The average American will spend approximately 10 years at work over their lifetime. With at least 8 hours of the day being consumed at the office, it’s important to think about how your job impacts your health and happiness, and what you are doing to stay healthy both on and off the clock.
Here are some ways to promote healthiness at work and develop a routine geared towards wellness, so that you can integrate healthy habits into your workday.
Put Activity on the Agenda
Depending on your job, you may already be quite active—lifting, climbing, or walking during the day. Keeping your body moving can be a great mental boost and give you energy to perform tasks effectively, as well as put you in a better mood with its stress-busting effects.
If you are in an office environment, where you spend most of the day sitting, the initiative might be on you to get moving.
Tips for getting your daily dose of exercise during the workday:
- Take walks during your breaks.
- Get up and stretch occasionally.
- Opt for meetings in person.
- Join/start employee fitness groups (such as a walking group at lunch time).
- Visit the gym before or after the workday, or on your lunch break, if time permits.
- Get outside for fresh air.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Ride your bike to work.
- Do deskersizes or ask your employer about a standing desk or a treadmill desk to help with your posture.
The workplace can be notorious for indulging in baked goods, donuts, candy, or chocolate that other employees bring in or that is readily available in the cafeteria or on the receptionist’s front desk. While sneaking some treats isn’t bad in moderation, in large doses it can make you lethargic from sugar crashes and less focused on your work.
To get you on the path to healthy eating, review these tips:
- Eat breakfast.
- Pack a lunch with plenty of healthy superfoods. Think fruit, nuts, whole grains, etc.
- Keep snacks on hand if you need a quick energy boost.
- Drink plenty of water. Bring in a water bottle to refill during the day.
- Choose healthy options from the cafeteria/lunch room.
- Too many workplace goodies.
- Caffeine in high doses.
- Purchasing your lunch at a convenience store, cafeteria, or fast food restaurant.
- Using the vending machine.
Healthy habits are not only limited to exercise and eating choices, but also your sleep patterns. Getting a good night’s rest is the key to being functional throughout the work week.
Sleep deprivation can be dangerous. It affects memory, mood, and concentration, all of which impairs job performance and can potentially lead to accidents or injuries on the job.
Feel less fatigued by:
- Keeping consistent hours of sleep every night (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day).
- Avoiding any screens (cellphone, laptop, tablet) right before bedtime.
- Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine before bedtime.
- Creating a dark, comfortable sleep area that is conducive to relaxation.
In Office Health Hacks
Mastering healthy habits in the workplace may take time, but once you have developed a routine for taking care of yourself, you’ll notice that your health isn’t the only thing that has improved. Your attitude, performance, and even satisfaction at work will also see a boost.
Some of the following health hacks might seem obvious, but a surprising amount of people are guilty of not practicing these health musts:
- Wash your hands regularly or keep hand sanitizer nearby for quick washes.
- Avoid touching your face during work hours, as germs spread easily.
- Wipe down keyboard, mouse, phone, door handles and other objects you use regularly to stop the spread of germs.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid face-to-face meetings when you are sick or with others who are sick.
Mental Health and Burnout
Perhaps the biggest health risk in a workplace is stress. While physical activity can combat excess stress and boost your mood, there are some occupations that are simply high-stress environments.
Employees who work in demanding careers and put in long hours are prone to overextending themselves and burning out. Burn out is when you become physically and mentally exhausted from continual exposure to stress. It can lead to depression, frustration, and may even cause you to stop functioning as you normally would, meaning you are unable to keep up with the demands of your job.
Lessen stress-induced illness out of work by:
- Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.
- Getting a good night’s rest.
- Eating healthy.
- Taking a sick day or personal day if you find yourself overwhelmed or ill.
- Spending time with friends and family (developing meaningful connections).
- Taking a vacation.
- Partaking in fun activities, such as personal hobbies.
- Using breathing exercises or meditation to calm down.
Lessen stress at work by:
- Taking breaks as needed.
- Planning out your day for efficient time management.
- Tackling one task at a time.
- Starting projects early to meet deadlines.
- Communicating with a manager if you feel like there are areas of your job that could be improved.
- Knowing your limitations and learning to say “no”.
Knowing the source of your stress can put you on the way to managing it so it doesn’t impede on your life and career. If you find yourself overwhelmed, try to pinpoint the stressor and work through limiting the negative impact it has on your life.
A healthy workplace is a collaborative effort between employers and employees. When an employer offers wellness incentives, such as health care benefits or gym discounts, they are investing in the health of their employees. In return, employees should utilize these offerings and take control of their health to be a more productive part of the business.
Workplace Wellness Programs
Many workplaces are adopting healthy outlooks in the form of wellness programs. These programs can include everything from hiring a nutritionist to educate employees, to signing up a team for a charity race. Suggest a program if your employer does not already have one. Many businesses support employee exercise programs, weight loss initiatives, smoking cessation programs, and other shared objectives to increase employee welfare and health.
Working together as a staff who embraces wellness as a common objective will not only increase employee health, but it will also improve workplace morale and safety, allowing employees to feel more productive and satisfied with their jobs overall.
What do you do to stay healthy in the workplace?