Creating healthy habits at work

Working life can present a range of obstacles when working towards lifestyle change, for example long commutes making it difficult to exercise before or after work, lack of nutritious options for lunch, or work socials that you don’t want to miss out on. Whatever work looks like for you, below are some tips that can support you to work towards your goals.

Adding in Movement 

Many jobs involve sitting for long periods making it hard to keep active however see below for some tips on different ways to add movement into the day. 

·         Standing desk – if a standing desk is an option for you this is a great way to break up the sitting. 

·         Toilet breaks – although it’s tempting to rush to the closest toilet, taking a little extra time to go to a toilet further away is a quick way to add in some extra steps. 

·         Taking the stairs instead of the lift if that’s manageable for you is a great way to add in some extra movement to the day. 

·         Track steps it’s easy to overestimate how many steps we do, tracking activity can be a great way to stay motivated and accountable. 

·         Stretch between meetings and calls – this not only breaks up long periods of sitting but can help you to stay energised and focused throughout the day. 

·         Use your lunch break to get some fresh air and movement – e.g. set yourself a goal to go outside and walk for 15 minutes 3 times a week during your lunch break. 

Fuelling Your Body At Work 

Eating nutritious meals at work can be difficult, particularly when there’s a lack of time and/or options for food. Below are some things that can help when it comes to eating well at work. 

·         Stay hydrated – if you find it easy to forget to drink water it can be helpful to keep a water bottle nearby as a physical reminder. 

·         Prepare meals in advance – preparing nutritious meals and snacks for work ahead of time is a great way to avoid reaching for quick unhealthy snacks when you’re low on time. If time is short in the evenings, why not try some of the quick healthy recipes in the Wellbeing Way app, such as our stir fry noodles, shakshuka or oven-baked salmon? 

·         Mindful eating – try to avoid eating lunch at your desk as it is easier to eat mindlessly. Maximise your lunch break by changing environment and eating mindfully. 

·         Have a protein rich breakfast to stay fuller for longer – if you’re not a breakfast person, prepare something in advance to have later in the morning.  Here are some examples of protein rich breakfast ideas: avocado and egg; scrambled tofu; omelette; overnight oats or yoghurt parfait. 

 Working Shifts 

If your job involves working shifts, and changing patterns it can be even more difficult to stick to a routine when it comes to food and movement at work. The tips above still apply, however below are some tips specific to shift workers. 

·         Prioritise sleep and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every day – see here for more tips on sleep and shift work 

·         Create a supportive environment e.g. leaving your gym clothes out for when you wake up after a shift to increase the likelihood of exercising 

·         Reach out to others to support you with working towards your goals between shifts e.g. asking a family member to help with preparing a healthy meal for when you’re home 

·         Set aside time for exercise between shifts. It doesn’t have to be a lot it could be a walk before work or some stretching when you get home. If you’re working long shifts and it’s unrealistic to exercise before or after work focus on getting movement in where you can during your shift and aim to plan some physical activity that you enjoy on your days off[TB1] [HM2]

·         Be mindful of caffeine intake. Having too much caffeine can impact quality of sleep and make it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid caffeine towards the end of a shift, particularly night shifts. 

Managing Social/Culture 

Work socials are often planned around food and alcohol with limited healthy options. Whilst it’s important to maintain a balance and unnecessary to completely exclude any food groups, work events may be an obstacle to lifestyle goals. Here are some tips to support you to manage these situations so you can still have fun and continue working towards your goals: 

·         Suggest an active team activity e.g., bowling. 

·         Go alcohol free. 

·         Assertiveness 

·         Planning ahead/plan meals around to be mindful of energy balance Opt for healthier options on the menu if eating out 

·         Prioritise a healthy work-life balance and aim to plan something you enjoy such as a hobby around your shifts and working day. This can be more difficult if you work long hours, and planning ahead of time can really help to structure your day to ensure time for an activity that makes you feel good physically and mentally. 

·         Remember that setbacks are an expected part of making lifestyle changes. Try not to feel down or focus too much on social events as it’s important to still enjoy yourself. If things don’t go to plan, it can be a great learning opportunity