Most modern offices are devoid of natural light and filled with workers hunched over computers all day long. With conditions like these, it’s no surprise why so many office workers feel stressed out and uncomfortable day in and day out.
In this article, we’ll share some easy and impactful ways to biohack through the distractions and discomfort, and to improve your focus and energy in the office.
It doesn’t take a big commitment to start making a big improvement in your daily work routine. That’s why we call these biohacks – you get maximum benefits from minimal efforts. Adding some or all of these meditation and stretching routines to your day will go a long way in improving your mental and physical energy levels, without losing productive time from your schedule.
We’re big fans of HRV Breathing exercises here in the Clear Impact Biohacking Tribe, and it just so happens that HRV Breathing is a perfect way to recharge and refocus while at your desk. HRV stands for Heart Rate Variability, and the basic premise is that controlling your breath helps calm your mind and lower your heart rate in order to reduce stress.
And guess what – it’s super simple. We suggest using this online breath timer to get started. Once you get used to the rhythm of HRV Breathing, you can start using it anywhere and any time. Start trying to build a habit out of practicing a few rounds of HRV Breathing every time you’re about to head into a meeting, and every time you get back to your desk. You’ll start feeling calmer and more focused in no time.
To be even more effective, combine HRV Breathing with simple meditation – that is, try clearing your mind of thought while focusing on your breathing.
Sit up straight in your chair, place your hands comfortably in your lap, and start your HRV Breathing cycle. It’s fine if you’re still using the online breathing tutorial, but as you get comfortable with the rhythm of HRV Breathing it will help your meditation to let your eyes close, or at least focus on a faraway point, so you’re not worried about processing visual stimuli.
Focus only on your breathing – let other thoughts that come into your mind simply drift by like clouds around a mountain. Acknowledge these thoughts, but always immediately return your attention to your breath. This will help clear your mind and improve your concentration.
You will feel the benefits of this basic meditation after only a few cycles of breathing. It’s probably a good idea to use an alarm to keep you from losing track of time during these sessions – start with 90 seconds, and consider working all the way up to five minutes.
STRETCHES AND EXERCISES
It’s also easy, and incredibly beneficial, to build some stretches and exercises into your workday routine. There are lots of resources out there for finding exercises you can do at your desk without making your coworkers think you’re crazy. This stretching routine from the Mayo Clinic is one of our favorites, with eight stretches specifically designed to counteract the effects of sitting in a chair for long stretches.
Of course, the best way to combat the mental and physical fatigue of sitting for long stretches is to stop sitting! If you can, consider making the switch to a standing desk, at least some of the time. When you first start using a standing desk, you’ll likely find it difficult to remain on your feet all day. That’s why adjustable desks are so popular – stand for a while, then adjust the desk to a sitting position and spend some time in your chair.
You can supplement all of this with some simple exercises as well. Get up and go for a lap around the office floor, or (better yet) step outside for a walk around the block. Find an empty conference room and do a few deep lunges or squats, or maybe a few pushups.
Really, what you do is up to you, so long as you’re up and moving! You’ll feel an immediate boost of energy from getting active like this, boosting your heart rate and getting your muscles moving. The trick is finding a routine that works for you, and sticking with it.
WATER, AIR, AND SUNLIGHT
Our final set of office biohacks all have to do with reconnecting to the natural environment. You need to counteract the artificial light and enclosed environment of the office by getting out and getting some fresh air!
As we already mentioned, taking a quick walk around the block or around your office’s campus is a good way to get your blood flowing, but it also lets you get an important dose of natural sunlight and outside air. Practice HRV breathing as you walk, to maximize the effectiveness of outside air.
While outside, take a moment to look towards the sun (never directly into it, of course) and get some valuable sunlight in your eyes. This helps reset your metabolism and keep your internal clock running on time. It will help you feel more awake and energized.
Lastly, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Keep a large (around one liter) water bottle at your desk, and make a habit out of filling it first thing in the morning. Get into a routine of finishing the bottle before lunch, and again in the afternoon. Being properly hydrated is one of the most important and effective ways to keep your body functioning the way it should, and it’s an easy change to make to your routine.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
The above biohacks become even more effective when you start stacking them together. For example, combine HRV Breathing with walking outside and getting some sunlight on your skin and in your eyes, and you’re turning three individual hacks into a powerful biostack.
Start coming up with your own biostacks by combining the tips from this article into routines that work for you. With a little practice and dedication, you’ll soon have a dedicated practice of invigorating biohacks built into your everyday.
In no time at all, you’ll experience more physical and cognitive energy in your workday, and you’ll have improved mental clarity and reduced stress levels. When your coworkers want to know your secret, just tell them it’s the little things that make a big difference… then point them to this article and the Clear Impact Biohacking Tribe.