The team here at Zen Space like to follow up with our existing customers to see how they are getting on with their new sit-stand desks and one of the most common questions we hear is:
‘I made a commitment to sit less at work, but I’m having trouble remembering to actually do it. I know it’s important, but it’s so hard to break the habit of sitting at a desk. How do I remember to stand up at work more?’
It’s great that you’ve made the decision to sit less at work, but can be easier said than done. Breaking unhealthy habits can be difficult. Here’s three tips to turn your good intentions into a healthy reality!
1 – Motivate Yourself Through Awareness
It’s a lot easier to change your behaviour when you have the motivation to do so. If you have a vague idea that sitting down for too long is bad for your health, you might vaguely consider modifying your lifestyle. Try taking a look at the huge body of scientific research devoted to studying the adverse effects of sitting on human health. There’s no shortage of evidence available for you to peruse to prove to yourself exactly why you should stop sitting. Then, you can turn to the growing collection of research indicating that standing is the alternative we should turn to. We’ve covered some of that research in our previous post.
Specificity is a huge motivation tool. It’s much easier to give up negative behavior when you’re completely convinced that it’s a problem, and being well-versed in the science gives you a great starting point. Lots of public health campaigns begin with awareness campaigns, providing education and spreading information about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, texting and driving, or drinking alcohol while pregnant, for example. Once you are truly aware of the stakes, you’re much more likely to take meaningful, motivated steps towards healthier choices. And replacing unhealthy behavior like sitting is far easier to do when you have a healthy alternative like standing available to you.
Use the education available to you to motivate yourself to quit sitting, and you can proceed with confidence if you have a sit-stand plan ready made.
2 – Plan Your Sit-Stand Time
Once you’re convinced that you should quit sitting, and motivated to make the change from a sedentary lifestyle, make a concrete plan to provide a tangible structure to your intentions. Goals are much easier to set than they are to keep – most of us who have made New Years resolutions have experienced the ephemeral nature of unstructured good intentions.
You’ve made a great commitment, so make it as easy as possible for yourself. Get a calendar or weekly planner, and examine your workweek. Figure out when you spend the most time sitting—is it checking emails in the morning, or during conference calls? Do you have a lot of sit-down meetings in the afternoons? Tracking your sitting time will give you a baseline, and you can pencil in modifications from there. You’ll probably have many different options to choose from, which means that you can choose from a variety of sitting activities to make the switch.
Start with small and simple changes, and work up to longer commitments (we’ve listed some easy to follow tips to help with that). Plan to check your morning mail standing up, or pencil in your standing time after lunch. Commit to a few standing minutes for every hour spent sitting down, then set an alarm, and stick to it. Make a schedule, and mark it when you’ve been successful. Looking at your healthy choices written into paper will inspire you to continue making changes, and give you the structure to help you do so. With a little planning and foresight, you’ll build habits that will become second nature in no time at all.
3 – Stand Up, Be Active
Everyone is different, and you’ll find the unique tips and tricks that work for you to help you remember to stand up more at work. For some people, penciling the time into a daily planner or monthly calendar is exactly the right visual tool to keep them motivated. For others, phone alarms or notes and signs do the trick. It might help to set group goals or competitions with your coworkers—who can clock the most standing time per day, or how many collective standing hours can you accomplish? Whatever your tools are, just keep your goal in clear focus: stand up, and stay healthy!
Getting started can be the hardest part. Invest in a standing desk ahead of time, or ask your boss or company for one—they might be delighted to provide it, when presented with the evidence that standing improves productivity and employee health. If that’s not an option, improvise a DIY standing desk for yourself. Sitting less at work is a wise choice. Why not make it easier to be healthy?