“Work/Life Balance” may be a buzz phrase, definitely, but it describes the worthy cause of finding harmony in how we prioritize our careers right alongside an enjoyable & fulfilling lifestyle. We know the value of work/life balance for the sake of emotional wellness, but trust me when I say it’s critical to not ignore the importance of balance in our bodies as well.
Physically, balance is based heavily in your core, also known as your abdominals – yes, that’s your six pack. To clarify, we all are proud owners of a six pack; it’s just that some are more visible than others. Visible or not, core strength and balance impacts overall well-being and health over time. Unfortunately, if you are working at a desk for more than half your day, this can negatively impact core strength in a few ways. The main ways that this impact occurs are through:the shortening and tightening of the hip flexors from sitting down for hours at a time, and declining posture due to fatigue which causes a weakened lower back. (And lower back is a part of the 360-degree way that your core works).
I’m a Digital Strategy Manager by day, and a Personal Fitness Consultant and certified Pilates Instructor in my spare time. This means that for me, balance requires finding ways to work my passion for holistic health into a demanding desk job (that I love, but requires more sitting on my bum than is ideal for any human).
My aim here is to provide some encouragement for us all. It is important and achievable to keep physical strength and balance on your list of daily priorities – Including at work, since that’s where we spend such a huge chunk of our lives.
Here are my 3 suggestions for striking a balance at work:
1. Leverage Your Lunch Hour
Admittedly, my workplace is at a bit of an advantage. Once a week I run a 30-minute office Pilates session that has been amazing for team building and infusing new energy into our day. Not all workplaces will have this luxury, but there are creative ways to bring activity into your office. Some good options for employers include inviting a newly certified instructor to do a weekly session, as they often are in need of extra hours for licencing, or perhaps inviting a local dietician or nutritionist to host a lunch-and-learn for your team.
For those of you who work from home or who may not have the support of your office (yet), be sure to work a walk into your day – even if it’s just a brief jaunt. This resets bad office chair posture and gets the circulation flowing, while fresh air is calming & boosts creativity. If you don’t have a dog, consider getting one (they’re no work at all, promise!)
2.Check Posture at Your Desk
Be mindful of where your shoulders are tracking. Oftentimes, our shoulders will rotate forward and give us a slightly hunched back, creating neck and shoulder pain as well as other issues including headaches and poor concentration. Try to be mindful of this, and every 30 minutes take a posture check by doing a quick shoulder roll backwards. Imagine there is an orange right in your mid back and squeeze for 5 seconds. Also check to see that the resolution on your computer is high enough so that you are not leaning forward to squint at your screen. If you have to, stand up to readjust your posture before sitting back down at your desk.
Our breath controls the movement of our entire body. Far too often, many of us breath shallowly and not through our entire diaphragm. Practice pushing all of the air out of your lungs so that you have the entire area free to intake as much air as possible. This is especially useful when feeling stressed. But breathing deeply helps not only with focus,but in strengthening the inner abdominal wall as well, leading to better overall – you guessed it – balance.