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Mindless office habits ruining your health

By Brinda Sapat
Last updated on: August 25, 2015 13:53 IST
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Are you a victim of these bad habits?

So many hours of your days, weeks, months and years are spent in the office, at the desk. You slip into a comfort zone of habits that may actually be the cause of nagging health problems you are facing or will face in the near future.

Weight gain, back aches, neck problems, shoulder pain, stiff knees, irritability, lack of focus and so on are the various issues that can show up from habits developed by 'unhealthy' time spent in office.

To keep your health in top form, take a look at the mindless office habits that are ruining your health and mindful ways you can break them.

1. Being sedentary

A desk job requires you to sit on a chair for most part of the day. This causes a lack of blood circulation leading to stiffness in the joints. Your back or neck may ache, you may feel pain in the knees or hip.

How to fix it

The human body is designed for movement. Every hour or so, get up and take a walk around your office, free up your legs. Do a few rhythmic stretches for your waist, hip and legs. Foot circles will free up the ankles.

Go for a walk during your lunch hour.

Did you know that lunchtime fitness classes are the most popular in a lot countries abroad?

If you cannot squeeze in a walk/ workout in the middle of your day, make sure you do so before or after work.

2. Poor posture

Bad postural alignment is bad news. Repeatedly slouching, tensing your shoulders or sitting leaning over to one side sends your back bones and shoulders out of its natural position and can cause serious long-term damage.

How to fix it

a. Do a ‘correct posture’ check. Stand with your back against the wall. The back of your heels, hips, back of the shoulders and back of the head should touch the wall. Now step away from the wall observing that same posture. Next make sure your chin is parallel to the floor. To get your shoulders in check raise them all the way up to your ears and then bring them downwards as low as they will go. Then release the shoulders. This is the normal position.

Next round your shoulders forwards, and then push them all the way back. Then release. This is how they should remain. Maintain a tall back and hold your lower tummy muscles in a bit to strengthen them and support the back. Maintain this posture whether you are sitting, standing or moving. It will take days of conscious effort for the posture to come naturally.

b. Use a chair that has good back and arm support. Sit way back with your hips against the back of the chair, so that you can rest your back without causing it any strain.

c. Your chair and table should be at the correct height so that you do not need to slouch over the table or stress your shoulders by having to raise your arms up too high.

d. Get up and move every hour or so. Prolonged sitting can tire your muscles making you slip back into old habits.

3. Irregular meals

Do you skip your breakfast because you are rushing to work? Miss lunch because you have too much work? End up snacking instead and then go home to a large, heavy dinner?

Just like your office work needs to be done on time, the body needs clockwork precision to work effectively. Eating is one of the most basic needs for you.

Slacking drives your body crazy and will make you gain weight, fluctuate your energy levels resulting in nutrient deficiencies.

How to fix it

Set fixed timing for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as 2 snacks in-between. No matter how busy your day is, carve the time out.

4. Unhealthy foods

If you do end up not getting lunch and snacks from home or your office canteen, chances are, you will be feasting on junk foods. You are more likely to pick an unhealthy meal or snack when you skip a meal.

How to fix it

Plan your meals wisely. Think about putting the highest quality food in your stomach. The freshest of fruits, veggies, lightly cooked foods, good proteins and so on. The food you eat has a direct effect on the body.

5. Lack of fresh air and natural light

Being indoors all day can cause cabin suffocation. Restlessness, lack of concentration, irritability are symptoms you may have felt at some point.

How to fix it

Take a break from work. Step out of the office. Do this at least thrice a day.

Make up for time spent indoors by going for a walk after work.

6. Getting stressed

It comes with the territory. Meeting deadlines, planning presentations, attending important meetings can all raise stress and anxiety levels. Couple this with all the indoor time, lack of exercise, a skipped meal and the stress levels have doubled!

How to fix it

Do a 2 minute self-focused, deep-breathing exercise.

Sit in a relaxing position on your chair with your back upright. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, head and neck. Now breathe deeply, filling up your lungs. Then exhale very slowly and as you do, relax your body even more.

Feel and think ONLY about the air entering and leaving your nostrils. This will certainly calm your nerves.

It may be hard to adapt to these new habits at first, but very soon they will become second nature and you will be healthier and happier!

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Credit: amanda dias/Creative Commons


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Brinda Sapat