Whether it’s Motivational Monday, Humpday Wednesday, or everybody favorite – Casual Friday, the workplace can provide challenges for even the happiest of employees. Today, we will look at some ideas and tips to help improve your day at the office, and some habits to take home, as well.
9 Tips to Improve Your Day at the Office
- Move Your Body
- Get Some Lotion Through Motion
- Make Your Cubicle More Suitable
- Don’t Ignore Your Core
- Find a Fitness Friend
- Stand Up for Yourself
- Make Time for Massage
- Perfect Your Posture
- Amend Your Ambiance
1. Move Your Body
Unless your job is a fitness instructor, professional athlete or dancer, chances are you spend a good bit of your time at the office sitting at a desk. Not to mention the hours spent sitting in a car or on the subway . . . and on the couch at home binge-watching Game of Thrones!
The American Heart Association recently published some wonderful ideas to make the most out of what limited time you may have to keep your body moving. A little extra movement throughout the day can go a long way!
Take the stairs:
I know what you are saying, “But I work on the 20th floor.” Try this, instead of taking the elevator to the 20th floor, walk to the 2nd or 5th floor and catch the elevator there. Did you know you can burn approximately 9 calories per flight of stairs? Put those burned calories in your piggy bank and watch them add up!
Go the extra distance:
The next time you need to take that trip to the restroom that is right next to your cubicle, take a few extra steps to the one located further down the hall. In fact, if there is a bathroom downstairs, why not make it an adventure. And, don’t forget to bring your bottle of water with you so you can rehydrate!
Take a trip to nowhere:
The next time you receive a phone call, give yourself the opportunity to clock in some extra Fitbit steps. In a study published by the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal, it was shown that simply walking in place for an hour burned an average of 258 calories. Also, walking in place during commercial breaks can burn about 148 calories in just 25 minutes. So, turn that couch potato into a hot potato.
Make your cubicle your gym:
On the phone? Do 10 chair squats. Finished reading that memo? Do 8 desk pushups. Waiting for those photocopies to print? Do 12 calf raises. Eating a healthy snack? Do it while holding a wall sit. Every bit of movement throughout your day helps. Make it into a game and give yourself a healthy habit to accomplish with every work task.
Exercise bands fit nicely in your desk drawer. During any short work break, do some band exercises at your work station. Chat up your coworkers and organize a recreational sports league at your office. Get off the bus or subway a few blocks early and walk the rest of the way. Live in the city near your office? Keep clothes at your office and take a Citi Bike to work.
2. Get Some Lotion Through Motion
A saying throughout the physiotherapy community is “Motion is lotion.” There is a fluid that is stored deep within our joints called synovial fluid, and it is released through movement.
Synovial fluid is to the body what oil is to a car. If you don’t keep the engine running, your joints will lock up.
Motion is not necessarily stretching. Stretching is definitely beneficial; however, you don’t want to stretch a muscle that has not been properly warmed up. Slow movements such as head turns and nods; neck rotations left and right; shoulder rolls and foot/ankle rotations will help release the fluid through the joints and prepare the body for stretching.
Watch this wonderful video from Pahla B Fitness for some wonderful seated movement ideas for the office.
3. Make Your Cubicle More Suitable
If you spend much of your day at a desk in a small space, you want to make that space as safe and comfortable as possible. Some ideas are a lumbar support pillow to encourage a neutral position of the spine; a footrest (or a stack of old hardcover books) if your feet do not touch the floor; a headset to reduce excess stress and tension on the neck from supporting the phone receiver, and to allow additional movement during conversations.
Make sure your work station is ergonomically functional. Your office chair should be adjustable so you are at an optimal position. The Steelcase Gesture office chair was rated #1 in 2020 by The New York Times.
Place computer monitors in a position so that the center of the computer screen is at eye level. Position the computer mouse to be easily within reach, and utilize computer keystroke shortcuts as often as possible to reduce repetitive finger movements.
Also, try to avoid excessive flexion and extension of the wrist; Every 20-minutes try to change activities to avoid repetitive stress syndrome;
4. Don’t Ignore Your Core
Sitting at a desk all day can lead to slouched postures, which can place unwanted stress on the back, and significantly weaken the core. A few sets of simple exercises performed once or twice throughout your workday can do wonders.
Begin warming up the core by sitting at the edge of your seat in an upright position. Make sure your feet are placed firmly on the ground. Now, take a nice breath in and as you exhale, slowly round the back and hold for a few seconds. Repeat this about five times before you begin your core strengthening exercises.
Take a deep breath in, slightly extending your back. On the exhale, concentrate on bringing the navel to the spine, and brace your core as if you are preparing for a punch. Repeat this several times to warm up the core.
Put your hands behind your head, with elbows out to the side. As you lift one foot off the floor, bring the opposite elbow towards the opposite hip. Repeat 5-8 times and perform the same exercise on the other side. Make sure to concentrate on keeping the navel to the spine. To slightly increase difficulty, rather than place the entire foot on the floor each time, just lightly tap the toes. This will keep the core engaged through the entire set.
