Let’s face it – we spend a LOT of time at work. In fact, the average person ends up spending about 1/3 of their life in the workplace, often sitting behind a desk in front of a computer screen. So it goes without saying that if you’re not making health a priority during your workday, chances are your overall health is suffering! A little bit of preventive health goes a long way. Luckily, there are plenty of realistic and efficient ways to bring health into your work day.
1. GET UP, MOVE, AND STRETCH
Get up from your desk at least once every 30 minutes to combat the detrimental effects of sitting. Take a short walk around the office, visit a co-worker for a chat, or take your calls on the move. Even better, incorporate some light stretching into your breaks, focusing on areas like the neck, low back, and hamstrings. If breaks aren’t on your radar, try setting an alarm to remind yourself. Give your eyes a break as well – make sure you look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on a fixed object (about 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Optometrists refer to this as the 20-20-20 rule.
2. KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS ON HAND
Hunger and particularly dehydration can have a major impact on your energy level, productivity, and overall mood. Use your breaks as a reminder to drink more water. If you find your energy wanes between meals, add in a mid-morning and mid-afternoon low-sugar, high-protein snack. Be sure to include a good protein source – such as eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese, nuts, beans, and meat/fish – with a fibre-rich carbohydrate source – such as fruit, veggies, whole grain bread or crackers, and oats. Avoid heavy and greasy fast-food meals for lunch, as these will actually rob your body of energy. Instead, rely on leftovers (meat, fish, veggies), easy sandwiches (tuna, egg and avocado salad, roasted chicken), or make-ahead meals, such as stews, quiche, or rice bowls.
Keep a 1L bottle with you at work and make a goal to drink one litre before lunch and another litre before you head home for the day.
3. KEEP LESS HEALTHY ITEMS OUT OF SIGHT
It’s no secret that the office can be a dumping ground for leftover desserts and treats. While some people may welcome these items, others are trying their best to avoid them. Keep everyone happy by designating a cupboard or opaque container for storing tempting items instead of leaving them in plain sight. Keep healthier items, such as fruit, nuts, and yogurt, more readily available for those looking for a quick bite. Looking to cut your daily sugar intake? Try our 30 day no-refined sugar challenge.
What in your life matters more than your health? Learn more about our preventive health services.
4. DE-STRESS AT WORK
51% of Canadians report that work is a major or moderate source of stress in their lives. Workplace stress management and mental health continue to top the charts as the health risk issue employers are most concerned about. In a workplace stress impact publication by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), it was estimated that about 60% of workplace absenteeism is stress-related, resulting in about $600/employee per year or $3.5 million annually in lost productivity costs for a typical large employer.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply or meditate. Listen to a guided meditation on YouTube if you need some help. Learning to calm and comfort yourself is a great way to deal with stress, especially stress that can’t be avoided. Creating organized workspaces can also provide a sense of order and control that can positively influence your attitude and give a sense of calm. Schedule time at the start of each month to clean up your desk space and de-clutter your inbox. Click here to discover strategies for using your commute to work as an opportunity to boost your health.
5. CREATE A GRATITUDE WALL
Devote some wall space in a high-traffic area for posting notes of gratitude, thanks, and positive vibes! Keep a stack of sticky notes and markers near the wall and encourage your colleagues to write a short, anonymous note – words of encouragement for others, words of thanks for something or someone, or a little joke to make your co-workers smile.