Healthy Workday Tips
“We get so screen focused we lose track of time, lose track of good health habits, lose track of ergonomics and the lines blur between work time and non-work time every day until it’s a never-ending stream of always on.”
By Katt Tozier
It’s been said that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, although I’m not sure that’s true nowadays in our 24/7 technology-driven culture.
And we spend a third of our lives working – really more than that by the time we factor in getting ready time, commuting time and work time outside regular office hours.
Between the two, there’s not a lot of time left for living life, it seems.
Work stress sucks up a lot of our time and energy, and if you’re not doing work you love, it’s draining you even more.
And the 24/7 technology-driven culture that’s sucking up some of our sleep time? It’s extending our work time, too. It’s all too easy to “quick check” something or “quick text” someone way past the end of the workday. And it’s equally easy to stay plugged in right through breaks, right through lunch and even before the day starts.
Even if your work isn’t primarily computer oriented, everyone’s putting in screen time – checking email, texting, shopping online, checking a website (yours or a competitors) and more. And that’s not counting all the screen time spent conducting personal business.
We get so screen focused we lose track of time, lose track of good health habits, lose track of ergonomics…and the lines blur between work time and non-work time every day until it’s a never-ending stream of always on.
How can you get back into a healthier balance with your work?
Take a break from the screen and build in some great self-care habits throughout the workday:
- Begin the day with a few morning rituals that nourish and balance you – write in a journal; do some yoga or exercise; meditate; spend a quiet few minutes with someone(s) you love; have a healthy breakfast, sitting down not as you run out the door; read a daily motivational book; walk the dog.
- Make your workspace inviting – add color, photographs, flowers, things that make you smile. If you’re in a place where it won’t disturb others, music and aromatherapy are also great additions.
- Be sure to stay hydrated and limit caffeine – too little water or too much caffeine dehydrates not only your body but your brain and makes it much harder to focus.
- Move around periodically – pay special attention to your neck, shoulders and lower spine as this is where we store tension most often, and it’s where we cause physical strain when we don’t sit or stand ergonomically as well as when we perform repetitive motions.
- Use your lunch break wisely – bring a nutritious, high protein lunch (too many carbs and sugar lead to afternoon drowsiness), get away from your workspace to eat (outdoors if you can) and take a little walk to re-kindle some energy.
- Have an end-of-the-workday ritual – it might be clearing the desk, making a to-do list for tomorrow, logging out and shutting down your computer, shutting off lights and locking up or something else. You’ll be signaling your mind and body that the workday is complete and you’re allowing room for the transition into non-work time.
- Use your commute time to transition (or take a few minutes to do this if you work from home) – listen to music or an audio book, shift mental gears and release thoughts from the workday, focus on slowing down your breathing and relaxing your shoulders and back.
- Make a commitment to limited screen time in the evenings – and personal only, no quick checking or quick texting for work allowed. Use the redeemed time to do something you love, be with someone(s) you love or get a little extra rest.
- If you work from home, either as a telecommuter or self-employed, it’s particularly hard to keep good boundaries on your workday and keep a healthy balance.
Here’s a few other things you can add to the above to help:
- Make it a part of your morning habit to get ready and dressed for the workday the same as if you were leaving the house. You don’t have to get “dressed up” but do get out of your pj’s or yoga clothes. It’s a psychological reminder that you’re moving into the workday.
- Have regular office hours – they don’t have to align with a traditional workday, or even be the same from day to day, but make it clear to yourself and others when you’ll be working. It’ll prevent spreading your work time all over everywhere and feeling like you never stop working.
- Minimize distractions and interruptions – silence anything you’d silence if you were in an employer’s office (your phone, your personal Facebook page, personal email, etc.) and focus on work tasks. Don’t start the laundry or supper or chores during work hours. Stand firm with people about your schedule – don’t allow them to assume your available because you’re home.
Getting started with these tips will move you a long ways toward better work-life balance and help prevent stress and burnout. The more you incorporate, the greater your energy will be – and the less you will feel like you’re missing out on living your life.
Take a moment now to decide where you’ll start and make a commitment to yourself to do it. Your mind and your body will thank you for it!