Picture this scenario: it’s Thursday morning and your alarm clock rings. With a groan, you roll sluggishly out of bed. There are a few productive bursts in your workday, but a lot of the time, your brain feels slow and sleepy. Come evening, worn out by your workday, you put your feet up in front of the TV and take it easy until bedtime.
Now picture this: you wake up on a Thursday morning feeling fresh as a daisy. You jump out of bed and nail your workday before coming home with still enough energy to enjoy some well-deserved family time. You then head off to bed content and restful.
I’m guessing, for the majority of us, the first scenario rings true. The latter sounds wonderful, but in the real world, just isn’t feasible, you might be thinking. But while it may sound like some far-fetched utopian fantasy, being consistently content and energized is actually well within your reach. In fact, it’s only a few small tweaks away.
Did you know the average person spends around nine hours (or more) of their waking day sitting down? That’s a lot when you think about it. In addition to diet, sleep and exercise, sitting down for excessive periods can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being. In short, if you sit down too much, you will suffer, both physically and mentally.
The reason your brain may often feel slow or overwhelmed is that, subconsciously, it is following a deeply-etched sedentary habit. Feeling sluggish may indicate that you spend too much time sitting down.
On the other hand, if standing is one of your main habits, you’re likely to feel better, enhance your energy levels, and flood your brain with mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
So what do we do about this?
Life is busy. Sometimes our ‘To Do’ lists feel endless! However, the important thing is to not allow our brains to trick us into unhealthy habits.
Practising mindfulness can keep us from slipping into habits that will damage our well-being. Every time you take on a task or activity, stop and think about it. Is what you’re doing efficient or beneficial to your body? Is there a better way to do it? Or is what you’re doing harm to your health?
Our bodies are built to be upright. In truth, sitting was only supposed to serve as brief intervals between standing and moving for short-term relief. But these days, it feels like we take standing intervals between sitting periods. The more tuned in we are to our bodies, the more aware we will be when we sit for too long. Simply practising mindfulness will allow us to make small, consistent changes throughout the day that will not only increase our productivity, but will also positively affect our moods: a win-win situation for everybody!
The Chair Test
Now that you know the importance of incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, let’s get back to the issue at hand: your sitting habits. Wondering where you stand (or sit!) on the sedentary scale? It’s time for The Chair Test.
It’s simple. Explore these tasks and answer honestly YES or NO. Based on your score, you will know the truth about your sitting habits.
- Once you wake up, you spend the next 30mins in bed scrolling through your phone.
- You drive or get a cab instead of using public transport (even though you can).
- You spend more than 30mins a day idle at a stretch.
- The couch has pushed in on one side where you sit.
- You work sitting down because that feels productive to you.
- You love all home décor that revolves around sitting like a bean bag or a dining chair.
- You prefer to drink at the bar instead of standing up or moving around the room.
- Your laptop or desktop is your best friend.
- You normally sit during coffee and lunch breaks.
- A Netflix binge at night is a regular occurrence.
For each YES, you get one point:
0: Congrats! You aren’t a chair addict, so you’re in the green zone.
1: You’re a chair pre-addict.
3-5: You’re a chair addict.
6-8: You’re a prisoner of your chair.
9-10: You’re super sedentary.
If you’re a chair addict or worse, it’s time to take a stand, literally. This may seem daunting, but here at Humbleworks HQ, we know a thing or two about the benefits of reducing your sitting time. We will give you a few pointers on making those lifestyle tweaks that will help you on the road to a happier, healthier life.
Take it one step at a time
Moving on from one sedentary activity to the next doesn’t qualify as taking a ‘one step at a time approach. To make a sustainable change, you must break your excessive sitting habits.
We recommend you make changes incrementally and at your own pace, keeping the end goal of sitting less without effort in mind at all times.
Start with the simple 30:5 rule: move around after every 30 minutes of sitting to free your muscles and maintain your body mechanism.
Transition slowly to standing for meetings and coffee breaks and, when you’re ready, invest in a standing desk to enjoy all of those health-boosting benefits while working. Baby steps lead to greater change, the kind that sticks. So don’t leap, take your time! You will get there in the end, and it will be worth it.
In today’s world, most of our activities are based on being idle, but there are alternative (better) ways to do things: most of them involve moving or standing.
So, take heed of this wake-up call before it’s too late. And, if you’re looking for further inspiration, find out more about our standing desks and how they can help!