After working a little while in an office, I took on a particular sluggishness. Sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day is exhausting, and drains your will to socialize or exercise. Friday nights I often found myself sitting in bed with my laptop, surrounded by chocolate bar wrappers and watching reruns of The Office, while my friends partied downstairs.
So how can you be healthier on the job? Here are some of the unhealthiest workplace habits and how to deal with them.
1. Eating Office Food – In addition to a cappuccino/coffee/hot chocolate/mocha latte machine at my old workplace, employees regularly brought cupcakes, cookies and other delicacies to share with colleagues. This might seem like a generous gesture… until you realize the instigator is saving themselves the calories by forcing them on you. This person is your mortal enemy, not your friend. Stop eating their food.
2. Slouching – You might feel inclined to hover over your keyboard, shoulders curled and fingers clacking away like you’re performing some piano masterpiece instead of crunching numbers, but you’re doing some serious damage to your spine and muscles. You need to sit tall, do some stretches, and for extra support work those ab muscles until they’re hard enough to grate cheese.
3. Overworking – A wise soul once told me that nobody ever looks back on their life and thinks, “Gee, I should have spent more time at work instead of with my family and friends.” Draw the line somewhere. If your employer doesn’t respect your health, you need not respect your employer.
4. Sitting Down – A recent study shows that sitting down for long periods of time increases your chances of disease, no matter how frequently you exercise. When I read this study, I wanted to curl up in a foetal position and cry about all those wasted hours at the gym. Fortunately, however, it seems that even getting up and moving around the office regularly can help counteract these effects.
5. Too Much Typing – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is every writer’s worst nightmare, pain and discomfort in the hands, fingers and wrists caused by too much typing or too much repetition. (Ever hear that joke about the phone sex operator? Yeah.) With your hands on the keyboard, your forearms should extend out at a 90-degree angle from your upper arms, while your body is straight and relaxed.Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees, feet placed flat on the floor. Also, don’t hit your keys too furiously, no matter how angrily you’re bitching about your boss.
6. Eyestrain – Another curse of tech geeks, causing discomfort, tightness, burning and other painful afflictions. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as glare from lights and even contrast. Does your blog have white letters against a black background? Change it, immediately! Give your eyes a break every now and then by focussing on a fixed point in the distance. Stare at the cutie ahead of you on the bus, if needs be.
7. Driving to Work – It doesn’t matter if the weather is awful or your heels are too high to navigate the streets, park your car and walk to work. (Depending on where you live, of course.) Not only will you save money on parking, but you’ll get your cardio in. If dress code is the issue, sneak into work early and change in the restroom.
8. Facebooking/Twittering – Unless your workplace restricts use of social media, sites like Facebook and Twitter can be impossible to resist. And unless social media marketing is what you do, wasting company time stalking your best friends is pretty much a foolproof way of finding yourself behind with work, adding more stress to your workload, and getting sacked.
9. Drinking Coffee, and Only Coffee – I was never a big coffee fan until I jumped into the corporate world. Often I’d find myself in the kitchen brewing coffee just to escape my cubicle for a while. But if you’re drinking 3 or 4 cups a day with milk and sugar, those calories quickly add up. Opt for water to keep you hydrated – it’ll even keep you sane!
10. Not Washing Your Hands – You don’t know where your colleagues’ hands have been, and we don’t want to know what you do with yours. There’s no need to be a germaphobe or carry a bottle of sanitizer around on a belt loop, but damn it, good hygiene is important.