How to Stay Healthy While Working a 9-5 Job
So, you are a busy bee like me. You may work a 9-5 office job, be a college student who is always on the run or even someone who refuses to have downtime *this one I can for sure relate to.* Whatever your groove may be, finding ways to be healthy and happy especially when you are busy and on-the-go is super important! Our health can often be pushed to back burner when we have multiple deadlines, clients, responsibilities, or hobbies that can become our top priority.
I am a recent college graduate who works a 9-5 office job, loves spending time with friends and family, enjoys running, lifting, and yoga, volunteers, and also somehow has five coffee dates scheduled every week without fail. Suffice it to say, I like to keep myself busy, but I also make sure that I am focusing on keeping myself healthy, as well. Even when my calendar seems to be triple booked, I make sure to find the time and little tricks to help me support my physical, mental, and emotional health.
As you should too! So, I’m here to help you expand that top priority slot in your life. I want to share my secret tricks that help me stay healthy while balancing the craziness of, well, life!
For starters, success will begin before you even step foot into your office!
1. Healthy morning routines lead to healthy days and habits.
I start my day with positivity and healthy habits. This helps me to ensure that my intention to take care of myself is known and begins the moment I open my eyes in the morning! A few tips to a successful and healthy morning routine are:
Do not look at your phone the moment you wake up. Take some time to just be still and silent. This especially helps if you have anxiety. By waking up and simply relaxing, it leads to a less panicked feeling and panicked day overall!
Do some sort of yoga, light stretching, even walk around the block once just to move your body and clear your mind for your busy day ahead!
Drink water! You have just been asleep for hours and your body is dehydrated! It needs some good ‘ol H2O to kickstart your digestion and help wake your body up!
Follow a ritual that works for you! We are creatures of habit. For me, it helps me when I have a plan in place when it comes to my morning routine. I set my clothes out the night before. I pack my bag before I go to bed. It helps me not forget things or feel overwhelmed before I head to the office! Find the pattern that works best for you and stick to it! It is then one less thing we have to think about in the early hours of the day!
2. Bring your gym bag with you to work.
Trust me, I know what you are thinking, “I’ll just go home, change, and head to the gym after work.” You won’t do that and neither will I! You won't go home after work and change then go to the gym, you will lie down in bed and refuse to leave the house again like I have done more times than I would probably like to admit! Instead, set yourself up for success! Pack your gym bag, bring it with you to the office, and go straight to the gym from work. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to cop out and head home when the clock strikes 5:00!
3. Buy that cute, little lunchbox and bring a healthy meal!
This one is SO important! It can be really easy to tell yourself that you don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch or that it’s way easier to just order something from the office cafe. While it may seem easier, it is much more costly and probably less aligned with your health goals to order from the fast food joint down the street. Make it a priority to pack a healthy lunch and even snacks for work! You can try to meal prep on Sunday! Or if you’re like me, I love to buy frozen meals that are both healthy and microwaveable! Dr. McDougall is a wonderful brand of healthy, organic meals-on-the-go! Frozen and Fresh is another great option to have frozen veggie and rice meals ready to pop right in the microwave when I hear my tummy growl! You don’t have to be a five-star chef, but you do have to commit to bringing your lunch to work to help you fuel to the best that you can!
4. A healthy mind is just as important as your waistline.
Do not think that a healthy work-life balance solely means making it to the gym three times a week and drinking green juices. A healthy life needs to be led by a healthy mind. This means you need to take care of your mental health just as much as we emphasize our physical health in today’s society. I work in Boston, MA and I take the train into work each morning. My commute is probably about 30-minutes door to door. Every morning, I make sure that I spend at least five minutes on the train to fill out my gratitude journal. I figured I can spend a sixth of my commute bettering my mental health instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media like I used to! This has been a huge help in focusing my thoughts and has become a happiness habit for me. Try to spend a few minutes every morning doing something for your mental health, whether that be journaling, meditating, or even reading! Your emotional health is just as important as your jean size, and don’t forget that.
Okay, so you clocked in, now to capitalize on your health while on the job.
1. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere!
You are WAY more likely to drink more water throughout the day if you have it with you at all times! I never leave my desk for a meeting or conference call without my handy dandy sidekick: my water bottle. I highly suggest you keep water, tea, and of course, coffee at your desk throughout your workday. This will make it less likely for you to also gravitate towards those sugary beverages found in your office cafe. When you are hydrated, you’re less likely to crave sugary and salty foods, so set yourself up for success, and drink that water!
