Do what you love and you’ll never work in a day in your life, or so the saying goes. But however much we love our jobs, whether we work for a big company with lots of health perks, a fledging business with the best of intentions or ourselves freelancing from home, few of us would consider our workplace an environment where our wellness thrives. In fact, on the contrary for many of us our work place is one of the least healthy places we spend time in despite the plants we might have purchased or the post-it note “drink more water” reminders we stick to our laptops. We can all too easily get stressed, overwhelmed, deskbound and dehydrated.
We live in an amazing time when technology allows us to work and access information almost anywhere but this also has its downside. We all know how hard it is to switch off and once we get going on a project even the most disciplined of us get on a roll and our wellness-safeguards drop one by one - we forget about our posture, say no to tea break invitations and skip lunch.
I am grateful that my working week is varied and active. It can involve anything from directing a photo shoot to visiting suppliers and attending business meetings but I am also extremely aware that I have a lot to do in not enough time, so when it comes to desk-based activities like writing website copy and blogs my tendency is to hunker down and spend hours typing away. I can quickly start neglecting myself so I need to be really mindful of my wellness on days like this.
When I thought more about the relationship between my wellness and my working day, I realised I actually have a whole kit of tools and techniques I rely on to keep me happy and healthy at work - I may just need to remind myself to use them more frequently!! I wrote this blog to share these tips and hacks with you so your working day can stay productive and healthy even when your workload is challenging. It’s also for my supportive and hardworking colleagues at Calmia to encourage them to take care of themselves.
As an employer, I certainly believe it is important to create a healthy and positive work environment but there is also much we can all do on a personal level to have a productive day simply by changing our actions and behaviour at work. If we make time to incorporate some of the following wellness hacks into our daily routine, our working hours not only become more positive but we feel less stressed and we achieve more or at least feel better about what we do manage to achieve rather than what we don’t. Having a productive and healthy working day also goes a big way towards establishing wellness as your lifestyle norm, rather than it being an exclusive destination or something you only manage to achieve during a yoga class or a relaxing holiday.
Hope you enjoy the read and find the tips helpful.
Love & Wellness
Greet the working day with a positive ritual
How we begin our working day has a big influence on how the rest of our day will turn out. From time to time, we all have those terrible mornings when it seems the entire universe is conspiring against us but in general we turn up at work, switch on our computers and we’re off. How about taking five minutes before you tackle that inbox to set the tone for the day, it really works for me. You could make a mug of matcha and really enjoy the fresh, green taste, have a little chat with a work-friend, spritz the air with uplifting essential oils or rub an aromatherapy balm on to your pulse points and spend a few minutes taking some deep inhalations or exhalations. Make these healthy rituals a habit and you will definitely set yourself up for a productive day.
Personalise your workspace
We all work best in different ways – I like my desk to be clean and ordered but not too minimal. I actually work best with a selection of beautiful things that boost my happiness to hand - wellness products like flower mists, pulse point balms and vitamins, energising healthy snacks, a little plant or fresh flowers and a candle. Do you like a little creative clutter or a bare desk? Whichever is your style, my tip is to make your desk personal. That broken stapler, used coffee cup and dusty stack of papers that you never got round to filing are not going to make you feel inspired – get rid of them. And at the end of every day, take a few minutes to tidy up and de-clutter. That way, when you walk in to your work space each morning to a fresh, positive start.
Bring nature close
Inspiration occurs when we feel relaxed and present, not when we’re stressed or over thinking. Nature is the original stress reliever and studies show they can even make employees 15% more productive. I can vouch for this, at home I have plants, herbs and fresh flowers, at Calmia, we keep the office decorated with plants to make employees and visitors feel calm and inspired every day. And plants are not only inspiring, they also purify the air and look pretty cool. If you’re not sure what plant to buy – visit a local garden centre and describe the environment of your workspace and they will suggest a low-maintenance plant to suit, much more reliable than just googling and hoping for success.
Stand up frequently
We might not all have standing desks or trendy overlap zones in our offices, but we can all reduce the amount of time we spend sitting. Research shows even reducing the amount of time we sit by an hour or two can have a positive impact on our future health. I know that when I take screen breaks to walk about and stretch I feel completely different - much more energised and far less tense - when I leave the office than when I don’t. I also moan about my “bossy” Apple Watch pinging and reminding me it’s time to stand but in fact, it is actually a really useful tool. If you don’t have one, how about setting an alert on your phone or computer to prompt you to get up and walk or stretch at least once an hour. Take inspiration from your yoga class, twist from side to side to release your spine, reach up and over to lengthen your side body, clasp your hands behind your back and lift your arms away from you to open up you chest, perform a dancer pose for your hip flexors and standing pigeon for your glutes. While you’re at it – why not teach your work-friends the stretches too?
Eat healthy, clean foods & drink plenty of water
If I want to have a productive day at work, I need to fuel my mind and body with healthy food and keep hydrated. I have the found the best way to do this is to start my day with a breakfast packed with antioxidants, healthy fats and protein. If you do this, you will not only feel satisfied, but you will have the energy you need to get through your morning meetings without crashing. If you drink coffee, keep an eye on your hydration levels, as the dehydrating effects can make you crash long before lunch. I like a snack or two mid-morning and recommend nuts and seeds, veggies with hummus or apple slices with almond butter for a good dose of protein and healthy fats. As for lunch, get in the habit of prepping it a home by filling a box with fresh veggies, healthy fats, wholegrains and plant-based or animal protein. You’ll save money eating this way, have sustained energy levels throughout the day and leave work feeling energised not bloated from overpriced, pre-packed sandwiches. And be sure to keep hydrated throughout the day with water, as well as green and herbal teas.
Fit in some fresh air & exercise
I often work through lunch as I need to leave on time to collect my kids from school but if you are going to be at your desk until the evening, getting outside in the fresh air to take a walk is one of the best ways to increase energy levels and decrease stress during the work day. Fitting in a gym session or full yoga class might not be practical for you but power walking in your local park is the perfect pick-me-up. Raising your heart rate and soaking up some Vitamin D even if it's just 10 or 15 minutes can help re-energize and re-focus you and even get you through that dreaded 3pm slump.
Deep breathing at your desk
We all experience feelings of stress, frustration and anxiety at work – sometimes they stem from our own lack of focus or organisation, more often than not, they are caused by circumstances beyond our control or people letting us down. I have found that the best way for me to deal with situations like these is not to go and have a coffee (if you’re thinking of giving up coffee yourself, read my blog How I Quit Coffee – giving up has had a really positive effect on my anxiety levels and working day) or a sugary snack and it’s definitely not worth shouting or sulking over. Instead, try some deep breathing. All you need to do is find somewhere where you can sit quietly and then focus on your breath for 5-10 minutes until you have calmed down. You can also just incorporate this healthy hack into your daily routine a couple of times a day even when you’re not stressed. Make it a daily habit and you'll be amazed at how much easier your days will flow.