Working at a desk may appear safe, but it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. While the occupational hazards in an office differ from those at a construction site or hospital, it’s still wise to take precautions.
A growing number of studies have raised concerns about the effects of sitting for long periods.
Some of the dangers include increased risk of heart conditions, diabetes, certain cancers, and weight gain.
That’s troubling considering that the average American spends over 10 hours a day sitting.
Add job-related stress to the mixture, and you can see how the consequences can add up.
Learn what steps you can take to counteract the downside of your desk job. Start with these ideas for protecting your health and wellbeing.
Tips for Protecting Your Physical Health:
- Adjust your posture. Slouching can cut off your circulation and make your lower backache. Try drawing your shoulder blades down and back to open up your chest. A lumbar support pillow may help too.
- Take frequent breaks. Studies show that moving around about every half hour reduces the harmful effects of sitting. It may be even more effective than regular exercise. Make a habit of stretching or walking around your office for a few minutes.
- Align your wrists. Typing with your wrists bent could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Rest your hands and make sure your workstation is ergonomic.
- Rest your eyes. If your eyes are dry, and your vision is blurry, you may be staring at the computer screen too long. Look away and try eye exercises such as blinking or staring at something in the distance to give your eyes a break from the computer screen.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps to support your body temperature, metabolism, and heart health. Aim for eight glasses a day.
- Bring snacks. It’s easier to resist the vending machines when you have a supply of wholesome snack foods. Good choices include nuts, baby carrots, and hummus.
- Pack your lunch. Save money and calories by bringing your lunch to work. You can prepare it the night ahead if you run out of time in the morning.
Tips for Protecting Your Mental Health:
- Make friends. Work buddies increase job satisfaction. Get to know your coworkers and look for common interests. Share stories about your personal life and encourage them to do the same.
- Connect in person.Face-to-face contact also contributes to stronger relationships. Try dropping by someone’s office instead of emailing.
- Wake up early. Do you go days without seeing the sun because you’re inside all day? Rising an hour earlier could enhance your mood and give you more time to work out and eat a hearty breakfast.
- Use your vacation days. Letting your vacation days go to waste undermines your health and productivity, so time off is beneficial for you and your employer. Even just planning a vacation can lift your spirits, so make a list of your favorite destinations and research them.
- Decorate your space. A cluttered desk can be a source of stress. Find an organizing system that works for you and put files you don’t often use out of sight. While you’re at it, add a few personal touches and a pretty plant.
- Focus on helping others. Any job is more meaningful and gratifying if you remember the purpose. When you’re having a rough day, think about the people who enjoy your efforts.
You can stay healthy without giving up your paycheck. Adopt simple habits that will protect your wellbeing even if you spend many hours a day behind a desk.