As I sit at the computer and start to write, it becomes apparent that all that eating and partying during the holidays definitely took its toll this year. Now, of course, it's time to get back on track. I know I am not alone in making the commitment for better health in 2017. The problem is that while people might try healthy habits at home, they struggle to transfer them over to the place they spend most of their waking hours: the office.
I recently discussed the issue of staying healthy in the office with CEO and co-founder of SnackNation, Sean Kelly. Kelly, a member of YPO, is literally in the business of creating healthier, more productive workplaces. SnackNation provides thousands of offices across America with a curated selection of the newest, most innovative healthy snacks on a recurring membership basis.
In our conversation, Kelly broken everything down into what he considers the five most important focus areas when it comes to healthy offices:
· Physical well-being
· Diet and nutrition
· Mental performance
· Immunity and sickness prevention
· Relationships and connection.
Here are his tips for living a healthier lifestyle in the office.
1. Stop sitting.
"Sitting is our generation's smoking," he insists, "The average person sits 9.3 hours per day compared to 7.7 hours per day of sleep, which wreaks havoc on our health, wellness and state of mind. After just one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat decrease by as much as 90%." Kelly recommends trading the traditional office chair for a standing desk. If you're not ready to stand for that long, try an ergonomic chair that requires you to sit with good posture. He also recommends standing meetings, too: "You'll find people are more engaged, energized, and also, you'll waste less time."
2. Take walking meetings and phone calls.
Any meeting where you are not required to face a computer screen is the chance for a stroll and to get some fresh air. "Especially if there's just one other person involved, walking side-by-side and in parallel with someone allows for problems to be discussed more openly and allows both people to have a go-forward mentality." Kelly believes that walking meetings are less combative, more open and collaborative, while also burning some calories and increasing blood oxygenation. Phone calls too can be done while walking, freeing creativity, and putting you in a more dynamic and positive state of mind.
3. Work out with co-workers.
Exercising together not only will deepen bonds and allow you to get to know the people you work with better, it'll also make you accountable for getting the activity you know you should. This can be before work, at lunch, or at the end of the day. The key is to get a group together that can rally around each other. "I've found that end-of-day commitments are easiest for most co-workers to keep," he advises.
4. Knock out a three-minute workout.
An interval as short as three minutes boosts metabolism, energy and positivity. Kelly suggests, "Bring in some exercise bands or skip equipment. Stick to bodyweight exercises such as squats, push-ups and jumping jacks. Short workouts will help fuel you through the day, reduce stress, and also won't leave you sweaty and fearful of interacting with other co-workers."
5. Stretch & Release Emotions.
Anger often shows up as tension in the shoulders and upper back and neck. Fear is typically felt in the pit of your stomach. "Don't avoid these emotions," warns Kelly. "Recognize them, feel them, and release them through some basic stretching and deep breaths. The problem isn't experiencing these normal emotions. It's in holding onto them for too long."
Diet & Nutrition
6. Plan your lunches.
Either the day before, or better yet, at the beginning of the week, prepare and pack food. "Even just determining what you're going to order instead of choosing something in the moment will ensure you make healthier eating choices," he states.
7. Change lunch meetings to breakfast meetings.
Not only does this lead to increased productivity through less interruption, it's also easier for most to choose a healthy breakfast. Ego depletion often makes it tougher to do the same at lunch. "Stick with a high healthy fat and high protein breakfast that is low in carbohydrates to power you through the day with sustained and balanced energy."
8. Limit access to sodas and junk food.
"Instead," says Kelly, "make it super easy to access healthy snacks and wholesome foods that help enhance productivity, not grind it to a halt. Keep healthy snacks in your desk and/or encourage your office to sign-up for a service like SnackNation." This is especially important with Millennials, who are a snacking generation -- each day they have at least one meal made up of just snacks and typically snack 2.5 times as much as their parents.
9. Eat a lunch high in vegetables, proteins and fats.
"Sure you can have carbs, but I wouldn't recommend more than a handful, and they should be complex in nature (sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, etc). Eating a bunch of carbs mid-day will slow you down and encourage an early afternoon crash. Opt for a salad with a bunch of vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins and show the afternoon who is boss."
10. Make it home with enough time between dinner and bed.
"This might not sound like an at-office tip, but it is," he insists. "You should leave at least 2.5 hours between when you finish dinner and when you go to bed. If you don't, it'll interfere with your sleep and make you feel worse and groggy the next morning." Create a plan for when you're going to leave the office and stick to it. This will also encourage you to work as efficiently as possible.
