Winter is coming. If you’re like many people you are probably picturing yourself getting cosy on the couch with a cup of tea and a good movie. You also might be thinking about how much harder it will be to drag yourself out of your warm, comfortable bed to exercise. So, we have compiled some tips on how to beat the cold this winter so you can stay active.

Tip #1

Make sure you’re doing some stretches before you start exercising. It’s important to stretch and warm-up before working out to avoid injury.

Here is an easy warm-up routine that’ll have you ready to go.

Tip #2

There is no need to spend your savings on elaborate gym equipment (or a gym membership once they reopen). However, it can be worthwhile investing in a few pieces of versatile gym equipment. For example, one set up dumbbells can be used to add some weight to exercises such as lunges, shoulder press, single-leg deadlifts, and even sit-ups. Many bodyweight exercises require no equipment at all – just some floor space.

Tip #3

While you’ve already got some floor space, try finding some online fitness videos to watch. They’re free and can keep you in the warmth of your home.

Try out this full-body workout or this HIIT workout – no equipment needed!

Tip #4

Don’t stop. Keep up your normal routine even while it’s cold. The best way to tackle this is to get organised! If you have your workouts planned in advance, you can jump straight into things when it’s time to go, rather than hiding under the blanket.

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With many people now working from home, it has never been more important to understand how to achieve work-life balance. It can feel like an impossible balance to find now that the lines have become more blurred; with your workspace now taking up a physical presence in your home life. 

But it is important to find a work-life balance to reduce stress and increase productivity. Below are 5 tips to help you find your balance.

1. Set Boundaries

‘Work smarter, not harder’. I know you’ve heard it before but it’s true – except maybe we can change ‘harder’ to ‘longer’. If you don’t already, set yourself ‘office hours’ and stick to them. That means don’t start earlier or finish later. 

This means not answering any calls, texts or emails from work outside of your office hours. It can be hard due to the 24/7 availability technology allows but it’s important to keep your set boundaries.

2. Exercise

It might not be on your personal life’s priority list but it should be. Exercise reduces stress and boosts productivity while giving you a much needed break from your computer screen. It will help you unwind and disassociate from your work.

3. Prioritize

It’s way too easy to be distracted while working from home. Sometimes the amount of things you have to do becomes overwhelming so it is important to prioritize. Make a list of everything that needs to be completed at work and in your home. Then prioritize it and remember to keep your work and home life separate – don’t get distracted by dishes in the sink through work hours and don’t think about that article you’re supposed to write while you’re eating dinner.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, people!

4. Re-learn to Relax

You might think you know how to relax, but do you? How often do you switch off completely and I’m not just talking about turning off your phone? For at least 20 minutes a day, you should take time for yourself, by yourself. This time should be spent away from people and technology. 

Take time to clear your thoughts, just lie down and stare at the ceiling or the sky. Meditation is a great way to disconnect from the world and connect with yourself. There are many apps that can walk you through a meditation session – so, I guess maybe you can use your phone. Taking the time to yourself will give you more clarity and increase your focus.

5. You Need to Sleep

We all think that staying up to finish some work or a new Netflix series won’t affect us that bad… but it does! If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re going to struggle to create and maintain a work-life balance. If you struggle to get to bed when you need, set a bedtime and stick to it. Pencil this into your to-do list or put a reminder on your phone if you work well with a structured life. Once you’ve created a healthy sleeping pattern, you’ll find yourself a lot less tired and a lot more productive.

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In response to the recent developments with COVID-19, many employers have made the choice to have their teams work from home for a short period. Working from home may be appealing for some (hello no commuting) but can be challenging for others (hi extroverts). We want to make sure you are keeping up with healthy workplace practices from home as we are all too aware of the negative health effects of sitting down all day. Here are three simple tips so you can #quitthesit

1. Set an alarm for every hour to get up out of your seat.

In the office, you would be used to getting up regularly to talk to a coworker or move to a meeting room. But when you are working from home, with no one else there, and no meeting room to walk to, you might just forget to move. Set an alarm to stretch those legs and get your blood flowing.

Bonus: Being in your own home is a great opportunity to do some basic exercise you can’t complete in the office. Do a few yoga poses or jog on the spot for a minute.

2. Take a lunch break.

No, we don’t mean moving to the couch for some Netflix. Give your eyes a rest by taking them away from your computer screen and get yourself away from your desk. 

3. Go for a walk.

Make sure you’re getting in your 30 minutes of exercise a day even if you can’t go to the gym. Fit this in either the morning or afternoon when you would have been commuting. It’s a great opportunity to get some Vitamin D while helping you clear your mind and give you the energy boost to get through your work-day or unwind from it.

Stay healthy riders and help us #quitthesit

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Tour de Office interviewed Andrea Davey, CEO of Scout Talent Group, to discuss how she instils health and wellbeing in her team through leading by example.

