Work and Your Health

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

I have been struck recently by the number of people I know who have high stress jobs and how it is negatively impacting their health. Alternately, I am impressed with how some people can keep their health a priority even given the demands of the work place. Current challenges in the workplace include long commutes, unpredictable schedules, difficult clients, long hours, increasing amounts of work responsibility, demanding bosses, and an overall high level of stress. Compound that with erratic eating, meals out with clients, and spotty sleep and you have a recipe for over-the-top stress and exhaustion. Here are some ideas to maintain optimal health in the workplace:

Exercise: preferably in the morning before the work day starts. Lunchtime or even after your work day will work as well. Even if you can squeeze in 30 minutes of movement after a long day, you will feel better. I cannot stress enough how a regular exercise program will help you feel more centered and grounded on a daily basis. This helps reduce stress in a big way.

Healthy eating: try to eat every 3-4 hours (small mini-meals) that keep your energy up and blood sugar on an even keel. Set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you. Drink water and non-caffeinated beverages frequently so that you can stay hydrated. Make sure you are getting some healthy carbs, protein and fat at every meal. Do not eat at your desk if you can help it. A change of scenery is always refreshing. If you must stay in/near the office, at least try to get out of the office for a quick 10 minute walk outside.

Set boundaries: Try to get out of work at a reasonable time every night. Make appointments with yourself to workout and treat that like any other appointment. Sure, sometimes it will not work for you to get out the door on time, but you can at least shoot for 80%. Realize that you need to make yourself a priority. Your job is temporary, your health is forever. (Repeat that last line).

Realize that stress is not going away: Figure out ways to adapt and manage it. Eating properly, exercising, getting enough sleep and employing relaxation techniques will all help you to be able to manage stress. If you can, get regular massages. Get outside for some fresh air and sunshine on a consistent basis. Practice meditation or yoga for relaxation. Dedicate time to your hobbies and passions to help create a balanced life. Invest time in relationships with friends and family.

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