Squat to the chair:
This exercise will engage the core, as well as the butt, thighs, and hamstrings. Start from a standing position, a few inched in front of the chair. Legs should be positioned a little more than shoulder-width apart, and feet turned slightly outward. As you come to the squat position, keep your torso upright and push your rear end out towards the chair, like you are about to take a seat. You want your knees to be as close to a 90-degree angle as possible, trying not to track the knees over the toes. Propel yourself back to an upright standing position. Repeat this 8-10 times, making sure to downward phase is slightly longer than the standing phase.
Begin seated in a chair with your torso at a slight angle backward. Make sure to keep your core engaged by imagining you are preparing for a punch in the stomach. Slowly lift your legs straight to as close to 90 degrees as you can. Do scissor motions with the legs, one on top of the other. Continue doing this for about 30 seconds, or until you feel the need to stop.
Bonus Core Ideas:
5. Find a Fitness Friend
Some office spaces offer exercise classes such as yoga and body conditioning. If your office does not (and more often than not, this is the case), find a gym within 5 minutes from your business. If it’s farther away than 5-10 minutes, the likelihood of actually going may be compromised.
The key is to find an exercise class you will love! There are usually so many to choose from: Body Conditioning, Cycling, Kickboxing, Pilates, Yoga, Dance . . . You can get your groove on before work; take a quick power class during your lunch break, or grab your gym clothes as you hit the door to leave the office. Find an enthusiastic coworker to be your workout partner, and make a pledge to motivate each other.
6. Stand Up for Yourself
As we mentioned earlier, sitting in one position for long periods can result in a host of issues, ranging from back problems, sciatica, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It is important to take periodic posture breaks during your workday. While your boss isn’t likely going to allow you to take posture break every 30-minutes, take them whenever possible, and practical.
What if your company had a standing work area?
Many companies today are providing options such as adjustable desks and standing work stations for their hard-working staff. If your company does not have places like this available, be creative. Perhaps the lunch area has a high bar from which to work, oratory to find a large table and prop your laptop up on a box, or some books. Alternating from sit-to-stand helps to keep your body in balance.
You may also consider checking with the HR department and see if there are resources within the budget to purchase a few portable sit-to-stand desks for the office. You’ll never know if you don’t ask. 🙂
7. Make Time for Massage
Corporate chair massage is taking the workforce by storm. A 10 or 20-minute chair massage can provide the necessary respite from the rigors of the day, and allow you to return to the job rejuvenated more than before.
According to the American Psychological Association’s 2017 survey Stress in America, 61% of Americans say work is a significant source of stress. An in-office chair massage day can help alleviate chronic neck and back pain, and can also help reduce the symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
As corporations are looking for new ways to meet their bottom line, wellness initiatives are becoming increasingly popular to boost worker productivity. Chair massage is one of the most beneficial, and cost-effective worker productivity enhancements a company can offer. And the employees are responding with a resounding . . . .AHHHH!
Secure your conference room, dim the lights, and let your massage therapist do the rest. They will bring everything you need to help ensure your 10 or 20 minutes on that massage chair is a pleasing and memorable experience.
8. Perfect Your Posture
Give your eyes a break:
The medical term for eye strain is asthenopia. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors such as extended viewing of a computer screen or TV; extended exposure to computer glare or extreme brightness; and nighttime driving.
Some helpful tips for reducing eye strain
- When staring at the computer for more than 20 minutes, try to change your gaze to something more distant. This will give the tiny eye musculature a chance to relax and will help prevent fatigue.
- Try to adjust the lighting in the room to minimize glare on the screen.
- Adjusting the brightness on your computer screen can help. You can also adjust your computer/tablet settings for a warmer level of brightness for after-dark computer use.
- Increase your computer font size to one that is more comfortable to read.
- If your workspace is situated in an arid environment, try an over the counter tear substitute a couple of times a day may provide relief.
- If all else fails, consult an ophthalmologist for further advice and assessment.
Sit Up Straight:
I know, I sound like your mother. Preventing slouch at work can help reduce the possibility of experiencing neck and back pain, especially when these positions occur over extended periods.
Make sure your office chair is at a proper height, and that both feet can rest flat on the floor. If your chair does not adjust, a yoga block or stack of books may be used to help prop up your feet. A lumbar pillow may help remind you to sit up straight. Many workers today have found great results using a balance ball chair.
When sitting, make sure to sit up straight and that your ears, shoulders, and hips are in one vertical line. Sit with your legs uncrossed, and be aware of any slouching or leaning. You want to try to maintain a balanced position while in the chair. And, don’t forget to get up and move around the room periodically.
