Stay well 9 to 5

Good health magazine
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Brought to you by Good Health magazine

Transform your office space into a supportive, uplifting zone, writes Bonnie Cleaver.

We spend plenty of our waking hours at work, but for many of us, it's the last place we'd go to for a vitality boost. Thankfully, there are ways to make your workspace better for you, from simple additions like a pot plant or an inspiring mantra, to at-your-desk yoga and meditation. The result: your energy levels, creativity and job satisfaction will soar. So go on, get to work!

Mini yoga routine
"Including mini yoga sessions in your working day helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve energy levels and relieve neck and back tension," says yoga instructor Prameet Kotak. He recommends doing the following routine three times daily:

Warm-up Rotate your shoulders
10 times in reverse and five times forward.
Twist your neck from left to right, repeating 10 times on each side. Follow with 10 neck side bends on each side.

Before starting, lock your chair wheels or use a sturdy, stable chair.
When seated, look over one shoulder so you get a twist from the neck to the lower back. Repeat on other side.
Leading from your neck, bend your body to one side. Repeat on the other side.
Rest your hands behind you with your palms down on chair (similar to a tricep dip). Lift buttocks off chair, arching your back.
Drop your head and chest to your knees.

Go green
More than just desk accessories, pot plants are potent air purifiers.

"Having several in an office reduces Volative Organic Compounds (VOCs), air toxics linked to loss of concentration, headaches, dry eyes and coughs, by up to 75 per cent," says Margaret Burchett, adjunct professor at the School of the Environment, University of Technology, Sydney. Don't have a green thumb?

Try these tips:

  • 1. Choose the right plant variety. Palms, zanzibar gems, peace lilies, cast iron plant and ‘Compacta' (Dracaena deremensis) are well-suited to offices.
  • 2. Don't overwater. "It's the most common way to kill a pot plant," cautions Burchett. "Once or twice a week is enough."
  • 3. Use liquid fertiliser sparingly. "Halve the amount and frequency of what the packet says," notes Burchett.

    Desk symmetry
    Setting up your desk by the feng shui bagua — an energetic grid that relates areas of your life to sections of your home or workspace — can enhance aspects of your career, says Quant.

    For prosperity place a pot plant, which is symbolic of growth, in the top right-hand side of your desk, the prosperity corner.

    To boost your reputation hang certificates of achievement or awards in the middle-back section of your desk, the fame and reputation quadrant.

    To attract good contacts place your phone in the front left-hand corner, which relates to helpful people.

    For harmonious relationships put photos of friends and family or red, pink and white decorations in the back left-hand corner.

    3pm slump? — Try the fire breath
    Energy levels flagging? Before you reach for another coffee, try the ‘fire breath'. "It makes you energised and alert, without the jittery effect of coffee," says Kotak.

    Breathe out forcefully through your nostrils. As you exhale, pull your stomach in to create a pumping action. Now inhale for a second, relaxing your stomach. Repeat 11 times. The goal is to at first do one out-breath every two seconds, increasing to one every second as you progress. (If you suffer from high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before trying fire breathing.)

    For the full story, see the May issue of Good Health. Subscribe to 12 issues of Good Health for $49.95 and go into the draw to WIN a trip of a lifetime to Tahiti and Los Angeles, valued at $26,000!

  • Image: Good HealthNaomi Watts "I really like people who are going to challenge me" Image: iStockWhat's best for your health: diet or exercise? Image: iStockWomen's cures from around the world Image: Good HealthJulia Morris "Laughter is great for your health"