Health Hacks at Work: The Key to a Productive and Happy Work Life

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Contributor 12 Min Read

Starting and maintaining an active and regular fitness regime alongside your work life can often seem like an uphill struggle. We understand how it is – in the mornings before work you’re usually too occupied by the concept of getting to work on time, so any attempt at exercise would be rushed and add stress. Similarly, the temptation of running back home once the clock signals the end of the working day is too strong for you to even consider the thought of getting stuck in rush-hour traffic on the way to the gym.

What if there was a way you could avoid all the above dilemmas and incorporate a healthy and flexible fitness plan into your daily working routine? In today’s post, we’re exploring the many different ways this can easily be achieved to uphold a healthy lifestyle – regardless of the restrictions of the dreaded 9-5 – to ensure you feel good in mind and body.

Cycle to work

What initially appears to be a relatively simple hack is, in fact, a brilliantly sustainable long-term health benefit. Not only is cycling to work proven to boost energy levels and improve overall fitness levels, but due to its daily and arguably repetitive nature, it’s been known to act as a type of therapy which builds up a cyclist’s self-confidence – leaving them ready and motivated for a day at work.

Reducing blood pressure, symptoms of depression and anxiety all whilst helping to create muscle is just a few more of many reasons why cycling is a fantastic transportation method that has the ability to aid concentration and productivity in the workplace. Not only is it an efficient fitness practice, but it also doesn’t require much in the way of expense. Once you’ve made the simple purchase of some durable cycling equipment, it’s a cost-effective solution to other forms of public and private transport.

Don’t work through lunch

Unless you absolutely have to, you should always make time for a break in the middle of your day to let yourself unwind a little. Whether it’s a social chat with colleagues or a walk around the local area, making the most of a time when work isn’t the top priority is vitally important to the smooth running of an average weekday.

Don’t fancy much socializing? Bring a book for a sense of true escapism – all you’ll need to do is find a cozy corner in the break room and you’re all set, just remember to return to work at some point – no matter how unputdownable the book is!

If you are a workaholic, then at least use your midday productivity to work towards a personal goal or passion project. Whether it’s a professional qualification or the first few drafts of a writing project, an Etsy store or anything else under the sun, be sure to make time for it if you just can’t sit and do nothing in the middle of the working day.

Find a fitness buddy

If it’s not the idea of working out that troubles you but more the idea of working out alone, then why not find a fitness buddy? Whether it’s someone from your office who lives nearby or a neighbor who works in the same direction as you, finding someone you can run or cycle to and from work with will boost your fitness levels considerably whilst motivating you to get up in the mornings – even on those cold winter ones!

Not only does running to work affect you physically, but as a result of the endorphins released into your brain post-run, your mind is more receptive to work tasks and accepts them in a positive and eager way – all while remaining calm and unresponsive to the stress that such tasks may have previously caused you.

This brain chemistry boost, with the added camaraderie that you’ll experience with your fitness buddy, will mean that this healthier choice is much more likely to stick – come rain or shine.

 

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Deskercise

Strange to some, but a useful and easy trick for remaining fit to most. If you don’t have time to run to and from work every day or aren’t confident enough to ride the 40-minute car ride on a bike, then making sure you try and keep fit through small exercises and activities, even at your desk job, is crucial to both your long and short-term health.

Sitting on a chair all day can be uncomfortably strenuous on your back, shoulders and neck area. As a result, simple hacks such as keeping your back straight and doing repeated, 10-second shoulder raises will reduce long-lasting discomfort whilst also relieving mental stress and improving your mood throughout the day. Wherever you can, you should also get out of your seat and walk around at least once per hour. Do a coffee round, head to the water cooler – anything works.

Don’t stop there and help reduce end of day fatigue by filling your desk with healthy fruit snacks to fuel your brain by encouraging yourself to pick at nutritional nibbles throughout the day. Just make sure these snacks are exciting and include the occasional treat…

Freshen up your snack selection

There’s nothing worse than a dull weekday lunch, or a desk snack that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and craving a high-carb evening meal. Adding a dash of fresh thinking to your work food will make you more motivated by virtue of bettering your mood day-in-day-out. Say goodbye to a vending machine snack and instead prepare some snack packs at home – think houmous and carrot sticks, home-made scotch eggs and dried fruit.

Tailor your home-made snacks to your diet, but you should always leave room for a treat on a Friday – a home-baked sweet treat to share with the office is so much more indulgent and special than a shop-bought chocolate bar.

Don’t over-caffeinate

As tempting as the fourth coffee of your morning can be, there’s little benefit to over-caffeinating yourself at work. Overconsumption of caffeine-filled drinks such as coffee or cola can lead to migraines and anxiety – both of which aren’t very good to have during your working day. If you’re a coffee addict, consider cutting down a little bit or replacing every other cup of joe with a decaf alternative to keep you mellow.

Reduced caffeine intake during the day can lead to a better night’s sleep, which is a very important aspect of your working life.

Get a good night’s sleep

Your beauty sleep is important, vitally so. A solid eight or nine hours per night will help your muscles recover after a workout and your brain recover after a strenuous day at work. Sleep experts agree that achieving REM sleep (the deepest form, where you have your most vivid dreams) is key to overall wellbeing.

If you’re struggling to sleep, consider cutting down on alcohol or nicotine before bed and avoid looking at screens while in bed, as these prevent the formation of the sleep chemical melatonin. A good little hack to help you do this is to keep all gadgets out of the bedroom – to make it space where relaxation takes the highest priority.

After a few weeks with this subtle tweak, you might find yourself more motivated and focused in the workplace – especially if you’ve previously had trouble getting a solid number of hours of rest.

Schedule regular holidays

While many working women like to get ahead and work as hard as they can, sometimes this can come at a detriment to your overall wellbeing, so you need to strike a balance. Avoiding the dreaded burnout is key to a happy work-life that continues onwards for months and years to come.

Burnout is a fairly unpleasant physical reaction to doing too much work and not getting enough rest or unplugging from your working mindset and unfortunately, it’s more common among women than it is among men.

Scheduling regular holidays in which you totally disconnect from your professional life (that means not one peek at your emails!) is a must if you are to avoid this damaging affliction. Make sure you always have something relaxing on the horizon to look forward to like a holiday, or even a simple ‘staycation’ long weekend.

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Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash

Keeping fit and healthy at work is a crucial component to sustaining a happy and positive mind alongside a productive and enjoyable work life. Whether you’re constantly on the lookout for new ways to keep fit, or have recently started noticing that the only way you’re able to pull through the working day is by fuelling yourself with black coffees and have decided it’s now time for a change, making room for continuous doses of exercise is a fool-proof way to improve your physical and mental health. Start off with small deskercises until you find a running partner who encourages you to go the extra mile and feel yourself becoming stronger, more positive and productive as a result.

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