Congratulations. You’ve landed a killer job at one of the best companies to work for in your industry. The employees are nice and the salary is great, but you get home at night and you’re worn out. Even the simplest tasks, such as grocery shopping or stopping to get gas, seem impossible.
Before hopping on WebMD to self-diagnose yourself with some rare disease, first look at your office habits. Many people let their health slip at work because they don’t realize the effects a 9-to-5 job can have on the body.
Fortunately, there are easy fixes for every office-induced health problem.
Keep it Clean
Keyboards, phones and computer mouses are some of the germiest surfaces in an office. The dangers increase if you’re in close proximity to your coworkers, or if you share equipment. Telephones alone can have more than 25,000 germs per square inch.
A good rule of thumb is to wipe all the surfaces you touch regularly with a disinfecting wipe at least once a week. During cold and flu season, you might want to consider cleaning once a day.
Unfortunately, there also are germy areas you have no control over, such as public restrooms or elevator buttons. You can push buttons with your elbow and keep hand sanitizer in your purse or at your desk.
Watch What You Eat (and Drink)
Donuts for breakfast, fast food for lunch and a soda or two to stave off the 3 p.m. drag – the average workday can include a lot of empty calories.
Of course, the best way to avoid unintentional overeating is to bring your lunch each day. Stick to high-protein foods, such as apples and peanut butter, which will keep you feeling full longer. Steer clear of sugar and high-carb foods.
You should also include at least one of each of the following types of food: sour (also known as acidity), sweet, salty, bitter and umami (A Japanese word that translates to “pleasant, savory taste.” Think tomatoes.). Having foods that fulfill each taste will prevent you from sneaking down to the vending machine to fulfill that salty craving you can’t shake.
Some easy snack ideas:
Don’t forget about what you’re drinking, either. An adult woman needs to drink about nine 8-ounce glass of water each day. For men, the number jumps to 13 glasses a day.
Keeping hydrated will make you feel more energized. Studies also show that drinking more water decreases your desire to snack.
Adjust How You Sit – or Don’t Sit at All
The only condition more common than back pain is the common cold, according to the American College of Rheumatology. There is a correlation between sitting at a desk for at least eight hours each day and chronic back pain. To put it simply, humans aren’t designed to be stationary for so long.
The problem is compounded by poor posture. Many Americans situation themselves around their office equipment, but it should be the other way around. Find a chair that allows you to sit up straight comfortably. Bring your keyboard close enough to your body that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Adjust your computer monitor so you can see it all looking straight ahead. You should never have to tilt your head up or down to see your screen.
A lot of people are turning to so-called “standing desks” – elevated workstations that allow you to stand instead of sit all day. Most converts swear by the power of standing to alleviate back pain.
Staring at a computer screen for eight hours is not only mentally draining, it’s bad for the eyes. Looking at one depth-of-field for an extended period of time can ruin the elasticity in your eye muscles. To avoid this, you should take a short break at least once an hour to give your eyes a rest. This will also keep your body from getting too stiff.