Work environments are incredibly varied so apologies, I’m going to have to generalise here. My job involves quite a lot of sitting, most of it at a computer, but if yours involves rushing around a hospital ward, or gardening (lucky you!) or driving a truck, I hope you will be able to find ways to adapt these tips to suit.
Tip #1 Get moving
If you have a sedentary job like me you have to find every opportunity you can to get up off your behind. According to Dan Buettner, author of ‘The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest’, the people living in the communities he studied didn’t ‘exercise’ as such but their ways of life just involved a lot more movement. Every 20 minutes or so, in fact! I try to get out for a 10 minute walk mid morning and mid afternoon, and otherwise just get out of my chair as often as I can. Click here for a great schedule with links to specific exercises for desk jockeys.
Tip #2 Drink plenty
Keeping hydrated has just so many benefits. At work it helps us to keep our concentration and focus, avoid headaches, and keep our energy levels up. Of course I’m talking water here, before you start thinking I’m advocating taking a hip flask with you! What works for me is having a water bottle on my desk but pouring myself a glassful rather than swigging it out of the bottle – I don’t know why but I find that I drink more that way. I also have some herbal teas in my desk drawer and usually only have one cup of coffee during my work day. In the summer, delicious fruits such as berries and watermelon also keep hydration up.
Tip #3 Bring your own lunch
Years ago I worked for a large French company and I would have been a complete fool not to have taken advantage of the high-quality, hugely subsidised restaurant! Since then, the choice has been grab a sandwich and packet of crisps on the way to work (no good now that I’m gluten-free and the temptation to add a chocolate bar is a struggle that I usually lose!), or bring my own. Given that I’m going for ‘healthy’, it has to be the latter and this might be a flask of soup, salad with quinoa and roasted veg, or hummus, crackers and veggie dippers. Of course this takes a bit or organisation. If you’re rushing to get out of the house in the morning, trying to decide what to have for lunch and put it together is just not going to seem like the best option! My routine is to cook at the weekend, use the fridge and freezer to full advantage, and assemble as far as possible the night before. Having a gorgeous lunch-box helps ……
If you want to indulge in some total lunch envy have a look at Bentoparty on Instagram.
Tip 4 Take a proper break
The fact is we are much more able to be focused and productive if we take proper breaks, especially at lunch-time. Now don’t get me wrong I will eat as I work in an emergency but let’s be honest about emergencies! It’s very easy to let that become a habit and it’s really not good for us. It worries me when friends who are nurses tell me that they are often not able to take a long enough break to go and eat. Come on NHS – can you (we) really afford staff who are in poor health? For myself, if I have someone to eat with I will go to the staff room and have a relaxed, chatty break. But where I fall down is when I have no-one to go with and I stay at my desk checking Facebook while I eat. Note to self!
Tip 5 Hand-washing
So we all know to wash our hands when we’ve used the bathroom (don’t we? I wonder sometimes!) but what is not quite so well-known is that frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to keep cold and flu germs at bay. Especially at this time of year, wash hands regularly with soap and water and try to keep your hands away from your nose and mouth as much as possible. Just have a look at this video clip to see how quickly germs spread!