What are your thoughts on creating a healthy work environment for the people you work with?

Encouraging the people I work with to be healthier makes so much sense because it makes them happier, and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. Being healthier also gives the people in my team more energy and that means that they can perform better at work. It’s a positive cycle and I view ‘prioritising healthy workplace practices’ as a leadership tool to support my people to be the best they can be.

How do you implement this?

I try to lead by example. For example, working out during my lunch break and eating well… also keeping my alcohol intake in moderation!

I am conducting more and more ‘walking meetings’ with my team. If I have a meeting booked with someone where the topics we’re discussing don’t require us to be in front of our laptops, I’ll ask them the day before if they’d like to make our meeting a ‘walking meeting’. If they’re keen we bring comfortable walking shoes and during the meeting time we go for a walk along the river for half an hour instead of just sitting down. My team members seem to be really enjoying these meetings. We get some extra steps into our day, and the fresh air helps clear our heads. Some of the best creative thinking is done during walking meetings!

I’ve also had some team members ask for flexibility in their 8:20am-5pm day, to make room for exercise. Some people exercise during their lunch break, but that doesn’t always work if someone has a meeting with a client or an interview with a candidate in the afternoon. For many people, working out at lunchtime means they need to shower afterwards and some people want to do their hair or re-apply makeup before afternoon meetings. All of these things create barriers to getting exercise done at lunch. It can all seem a bit ‘too hard’. So, something that’s working well is giving team members the flexibility to work through the traditional lunch hour and take an hour off at 4 pm, for example, to exercise.

Do you encourage bonding over healthy living practices as a team outside of work?

Absolutely. Over the years, health and fitness events (e.g. fun runs like Bridge to Brisbane) have been popular. We often sign up as a team and our business pays half of the entry fee for all participants. 

How do you lead by example when it comes to mental health and wellbeing?

Earlier this year I read ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear and ever since then I’ve been ‘habit tracking’. Essentially I choose a few key daily habits I want to develop and I use a diary to mark each day that I follow each habit. Over the last 6 months, one of my habits has been to ‘down the tools at 5 pm’. This means I have time for my family, for myself, and ultimately makes me more productive during the time I do spend working. I track this habit on a daily basis and share my results with my team pretty regularly. I encourage anyone in my team who wants to do the same (keeping their work hours in check) to do so. Burnout is a serious thing, it’s on the rise, and it has such a toll on your mental and physical health. I want the people who work in my team to be able to ‘down the tools’ and go and enjoy the other wonderful aspects of their lives.

Nature is good for you.

There are many benefits of spending some time each day immersed in the sound of trees blowing in the breeze, birds chirping, the scent of dewy grass.

You see, spending 17 minutes a day – 2 hours a week in total – outside in nature has health benefits similar to what you would achieve through physical exercise. This short amount of time spent in nature can help relieve stress while boosting your mood and self-esteem. This is why holidays on the beach or at the ski slopes tend to leave people in such a good mood.

But you don’t need to go climb a mountain or trek through a forest to achieve this joyous feeling. Just spend some uninterrupted time in your backyard or in a park with no technology to distract yourself. 

Take time to smell the roses.

Everyone seems to be discussing work-life balance, how it’s so important and how they want to achieve it. It can feel like an impossible balance to find, especially if your workplace isn’t as flexible as you want them to be (like 10 am starts and 4-day weekends). But it’s important to find that balance for both your mental and physical health to avoid burnout. There are many benefits to gaining and maintaining a work-life balance including reducing stress, increasing productivity and reducing sick days. But if those don’t convince your boss to help you create balance in your life then there are 7 tips below to help you achieve work-life balance on your own. 

1. Prioritize

‘Work smarter, not harder’. I know you’ve heard it before but it’s true – except maybe we can change ‘harder’ to ‘longer’. Don’t come in before the clock starts and leave after it’s stopped, instead start prioritizing your work. Start with things that need to be done, make a list of the most important to the least important tasks. Most importantly though, make it realistic. If you’re not sure how long a task takes, time yourself doing it so you know for next time. Leave a small amount of time between tasks knowing you’ll be answering emails or speaking to co-workers.

This can also be done for your personal life, write down your household chores, errands you need to make and once you have (a realistic) list of things to do, finish the list with things you want to do. Sometimes it can be hard fitting in things you want to do, you don’t think you have the time, you put them off. But treat them like the important task on your list, prioritize them and do them. 

2. Set Boundaries

This can be hard due to our availability to have 24-hour contact no matter where we are. But this should not mean you have to constantly be on-call. Don’t answer emails, calls or text from the office before or after work hours. Set your boundaries further though, say ‘no’ to work or even family events that you don’t wish to attend, especially if you’ve already put aside that time to yourself.

