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Managing Stress and Movement During a 9-5

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, the standard 9-5 workday frequently leaves people feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and stuck in a sedentary rut. 

Moreover, the modern world has changed significantly in the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the typical workday for many people. From ordering groceries online to getting essentials shipped through Amazon, our daily lives have become easier in some ways. Another aspect of life that has changed is the 9-5 workday. It’s common for jobs to offer hybrid options, and some are even fully remote. 

According to Voice of America, “Colorado has the highest percent of remote workers, with 37.3% of people working from home at least one-to-two days per week.” 

Even if you don’t work from home, some jobs require more remote work–even from the office. For example, many people opt for a phone call or virtual meeting instead of meeting in person to talk with a client. This can be more time efficient, yet these virtual options have removed daily movement from our lives. 

Whether you log in from your home office or commute to your workplace each day, incorporating movement into your daily regimen is essential for anyone working a 9-5 desk job.

Getting Out of the Chair
It’s easier said than done to get out of the comfy office chair. Whether it’s the demands of your workload, the stress hormones coursing through your veins, or sheer fatigue holding you captive, it’s crucial to muster the motivation to rise and get your blood pumping. 

 “Incorporating movement throughout the workday is essential in order to maximize one’s energy and performance as well as reduce the significant health consequences associated with sitting or standing without moving for several hours at a time,” says the Hero Health Organization.

The first step to managing stress and increasing productivity is being mindful of your habits. During work hours, especially during busy weeks, it’s too easy to sit in one place all day. You might not even notice that you haven’t stood up for two hours. 

Tawnya Selby, a Planet Fitness Trainer in Loveland, says it’s essential to take a step back from the work grind and check in with yourself.

Ask questions like:
“Are you feeling stiff?”
“Are you feeling stressed?”
“Are you feeling tired?”
If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to move, and it will help. 

Start Small
If movement is new to your 9-5 and you’re not feeling motivated to stand up, start easy. One way to do this is by stretching in your chair. Bring your hands above your head and feel the stretch in your arms and back. This is a small way to incorporate movement, but it will help with circulation. 

By stretching and moving in your chair, it will also help with posture. Whether you’re crouching over your desk or your neck is straining to read the words on your computer, all of this contributes to poor posture. 

“Poor posture can throw your spine out of alignment and cause muscle pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. It can also contribute to rotator cuff pain in the shoulder. Lower back pain can be caused by slouching or even by sitting up too straight in a ‘military posture,’” states Total Wellness Health

While working, make a conscious effort to switch up your posture and avoid hunching over. Nobody wants to resemble Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” while at their desk, nor do they want to experience the discomfort associated with such a posture. 

Another way to start small if you’re feeling too stressed to leave your computer is to buy a Mini Exercise Bike or a Seated Elliptical that fits snuggly under your desk. 

Another common option is to opt for a standing desk or an accessory that allows you to stand while you work. This will increase blood flow and allow you to work all at the same time.

Get The Steps In
Walking is another great way to improve movement during the workday, and it will increase productivity. 

“If you’re in a building, get up and walk around the building or go for a walk outside,” Selby says.  “If you have a break, go out and get some sunshine.” 

If you’re lacking motivation to take a walk, try setting a goal or choosing a destination. If you have a smartwatch that tracks your steps, set a goal and gradually increase your daily target. Alternatively, if there’s a coffee shop or lunch spot nearby, use it as a reason to take a stroll and grab a cup of coffee. 

On the days that are demanding and you can’t make time for a walk, take your phone calls outside and walk while you talk. 

Even on the busiest of days, you need to make time for movement. Whether standing up for phone calls or walking to the local Jimmy Johns for a sub, there is time for movement if you make time for it. 

Relieving Stress Outside of Your 9-5
Everyone experiences stress, and unfortunately, work stress can hang over our heads even outside of work hours. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74 percent of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

When managing stress, it’s important to understand that there are two types. The first type is distress–bad stress. Distress can drain your motivation and leave you feeling overwhelmed. It can manifest in the workplace due to excessive workloads or toxic environments. 

On the other hand, eustress is good stress. This type of stress energizes and motivates us. Eustress can come from outdoor adventures, hosting an event, moving to a new city, or even having a baby. 

It’s important to understand the difference between good and bad stress and take measures to minimize distress. One way to overcome distress is to work out and get exercise. 

Navigating stress and movement during a 9-5 workday is essential for maintaining overall health and productivity. By integrating regular movement breaks, managing stress effectively, and promoting good posture, individuals can combat the effects of sedentary work environments. 

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