It’s 2015, and gone are the luxury of short workdays. For blue-collar office workers, seven, eight, sometimes nine hours are spent daily at a desk or cubicle during the week. Such a lengthy sedentary lifestyle can have lasting negative effects on your health. Staring at a computer screen can affect your posture and your eyesight and give you migraines. Long periods of time spent sitting is just as bad for your body and your metabolism. And all of these negative physical side effects can have serious consequences on your mental health.
Mental health counselors nationwide stress the power of the mind/body connection and how a healthy physical being leads to a positive mentality. So, do these five things to make your office space healthier for your mind, body and soul.
1. Try standing instead of sitting.
A standing desk has many benefits for your mental and physical health. Standing allows you to be somewhat mobile, and takes the strain off of your lower back and neck. You can burn more calories standing in place than sitting! Also, standing gives you more mobility options, as opposed to the limited mobility of a rolling chair. James May, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, believes standing can decrease your chances of getting cancer or diabetes.
2. Adjust the position of your monitor.
Many people complain of neck pain from staring at a computer screen at their desk job. A commonly ignored rule involving the computer monitor can dispel all of that neck pain.
Make sure your eyes are at the same level as the top of your monitor, and make sure the monitor is pushed back so that it’s an arm’s length away from where you’re sitting (or standing!).
3. Use a stress ball.
Believe it or not, squeezing a stress ball is a fantastic way to decompress during a stressful workday. It helps relieve tension and take the edge off of a long or high-anxiety day.
According to LiveStrong, “the benefits of stress balls also include boosting blood circulation and helping with the treatment of carpal-tunnel syndrome—and they’re used as a tool for meditation.”
4. Take frequent breaks.
Getting up and stepping outside can be a crucial component to a low-stress workday. It’ll increase blood flow and allow you to breathe in some unadulterated oxygen. It can also help you work out a problem that might be plaguing you. You can download apps on your phone that will remind you when it’s time to take a break.
5. Bring the outside in!
If frequent breaks aren’t an option, bring a little mother nature to your cubicle. A sun lamp (or SAD lamp) can bathe your workspace with natural light and Vitamin D, which is fantastic for both your physical and mental health. Also, decorate your desk with a few plants, bringing some color and oxygen into your personal space. The Daily Mail published a study that stated that office plants increase productivity by 15 percent!
Your physical and mental health is paramount for both you and your employer. If you find yourself feeling sick or lethargic after a long workday, look for ways to make your workspace more conducive to a healthier mind and body. Even the tiniest changes to your workplace routine and/or environment can greatly affect your everyday work life for the better.
Megan Dottermusch is a community relations coordinator for 2U, Inc. supporting mental health and advocacy programs for the Masters in Counseling Program online at Northwestern University online. She is passionate about combating mental health stigmas, practicing everyday mindfulness, and promoting overall wellness.