For the vast majority of us, daylight hours are spent at our desks, either at a workplace or at a home office.
I often hear from patients at my Park Avenue Center for Wellbeing and from coaching clients that time clocked at our desks feels somehow disconnected from the rest of our
lives—and especially from our health and wellness. The neglect of our own self-care in the name of moving ahead has become routine.
But at what cost? Focusing on career to the exclusion of everything else can create all sorts of physical and mental stress.
Think about it. Is a person who isn’t getting enough sleep or the right nutrition mentally sharp? Can someone who’s in constant pain perform at his best? Will the person who never takes a break from the narrow focus on her own business role really be able to work toward her “big picture” career goals? If you don’t feel good, are you likely to project success and confidence to your customer or client?
Well, of course not. So let’s change the scenario starting today. Here are 5 great ways to start your wellness ball rolling…right at your desk.
1. Reverse-engineer your morning.
How you start your morning can make all the difference between a hassled, grumpy day and a smoother, more productive outcome. It all starts with last night’s dinner. Really! If you’re eating too late and too much at night, you might not be getting the sound sleep you need for a clear, focused workday. So stop eating a few hours before bed to get a better quality of sleep. Then, in the a.m., don’t forget to have a low-sugar breakfast. Even a quick protein drink on the way out is better than nothing! A protein-rich meal, like eggs, though, will be a whole lot better.
2. Add some supplements for smoother sailing.
While you’re thinking about breakfast, consider swallowing a supplement or two with your meal. Try adaptogens, and specifically, a formula that includes stress-reducers such as Asian ginseng, ashwagandha, and ginkgo biloba. These natural substances can be helpful in lowering cortisol, the hormone that triggers the oversensitive reactions associated with stress.
3. Respect yourself in the morning.
If you’re in control of your own schedule, you’re in luck. Don’t let your sharpest, most creative efforts go to waste by spending your prime mental hours on mindless tasks and endless meetings. Rearrange your day to maximize your productivity. If you’re a “morning person,” tackle the most challenging tasks before you have lunch—right when you’re the most alert. If you’re at your brightest in the afternoon, set up your tasks the opposite way.
4. De-clench the stress away.
Suffering from headaches, neck pain, or jaw tightness? You’re not alone. I often hear this from people with lots of stress in their work environment. The cause is an unconscious response that involves tightly clenching teeth and jaw when faced with pressure or emotional discomfort.
Make a point of doing a tension check each time you take a break throughout the day. If you sense strain in your facial muscles, do a few simple stretching exercises—open and close your mouth, wiggle your jaw, do a few neck rolls. These activities can make all the difference. And if you suspect you clench your jaw as you sleep, too, wear a mouth guard at night to prevent dental issues.
5. Wrap up your day with a head start on tomorrow.
Get a leg up on the demands of the next day by prioritizing your tasks to be completed then. I also suggest eating something to quell hunger pangs before you start for home, ensuring that you’re not so famished you’ll wind up overeating at your dinner. Lastly, straighten up your work space so you aren’t faced with clutter and disorganization first thing in the morning. Now you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
There’s so much you can do to keep yourself in top condition at your job. And did you know good health can lead directly to professional gains? Look for my next newsletter, where I’ll discuss wellness practices that can actually have a positive effect on your paycheck.
And in the meantime, remember. A vast majority of workplace stress doesn’t benefit you or anyone else. But it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker—or a career-breaker—either. Try out these stress-busting techniques, and you’ll see: Work doesn’t have to make you feel bad.