You have to head to the office each day—you’re into your career, and there are bills to pay. So why not do a few things to make your work a healthier and happier experience? These savvy strategies are pretty easy, and very effective.
Walk the plant. Just two minutes of getting up and walking per hour is all it takes to make up for some of the negative consequences of sitting all day. In fact, this small amount of movement or activity can minimize your risk for early death, diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. So instead of sending an email to your colleague down the hall, walk on over. Doing some stretches works, too.
Take a stand. You don’t have to go as extreme as a treadmill desk, but standing at your desk can lead to greater engagement (and some extra calorie burn). One study showed that elementary school children using standing desks, with stools available, had a 12 percent higher rate of attention than those using traditional desks. Consider changing your desk height, if possible, to sharpen your focus and get more done.
Think of fitness as fun. Turns out, our attitude toward exercise can affect how much we eat afterward. Participants of a Cornell University study who went on a 2K walk called “scenic” ate significantly fewer calories afterward compared to those told the walk was “exercise.” If you hit the gym at lunch or after work, try thinking of it as an enjoyable break instead of another task to get through. Add music or watch an engaging TV show while on the treadmill—anything to make your workout more fun.
Try meditation. If you’re prone to headaches from staring at a screen all day or worrying about impending deadlines, consider meditation to help mitigate them. Not only can it prevent migraines, it can also make them less severe when they occur, say scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. You can easily train yourself to do the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction type of meditation that helps sufferers feel more in control of their migraines and have much faster relief. A small break for meditation during a stressful workday may prevent a full-blown, day-wrecking pain in your head.
Call it exciting. Got a big work presentation coming up? Instead of trying to calm your nerves (which gives attention to your anxiety and is tough to do anyway), simply saying, “I’m excited,” beforehand can help you be more positive and successful, according to research from the American Psychological Association. You may be tempted to try calming yourself, but faking enthusiasm seems to work better, since it may be easier to see anxiety as excitement than trying to quell it. Even if it feels funny, talking about being excited can really help you feel that way—and pump your work performance.