Desk jobs can be so stressful. When you have a constant stream of emails or phone calls from coworkers or customers, it makes it difficult to catch a break. You feel like you have a responsibility to sit at your desk for the entire day without moving. You might forget to properly eat, drink, or go to the restroom. You might feel overwhelmingly stressed out, continuing to think about your job on the way home or at home. Trust me, I’ve been there. You can’t just quit your desk job because it pays the bills, so here are some ways to take better care of yourself while working a desk job.
- Take tea and stretch breaks – I like to drink 3-5 cups of different non-caffeinated herbal teas every day. Some of my favorites include roasted dandelion root, chamomile, echinacea, ginger, and peppermint. I boil water in the break room microwave for about a minute and then steep teabags in it. While my water is boiling for a minute, I do several different stretches or light exercises depending on how I’m feeling. These may include neck circles, wrist circles, elbow circles, squats, good mornings, lunges, etc.
- Drink lots of water – Consuming the proper amount of water throughout the day will not only keep you hydrated, it will make your bladder remind you to get up and visit the restroom.
- Take walk breaks – I make a serious effort to get up from my desk and go on a 10 minute speed walk every day. I find that this helps me keep my body a little active as well as clear my mind. If I’m extremely pressed for time and I’m not able to get away from my desk for a full 10 minutes, I will take more frequent but shorter tea/stretch breaks.
- Listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music – If you are allowed to wear earbuds/headphones at work, listening to something that interests you can help keep you in a positive mental state. Personally, I enjoy listening to podcasts all day every day at my desk job. I don’t think I would make it through some workdays without these podcasts to keep my mind occupied!
- Be conscious of your posture and engage your body while you are seated – Make a conscious effort to maintain good posture while sitting at your desk. Do not slouch or slump forward. Keep your muscles activated by occasionally squeezing your glutes, pushing your weight into your tip-toes, rolling your shoulders, or stretching your arms overhead. You can do all of these things and more while you are sitting at your desk doing your job. I’m very excited to get some more tips from Kelly Starrett’s book, Deskbound.
- Do not overwork yourself – Whether you work a consistent 40 hour/week job, or you are often pressured to work 60+ hours each week, it is crucial to make sure that you are not overworking yourself. If you receive paid time off, use it! I highly recommend taking days off towards the end or beginning of the week to extend your weekend. Or, you could use more leave at a time and take an awesome vacation. Even if you do not earn paid time off, it is still important to request days off to avoid getting burnt out.
- Change your mindset – Once your change your mindset about your work, you have the power to lessen the amount of stress it is causing you. I used to be stressed about work every day and I would go home, think about work, and then even dream about work! This was a vicious cycle of stress. I managed to break free of this cycle by changing my mindset. Some tips: Don’t get worked up about the small stuff. Accept the things that you cannot change, and go with the flow. Only think about your job when you are at work. Do not take your work home with you. Do not think about work before bed. If you get angry about something or someone at work, calm yourself down by reminding yourself that it is insignificant.
Improving the way you care for yourself at work can improve your attitude about your sedentary job, and your health as well! With these steps, you can work towards making it a more positive experience overall.