- As the lines between work and life blur, people and companies alike are now prioritizing health and wellness in the workplace.
- In addition to company wellness programs, there are also plenty of things that workers can do themselves to make sure that they’re staying healthy at work.
- Careful food choices, keeping hydrated, and staying at home when you’re sick are some of the simple yet effective ways to improve your personal health and wellbeing at work.
Although the traditional 9 to 5 work day is disappearing, people continue to spend a significant amount of their time in the workplace. As the lines between work and life increasingly blur, people and companies alike are now prioritizing health and wellness in the workplace.
While there are plenty of examples of what companies can do to improve the wellbeing of their employees, there are also plenty of things that workers can do themselves to make sure that they’re staying healthy at work.
Today’s workplaces are fast-paced and can be overwhelming at times. However, it’s important that professionals devote as much time to themselves as they do to their job, otherwise they’ll find their physical and mental health negatively impacted. At the end of the day, the goal is to perform one’s job in the best way possible; this is only achievable and sustainable in the long-run if people take a proactive approach to taking care of their mind and body.
5 Tips to Improve Your Health at Work
1. Mind what (and when) you eat
While it’s tempting to reach for a chocolate or sugary snack when you’re tired, under stress or under a lot of pressure, this can have negative effects on your mind and body. Sugary snacks can give you an instant energy rush, but they just as rapidly lead to a crash, which resuts in reduced cognitive function — leaving you feeling even more tired.
Moreover, unhealthy foods also mean a lot of extra calories that you don’t necessarily need to consume in a day. If you’re hungry or feel like eating while at work, take a healthier approach to snacking and be mindful of why you’re eating. Ask yourself: are you really hungry? Or are you dehydrated or maybe just anxious?
Also, if you don’t have time to go back home to eat lunch, consider bringing your lunch with you at least a few times a week. Not only can this help you save a lot of money, but you’re more likely to eat a healthy and balanced meal than when you eat out.
Pro tip: avoid eating at your desk, at all costs.
2. Stay hydrated
Sometimes, feelings of hunger or tiredness are caused by dehydration. Make sure that you drink plenty of water when you’re in the office to prevent fatigue, headaches, and cravings. Staying hydrated can give you an energy boost and help you feel refreshed and focused.
If you feel the afternoon slump creeping in, reach for a glass of water before you go for that second or third cup of coffee.
A dry mouth, tiredness, less need to go to the bathroom, headaches, and lack of concentration can all be signs of dehydration. If you’re not too keen on water, consider drinking coconut water, sparkling water, or infused water to make sure your body is getting enough liquids.
Pro tip: keep a water bottle handy on your desk and try to fully drink it at least twice a day.
3. Keep moving
Don’t stay glued to your desk all day, ever. Sitting is the new smoking; the American Heart Association found that greater time spent in sedentary behavior is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in adults. As if that wasn’t enough, the World Health Organization has reported a worldwide trend in insufficient physical activity.
Suggested Reading: “The Office Is Killing Us: How Workplace Design Helps Combat Sedentary Behavior”
Taking regular breaks to walk or stretch can improve your physical health. Consider adding notifications on your phone or computer to remind you to stand up and leave your desk. Or instead of keeping a water bottle, keep a glass of water that needs to be refilled more often.
Other ways to promote healthy movement in the workplace is by using a standing desk, having walking meetings, or using the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. Avoid sick coworkers
Not all people are keen on staying home when they’re sick, and not all companies allow employees to stay home when sick, either.
Therefore, when a coworker is sick and comes into work, try your best to keep your distance from them. If you are the one that’s sick, don’t go to the office; instead ask if you can work from home.
During the flu season, or if you notice that many people in the office are getting sick, take extra precautions like cleaning your keyboard and computer regularly, taking some Vitamin C, using hand sanitizer, etc.
5. Manage stress
Effective stress management can improve your mental and emotional health, but it can also have a positive impact on your physical health.
Constant, high stress levels can lead to burnout, body tension, and can negatively impact your immune system, among other things. Considering that stress has become a constant factor in the modern workforce, it’s important that you have strategies in place that can help you better deal and cope with stress to stay healthy and to remain productive.
Here are 5 effective strategies to cope with workplace stress inside and outside of the office.