Friday, January 24, 2014

Health at Work

I’m not going to lie, I get jealous of the vegan/running/health bloggers out there who don’t have full time jobs. I truly love my job as a librarian for a large university on one of their regional campuses, but having a regular 9-5 type schedule means that I have to fit my workouts in early and do a lot of planning ahead for meals and food prep. Fortunately, working as a librarian does allow me the opportunity to spread my message of health and wellness to a wider audience.

At my desk

I write a blog about being a librarian called Digital Carrie. I often write posts that talk about how these two aspects of my life intersect. I wrote a post yesterday on how mindfulness and meditation have impacted my work. The post before that was about the parallels between running a race and an academic semester. I also wrote a post in December called “Bringing Your Passion to the Library” about how I've used my interest in health and wellness to add depth to my work as a librarian.

The back of the building where I work, college campuses are great for taking walk breaks during the work day!

I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to explore this side of myself as part of my work, and one that’s in an environment conducive to living the lifestyle I want. I know how difficult it is to stay on top of being healthy when you have a 40 (or more) hour work week plus responsibilities in your home and within your family. Starting my health journey in college was a blessing because it allowed me to spend more time learning, but I have had to figure out what works best for me in each new work situation.

Here are a few tips on working health and wellness into your life:

1. Plan ahead – I look at each week at a time and plan my meals and workouts based on my schedule for the week. This week I had to work late one day and Carly is out of town so all the food prep, household tasks, and dog maintenance are on me. It definitely impacted the days I worked out, the workouts I chose, and the meals I chose to make.

2. Be flexible – It’s nice to have a plan, but there’s almost always something that pops up during a week that derails it. In those moments I take a deep breath and let myself move forward by making the best possible choice for the situation.

3. Embrace leftovers – It’s much easier to stay on track for a healthy lunch if you don’t have to do anything elaborate to make it. I often prep my lunch for the next day at the same time as my dinner and pack my lunch box before I go to sleep.

4. Add more movement to your day – Even if you have a desk job you can find ways to fit in movement or wellness. I stand as much as possible. When I sit I set a timer on my phone or on Google (just type timer XX minutes and Google does the rest!) and make sure I get up every 20 minutes and walk or do squats or stretch. I also try to take a 10-15 minute walk every afternoon.

5. Make the most of your commute – If you can walk, bike, run, etc. to work then by all means, do it! If not, try to look at your commute as time to spend with yourself. You can practice mindfulness, listen to a good podcast, or put on your favorite music. I've learned to relish this time in the morning to reflect on my day ahead and in the evening to decompress.

6. Find a routine - It's much easier to make healthy choices if you routinize the decisions you make on a daily basis. This can be as simple as going to the grocery store the same day each week, choosing variations of the same breakfast each day, or having an eating schedule. The more decisions you make automatically, the more mental energy you have to make new ones and to deal with unexpected snags.

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