Keeping healthy must be your number one priority whatever you are doing. If you are not well, how will you work? Even if you are not one of the lucky ones who work in a company with “Wellness Officers” or “Happiness Officers”, with shoulder masseuses coming to you at your desk and weekly yoga sessions in the office gym, you can still insist on regular breaks and look after yourself.
After ensuring that you have a comfortable, supportive chair and a computer monitor at eye level, take further steps to ensure your energy levels stay stable and you remain productive. These 8 simple techniques will ensure you have energy left at the end of the day to enjoy your life outside of work, without feeling exhausted and burnt out.
If you can, take just 10 to 20 minutes at the start of every day to plan. Plan your breaks as well as your tasks, be realistic and you will not only feel more focused throughout your workday, and get more done you will feel a greater sense of satisfaction as you tick off your tasks, whilst staying relaxed. You will also feel calmer and more in control.
Of course, our workdays rarely go as planned, but you can plan for regular interruptions by giving yourself leeway in your schedule.
The problem for most of us, especially freelancers and home workers is not that we don’t get enough done, but we work too hard resulting in burnout and bad decision making due to exhaustion.
2. Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular 5 min breaks away from your desk, every hour, can actually lower your body mass index!
Very few people work productively after 60-90 minutes. It’s really important to take breaks. A 5-minute break to walk to the kitchen, or simply to do some stretches will increase your productively immeasurably.
Never skip your tea breaks and lunch break. Your chance of making mistakes increases as you become tired. Is it really worth the risk?
Look after your brain and your body and it will look after you.
3. Rest Your Eyes
Protect your eyes by using the best monitor you can afford – larger monitors that have a slower flicker rate and filter out blue light are the best. (You can buy flare reducing screens for most screen sizes too).
Eye exercise you can schedule into your day diary include:
· Eye rolling – this relaxes your eye muscles just like neck rolling does! Give yourself an eye massage regularly throughout your day. This not only relaxes your eye muscles it also lubricates your eyes and prevents them from getting dry.
· Blinking – surprisingly many of us forget to blink when working in front of a screen. You can train yourself to blink every 4 seconds, which will keep your eyes lubricated.
· Palming – rub your hands together so they become warm and cup them. Place one hand over each eye and just rest for a few minutes letting your closed eyes enjoy the heat and darkness.
· Focusing – take a break from your screen every hour, and focus your eyes on an object in the distance. Do this for at least 60 seconds, and feel your eye muscles totally relax, before refocusing on your screen.
4. Back Stretches
If you experience weakness or tingling in your legs or dull pain in your lower back this is your body giving you an alarm. Don’t ignore it!
Lower back pain can be due to staying in the same position for too long, or aggravation of old back injuries.
Back problems can be tackled by strengthening the muscles of the lower back, pelvic area and abdominals.
(Of course, the easiest way of relieving your back problems could be getting a standing desk where you can stand and work part of the day. This is a quick and easy solution to your back problems.)
If you are not taking any regular exercise here are just a few ways you can release your stress.
· Take a walk around the block or walk over to your colleagues you were about to email – you will probably get better speedier results with a face to face conversation – or just get up from our desk and ring them on your mobile.
· Stand up without using your hands and sit down, then repeat several times.
· Inhale and twist your torso by placing our right hand on the left-hand side of your chair and stretch as far as you can, exhaling. Repeat on the other side.
5. Exercises to do While Seated
If you need to be a little more subtle with your stretches, try doing these whilst still sitting at your desk:
· Strengthen your abdominals by doing some straight leg raises whilst sitting in your chair, just 5-10 repetitions will strengthen your core muscles making it easier for you to stay sitting straight.
· Stretch your back by giving yourself a big hug. Place our right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder and give yourself a good hug.
· Look up from your chair, inhaling, sitting up and stretching your arms above you and lock your fingers turning palms to the ceiling. Exhale and then release.
6. Eating Breaks
Eating is not only a way to refuel your body, and brain (!), but a chance to relax and get some perspective on your work. Taking a proper break ensures you maximize your nutrient intake through properly digesting your food.
Ensure that your diet contains adequate levels of:
· Vitamins A, C, E,
· Omega 3 fatty acids
Fish, egg, almonds, carrots and oranges are some of the foods that can ensure you are eating for your eye health and protecting your skin. Why not throw some healthy food into your snack box from today?
At the absolute minimum, take a good 20-30-minute break. Of course, an hour will also give you a chance to take a short walk to have a chat with colleagues or friends. Recharging yourself properly will ensure you return to work refreshed and ready to go!
7. Use Music to Stay Loose
Music can be used in many ways.
It can help us focus (I use Mozart to help me concentrate), and it can help us relax.
If you find yourself getting wound up or stressed out, put on your “Destress” playlist. (If you haven’t got one try creating one on Spotify – it’s free). Include songs that you can naturally bounce along to and now and again, and now and again just get up and shake it all out for 3 minutes.
(Okay, if you are not working from home this may be more of a challenge in your office, and you may just have to bounce along sitting down with your headphones in!).
Just remember body tension is Enemy Number 1, and anything you can do to keep relaxed is good.
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