Physical and mental health are closely linked. Just think of all those stress-related illnesses that afflict average Americans every day.
Of course health is important.
But when we spend the majority of our time at work, often sitting in front of a computer, it can be hard to make health a priority.
Fortunately, most employers now recognize the advantages of having a happy, healthy workforce, so offices are more likely to facilitate and encourage healthier work habits.
Here are 25 tips to help you stay fit, stress-free, and healthy even when you spend all day in front of a computer.
25 Healthy Work Habits
1: Move More
The basic rule of physical health is this:
Move your body.
Sitting is one of the most prominent modern health risks today, increasing a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease as much as 125%.
Just standing up and moving around during your breaks can have a significant positive impact on your health.
Ergonomic furniture and office appliances reduce fatigue and health risks, make your workspace more comfortable, and help you work more efficiently.
It might seem silly to spend a little extra on an ergonomically designed keyboard or chair, but when you consider how much time you spend using these items and how much it benefits your body.
3: No Desk Snacking
Snacking often has nothing to do with hunger and everything to do with boredom.
Keeping snacks at your desk is dangerous:
Mindlessly munching while you work doesn’t do your body any favors, and it’s a hard habit to break once you’ve started.
By keeping your desk a food-free zone, you’ll improve your nutrition and your hygiene, since crumbs and sticky bits from desk snacks often end up accumulated in keyboards and other office nooks and crannies.
4: Pay Attention to Posture
Did you know that poor posture can lead to joint wear, back pain, hip problems, reduced flexibility, flagging energy, and even contributes to your professional success?
People who slouch are subconsciously viewed as less confident and less worthy of respect.
Sit up straight!
A bit of diligence in regards to your posture will make a marked difference in both your mental and physical health.
5: Mindfulness & Mental Engagement
You’ve probably heard it before:
Live in the moment.
Even if the moment is boring and tedious, it pays off to stay mentally engaged in the present.
Cruising through every day on autopilot makes you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, going nowhere, and accomplishing little.
Make a conscious effort to pay attention to each task and accomplish it to the best of your ability, and your job satisfaction will skyrocket.
On top of that, you’ll also probably attract some positive attention from management, and nothing makes you feel quite as good about your job as recognition.
6: Choose the Physical Option
For second- and third-floor workers, choose the stairs over the elevator.
Park at the back of the parking lot and walk further to the door instead of circling to find the closest place.
Walk to the restaurant one block over instead of driving.
Choose the most physical option in mundane, everyday choices, and your health will improve without you even really trying.
Isn’t that cool?
7: Make Friends
Here’s a fact that might surprise you:
In a study of people that lived past 100 years old, it was determined that relationships and connections with other people are a major contributor to longevity.
Workplace friendships, too, are a big part of your mental health and job satisfaction.
Even a boring, unsatisfying job can be worthwhile if you have genuine friendships with your coworkers.
This doesn’t refer to the people you sit near and talk to each day.
Actual friendships take a little bit more effort, and they’re far more rewarding.
8: Workplace Sports Teams
Build on your coworker friendships and get more active with office sports teams.
A company softball league, after-work racquetball group, or weekend tennis club is a great way to strengthen relationships and improve health.
9: Separate Work From Leisure
Our culture honors people who bring their work home with them, but there must be some kind of boundary where your health takes priority over your career.
Even if you can’t always leave your work at work, you can keep your leisure and work time distinct.
Never check your work email during a family dinner.
Leave the television off while you catch up on that important report, and give all of your attention to finishing the task at hand.
Preferably, your work should only occupy your work hours, but if that’s not possible, be sure to keep your focus on one or the other.
10: Health Gadgets
This blogger used to keep a set of stationary bike pedals under her office desk so that she could move while she worked. She lost 15 pounds of excess weight just by pedaling absentmindedly throughout her work day.
You might keep a hand strengthener on your desk.
Or perhaps you sit on a yoga ball.
There are lots of good quality health gadgets designed specifically for office workers.
11: Get the Big Picture
There’s not much as disheartening as the feeling that you’re unimportant.
Your job exists because your company, no matter how large, needs you to complete a certain task.
Even if your work is boring, repetitive, and entry-level, it’s still necessary, otherwise you wouldn’t be paid to do it.
Figure out where you fit in the big picture – when you see how important you really are to the success of your company, it will be much more satisfying coming to work, and your mental health will improve drastically.
12: Lunch Breaks are for Lunch
When it’s time for your lunch break, actually take a break and eat lunch.