2. Standing Desks are a game changer when it comes to productivity and health opportunities on the job!
When I started my job here in Boston, my office had high-tech desks that were able to convert from sitting to standing! It was the best present I ever could have asked for! I spend almost my entire day working on a computer, so moving around is not exactly optional sometimes. However, with the standing desk, I am able to stand, fidget, move more and burn more calories throughout the day! It also helps me a great deal with my posture and productivity! If you’re like me, you hate sitting for long periods of time. Having a standing desk has made me so much more focused and efficient throughout my day! If your office does not have standing desks already, ask your manager if they could look into implementing them or even if you bought your own, would he or she mind you using it? Standing desks can be purchased online for a pretty affordable price and if you are serious about getting in better shape while working that 9-5 desk job, it could be a worthy investment on your part, for sure!
3. An adventure every hour!
Every hour, I like to take five minutes to do anything other than sitting at my desk looking at my computer screen! This helps me capitalize on not only my health but also my productivity! If you take short breaks throughout your day, you are much more focused and efficient during the time you are actually busy working. Mental breaks are so important and should really be a priority if you work a desk job especially! I like to spend five minutes walking around my office, refilling my water bottle, even checking my social media. Just do something that allows your mind to take a break and also gets your body moving. I actually climb the stairs sometimes during the day for just that, to climb the stairs. It’s nice to get some fresh air from time to time also! Step outside and take a breather! Maybe take a quick stroll around the block! Trust me, your boss will appreciate your mental breaks once they see how much more in the zone you are when you return from your little adventure!
4. Don’t wait until you are starving and grab that easy access chocolate bar from your work vending machine.
This one is super important for people like me! I get extremely focused at work, which is amazing, but also sometimes a problem. I have been known to work into my lunch hour or skip an afternoon snack only to find my stomach growling beyond belief by mid-afternoon. This is when those bad habits can creep in! I find myself reaching for a bag of chips or another coffee to keep myself chugging along! When you are ravenous, you are much less likely to rationally decide to make yourself a fruit salad and much more prone to binging on candies found at your neighbor’s cubicle. Bring healthy and filling snacks to work. Keep them in your desk even! So, when you start to feel a little peckish, you can reach for a bag of almonds or an apple and not have the crash hit you square in your face and your tummy by 3 PM!
But what about after you leave your 9-5?
1. Swap out that happy hour for a happy yoga class.
Trust me, I love a good happy hour as much as the next gal! However, sometimes happy hours can not only add to your credit card bill for that month but also to your waistline! Instead, maybe every other week find a yoga class you and your girlfriends want to check out! Or go for smoothies instead of mixed drinks after a long day spent in the office. Small changes can add up drastically when it comes to our health especially when we find fun ways to incorporate our friends into them!
2. Join a work fitness team!
My office has fitness incentive programs and opportunities within our company itself! For example, every Thursday a bunch of my fellow coworkers play in a softball league down the street at a local park! It’s such a fun way to get moving after a long workday, but also a great opportunity to connect with other coworkers that you may never really have met otherwise! Company culture is huge when it comes to work-life balance, so look into what programs, events, teams, etc. that your company may offer to help you kick your health goals into high gear! You could also start your own! Maybe spread the word that you are looking for a running buddy for after hours or create a team to do a 5K for a charity event coming up in your area! Whatever it is, bonding with your coworkers while bettering your health can only be a great combination!
3. Remember your ‘Why.’
When life hits you hard and fast, it is going to be very easy to forget why you ever started this stupid health journey in the first place! The moment I get really stressed is the moment I find my inner voice telling me to throw in the towel and eat that entire container of Pringles while simultaneously throwing my sneakers into the back of my closet! Remember why you want to be healthier, why you want to incorporate healthier habits into your life. Possibly keep your ‘Why’ list on your bathroom mirror or in your iPhone Notes, just constantly remind yourself why you want to make these positive changes for yourself and for your life.
4. Track your progress or lose sight of the finish line.
When it comes to progress, every single little thing counts and you should count it, as well. I tell everyone when they are trying to make healthy changes in their lives you need to create a way to track your progress. I wish the sheer desire to be the healthiest version of myself was enough stamina to keep me pushing forward, but sometimes it just isn’t! What helps me stick to my goals and healthy habits is tracking how far I’ve come! Whether it is you are trying to lose weight, so you are going to weigh-in once a week or you’re trying to focus on your mental health more, so every day you’re going to journal and place a heart sticker on your calendar like the cheesy gal you are;)
Whatever helps you stay accountable and track your growth and progress is what’s important! It helps you continue to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel instead of the stress and maybe hard times along the way as you work to balance a healthier lifestyle with your busy schedule!
With all of these healthy tips to incorporate into your busy calendar, I have no doubt that you will be the healthy boss babe or boss bro that you have always been destined to be! Don’t forget to always remember that happiness and health start from within and everyone’s journey is different, however, I hope these tricks will help you find a balance between you wanting to take over the world and being the healthiest version of yourself.