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5 Simple Steps To Stay Healthy At Work

Written by: Timo Topp, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Long busy days, late nights, travel, deadlines, functions and a tonne of stress – they all get in the way of ‘you’ looking after your ‘self’ and your health, sound familiar? As a busy successful leader, entrepreneur or business owner finding the time and motivation for wellbeing can be a challenge. A hectic schedule does not have to be an obstacle to your health. It is easier than you think to balance work with your well-being. I call it ‘Workbeing’ the art of being healthy, happy and productive at work. When you take the time to look after ‘self’ everything you do rises. You are more productive, more resilient, more focussed and you keep burnout at bay.

Female office worker meditating on her work place

From confusion to mastery


But where do you start? There is so much information out there, much of it contradictory. Even before trying to find the time to get to the gym or going on another diet, there are fundamentals that form the foundation of health.


‘Get the fundamentals down and everything you will do will rise’ – Michael Jordan

Like most endeavours in life, you start with the basics. When you step into the dojo for the first time, you don’t learn the flying roundhouse kick, you start with basic blocks and strikes.


The same is true for your well-being.


Optimal well-being is achieved by routinely doing a few simple things, regularly. The great news for your busy schedule is that they do not take much time or effort and they make a massive difference to how you look, feel and perform, in fact, they just need more awareness. Let’s look at five of the simplest steps you can take to stay healthy, happy and productive at work.


First take a deep breath, through the nose


Unless you engage in Eastern practises you have probably never paid much attention to how you breath, yet it without it, you would die in minutes. Breathing is fascinating because it is the only autonomic process in the body (the ones you do without thinking about them) that you can consciously influence. When you do, it can change how you feel and perform.


Simply speaking, shallow, rapid chest breathing, the kind most people do when they are stressed, influences the sympathetic nervous system which activates the fight or flight response, making you feel more stressed and agitated.


Conversely, taking deep, slow, controlled abdominal breaths with a pause in between the inhale and the exhale, influences the parasympathetic nervous system which activates the growth and repair aspect of the nervous system, making you feel calmer and more centred.


So, to feel more energised, in the moment and relaxed become more aware of your breathing. Breath deeper, slower and through the nose. Nose breathing is more efficient for oxygenation of the blood. The space between breathes is revolutionary, between the inhale and the exhale. This is something most people never consider. The ideal number of breathes per minute at rest, is a surprising 6.


Topp tips: Take 5-10 slow, deep breathes at a rate of 10 seconds per cycle as a great relaxation technique before important events to focus, when you are feeling stressed or can’t sleep.


You can read more about more effective breathing here.


Drink more water


Yes, you have heard it before but are you drinking enough? Did you know a small 1-2% drop in hydration contributes to a decline in cognitive function and mood? Your brain is made of 75% water. Your body has a strong signal to respond to hunger but a weak one to respond to thirst, so when you are feeling peckish, you are probably thirsty. Drinking water is important for energy levels, general health, cognitive function and managing your appetite.


Topp tips: Start your day with a big glass of water, drink water 15 minutes eating and carry water with you are commuting.


You can read more about drinking water here: https://www.brainzmagazine.com/post/principle-of-health-water


Cut out the crap and eat more greens


When it comes to eating a healthier diet, the absolute first place to start before making any significant changes is simply ‘cut out the crap’: the chips, chocolate, crisps, muffins, snacks and convenience food. Then increase the ‘greens’ essentially fruits and vegetables but particularly anything green. There is a lot of controversy around what constitutes healthy eating but one thing is irrefutable: Greens are very good for your health.


Topp tip: The key to success to healthy eating with a busy professional life is food planning and preparation. Go grocery shopping to have the right food in the house from which to prepare healthy meals. Pre-prepare food in advance, such as on the weekend, so you have meals to heat up after a long day.


Move more


The human body is built to move. On a controversial note, it is not built to exercise (more on that another time). Nor was it meant to sit on chairs and be sedentary. Yes, we need to exercise but we must also be active which means two very important things:


1. Get your steps up.


You don’t need to do the infamous 10,000 but you do need to do around 8000. Anything less than 5000 is considered sedentary. Science tells us the more we do the better our health.


2. Get up from your chair regularly.


Sitting or rather being sedentary is a rising star in the world's growing health problems. We must take a stand for better health by getting up from our chair every 60-90 minutes.


Read more, why you should sit less: click here.


Topp tip: According to NASA Scientist Joan Vernikos, standing up from your chair has the same physiological stimulus to the body as remaining standing for 30 minutes, a great health hack.


And finally, be thankful


Humans tend to be negative. We worry about what we have yet to do, what’s broken and what we don’t have. By consciously choosing to focus on what’s going well in our life we can nurture a more positive and resilient mindset and experience less stress and anxiety. It is not fluffy nonsense. Science has shown that gratitude helps to release serotonin and dopamine which are our feel-good neurotransmitters. So, when you catch yourself about to complain, stop and reframe and take a more positive outlook. A positive mindset is the foundation for productivity, creativity and resilience.


Topp tip: Start your day with gratitude by reflecting on all the good things in your life to set yourself up for a productive, positive day. At work, integrate gratitude into your business culture by recognising the achievements of others: start meetings with gratitude, allow people to share a positive experience about a work outcome or colleague.


Balancing a healthy life with a hectic schedule is easier than you think and well worth the dividends to your personal and professional life – and your health. It starts with more awareness for a few simple, daily actions that will allow you to be healthy, happy and highly productive – and not burnout!


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Timo Topp, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Timo Topp is a world leader in the wellbeing space with 30 years of experience, working as a coach, author and speaker. It his purpose and passion to help people to live healthier, happier lives. Timo is the creator of 'WORKBEING' a workplace wellbeing philosophy that empowers busy professional people to live healthier lives at work so that businesses can thrive. He is also the author of the book EAT, MOVE, LIVE – An authentic approach to look and feel your best for life. Timo’s philosophy to optimal well-being is based on ‘simplicity, sustainability, success’ so you can look, feel and perform at your best, for life.

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