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Quick summary

Headaches, stress, isolation, depression, computer screens; here’s how to stay healthy when you have a sedentary workstyle.

On the agenda

  • Exercise
  • Workspaces
  • Mental health
  • Healthy eating

Editor’s Note

Alright, Danny here 👋. I run UX Tricks.

🔥 Burning Questions is my medium to share some advice with you based on my experience of the digital world over the last decade. Also, this blog solves a massive issue for UX Tricks, rising from the fact that we can’t ship content as often as we’d like.

As you may or may not already know, articles on the UX Tricks website are actually chapters from our ebooks, so as we strive to maintain book-level quality, it also means that UX Tricks doesn’t release new content that often. Burning Questions answers your biggest concerns about design, work, life, and mental health in under 700 words while allowing us to create useful content more regularly, so feel free to @ me your questions.

Want to chat privately? Well, that’s fine too. Your questions can be anonymous 🤐.

Let’s kick things off with a few health tips, as one of the things that I’ve always struggled with due to working with screens every day, is being and feeling healthy.

So, you work in tech, how can you be healthy?

Exercise, healthy eating — blah, blah, blah. You already know the answer to this question, but for some reason, it just isn’t working out. Well, let’s change that now.

Exercise

So, we’re busy with work, but, for survival-related reasons, we also need to exercise.

Well, that’s a no-brainer — exercise at work, right? Deskercise, I think it’s called? No, stay away from deskercise. If you start working out at work, what’s next? Eating at work? Sleeping at work? No, never bargain with your life to allow more time for work.

Exercise doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming, nor do we need to trick our brains into doing it. Exercise can be as simple as walking. Slap on some comfortable shoes and take a nice walk anywhere. Listen to Spotify or Blinkist while you walk, or watch the world around you. When was the last time you really looked at something?

Here’s what will happen afterward:

  1. You’ll feel amazing
  2. You’ll have epic ideas, suddenly
  3. Well, do you really need a third reason? 😉
Easy exercises

Eat Healthily

Brain hacks usually only work for a short time, so I’m not really a fan of them. If it feels like you need to hack your health, then you may need a more drastic change in lifestyle.

Basically, you need to enjoy eating healthily. You already have about a thousand decisions to make every day, so like with exercise, cut out any cognitive stress like shopping, cooking, and deciding what to eat, and simply eat at a healthy restaurant.

Generally, I find that fewer decisions frees me up to be happier and more recharged.

Google Map what’s nearby and take notice of the images and reviews — use the review search feature to search for keywords like cheap, expensive, and affordable.

Essentially build up a list of cheap, healthy favorites 🥑.

Eat healthily

Get Comfortable

A standing desk or laptop stand might be what’s missing from your life if you frequently suffer from neck-ache or tension-induced headaches. Sadly, the human anatomy isn’t made for looking down at screens, so we must keep our heads elevated.

Laptop stand

Maintaining eye-care is also a huge concern, especially since vision deterioration is something that happens slowly — i.e. you don’t know it’s bad until it’s irreparable. Now I know it’s not the stone age 🙄, but a whole bunch of tasks such as sketching can be accomplished without a screen. Give your eyes a little rest by switching to stationary.

Lastly, plants. Greenery and nature can really boost your mood, not to mention your creativity. If you don’t have an office, trendy coffee shops tend to have plant-y interiors.

Plants and mental health

Stop Working

Remember, it’s just work. Relax at a coffee shop for the entire afternoon, or do whatever it is that makes you happy. Did anything supremely awful happen? If the answer is no, then, well, this is what happens when you stop working and the world keeps on turning. If happiness isn’t your main KPI, then you’re doing life all wrong 😂.

Change Your Routine

Prioritize what makes you happy, even if it means spending a little more money. If you simply don’t have the luxury of being able to slow down right now, maybe you’d enjoy working from trendy coffee shops, or being a digital nomad? Whatever fires you up! 🔥

Coworking spaces are another option if you need a change of scenery, but you don’t necessarily want to take the risk of having bad Wi-Fi, or there being no seats available.

Working from cafés

Slippery Slopes

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, but I do have a lot of first-hand experience with depression, and here’s why you should take action today. Turning your health around isn’t easy, but preventing suboptimal health is. Stress can quickly turn into anxiety, which turns into OCD, which turns into burnout, which then turns into depression.

Already feeling down? Just @ me. Not sure? Have a read of these symptoms:

  • Stress: bodily ache, mood swings, alertness, difficulty breathing, overworking
  • Anxiety: obsessiveness, worry, erraticness, imposter syndrome, procrastination
  • Depression: suicidal thoughts, everybody sucks, everything sucks, hopelessness

Health advice is often easier said than done, so hopefully these tiny, small, lifestyle changes are a bit more realistic and will lead to you feeling both happy and healthy ✌️.

Daniel Schwarz, author

Daniel Schwarz

Daniel Schwarz is a UX/UI designer, web developer, and maker by background, but a writer, editor, 5x author, and teacher at heart. Currently a design blog editor at SitePoint (ex Toptal), writer at .net Magazine and Web Designer Magazine, but occasionally a collaborator with top design companies such as Adobe and InVision.

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