Exercise the Demons: Finding Work/Life Balance
Creative (writer's) block can be a scary situation for authors and designers.
Imagine that you’ve been stuck on the same idea for hours, maybe even days and are going nowhere. The stress of a deadline, anxiety and possibly depression set in. You search online for new ideas, but nothing sparks. Perhaps removing yourself from the situation may be the most beneficial step you can take to solving your current problem. Exercise, specifically.
Exercise is a powerful (and drug-free) tool that is proven to not only reduce stress, anxiety and depression, but also fuel creativity!
When you work out, your body flushes out cortisol, the key component to stress which causes your brain to shut down creative and problem solving functions. Through exercise, your pituitary gland releases endorphins (endorphins make you happy), promotes the growth of new nerve cells and increases oxygen to the bloodstream which helps provide mental energy for problem solving and creative solutions.
Give Me A Break
“I work at a full time job and my company won’t let me take time to go to the gym.”
There are a plethora of reasons, and many times excuses, as to why people aren’t able to fit a gym into their busy schedules. Ideally, yes, I would like you to get out of your work environment for a complete change of pace to allow yourself to focus on something other than the work in front of you. Being of father of 3 and having a full-time job, I know just how hectic schedules can get and you can’t always get out of the office.
Fear not! There are plenty of ways you can incorporate movement throughout your day without even leaving work:
Most of you reading this are sitting in a desk chair that swivels. Here is simple exercise to engage your core (abs and lower back). Place your finger tips on your desk and raise your feet off the ground. Keeping as little amount of pressure as possible on your desk, rotate your legs from side to side until you feel a stretch. Start this slowly and allow your muscles to loosen up, increasing the rotation over time. This movement will help fight the fatigue that your abs and lower back muscles get after sitting sedentary for periods of time.
Tip: Set a goal. How many rotations can you safely do in 30 seconds? How far does your range of motion increase? Track your results.
Get on the ball
Want more core engagement? Replace your office chair with an exercise ball. Sitting on a ball will require your legs to keep your stable and engage your core to keep you upright resulting in burning calories. Using a ball can take some time to get used to. Make sure you buy the proper sized ball based on your desk and your height. The more you inflate the ball, the more your body will be required to keep you stable. Start with an hour or two a day if you have to and increase over time.
Take the stairs
Obviously if you work at a building with two or more floors, taking the stairs in one of the simplest ways to get exercise at the office.
Take a hike
Got a phone call that doesn’t require note taking? If you can do the call from your cell phone then get up and move. Not only will you be burning calories, but the movement and change of scenery from what you have been looking at all day may help spark new ideas. I routinely put in my headphones, go outside and walk around our building multiple times while on calls. The fresh air certainly helps as well!
Short and simple
Don’t have time to devote an hour or more? No problem! Every hour, on the hour, perform 10 pushups or 10 bodyweight squats, or better yet both! In the course of one day, you will have performed 80 reps!
This is a challenge we incorporated at our office and had great results. Everyone has a different starting point, so don’t get discouraged if you can only get 5, or even 1. Consistency in the routine will have you doing multiple reps in no time.
Challenge your co-workers to see who can get the most in a day or by the end of the week. Before you know it you will be doing them during breaks of your favorite tv shows. Trust me, I know :).
The Bottom Line
Hopefully you are lucky enough like I am to be in a company that values employees devoting health and exercise endeavors. If you simply can’t get away from the office, I highly encourage you to try some, or all, of the examples listed above. If you aren’t sure that your company will let you take a break for the gym, just ask! Some may even help pay for the fees to belong to a gym.
Not only can your productivity increase, but the overall health benefits to employees can result in more positive moods, reduced sickness and fewer trips to the doctor which could result in reduced insurance costs!
*Photo Credit: Casey Reale