Some of the best jobs today unfortunately require being on the computer for long periods of time. And although using technology can be amazing, efficient, and fun, sitting at a desk all day is not easy; and in fact it is very bad for your health.
Here are 6 easy things you can do that can help counteract many of the possible health problems that can result from not taking proper care of yourself, and being stuck at a desk for the duration of your work day.
1- Rest your eyes
This may sound a little silly, but it is important to give your eyes periodic rest. Computer screens are hard on your eyes because of the harsh light they omit, and it can cause strain on your eyes to stare at a screen for too long. Your screen should be at least one arm’s length away from your face. Too much screen time can cause dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. This is why you should look away periodically and even close your eyes every once in awhile. You can also try doing some eye exercises. Try to give your eyes a break at least every hour of the work day. Even if you close them for only 5 minutes, it will help your eyes feel better and reduce the amount of eye strain.
2- Stand up and stretch
This next thing is just common sense. Every half an hour to an hour, you should be able to stand up and walk away from the computer. Stretching your arms and your legs is important whenever you get a chance. Bend over, and touch your toes. Lean down and stretch your calves. Reach up with your arms, shrug your shoulders, and moving your arms in circles. Turn your head from side to side and up and down. Anything you do to change your body position, is a good thing, especially if you can stretch periodically throughout the day. The worst thing you can do is to stay in a sitting position and remain that way for 8 to 10 hours at a time. A stationary position is bad for your circulation, your muscles, joints, eyes, shoulders, back, neck and even your wrists.
3- Drink plenty of fluids
Here is one mistake that almost everyone makes. It is easy to get caught up in your work and stay at your desk so you can get more accomplished. But, if you have to stay seated for a long time, at least drink plenty of fluids (especially water). Water is essential for keeping your liver working right and allowing your body to release toxins. You need at least 8 to 10 or more full glasses of water every day. It is easy to forget to drink more fluids when you are busy at work, but try to make it a habit. Keep a water bottle handy to remind you to drink more. And, if you are into outdoor workout activities like bike riding or jogging, you will need to drink even more water to compensate for the loss of fluids when you sweat.
4- Eat healthy snacks
Sometimes, it just seems more convenient to grab a sugary snack like a candy bar, a donut, or a piece of cake, because they are so readily available at convenience stores and vending machines. Not only is the sugar bad for you, but most snacks also are loaded with calories, which increase your risk for excess weight gain. Try to make a conscious effort to keep healthy snacks on hand, both at work and at home.
Raw fruit and vegetables are the best things you can munch on when you need a snack. Nuts and dried fruits are also good. If you just remember to have snacks that are low in sugar, and avoid things like chips and fried foods, you will be eating a whole lot healthier each day. Also try to avoid eating your lunch at your desk, because then you are tempted even more to avoid exercise and overdo your work efforts (and potentially mentally wear yourself out).
5- Move around
The most important thing you can do to prevent health problems from a computer job is to move around. Try to get up and walk every hour, at least, and don’t stay seated for more than 2 hours at a time. Stand up and walk around as much as you can. The more exercise you get, the better you will feel. On longer breaks, you should always try to do some fast walking, or climb up and down the stairs. Remember to stretch before any intense exercise.
6- Make time to unwind
As soon as you get off work, make sure you take a little time to wind down. This is so important, because it can help both your mood and energy level. You need to allow your mind and your body to rest when you need it the most. After you get home from work, just take 15 minutes to a half hour to lay down and close your eyes. You will be amazed at how much better you feel after decompressing. It gives your body time to unwind so you can begin enjoying your time off. Physical and mental relaxation and rest are extremely important for maintaining good health and ongoing wellness.
Now, simply make it routine
If you follow these simple steps, you will feel healthy every day. Rest your eyes, stand up and stretch, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy snacks, get up and move and make time to unwind. These should be easy things to keep in mind. Try to make them a part of your normal everyday routine. And, when you try to stay healthy, life can be so much better because you will have the energy to do anything you want to do.
The cost of working long hours
The consequences of working long hours without a break, or eating too much junk food, and drinking too many sugary drinks, will catch up to you and eventually cause your health to suffer. Being young does not mean you are foolproof from the effects of bad health habits. If you are a middle aged or older worker, these steps are twice as critical. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will start feeling weak and your immune system is likely to start breaking down, which will make you more susceptible to getting sick.
Serious health issues
Poor health habits can lead to serious long term health issues, like increased risk for the three biggest global killers: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Sitting for long periods has also been linked to weight gain and shortened life spans. Many doctors believe that most, if not all serious health problems can be traced back to poor daily habits, such as not getting enough rest, or exercise, or eating a poor diet.
So remember to follow these simple steps, and you will be on your way to a healthier happier work life, where you can be more productive and feel better each and every day.
Featured photo credit: Photo by Jim Larrison, Flickr. via flickr.com