I’m a working girl. (No, not that kind of working girl). I work in an office…with women…in a school….an all age school…so I’m sure you can understand my days of coming home and channelling my inner Olivia Pope with a glass of wine in the dark and something totally unhealthy for “dinner”. To enact my revenge, I keep a jar with an endless supply of candy on my desk and often tempt the some of the teachers and my other co-worker who’s really into coffee like me into having what my nutritionist likes to call, a “coffee milkshake”. In fact, my stress levels got so high, and my eating habits got so bad, that two years ago, I was carted off my job to the hospital with severe abdominal pains. From then on I swore to take better care of myself on the job, and I’ve been doing pretty well at that. And given that this is a new year, let’s not sink into old habits simply because you’re at work! Here are a few tried and true ways to maintain that healthy new regime that you have all planned out to avoid killing your co-worker – I mean, stay healthy!
1. Always Eat Breakfast
Oats, eggs, bran, seeds, yogurt… Whatever it is you are planning, make sure you eat before work, as it will keep your energy level up. Staying energetic will encourage your determination. This is key to maintaining your new healthful lifestyle when things get stressful at work.
Now for me, I can’t do this. I’ve got my body on an eating schedule to eat every 3 hours. I have to be to work for 8 am, which means my first meal would be around 6 am, which means I would be hungry again by 9 am, which is when I normally eat my first meal of the day anyway. I’m lucky to have the kind of job (where I can argue for this logic) that allows me to eat my breakfast when I get to work, since I don’t actually stop working to eat. I just try to stay in one place long enough to finish eating. I found that eating later keeps me feeling full longer. And for days when this logic doesn’t work…
2. Bring Healthy Snacks
All those ideas you have for healthy food that you probably found on Pinterest? Don’t just bring them for lunch; pack some up in a separate lunch box for snacking on. If you keep your blood sugar up throughout the day, you will not only curb cravings and stop reaching for those forbidden items, but you will also heighten your metabolism!
If you want to go the nuts and carrots route, go right ahead. Yesterday I brought peanut butter for a snack and that went a long way! Sometimes I’ll bring tuna salad and crackers; I even brought a grilled cheese sandwich and oatmeal once. Pick what works for you and your appetite but try to stay in the healthy range. Over 300 calories is officially a meal!
3. Take a Walk
This is by far the easiest for me to accomplish. Working in a school, I’m often walking up and down delivering messages and various packages. Or I’m back and forth between my desk and the copier. Get outside if you can. This will re-inspire your workday, rinse out excess stress hormones, and provide you with some much-needed movement.
If you’re not as fortunate as me to have so many excuses to get up, don’t let that hinder you. If it is hard for you to leave the building, walk around the office! Say “hi” to some people, or run a note to someone in person rather than emailing it to them. The change of scenery and calories burned while walking should really help to improve your productivity and mood.
4. Do Yoga or Any Kind of Exercise
So you’ve got one of those jobs that pins you down to your desk from the minute you walk in the door. When you can’t leave your desk, try looking up a few “Chair yoga” moves, like Cow Face, or Eagle Arms. Or while standing at the copy machine, do a few leg extensions or squats. Stretching will replenish the blood flow to your limbs and open your upper body after hunching over your keyboard, paperwork, or phone.
5. Spend Your Energy Wisely
Remember when I said I work with all women? Well that can get pretty stressful, because someone is always misinterpreting what someone said or did, or their motive behind something as simple as taking a lunch break (I’m really not kidding about that last one). Every time someone or something stresses you out at work, spend a few moments separating from it before you respond.
Stress hormones are what cause the most damage in our bodies, emotionally and physically. They can curb metabolism, and push an adrenaline spike causing you to have a massive energy drop sooner then you want it. So spend a moment letting the tension from that item drip out of your body, and respond from a place of less adrenaline. You can do this by taking a walk to physically separate yourself from the stressor, put on your favourite song or call or text that best friend that always cheers you up.
Save your energy for healthier activities like the gym or that run you have planned after work!
Now you’re all set to take that fired up new attitude and apply it the New Year by invoking a new you that is easy to maintain from your desk. How do you stay healthy at work? Share with us below!