Facing forward with your shoulders relaxed, raise your arms slowly above your head. Clasp your hands together to give your arms a gentle stretch.
Note: You can do this one while seated at your desk! Just hold a pencil in one hand and a stapler in the other so that if anyone walks by, it looks like you're actually doing something that matters -- as much as anything you do at work really matters, of course.
Step back from your desk and stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend your knees until you are eye-level with the printout of a certificate of completion that you got for doing some bullshit compliance training that was required by HR. Glance at the date on the certificate and realize it's been nearly two years since you pinned it resentfully to the bottom of your corkboard. Two years. Really? Wow. Straighten your legs and return to a standing position.
Spend the afternoon googling mid-career transitional Master's programs.
While seated, and facing away from anyone who might walk by and see you, clench your fists and squeeze your face and neck muscles until they feel like they're going to burst. Remember how as a kid, when adults asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, you would always say, "An astronaut"? Hold that pose and thought for ten seconds, then release.
Repeat five times, or until you begin to sob uncontrollably.
By parking your car at the very end of the employee lot each morning, you'll give yourself the chance to walk a bit further to get to the office. This is a great way to fit in a little extra cardio! As an added bonus, you'll also have a longer walk when you sneak outside to sit in your car mid-morning and wolf down a protein bar without tasting it, and when you return later in the afternoon to have an angry cigarette and a good cry, or a secret beer.
Light beers have fewer calories, and are harder to detect on your breath.
Get down on your hands and knees, the way your soul is all the time these days. Staring straight ahead, slowly curve your back up towards the ceiling, then straighten it. Repeat fifteen times, or until your boss walks by and gives you a look like, "What the hell are you doing?"
Wallow in hot shame for the rest of the afternoon.
Shame burns more calories than pride.
Stand facing the wall, an arm's length away. An actual, part-of-the-building wall, not the fake shoulder-height cloth-covered eyesore of a cubicle wall that cages you in for nine hours a day like an animal -- you hear me? A fucking animal! We were not meant to spend our lives this way.
Place your hands on that wall, palms spread, shoulder-width apart, and slowly do standing pushups against it. Instead of counting reps, count how many months it's been since you felt passionate about anything in your life. Continue until someone walks by and makes a wisecrack about your butt or quotes a line from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, even though that movie came out in 1994, for fuck's sake. When that happens, push off from the wall and go take a half day.
You don't even have to go home; just get in your car and drive, you know?
Stand with your feet together. Slowly lift your left foot until your knee is at a 90 degree angle. Wrap your left arm around your knee and hold for 30 seconds. Feel the stretch! Does it hurt? Does the pain make you feel alive? Did you really think a BA in Literature was going to get you anywhere in life?
Release your left knee and repeat the stretch your right knee. Would it have killed you to take a couple of coding or accounting classes in college? Are you too old for business school? Maybe you should start a blog.
Do two sets of ten for each leg.
Open and then close every drawer in your desk with each arm, especially the heavy file drawers that stick and you really have to jerk them hard. Repeat this until you have scrounged together enough spare change from the bottoms of your drawers to buy a thing of peanut butter crackers from the office vending machine.
Hell, you earned it, right? Yeah you did!
Those vending machine peanut butter crackers are fucking delicious.
Illustrations by Paul Westover