If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you can’t just leave your good habits at home each time you go in to work. Despite the office treats and the post-work happy hours, you’ll want to try your best to figure out ways to stay healthy at the office. As easy as it is to say I’ll eat healthy at dinner or I’ll be more active this weekend, you likely spend a good chunk of your time at work, and the choices you make throughout these days matter.
If you’re looking to switch up your daily habits at your workplace, consider these 11 tips to stay healthy at the office.
1. Get Up And Move
Sitting all day is not only unhealthy for you, but it can cause pain in your back, shoulders, hips and neck. “Take a few short walks during the day,” says holistic chiropractic practitioner Dr. Meggie Smith, DC over email. “Getting up and moving during the day will help prevent pain in your back and in your joints. An added benefit is that studies have shown that you are more creative when you are walking. If you are brainstorming a new initiative or trying to solve a problem at work, take a walk.”
2. Pack Your Own Lunch
“It’s really hard to make good choices when you are hungry or when you are eating out,” says Smith. “By packing your lunch, you can make food you like and still stay on track with your healthy eating plans. The key is to make sure some part of it feels like a treat. Buy a cute lunch bag, pack your favorite drink or find a great spot in the park and eat lunch there.”
3. Keep A Healthy Snack At Your Desk
“Bring a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies from home, or leave dried fruit and nuts in your desk,” says Smith. “Dried fruit can have a lot of sugar, but as much of it is natural sugar, it’s likely better than anything you’ll find in the office vending machines.”
4. Drink Water
Make sure you’re sipping on water throughout the day, as even just mild dehydration can cause moodiness, fatigue, and problems focusing, according to research from the Journal of Nutrition. “For water intake, you ideally should divide your weight in two, and drink that many ounces of water over the course of a day,” says Dr. Jack Dybis, D.O. over email. “So, a 140-pound woman should drink 70 ounces of water.”
5. Take Breaks
You might not feel like you have time for breaks, but taking some time away from your desk can have some profound effects. “It will help you with eye strain from staring at the monitor, lower back and neck tension from sitting all day, and many other complications that come with sitting at a desk all day,” says Almekinder. “It’s also important for you to mentally and physically refresh from hours of work, and it can even improve your work output.”
6. Get Some Fresh Air
“Getting fresh air is proven to help make you feel better and increase your productivity for the rest of the day,” says Dr. Ehsan Ali of Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor over email. It can help relax your mind while revitalizing your body with energy, according to research from the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
7. Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
“We know that there is a direct connection between your stress levels and your health,” says Smith. “If you are in a work environment that is emotionally hurtful or stressful, that is going to negatively impact your health. It will also impact your ability to do your job well.” Take the time to do some breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or even a little desk yoga.
8. Ditch The Sugar
It’s tempting to reach for a sugary treat as you fall into the afternoon slump, but they actually can make you feel much worse. “Sugary snacks and drinks are not the way to go,” says Almekinder. Leave those out of your diet, your desk and out of your sight.” Instead, fill up on complex carbohydrates like oat meal or whole grain toast, as research from the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that eating carbohydrate-rich foods can help improve your alertness in addition to keeping you full.
9. Decorate Your Desk
“Our environment can have a dramatic effect on our mental and emotional health, and sometimes the rigid and stifling setting of the office can bring about depressive and even anxious moods,” says Almekinder. “Take your workspace as an opportunity to decorate it and personalize it — within reason, of course. Add a plant or a few pictures to help bring your work space to life.”
10. Collaborate With Your Coworkers
It’s easier to pick up on healthy habits if you aren’t doing them alone. A study from the journal Science found that people have a better chance at adopting healthier habits if they find a friend with similar traits to share the experience.
11. Talk To Management
“The easiest way to succeed in wellness at work is to create an office culture of health,” says Sarah Jacobs co-founder of The Wellness Project NYC over email. “Form a committee, set office-wide rules, or ask HR specifically for what you want: healthier snacks, nutrition education, office-wide challenges, wellness programming. If your work-world is in line with your goals, you’re not constantly fighting a battle — you’re supported.”
Feeling healthy at work is just as important as picking up good habits at home, so try to put your best foot forward no matter where you are.