Work is Killing You and 10 Ways to Stop It From Happening!

exercise-at-workEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from Gus Zambrano.

Every morning, you awaken to a new day and you launch into your familiar routines as you hustle to meet your daily obligations. 

Ideally, your work excites you, energizes you, and brings joy to your life. If your work brings you more stress and fatigue than joy then now is the time to make some changes. You can introduce a renewed vigor into your work and upgrade your attitude.

You know that taking care of yourself should be your number one priority. Yet you often let your health and fitness levels fall by the wayside if you are consistently working 50 or more hours a week.

As a society, at what point did we take the wrong turn by focusing on work place productivity and relentless goal setting at the expense of our happiness and well-being?

Productivity does not have to be measured solely by the number of hours logged at work. Happiness will not be attainable when consistently working 50 hours a week. Furthermore, our choice, as a culture, to sacrifice fitness or physical play for other goals has had an impact on every part of our lives, including our fitness level and our overall happiness at work and outside of work.

With the majority of adults—and an increasing number of children–now overweight or obese, and with some teenagers now showing signs of Type II diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, we need to re-examine our priorities and our lifestyles.

Our modern advances have made life “easier” in that we now do much less manual labor, reducing our ability to burn calories at work. Many of us find ourselves in sedentary office jobs, with computers and gadgets we need to function at our fingertips. Office jobs force us to sit at our desk every day—sometimes all day! The longer you sit, the slower your metabolism becomes and the more difficult it becomes to rev up your metabolism again to burn fat efficiently. Beyond metabolic issues, a sedentary lifestyle also turns off protective mechanisms that keep us from developing some chronic diseases. Being overweight has serious health consequences including depression. Adding more activity into your life will help reduce your weight and improve your mood.

10 Tips to help Reduce Your Stress and Have More Energy

Below are some ideas I have incorporated into my daily routine to keep my metabolism working, appetite under control, body in shape and mind alert.

1. Stretch to get the blood circulating.

A good 10 minute stretch will increase blood circulation and help relax your rambling thoughts.

2.  Add healthy proteins to your diet.

Nuts, fish, chicken, low fat dairy, lentils and beans are all great choices. Note that the higher protein in your diet will help you control your appetite, lower your weight, and reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume.

3.  Eat six times a day

By eating three meals and three snacks, you will be healthier. This will help your metabolism to run smoothly and control your appetite.

4. Focus on “clean eating”

Eat food which is minimally processed, natural or organic, and with few additives especially sugar and salt. When you shop for your food at the grocery store, you will make better choices if you avoid the center aisles that are filled with processed foods.

5.  Eat a protein rich breakfast.

Please do not skip breakfast; your body has just been fasting for 7 to 8 hours. High fiber cereals, low sugar yogurt, whole wheat bread, eggs, fresh fruits and nuts are all good options.

6.  Stretch and hydrate throughout the day.

Stand and move around every 30 minutes and, if possible, go outside and breathe fresh air.  Prepare foods in advance so there are no surprises. Keep a glass of water at your desk and take a sip every 30 minutes.

A good habit to get into is to stand up, take a good sip of water, stretch for 2 minutes, and take a quick walk before you get back to work.

7.  Eat a healthy mid-morning snack.

High water volume fruits like melons or apples, or nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are a great choice.

8.  Eat a hearty lunch, again rich in protein and high in fiber

Fish, chicken, vegetables, and water. Make it your next biggest meal after breakfast, and make dinner a light meal.  Eat an afternoon snack: it can be similar to the morning snack, depending on whether you use your afternoon snack as your pre-workout snack or not.

9.  Make time for Exercise.

Regular exercise will keep your heart and mind healthy. Exercise with a friend for accountability. Keep a gym bag handy.  Whether you exercise in the morning, at lunch, or the evening, “get it in”.  The exercise can be a 30 minute run, 45 minutes of weight lifting, a spinning or zumba class, boot camp or cross fit. Try to get a balanced mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise during the week. Whatever you choose, make it something you cannot skip, you cannot deny yourself, a routine event you do every single day.  Plan for your exercise time every day because “life happens”. “Getting it in” is a cornerstone to this fitness approach because consistency is key to your success. You will soon feel the benefits of your increased activity. You will release the stressors of your day, especially if you work-out at day’s end.  Those who do morning workouts find that it often energizes them for the day, and the midday workout warriors find that it helps them get through the rest of the day with renewed energy. For those of you who are “weekend warriors” – you need to “get it in” during the week too!

1o.  Take time to unwind from your day before you go to sleep.

Create a routine for yourself in the evening. That means nothing simulating right before bed like checking your work email or watching TV. Try reading a book, meditate, or have a conversation with a loved one. You also need a bedroom that induces sleep – one that is dark, cool, and with all electronics turned off.  Some people read to doze off, whereas others just need to put their heads on a pillow and they fall asleep.

Try these strategies for four weeks as that is about how long it takes to establish new habits. To increase your likelihood of success, work on only a couple of new habits at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Keep a journal, recruit a friend or family member to join you, make it fun and the changes will be easier.  If you are consistent with your new habits, your health will improve dramatically and, if you are like me, you may never look back as you embark on a new lifestyle that will bring you many rewards.  Good Luck!

Your Turn

What daily routine can you share that makes you happier at work?

Gus Zambrano is married and a father of four children. After the birth of his son 12 years ago and 60 lbs overweight, Gus decided to make a change by taking up walking, which led to running. He has logged over 10,000 training miles and completed 24 marathons over the same 12 year period.

* Image courtesy of Careesma Group