Due to the Coronavirus outbreak millions of us across the country have been forced to work from home. While WFH might be the dream usually (“think of the washing I could get done”), during these unsettling and strange times I’m sure you stand with us in saying we’d quite happily take back some normality right now.
If you’re stuck working from your makeshift desk or coupling up at your kitchen table “office” with your other half, we have some expert tips to keep you moving, motivated and above all, as healthy as can be.
Enter Pilates At Your Desk or PAYD as it’s otherwise known. Founded by ex-highflying-economist-turned-Pilates-teacher-turned-businesswoman, Kerrie-Anne Bradley, the company aims to get people moving even if they’re stuck at a desk for the best part of the nine to five. With her boundless energy, infectious positivity and canny eye for detail – she will spot even the slightest evidence of you not sitting on your sit bones – Kerrie-Anne and PAYD have brought wellbeing to the offices of Facebook, ASOS, EY and the Bank of England to name just a few, bringing them easy, daily tips and movements to be more mobile at work.
We spoke to Kerrie-Anne to get her top tips on staying healthy, happy and moving while working from home.
START YOUR DAY WITH BIG BREATHS – lying down or sitting up, treat your nervous system to a bit of calm before you head into the work mode. I like to sit and breathe for about five minutes at the start of each day. If five minutes is too much, then start with one or two big breaths and go from there. But be sure to make it the first thing you do.
KEEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE – linked to my first point, if your phone is next to your bed you’re more likely to make looking at that as the first thing you do. So if you’ve got an old school alarm, fab and if not I would suggest you put it near the door so you are forced to jump out of bed. Turn your notifications off so you can’t be tempted by those and then hit ‘off’ sit/lie on the floor and do your big breaths.
MOVE IN THE MORNING – wake your body up with some good movement. You’ll feel energised, happier, more productive and your body will be less stiff. I post MOVE MORE MOVES which are short full-body movement videos on my Instagram @pilatesatyourdesk. These are a fab way to start your day and can be used throughout the day too.
MAKE SURE YOU EAT – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Set times for these and stick to them. You can attach some big breaths to these too. After I eat, I will do four big breaths. That kind of thing.
GET DRESSED AND POWER POSE – seems an obvious one but getting dressed switches your mind into work mode and it’s good to differentiate between work mode and home mode in as many ways as possible as you don’t want the two to blur. To tell your mind you’re good to go why not introduce a Pilates At Your Desk favourite: the star and the ball. The star doubles up as power posing. You bring your arms above your head and your legs apart (like a star) and then you get into a little ball. Repeat a few times as you go.
ALLOCATE A WORKSPACE AND SIT WELL – do not work on your bed. This is not good for your posture! Sitting in itself isn’t bad, it’s how we sit and how long we sit for that can impact our bodies. When you are sitting it is best to sit in a way that allows your bones to be stacked in the way they are meant to be stacked. The odd crossing of the legs isn’t terrible but let’s face it, we don’t just cross for a minute – we cross our legs in the same way every time we sit down and hold that position for ages. Over time this causes imbalances. So let’s keep our bones stacked in the best way for them and let’s try to move as much as possible.
The best way to sit on any chair is as follows:
– feet flat on the floor
– knees at a right angle
– sit up on your sit bones (bones under your bum)
– ribs over hips (relax those ribs!!)
– head in line with spine (press it back and lift it up)
Try to have devices at eye height. If you’re using a laptop you can get a stand off Amazon so you are not constantly looking down.
This way of sitting keeps your bones stacked in the best way and helps to reduce imbalances throughout the body.
AS YOU PLAN YOUR DAY SCHEDULE IN MOVEMENT BREAKS – make sure when planning your day you look for opportunities to move. It doesn’t have to be an hour of exercise in the middle of the day but try to make sure you move every 30 mins for a couple of mins. Again, I have some great tips on my insta account including lots of exercises you can do while seated at your desk. Schedule in some shake breaks. These are my favourite way of moving. Literally stand up and shake your whole body hokey cokey style!
GET SOME FRESH AIR and MOVE – a walk to a park, around the block… wherever it is try to get out for some fresh air and some more movement!
DRINK ENOUGH WATER AND USE IT AS A MOVEMENT ENABLER – have a glass at your workstation and everytime it is empty, get up to fill it. You drink lots more water and you add in more movement. Boom!
WALK WHEN YOU TALK – having a phone call? Walk while you’re on that call. Even if it’s just around the room.
ATTACH MOVEMENT AND BREATHING BREAKS TO ACTIVITIES YOU ALREADY DO – for example, every time you come back from the loo you could do three big breaths. Or whenever you have a hot drink you could do three squats. Or whenever a certain colleague calls you could power pose.
HAVE A DELIBERATE END AND CELEBRATE LIKE TAYLOR SWIFT – make sure you end your day by tidying away your work stuff – you could even get changed into your ‘home clothes’ to mark the end of work. A fun way to integrate movement at this point would be to end with a little full body shake. That’s right, shake it out à la Taylor Swift to say well done!