your mind and body need to debrief, recharge, and build your energy levels up again.
The majority of us can’t get away from the fact that our jobs require us to spend a lot of time sitting down. Whether it’s at our desks all day, during our commute, not to mention all the time spent sitting staring at our screens during our latest Netflix binge…
And while this may be “the norm,” this lifestyle can have some serious negative repercussions for our health! And if the average person spends 12 hours a day sitting down,⁶ we need to have some serious help to combat the sedation.
Incorporate some of these 20 strategies into your daily routine, and sitting down all day won’t be getting you or your health down any more.
1. Get Healthy Stay Healthy: https://www.gethealthystayhealthy.com/articles/is-sitting-behind-your-desk-bad-for-your-health
2. Association for Psychological Science: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/more-bad-news-about-sitting-it-may-harm-workers-mental-health.html
3. Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-rest/201803/should-we-stand-work
4. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ergonomics
5. American Optometric Association: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome
6. JUSTSTAND.ORG: https://www.juststand.org/the-facts/