Kharissa Parker is a news producer, writer, certified health coach, and columnist for Startland News. For more of her self-care tips on how to keep your cup full, visit kparker.co.
Editor’s note: This commentary on physical fitness — and its impact on the strength and energy a person’s body needs to carry them throughout the work day — continues Parker’s series on the 7 Pillars of Self-Care.
Your body is a vehicle for accomplishing your earthly calling. When we think of how work impacts our physical fitness, there’s more to consider than exercise alone. The type of job you have and how many hours you work are just a couple of factors that can impact what physical fitness looks like for you. For example, someone who works a desk job eight hours a day may have completely different habits than someone who spends 12 hours on their feet at a warehouse.
Throughout this series, I’ve shared how The 7 Pillars of Self-Care are like a domino effect where one knocks over the other. Physical fitness is the fifth pillar, but it’s the first that involves the outside world. The first four pillars — spiritual alignment, emotional intelligence, mental clarity, and bio-individuality — are all internal. For that reason, when physical fitness isn’t taken seriously, it’s one that’s most common for having an adverse effect on the pillars that come before it. When you fail to prioritize your physical fitness, it’s only a matter of time until the work you’ve done to excel in the first four pillars is compromised. This is one of the reasons why many nutritionists, health coaches, personal trainers, and group exercise instructors say physical fitness is a spiritual practice.
Physical fitness has five elements. By incorporating them into your routine, you’ll harvest the proper balance of strength, energy, and rest your body needs to carry you throughout the day.
Be mindful of what you consume
After studying more than 19,000 employees, research conducted by Population Health Management found that people who didn’t eat a healthful diet were 66 percent more likely to struggle with productivity. It also found that smokers were 28 percent more likely to have issues being productive. This just goes to show that what you consume stems beyond food. For better or worse, everything you put into your body has an effect on not only your general health, but your ability to perform well at work.
Even that extra teaspoon of sugar in your coffee can be bad for business. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar the entire day for women and nine teaspoons for men. They also recommend eating away from your desk so that you can fully focus on your food. Eating while you work can hinder your ability to know when you’re actually full, which ultimately leads to overeating and fatigue. Sipping on water throughout your shift, packing your lunch, and opting for snacks rich in fiber and protein can help you stay full and energized.
Get enough rest and sleep
Performance is just as much about safety as it is about productivity. Getting enough sleep is one of the most critical factors for ensuring you can get your job done without any injuries. According to a study by The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, workers who slept less significantly reduced their ability to be safe on the job.
Another study published in Social Science & Medicine concluded that work overload is a primary culprit of not getting enough sleep. The study showed that the average American worker had trouble falling asleep or waking up for work five days out of the week and had trouble staying asleep nearly every single night.
Establishing a bedtime routine and taking adequate breaks at work can help your body properly rest. Even if you work nights and get off early in the morning, you can still set up a bedtime routine to rest well. Also, use your sick days, vacation time, and personal days without any guilt. How much time your co-workers have used or if they’re taking time off at all is irrelevant. Reclaim your time, boo.
Exercise and move more
They’re sometimes used interchangeably, but exercising and moving more are two different things. Nicki Jones is a local personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and nutritionist who taught me years ago that exercise is planned, timed, elevates the heart rate, and burns calories. Moving more simply supplements exercise and can be a good way to get started if you haven’t exercised in some time. With that being said, exercising at work may not be an option, but there are always ways to get in more movement. Parking farther away from the entrance, taking the stairs, or standing for a few minutes for a quick stretch each hour are all beneficial ways to boost your physical fitness.
Maintain good hygiene
I’m sure you’ve heard and maybe even used the phrase “post-pandemic,” but I’m not personally or professionally comfortable saying the pandemic is over — especially with RSV, the flu, and covid cases on the rise. (Hello, tripledemic!) As many of us have returned to the office partially or fully, maintaining good hygiene is crucial. Sure, vaccines and masks have been politicized and much respect should be given regardless of your beliefs. However, there are things you can do that should be void of any controversy and maintaining good hygiene is one of them.
According to Medical News Today, simply taking a shower regularly can improve your immune system, help you concentrate better, and lessen fatigue. Be it oral health, washing your hands thoroughly, or keeping your nails clean, good hygiene habits are essential for preventing the spread of sickness and disease. Not to mention, a study by Breathe found that people who have good personal hygiene are more likely to get hired and even be promoted.
Consider physical therapy
No matter what industry you’re in, work takes a toll on your body. I learned this lesson the hard way just last week. As a news producer and writer, most of my days are spent in front of a computer. I ended up having to take several days off because of a pinched nerve that jacked up my neck, shoulders, arms, and back. I couldn’t even tilt my head or look left or right without a sharp pain shooting throughout my body. It sucked, to say the least.
Whether you’re a yoga instructor, secretary, or garbage man, it’s important to address pain before they become injuries that sit you down for the count. You may want to consider getting a massage or visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis to help work out the kinks brought on by your 9-to-5. Pay attention to which parts of your body need a little more love and hire a professional. Plus, you can write it off as a business expense once tax time rolls around.
Fueled by her expertise as a news producer, writer, and certified health coach, Kharissa Parker is passionate about helping entrepreneurs in Kansas City achieve their goals without sacrificing self-care. Check out her brand, The KP Method, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.