3. Exercise

It might not be on your personal life’s priority list but it should be. Excluding the fact that exercise is good for your physical well-being, physical exercise provides major benefits to a work-life balance. Exercise reduces stress and boosts productivity helping you ‘work smarter, not longer’.

If exercise is not your thing or you’re feeling strapped for time, consider exercising through your work lunch break. If you’re used to taking an hour off for lunch but tend to eat within 10 minutes and sit on your phone for the rest of the hour switch it up and exercise instead. Go for a walk or run for 30 minutes, take an office buddy with you so you can slip in your lunchtime chit chat while you exercise. Working through your lunch break means when you’re finished work, if you want to go home, kick your feet up and watch a movie, you can! 

4. Eliminate Time Wasters

This is a second reminder to prioritize what you want to do. If you still think you don’t have time to read that book, visit that museum or catch up with your friend take a look at your schedule. Chances are you do have time to fit in, maybe sometimes it’s a squeeze but if you really want to do it, do it. It might not feel like you have time though due to all the time-wasters around us – and they’re sneaky.

Think about all the times you open your phone up to complete one task but then suddenly it’s a fair while later and your browsing through social media. Or maybe you sat down on your couch for two seconds while the TV was on and you’ve fallen into a reality TV hole. Unless these activities are actually your favourite activities, stop! Log out or delete social media apps off your phone so it’s harder to access them. Don’t turn the TV on unless there is something specific you want to watch and then make sure to turn it off when you’re done.

By eliminating time-wasters in your life, you’ll find extra pockets of time in your life to fill with more productive and fun activities. 

5. Re-learn to Relax

You might think you know how to relax, but do you? How often do you switch off completely and I’m not just talking about turning off your phone? For at least 20 minutes a day, you should take time for yourself, by yourself. This time should be spent away from people and technology – and the toilet doesn’t count. Take time to clear your thoughts, just lie down and stare at the ceiling or the sky. Meditation is a great way to disconnect from the world and connect with yourself. There are many apps that can walk you through a meditation session – so, I guess maybe you can use your phone. Taking the time to yourself will give you more clarity and increase your focus.

6. Sleep

You need to sleep. We all know this but so many people don’t take this seriously enough. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re going to struggle to create and maintain a work-life balance. If you struggle to get to bed when you need, set a bedtime and stick to it. Pencil this into your to-do list or put a reminder on your phone if you work well with a structured life. If you know you like to read a book before bed or take a while to get to sleep, schedule that in too. Once you’ve created a healthy sleeping pattern, you’ll find yourself a lot less tired and a lot more productive.

7. Start Small

Depending on how close you are to a work-life balance, it might be good to start small. Taking on all of these might be too much, it might ‘shock’ your system and discourage you from continuing. Slowly start to implement healthier habits into your work and personal life. As you achieve each small step you’re taking, it will make you feel good and encourage you to continue.

If you want to get some pep in your step then it’s time to change up your work routine, leave the car at home, skip the bus and bike to work. A study has investigated the self-rating quality of life within commuting. The study showed that those who cycled to work had the greatest quality of life and high satisfaction with their health. Cyclist proved to be twice as happy as any other commuters, including those who walk! 

This higher quality of life can be deduced from cyclists receiving more benefits from their choice of transport. Cycling to work benefits both physical and mental health, which is made greater by the activity being completed outdoors. Beyond mental and physical health benefits, cycling to work has practical benefits. This includes having a larger control of their environment as they don’t have to wait on (the always late) public transport, they are able to slip past the banked up cars and don’t have to worry about not being able to get a park. And while all this is happening they’re saving money and the environment. 

It is no wonder that cyclists are the happiest commuters. Though we know that it’s not always easy to cycle to work, sometimes you live a bit too far away or where you live is not very cycle-friendly. But if you still want to add some pep to your step, try skipping short car trips when they could easily be cycled or cycle outside of peak times so it’s safer on the road. There is always a way to stay active and quit the sit. 

There is nothing better than a good laugh, a bit of a giggle to put the hop in your step. Fitting in a laugh can be hard though and not because the only jokes you know are about chickens crossing a road. Maybe you work in an isolated office and don’t get much contact with your co-workers. Or maybe your schedule is so busy you’re not sure if you’ll have time to eat, let alone laugh. But below is the excuse you needed to slot in some time for laughter.

Laughing can boost productivity but also help you appear more competent. Studies have shown that a cheesy dad joke at work can help you wiggle your way into the hearts of your colleagues while boosting your performance. Even if you’re not the joke telling type, laughing along with the workplace comedian can help ease your stresses and create higher efficiency. 

It is important to make sure you don’t get carried away with your jokes. Inappropriate or bad jokes can knock you down on the totem pole. Best to play it safe.

