How to Reduce Stress (and Boost Creativity While You’re At It!)

What’s your work environment like? What are your moods like while you are at work? The two can often go hand-in-hand, particularly with your work environment having a direct effect on your moods or your feelings of stress. Are you spending a lot of your day sitting, perhaps in an office environment? Meet your killer, as they say…

The “sitting disease” is said to be the slow and silent killer of the American people (and stats for much of the rest of the world trend in this direction too). 86% of American workers sit all day at their jobs, while this is compounded by those workers who also spend a lot of their time at home in front of the TV or computer. There are some alarming statistics associated with this, leading to the coining of the term “sitting disease” amongst researchers: people who sit for 11 hours or more have a 40% increased risk of death in the next 3 years compared to those who sit for 4 hours or less, while the longer people sit, the shorter their lifespan even if they do exercise regularly.

What does all of this mean for you? Studies have already shown the links between exercise and ability to manage stress – the “sitting disease” can exacerbate symptoms of poor health and mental wellness that increase your likelihood of feeling overly stressed.

So, if you are one of the large percentage of people who work in a ‘sitting’ job all day, how can you reduce its impact on your health? It’s about proactively looking for opportunities to not only deliberately get exercise, but to add in more incidental exercise. For example, instead of emailing or IMing, you could walk over to talk to a colleague. You could use office equipment that is designed to encourage exercise or more standing time, such as desks which adjust in height or treadmills that allow your laptop to stay in place while you walk. You could even try sitting on an exercise ball as a way to engage your core while you work.

The important thing is to be aware of how what you do all day can impact your health. Even if you consider yourself to be reasonably active (such as exercising for at least 30 minutes every day), your health risk is still increased if you spend the rest of the time sitting. Perhaps you need to set a timer to take regular ‘walk around and stretch’ breaks – find a method that works for you.

In a TED talk by Nilofer Merchant, she emphasizes a simple solution to excess sitting at work that can not only increase your standing/walking time, but boost creativity also. She advocates taking meetings outside, with all parties getting the benefit of exercise and the fresh air to drive fresh thinking. She describes sitting as “the smoking of our generation”, so it is time we all did something about it. Check out the video of her TED talk below…

Do you have any tips for fitting in more exercise when you are in a sitting job? Let us know in the comments…

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