11. Put your phone away.
According to Kelly, the worst drug we deal with today is distraction. "Our phones are the biggest culprits. We're literally addicted to our mobile screens and it's causing us more harm than we realize. Turn off all notifications on your phone and never place it face-up on your desk. Even better, put it away in your desk drawer. Only check your phone at set, pre-planned times of the day. And definitely don't bring it into meetings. Nothing says 'I don't care about you or this' like continually checking your phone."
12. Pre-plan social media visits.
Being intentional with your social media forays will have an immediate positive impact on your mentality. Impulse social media visits not only distract from doing the meaningful work that have a positive impact on life, it also typically makes most people feel worse rather than better.
13. Get going with gratitude.
"Set a calendar reminder to consider -- what are you grateful for in this moment? The fact that you're employed, the sun outside, your five senses, the feel of wind in your hair, your kids...it doesn't matter what you think about, it just matters that you give yourself 60 seconds of pure appreciation." Kelly believes that it is impossible to be angry or fearful when you are concentrating on gratitude. While all are normal emotions, they should not rule your day. Moderate them by checking-in on all that's good in life.
14. Zone out and meditate for five minutes.
No one has to be a Zen master! Just five minutes of meditation can give you increased energy, increased tranquility, and the ability to more effectively deal with your surroundings. Download a meditation app on your phone and allow it to guide you through some simple breath and thought work.
15. Keep track of both personal and professional goals.
Burn-out isn't healthy for anyone, and it's usually caused by focusing too much on one area of life while other areas of your life suffer. "You can help prevent this by having daily reminders of your personal goals at your desk and reviewing them frequently. If you achieve your personal goals, you'll feel better about yourself and will experience a better life, leading to a better you at the office too."
Immunity & Sickness Prevention
16. Re-think your caffeination strategy.
Instead of sugar in your morning coffee, use coconut or MCT oil. Both are brain boosters that will yield better focus and mental stamina. Instead of that second cup of coffee in the afternoon, opt for green tea (or water) instead. It will dehydrate you less while giving your body some valuable antioxidants not found in java.
17. Keep a water bottle at your desk and fill it up frequently.
"I like to keep a 24oz water bottle at my desk and aim to consume at least three full bottles every day." Few things are more important to your health than staying hydrated. This will prevent you from eating too much (overeating is often due to dehydration). Kelly suggests making it a game that you play with yourself: "I take a trip to the water cooler every 90 minutes or so when I need to get up, walk around for a bit, rejuvenate, and get ready to focus on crushing my next task."
18. Combat germ transmission.
"Always wash hands for 30 seconds. If you can, use paper towels to open doors. If you have to touch handles and door knobs that everyone else uses too, always wash your hands after. And an added note -- coffee pots are killers!"
19. Avoid open bags of food at the office.
Not only is the food likely not very healthy, it's also likely caked with germs.
20. Keep some immunity boosters at your desk.
"When I feel something coming on, I tap into my supply of immune boosters. That includes vitamin C, L-lysine, Astragalus, Apple Cider Vinegar, Grapefruit Seed Extract, and Zinc." Hit the feeling hard and fast and you'll have a much better shot of preventing sickness.
Relationships & Connection
21. See everyone around you as an ally.
Kelly believes in a positive approach: "If you think the universe and all of those around you are conspiring in your favor, you might just be amazed when it actually happens. People and the world have a great way of meeting our negative expectations. Instead, give people an unreasonable benefit of the doubt and watch the quality of your relationships, and the positive performance of those around you, sky rocket."
22. Eat lunch away from your desk.
Use your mid-day break as a time to forge deeper relationships with others. According to Kelly, job satisfaction is directly correlated with the quality of friendships you have with others at work. "Use your lunch break as a time to build friendships. Don't talk about work--share about personal issues and show them you care about who they are both outside and inside the office."
23. Take a tour.
Kelly recommends that, once per day (preferably in the afternoon), you set a reminder to go and check in with co-workers. "See how they're doing and just say hello. Let them know you care. Not only will this make you feel better, it'll help you develop better relationships. Yes, you need to be careful not to interrupt people, but you can selectively choose who to interact with based on their current level of focus."
24. Recognize the awesome around you.
"This one is simple, but boy is it powerful," he enthuses. Write one handwritten note per week to someone around the office that you saw do something awesome. This gift of recognition will create serotonin release in both the giver and receiver, leading to greater respect and trust between the parties.
25. Love yourself.
"Remember that your perspective of the world says a lot more about you than it does about the world. If you don't think highly of yourself, you simply won't think highly of others. Appreciating ourselves and those around us is the number one key to experiencing a happy, fulfilled life, so don't neglect this essential, everyday task."
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