So next time you need a favour, why not start with a good joke? You’re not only helping yourself, but your team as well.

This is a story about a person many of us know (maybe too well). This story could be triggering for some readers who need a coffee in the morning and can’t resist a bickie when it’s there.

Your alarm goes off, you groan as you roll onto your side to turn it off. Your eyelids feel too heavy to open and you feel like calling in sick for work so you can stay in bed. It’s warm and comfortable but you know you need to get up. You know if you just get a coffee…

And your first mistake for the day is made.

Coffee contains caffeine, which does have some health benefits and the bonus of making you feel more alert. But did you know that caffeine can keep you awake at night and that this process can be delayed for up to 10 to 12 hours for some? A morning coffee can be the first downfall of the day.

But it’s just one coffee and you need it, so it’s fine.

You then lap up a bowl of chocolate cereal, a nutritional breakfast as the box says.

But it’s not. It has minimal health benefits, no matter what it claims. It’s heavily processed and the sugar content is so high it’s no wonder your kids are so hyper (and somewhat annoying) in the morning.

Breakfast is done though. There was nothing else in the house. You’ll redeem yourself the rest of the day. You get changed into your work clothes and think ‘these feel a little tight’. You leave it at that though even though this is due to your unhealthy eating and sleeping habits. Those habits lead to weight gain and make it difficult to lose that weight later on.

You’re in the office, there are a few biscuits out on the table to share. You grab one or two (or five). A few biscuits won’t do that much harm. Little do you know you’ve just eaten away thirty minutes worth of good sleep tonight. Food with high-sugar can damage your sleep, no matter what time of day they were consumed.

Lunch comes around, you were in a rush this morning so you forgot to pack your own. You’re left to pick something up nearby. You don’t want to spend too much or take too long. You grab a meat pie and a fizzy drink.

BAM. More caffeine mixed with a buttload of unnecessary carbohydrates. Have you even eaten a vegetable today?

It’s fine. You’ll have some veggies for dinner. But wait, you’re tired. Because you got no sleep last night and the food you’ve eaten isn’t proving to be a sufficient energy source. So what’s for dinner…?

You grab Subway for the family. They’ve got salads in them. It’s fine (except you got white bread and extra cheese and nearly a few extra squirts of mayo). 

Later on, you look at the clock, it’s time for bed. You know if you don’t fall asleep now you’ll be tired tomorrow. Little do you know that you won’t fall asleep straight away, you’ll lay there tossing and turning even though you feel tired. Tomorrow won’t get any better though, lack of sleep leads to poor food choices which leads to an endless cycle. 

 

Who you are and what you do:

My name is Alex. I am the Head of Account Management at Scout Talent Recruitment Software and an enthusiastic participant in the Tour de Office event for the last four years.

What does a basic rundown of your day look like?

On a good day, I’ll get up at 5.30am and go to a boxing class at Brisbane Boxing in West End (followed by a well-earned coffee!) If I don’t manage to get out of bed early, I’ll typically try to fit in an 8km run along the river at lunchtime. After work, I’ll go to BodyFit, my local group fitness gym in Milton. The classes are pretty tough, but I love the social side of it.

Stretching before bed is a good habit I try to stick to, as I always enjoy better sleep afterwards. My other secret weapon is a cup of rooibos tea. It’s caffeine-free and a well-known anti-inflammatory. I have my South African roommate to thank for that one!

How do you stay motivated and continue to do this (nearly) every day?

The best way to stay motivated is to exercise with a friend. Once you’re committed to doing an activity with someone, you’re much less likely to bail on them. So, I always try to invite a friend along with me or ask if they have any workout plans I can join in.

What do you find the most challenging about keeping an active and healthy lifestyle?

Getting the right nutrition is a challenge. I’m always hungry and that means keeping healthy snacks around me in the office. We celebrate everyone’s birthday with a cake at work, so you’ll usually find me going back for a second slice if there’s any leftovers!

When did this routine begin? And why?

It began not long after I moved to Australia four years ago. I lead a much more active lifestyle here than I did in Scotland. It’s no secret that Australia enjoys fantastic weather, but the quality of the shows on TV is awful. This combination means I spend a lot of time outdoors. Any excuse to avoid watching The Bachelor, right?

Do you ever change it up?

I’ll usually try something new every couple of months. Yoga and indoor rock climbing are two activities I’ve enjoyed in the past. These places usually offer trials so you can give it a go without being locked into a membership.

What is your tip for others?

The hardest part of any workout is getting started, but once you get the heart rate up and the endorphins kick in, that’s it… you’re doing it! Keep going!

What is your favourite exercise?

Cycling is the one I find myself returning to most often. When times get tough, there’s no better feeling than taking the bike up Mount Coot-tha for a Sunday spin and enjoying the view, especially at sunset. It’s like pushing the reset button ahead of the working week.