5 Ways to Cultivate a Healthier Work Routine & Workspace

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Earlier this month I posted this on Instagram:

Happy Monday! I’ve been working on making some changes to my writing routine in order to promote health and wellness, even while I spend time at a computer. It started with frequent breaks to get up and move and stretch and give my eyes a break from the computer. And then I started exercising right before a writing session. (This has also helped so much with staying focused while I write!) Last week I decided it was time to work on posture so I ordered a stand to put my computer on and keyboard to use. I set it up and put it to use it this weekend while I worked on NaNoWriMo and I absolutely love this new set up! Next up I plan to look at a pair of computer glasses (does anyone use these?) and I want to dust off an exercise ball to sit on at my desk. What what do you incorporate into your work routine to promote health and wellness?

A photo posted by Crystal // Dreams, etc. (@crystalbrutlag) on

And it sounded like a few people were interested in reading more about it on the blog. I was happy to hear that, because I wanted to talk about it more!

We’ve all heard that spending extended periods of time on the computer and sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day has a negative impact on our health, but for so many it’s unavoidable. We work on computers and if you work for someone else it’s likely that you’ll be sitting at a desk for a majority of your day. If you work from home, you get a little more flexibility, but you still have to put in the time and there’s a good chance it’s more than what’s recommended.

If you’re like me, you’ve read so many articles about how damaging computer work and sitting can be for your health and you’ve thought, what am I supposed to do? Not only is my work done on a computer, but if I want to pursue my own passions, it means extra time spent on the computer on evenings and weekends.

So I decided it was time to take control of my work routine and incorporate some healthy habits. I’m not under any illusions that this will take away the negative effects of sitting at a desk and working on a computer, but I can say that when I incorporate these habits into my routine I feel better and I think I’m more productive while I work. A great side effect of increased productivity while working: I can turn off my computer faster! Here are a few of the changes that I’ve made.

(Also, please keep in mind that I am not a doctor. I don’t have any medical training. If you have any health concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor.)

1 // Get some movement in before sitting down to work.

I got this idea from a writing class that I took recently. The class was on Silencing Your Inner Critic and the instructor led us through a meditation that we can do before writing. I loved the idea of doing something beforehand to help relax, but meditation isn’t really my thing. Instead, I thought of yoga. Why not stretch and move my body, before sitting down for a writing session? Did I do a nice, relaxing yoga routine the first time I incorporated movement into my writing session? Nope! I did an intense toning workout, then hobbled to my computer and sat down to write. The thing is, it did the trick. I wasn’t restless while I wrote and getting movement in helped me loosen up so that I wasn’t so critical of what I wrote. Have I done this every time that I sit down to work? No. And I don’t expect to do it each and every time, either. I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation to have. But I do know that based on how I feel while writing after getting some movement in, I am totally fine with shortening my writing time if it means I can get at least 10-15 minutes of movement in beforehand.

And when I say movement I mean anything: yoga, walking, running, dancing… If you want to incorporate this change into your routine, I would say go with movement that you enjoy. I hate running, so I don’t think that running will have the same benefits on my work that yoga or dancing will. If you’re looking for a yoga workout, I enjoy this one from Shiva Rea that allows me to customize my yoga routine. I can make it as long or as short as I’d like and I can make it intense or relaxing. I’ve tried others from her, but this is definitely my favorite.

5 ways to give your work routine & workspace a healthy boost! // dreams-etc.com

2 // Arrange the workspace to promote better posture.

My posture while working is something that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. My desk at work isn’t set up well to promote a good posture and none of the changes I have made to that workspace have done the trick. And I knew that my lack of attention to my posture while working at home wasn’t helping. As much as I love being able to sit with Little One curled up next to me while I work, sitting with my computer on the couch and in bed is not ideal for promoting healthy posture. Even when I was at a table or this beautiful desk that my dad built for me, I was hunched over my computer. I decided that going forward I will work at my desk–I’ll just have to find a chair for Little One so that she can sit by me! And to prevent myself from hunching over my laptop, I bought a stand to put my computer on and a wireless keyboard, since using my computer’s keyboard while it’s raised isn’t ideal.

Also in the back of mind: I should have invested in an ergonomic keyboard. However, I was already putting some money into my workspace and, to be honest, I wanted to make sure I’d stick to these healthy changes before investing in a bluetooth ergonomic keyboard. They aren’t cheap! So in the future, that’s probably a change I might make.

3 // Take frequent breaks.

This one is something that I do more when I’m at work or working on my blog. When I’m working on a story, I want to stay in the flow of storytelling once I get into it, so I’d rather work straight through. Of course, if I find that I stop and need a break I’ll take one, but it’s less likely to happen once I’m in the zone. But at work, I make sure that I get up frequently and walk around my office to take a break. I’ll even do a few stretches to help unwind and loosen up. It’s so helpful to get away from my computer for a few minutes and to move. If I haven’t taken as many breaks as usual, I can tell once I stand up. One day earlier this week I spent most of the morning sitting at my desk and when I finally got up to move I felt so stiff and tight!

4 // Use an exercise ball instead of a chair.

I used to have one at my desk in my previous workplace and I didn’t use it all the time, but I really enjoyed it when I did. Using an exercise ball allows for some movement while sitting and it also helped me stretch when I needed to while seated at my desk. I plan to pull an exercise ball out of the storeroom and keep it near my desk at home so that I can use it when I want to.

