If you’re similar to other young and restless CEOs I know, you’re probably already thinking ahead: planning what you can do next and what your next success will be. You can’t afford to stand still. How ironic then, that the very nature of your job means that 90% of the time you actually are stationary – because you are sitting down.
Being in the driving seat all the time can sometimes mean you neglect the engine. The long-term health of desk-dwellers has been closely examined, and numerous studies have shown, unsurprisingly, that it isn’t healthy. Our bodies simply aren’t designed for prolonged periods of minimal mobility. The side effects include all sorts of nasties such as a shorter lifespan, risk of DVT, and sedentary-related diseases to name just a few.
Realistically, is there anything you can do to improve your health without leaving your desk?
Here are a few things you could consider:
Whilst I’m not suggesting for a minute that you invest in and install one of those trendy treadmill-with-desk-attached machines (heavy breathing whilst talking on the phone is likely to raise a few eyebrows), there are plenty of light exercises and stretches that can be done at your desk and only take a few minutes.
For example, give your arms a good stretch. Tense your biceps for 10 seconds Arnold Schwarzenegger style. Do something to those muscles that are feeling drab. Not only will this boost circulation it will also make you more alert.
2. Get it off your chest
You know when that really annoying email or letter comes through, or you’ve just finished a difficult telephone call that makes you grind your teeth? How do you stop it from affecting the rest of your day?
Just open a Word doc and spend a few minutes typing everything you really wanted to say to or about them but didn’t (because, of course, you’re a professional). Once you’ve vented, take a few deep breaths, read it, delete it and most importantly – move on.
You really will feel better for it. It has the same positive chemical effect on the body as sharing a problem – without any of the associated risks.
3. Eat well
Is breakfast a coffee-on-the-go, or lunch an afterthought? By simply planning your meals you’re naturally more likely to make healthy choices.
Investing a little time before shopping in order to plan your meals for the coming week will ensure you make a more cognitive decision about what food you are going to eat.
It doesn’t mean you have to eat a limp cheese sandwich every day, either – be inventive, realistic and keep your meals varied. Panini’s, salads, rice dishes, wraps, smoothies, crudités and dips and so on all make satisfying meals that will keep you going all day.
I guarantee that once you have bought everything, making up a lunch each day before work (or even the night before) will still be quicker than queuing at the local deli.
4. Inject some laughter
An important aspect of overall health is mental health. Office socializing brings huge benefits – ask any home-worker. Lack of company and office banter is consistently ranked highest in lists of thing they miss when working from home.
Also, many companies – particularly in the IT development sector – have recognized the importance of a stimulating working environment, and create the most weird and wonderful places for their staff to work in.
So to encourage this why not throw a desk party? I’m not talking about an alcohol-induced, cringe-worthy Christmas type affair, either. Once a month, play desk-host and just have a little fun.
Decorate your desk (or office) and bring some food bites into work. Send invites to everyone. Have a theme if you want – it’s your party.
Even if it is for only an hour, the buzz will last longer. It’s a great team-building exercise too and the atmosphere might even spark valuable business conversations.
5. A change of routine
I can hear the sharp intakes of breath from here. I’m sure most of you like your routine, desire order, and like to know what your plans are. But, if you can’t take a day off from work, you can take a day off your routine.
It could be something as simple as taking a different route to work, sitting at a different desk or even moving your office furniture around. Simple changes to your routine can mentally reinvigorate.
All of these ideas are simple and take up very little of your time, but you will quickly start to reap the benefits of a healthy body and mind which ultimately leads to a better CEO.
Sandip Sekhon is the founder of several successful online businesses including medical fundraising website CauseWish.
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