Healthy Work Habits


Developing healthy work habits isn’t easy but it is possible. There are so many obstacles stacked against us at work. Most office workers are sedentary for the majority of the day. People bring in cake and other unhealthy food for celebrations. The one healthy choice in the vending machine is unsalted peanuts and you’re allergic. The lights give you a headache. Something is stressing you out. The list goes on and on. But there are solutions. Some are big and some are small. Some need your administration’s support; others don’t.

Sedentary for most of the day?

By now it is pretty common knowledge that sitting the majority of the day is bad. We know that inactivity is linked to types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, and liver problems. And yet, in my own office I don’t see many people moving around. I don’t always get up every 30 minutes like research suggests. Usually I simply forget; however, after watching this TED talk explaining why our bodies need to move, I’m going to set a reminder.

Here are some of my favorite movement breaks:

  1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. (Truth be told, stairs are not my favorite activity but it’s an easy win.)
  2. Go for a walk around the block.
  3. Try a deskercise routine.
  4. Ask your supervisor for a standing desk.

Food selection is another aspect of a healthy work lifestyle that is difficult. There are office parties, people just bringing in snacks for the office, and coworkers inviting you out to lunch. There are leftovers from those parties and trips to get coffee.

For me it’s easier when I come prepared to make healthy choices.

  1. I pack my own lunch almost every day.
  2. There is a cache of snacks in my file cabinet for when I need an afternoon pick-me-up.
  3. If there is an office party I contribute something that’s delicious and good for me. Even if no one else eats it, it gives me a way to participate without derailing my health goals.
  4. As for the trips to get coffee, I’ve turned that one into a double positive. I’ve nixed the coffee buying but still make the trip with coworkers so I have some mid-morning movement.

For some people stress management at work is a big issue. I have kept that pretty well in check by doing the following:

  1. Maintaining a prioritized to-do list.
  2. Eating lunch away from my desk.
  3. Keeping a tidy workspace (which includes my desktop).
  4. Taking breaks throughout the day.

There are so many other things that could be affecting your health at work. For example, when new lights were installed at my office I started having headaches. It was terrible and definitely affected my work productivity. After talking with the building manager, I was allowed to unscrew the lightbulbs above my cubicle and use a desk lamp. If a unique problem comes up that’s negatively affecting you, work with your supervisor to come up with a solution.

Health is one of the most important things we have; it should be safeguarded. Do you have any creative strategies for staying healthy at work?

Jocelyn is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Christina Smith

Hi Jocelyn – great post! I just tried out those deskercises and loved them! I had a similar situation with headaches due to florescent lightening, and while I wasn’t able to get the light bulbs unscrewed, I did put up a big poster board over the corner of my cubicle and that really helps shade my computer area (and no more headaches!). Thanks for the helpful tips.

LaRel Rogers

Great post Jocelyn! We just moved into a new office where everyone has standing desk and we have an actual kitchen you can go eat in – even if you have your computer its just nice to get away from your desk. We’ve had the new office for just over a month now and I feel so much more productive because of these major changes. Thanks again for sharing – it’s so important to create healthy work habits!