5 // Invest in computer glasses to help with eye strain.

Eye strain is probably the most tell-tale sign that I spend a lot of time on the computer and for years my eye doctor has reminded me that one way to help with eye strain is to spend less time on a computer. While my instinct is to accuse him of killing dreams, I know he’s right, and I have taken his advice. I spend less time on the computer than I used to–intentionally, to take care of my eyes. But I’m also looking into investing in a pair of glasses that helps your eyes while working. I’m still doing some research and looking at my options, but this is something I plan to invest in soon!

Do any of these changes to your workspace speak to you? What are some healthy routines or workspace tweaks that you’ve incorporated?

[Tweet “Easy changes you can make to promote a healthier workspace! #lbloggers #healthyworkspace”]

5 ways to give your work routine & workspace a healthy boost! // dreams-etc.com

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  • Reply
    Summer @ Coffee With Summer
    December 1, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Yes, yes, YES! Thank you for this, Crystal! I love all of these tips – especially the one about breaks. I love to break a few times when I’m working on something so that I can get some fresh perspectives. I also love the thought of getting computer glasses – my eyes aren’t perfect, so they would definitely help in the long run!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m so glad you appreciated the post. 🙂 Yes! Taking breaks are so helpful in order to get a fresh perspective. It’s amazing how many times I’ve been struggling with something and then after a break the solution comes to me so easily. 🙂 I’m looking forward to finding a good pair of computer glasses. A lot of the ones I’ve looked at already are pretty cute too!

  • Reply
    Cole Nemeth
    December 1, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Love these tips! I really want to get an exercise ball for my office, and I kind of forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      You’re welcome! They’re so great to keep in the office. 🙂

  • Reply
    Becky @ Disney in your Day
    December 1, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    My fitbit recently added a feature I love. It not only tracks your steps, but it also gives you a goal of steps per hour. You’re supposed to try and get 250 steps every hour from like 9am-5pm or something like that. If you’re motivated by things like step goals it’s another great motivator to spread your goal throughout the day, which is really the best way to do it!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      That’s a cool feature! I get a little too obsessive about things like that (I used to use one) so I eventually decided they’re probably not the best thing for me, but I loved how motivating it was to make sure I got up throughout the day to get those steps in.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks so much for these tips, crystal!! You know, I work from home and am guilty of not taking as many breaks as I really should. The elevated keyboard is just one easy fix, it seems, that can make a big impact. Love this and please keep these posts coming 🙂

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you Charlotte! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. It’s so easy to get swept up in work and not take needed breaks. I will definitely return to this topic as I continue to see what other healthy changes I can make. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    These are all really great and helpful tips and very similar to how I approach things! I guess great minds really do think alike!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      That’s so cool, Chrissy! Yes, great minds do think alike! 🙂

  • Reply
    Divya @ Eat Teach Blog
    December 1, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I think, for me, it’s not so much the activity that’s a problem. I’m a special education teacher so I’m constantly on the move, popping in and out of classrooms, walking around our HUGE school. I think, for me, I’m a huge stress-eater. And, unfortunately, with this job, there’s a lot of stress and there’s always a lot of food around!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      I work in a school and our special education teacher is always moving around our school, so I can imagine how much activity you get it! Stress eating can be a problem and there’s definitely a lot of food available! Thank you for all the work you do at your school and for your students! I’m always in awe of our special ed teacher. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 1, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Yes, the exercise one really helps me! When I’m working from home, I try to break the time spent up at the computer a bit by doing washing and other chores around the house (I find that down time from the computer helps with creative thinking too!)

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 1, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      That’s definitely something I should do so that I get finish with chores faster! I can definitely see how that would help with creative thinking. I’ve always found that I can work through issues that I’m having with whatever I’m working on while doing the laundry or the dishes. I’ve also found that I think differently while I’m working out and I actually think about my writing projects. I remember reading a book that talked about how different activities can help you work through issues you’re having in something unrelated that you’re working on. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 1, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    YES! It’s crazy how tired you can be when you get home from sitting in front of a computer all day. The affects on health are so terrible! I worked for a company that let you use exercise balls, and it was awesome. I’ve never even heard of “computer glasses” … totally looking into that!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 8, 2016 at 8:47 am

      Exactly! I know someone who moves around a lot for work and he spent one day just doing computer work and mentioned how tired he was after. It’s hard!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2016 at 7:25 am

    I am loving all of these tips! Taking breaks are extremely important. My job requires me to read and stare at a computer screen all day. If I don’t get up and walk around, I’d lose my mind!

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 8, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 It is! I didn’t realize just how helpful taking breaks would be until I started making sure I that I did.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Love these tips! I work at a desk and I can tell you that it has an effect on my body. I noticed after awhile that my hips were so stiff from sitting all day. I have found that taking frequent breaks and stretching has really helped with not having stuff hips as much. I also try to look around a lot after staring at my screen for a long period of time.

    • Reply
      Crystal // Dreams, etc.
      December 8, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Yes! I’ve noticed the same thing about how tight my hips are after sitting at a desk all day. It sounds like we do similar things to make sitting for work easier on our bodies.

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