How to Make Workplace Wellness a Priority
Everyone knows it, and it’s okay to admit it: work can be a drag. Every day millions of people wake up earlier than they’d like to, head off into traffic or onto a crowded bus, and eventually, tediously, make it to their workstation, where many will sit, physically idle, for hours on end. This whole song and dance can be less than gratifying on a good day, but over time it can also take a toll on your health, both physically and mentally.
For those Americans who work in an office, the threats of a mostly sedentary workday poses many risks, many of them unseen. Researchers are just now figuring out how unhealthy it is to merely sit all day, clicking or typing away on a computer, or any other tedious, idle, or repetitive task you may be presented with. Those who work in labor-intensive positions or the service industry are well aware of the stress they put their bodies through, but damaging and unhealthy habits can sneak up on anyone in any workplace.
So, what can you do to make sure you retain an active lifestyle, your sanity and yet still perform your job like a rock star? There are a number of countermeasures you can take, and one that is quickly becoming commonplace in many offices are unconventional desks. “Unconventional what now?” you may be asking, but the truth is, you’ve probably seen them around.
Many people are making the switch from traditional cubicle workstations to standing desks, or even sometimes treadmill desks. That’s right, you can now get your work done while hoofing it several miles throughout the day. Not only will you be burning calories, but also distracting yourself from any physical strain by replying to emails, processing orders, or any other common tasks your may be charged with in your position. These desks are likely to continue gaining popularity as doctors become even more aware of how damaging sitting down all day can be. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine directly linked too much sitting with an early death, particularly because of an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Switching up your workstation is one way to fight back against an unhealthy work environment, but what other measures can you deploy?
Eat well at the office
One rather simple, yet constantly overlooked method to improve your health is by watching what you eat, but in an office or work environment, this can be exceptionally tough for many people. There is almost always something to get deterred by — be it a box of donuts, somebody’s birthday and the corresponding cake, or even the vending machines. Many people also enjoy going to lunch with coworkers, which often means fast food or sometimes just snacks from a gas station.
How can you sidestep the issue of unhealthy eating? Pack your own lunch! As easy as that may be, a lot of people refrain from doing it. After all, it’s fun to get out of the office and go have lunch. That doesn’t mean you need to do it every day, just get into the habit of packing a lunch every other day, to start. Also, bring along healthy snacks. Veggies, an apple, or even beef jerky will help keep you from reaching into a bag of chips. A water bottle is of paramount importance as well, as staying hydrated will keep you feeling fresh an sharp, and keep you from drinking sugar-heavy sodas or energy drinks.
One more advantage you’ll gain by bringing your own food? You’ll save a lot of money. Business Insider reports that those who buy lunch every day end up spending around $2,000 dollars annually. If you need help crunching the numbers, Bankrate.com has an excellent lunch savings calculator you can check out.
Become a biker
Another simple hack to make your day a little bit healthier is to take every chance you get to get up and be active. This can be done in a variety of ways, and can start by switching up your commute. Do you live within walking or bicycling distance of your workplace? Give that a try! How about when you get to work? Trying foregoing the elevator and take the stairs. It’s also a good idea to get up and get some blood flowing to your legs every so often. Once an hour or so, take a short lap around the office. Get up and stretch, or even head outside to get a breath of fresh air. It can make a huge difference in the way you feel, and give your eyes a chance to adjust to something other than characters on a monitor.
Again, this is another chance to save some money as well as get some exercise. Try using this calculator from Bicycle Universe to see how much you can save by switching up your commute.
Take a freaking break
Speaking of staring at monitors, one final way to enact a healthier work flow is by giving yourself a chance to free your mind. Anyone can start to get a little fidgety and uncomfortable after concentrating one on thing for too long, so give your brain a break, just like you do with your body. Stressing yourself can lead to quickly burning out at work, and losing interest and focus. Take a walk, and try playing a simple game like Tetris to get your mind off of your tasks for a few minutes. And in case this sounds too good to be true, research from the University of Illinois backs it up.
Some offices have specific areas for relaxing, or even taking a nap. This might be the ultimate way to decompress during one of your breaks. A quick power nap can leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, ready to climb back in the saddle and work through the day’s remaining tasks. But it all really does start at home. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night, and be sure that you’re eating healthy and putting together positive and healthy habits.
After all, workplace wellness isn’t just about the workplace, a healthy lifestyle requires attention and effort in all phases of your life. If you wake every day and make it a priority to be healthy, then you can simply bring that attitude to your workplace, and after awhile it won’t take much effort, it’ll just be a habit.