9. Amend Your Ambiance
Many of us spend upwards of 9+ hours a day in our workspace, sharing our creative minds and our incredible intellect with our employers and fellow employees. It is essential to maintain an environment that fosters every employee’s stellar attributes.
Light Up Your Life:
Nothing wakes us up, invigorates our senses, and stimulates our creativity like natural sunlight. Natural light throughout the day has been known to enhance productivity, increase restful sleep, and improve our overall physical and emotional health. If you are unable to get natural light in your office space, make sure to take some time to go for a short walk outside to get some of that extra vitamin D that the sunlight provides!
Beautify Your Background:
An environment that is bright, colorful, and botanic can elevate anyone’s mood. Encourage your office to decorate the surroundings with colorful and artistic scenery. Perhaps throw in some colorful area rugs and a unique piece of furniture.
Also, you can decorate your designated office area with a few potted plants, and some colorful picture frames with photos of those near and dear.
Other ideas for making your surroundings more pleasing is to add ambient background music.
Thankfully, the days of the elevator tunes are behind us. Often quiet background music like soft rock, smooth jazz or instrumental classics can energize and invigorate.
Remember the saying “No Man [woman] is an Island”? People thrive and prosper in their community. Make frequent efforts to discuss and bounce ideas off of other coworkers. Collaborating frequently with your team can help increase worker confidence, bolster a current skillset, and speed up problem-solving.
Bonus Tip #10 – Make Time for FUN!
“As long as there is a new twist in the storyline, there cannot be any space for monotony. ” – Divyanka Tripathi
Boredom and monotony are part of life. Psychology Today states “…between 30 percent and 90 percent of American adults experience boredom at some point in their daily lives, as do 91 percent to 98 percent of youth.”
Studies have shown that these feelings can be beneficial, as they provide the impetus for change. To keep employees engaged and productive, it is important to do our best to avoid these aforementioned feelings.
Below are some ideas to create some fun in the office, and promote an atmosphere of cohesiveness.
Creative Cubicle Contest:
Give your staff the opportunity to decorate their cubicle and have each team member vote on the best cubicle. You can make categories such as “Most Original,” “Company Spirit Award,” “Pet-Fabulous,” “Best in Sport,” and “Most Cozy.”
Award Idea: Uber or Lyft gift card.
Create a “Banter Bulletin Board”:
Make a designated space on the wall for a bulletin board where employees are encouraged to post cartoons, jokes, and friendly humorous takes on workplace happenings. At the end of the year, save all of these and make a scrapbook to share with future employees. The employee who contributes the most wins!
Award Idea: Starbucks gift certificate
Celebrate Coworkers Birthdays:
If you have a small staff, you can celebrate each birthday individually. For companies with a larger employee pool, designate one day a month to celebrate with a lunchtime party. You can create a fun grab bag or spin-wheel with a variety of gift offerings for the Birthday Boys and Girls.
Award Idea: water bottle/coffee mug with company logo, reusable drink straw, movie theatre gift certificate for 2, free lunch.
Plan an Employee Karaoke Talent Show:
Plan a night at a local Karaoke bar and have the employees vote for the winner the next day.
Award Idea: iTunes gift certificate and a coupon to celebrate with a free drink at the next company outing.
Plan a Company Sports Night:
The event can be competitive in nature (bowling, softball, or dodgeball) or a fun-filled event (ice skating, laser tag, or dancing). A team that plays together, stays together!
Award Idea: A scheduled office chair massage event where the winners can indulge in a therapeutic chair massage to restore those hard-working muscles they used during the activity.
I hope the above recommendations provide years of productivity and fun at your office. A little thoughtful creativity will make your workplace the talk of the town, and people will be lining up at the door with their resumes!
Richard A. Lehman, LMT, CSCS
Compliment Your Body, LLC has been providing In-Home and Corporate / Event chair massage to New York City and the surrounding boroughs since 2004. With over 15 years of experience in this great city, our handpicked Corporate Chair Massage Team is the BEST in NYC!
What makes Compliment Your Body rise above the rest?
– We don’t rely on ads to find our amazing team of therapists. Our in-house NYC therapist referral network guarantees dedicated, vetted, experienced and professional New York State licensed massage therapists, whose goal is to produce 100% customer satisfaction.
– We are local to NYC. When you communicate with our team, you will always be within reach of a human voice. Your corporate / event planner will often make an appearance at your office to ensure things are running smoothly.
– We take care of our team of therapists. We believe in the core principles of reciprocity. When we take good care of our massage therapists, they take even better care of you. We make sure to provide our therapists with a healthy work environment. Experience the “Happier Therapist Difference.”
– We give back to the community. Every single massage, whether in-home or corporate chair massage, provides three meals to a New Yorker in need through our relationship with Food Bank For New York City.
Commitment, compassion, connection, and charity are the pillars of our company.
Experience the CYBNYC difference!
Compliment Your Body, LLC
1441 Broadway #6087
New York, NY. 10018