How many of you are guilty of having spent hours upon hours sitting at your desk with little to no movement?  I put myself in the top 2%!

I work hard, starting at 6:30 am and usually ending around 5 pm or later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been so focused, I look up and hours have passed without me moving – or my fiancé is walking in the door from his job.  Where did my day go?  I am GUILTY!  Recently, I read an article about a new health/safety issue that is fast making its way through the corporate world with negative effects – Sitting is the New Smoking.

I’m the poster child for spending unbroken hours hunched over my PC and tied to the phone. I barely take any breaks and grab whatever I can and scarf it down for lunch.  Then my body sent me a wake-up call.

A few months ago I ended up in the ER, unable to walk and in extreme pain – both sciatic nerves were inflamed which resulted in weeks of pain medication.  From time to time, it still flares up.  My weight has soared (a whopping 50 pounds in just 3 years) and my lower back now aches at every turn. When I go for massages, the therapist has plenty of knots in my upper back and shoulders to work with.

After reading that article I discovered if my routine doesn’t change, I’m opening myself up to a range of health problems just by sitting in front of a screen all day – including heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal strain, obesity, hypertension and what researchers call “psychosocial disorders.”   It also increases workplace absences. I stopped and thought about the money I have spent in ER visits over my pain, how that resulted in my focus being off at work due to the pain and the doctor’s appointments to try and fix said pain.

While the article had many good tips on breaking this habit and taking better care of yourself, not all of it applied to me.  So here is what I did do to improve my routine, and get on track to a healthier me.

  1. I work remotely, so every 45 minutes, I get up. I’ll walk/run up and down my steps a few times, adding more runs as I can.
  2. During meetings where I am not actually speaking, I put the PC on the counter and do leg lifts or calf raises. If I can’t stand up for a while at my desk, I do shoulder, wrist and arm exercises as well as leg lifts.
  3. I am making myself walk away from the computer and fix a healthy breakfast and lunch. AND concentrate on taking a few minutes to enjoy those meals slowly and not just shoveling them in for sustenance.
  4. I’m increasing my daily water intake (and reducing caffeine).
  5. I’m slowly getting back into physical activity. It’s hard, but finding ways throughout my daily tasks to do this has helped tremendously. I go out twice a day to check on my chickens, feed and water, collect the eggs and clean their coop. I also chase my dogs around the back yard and walk down to the mailbox. It’s a start!
  6. I make time to message or call co-workers and just talk to them for a few minutes. Being a remote worker, I don’t see my co-workers very often if at all. Staying in touch is important, and keeps my social and communication skills sharp which is very important in my field!

My job can be very stressful and often times is.  Instead of working 120 mph, I choose a couple tasks which are high priority and do them one at a time. I take a break once I finish one and before I start on the other. Those breaks can be anything from running downstairs to put laundry in, or upstairs to make our bed.  Even a few minutes of standing, walking around, and looking out a window helps my mind refocus and I come back to my computer with a much better attitude and creative ideas.

Time management is key, and luckily Cisco encourages us to work in ways that work best for us.

As you can imagine, my stress levels are going down! All because I’m taking the initiative to peel my eyes away from the computer screen for a few minutes at a time, and am focusing on movement throughout the day.

While being a dedicated worker is still tops in my books, this experience has shown me that you can be both a dedicated employee AND take the time necessary to focus on yourself. I need to be mentally focused, healthy, and happy to be at my absolute best!  I realized if I’m sick, injured, or otherwise unable to perform my work – well, more people (myself included) suffer from that.

Never forget you need to take care of you first, a healthy you is top priority.

Want to work for a company that encourages work/life balance? You can. Apply now.


Cheryl A Slaughter

PgM / Project Manager

GES West