Part of the benefit is nutritional:
By paying more attention to what you eat, you’re more likely to make healthful choices, eat fewer empty calories, and snack less often.
But part is also mental:
You’re allowing your mind some time to recharge and get away from the stress of work.
Leave your desk, sit down, and enjoy a meal at lunchtime.
13: Keep Your Desk Clean & Neat
Like lunch breaks, a clean and organized desk is good for both your mind and body.
Cleanliness is important.
A clean desk reduces bacteria in the air and on surfaces, and an uncluttered workspace does wonders for your motivation and efficiency.
If you find yourself struggling with the motivation to finish a work task, try taking a few minutes to clean and organize your desk.
Often, that gives you the spark you need to get back to the task at hand.
14: Drink Tons of Water (& Less Coffee)
As a coffee addict, this blogger understands the lure of the coffeepot at every break time.
However, for the sake of your health, switch to water for most of the day.
Your skin will be clearer, your sleep will be better, and your body will do a better job at flushing out the bad stuff and circulating the good.
The extra trips to the bathroom are worth it.
15: Don’t Participate in Gossip
Ask any office worker what they like least about their job, and they’ll probably talk about the rumor mill or office politics.
Workplace gossip can get out of hand quickly.
Even if you’re not the subject of that lascivious tidbit, simply participating in the spread of negative or unhelpful information wears down your mental capacity.
Take a note from Benjamin Franklin, who followed this rule:
Speak all the good you know of everybody, and none of the bad.
16: Practice Positivity
A positive mental attitude changes everything.
Keeping your mind positive – not happy, but positive – is a skill that anyone can learn.
Once you master it, you’ll find that your relationships are better, your job is easier, and your life is much healthier and more pleasant.
17: Have Professional & Personal Goals
There’s a big difference in working, and working towards something.
Get more fulfilment and satisfaction from all areas of your life by setting and achieving difficult, but realistic goals.
Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds.
You might set out to get a raise at your next performance review.
Choose something that’s a little bit hard, that you care about, and that’s measurable so you can track your progress.
18: Speak Up
Rather than accepting circumstances as they are, if you’re dissatisfied with your work conditions, management policies, or corporate culture, say something to your boss about it.
This doesn’t mean that you should complain regularly.
Instead, raise concerns in a professional and productive way.
If you’re truly dissatisfied, it might even be time to look for a new career. You’re not trapped anywhere.
19: Create a Happy Morning Ritual
For many of us, mornings are the hardest part of the day.
Starting your day in a great mood sets the tone for everything else that happens, but when the alarm clock jars you awake and you struggle to peel your eyes open, it might seem hard to get in that happy state.
Every morning, right after you get up, do something that makes you happy.
Listen to a great song and dance yourself awake, or read an affirmation that makes you feel incredible.
Tiny rituals aren’t really that tiny.
20: Eat an Actual Breakfast
Eat breakfast – and not in your car.
Have a banana, a bowl of oatmeal, or a plate of scrambled eggs at your kitchen table before you leave for work.
Eating on the run contributes to lots of physical health problems.
Breakfast can become an important ritual to start your day right, too, so don’t skip it!
21: Sleep Enough
If you need to go to bed earlier to get a full night of sleep, then go to bed earlier.
If you need to nap during the day, then take a nap.
Getting enough good quality sleep is key to your health, since your body rebuilds itself and your mind recharges overnight.
22: Rest Your Eyes
Staring at a computer screen strains your eyes over time.
Look away from your screen frequently, and focus your eyes on items both near and far away to keep your eye muscles healthy.
If you need to, close your eyes for a few minutes and recharge.
Your vision will stay better for longer, and you’ll be less likely to suffer from headaches and fatigue.
23: Go Outside
A body at rest likes to stay at rest.
Sitting at your desk for hours on end only makes you more likely to keep sitting there.
When you notice that you’re getting a little to sedentary, get up and go outside.
All the way outside.
As in, blue skies and trees.
It’s a physical and mental reset, it gets you moving, and the fresh air really does help.
24: Never Email While Angry
Sending off emotionally charged messages tends to make problems worse rather than helping alleviate stress and sort out misunderstandings.
If you need to address a problem, give it a few hours to settle before you send any emails.
Your relationships and your stress level will be much more solid just by having a “cool off” rule.
25: Stretch Once Every Hour
There will be times when you can’t get up and move, but at least once every hour, at least stretch your muscles.
Roll your shoulders.
Extend your legs.
Twist in your seat to stretch out your back.
Your health takes precedent over looking silly, and it feels great.