We spend on average 35 hours a week at work, if we add in the commute, that’s a lot of hours away from home. So it makes sense that we factor in time at work when thinking about our health and wellness goals.
It’s easy to get into some bad habits at work. Who gives themselves little ‘ treats’ to get through the day? Takes lunch at their desk? Reaches for a sugary snack in the afternoon? Has that extra cup of coffee to keep going? And then, is often too tired to cook, so grabs fast food on the way home?
And then there is the sitting. There is no other way to say it – sitting all day is bad for your health! Our bodies are not designed to sit inside, in front of a screen all day.
If you can relate to any of this, if your health is suffering, or you are not feeling as fit and energetic as you would like, then it could be your workplace habits are negatively impacting your health.
In this article, I want to help you find creative solutions which will improve your workday and achieve wellness in the workplace. Whether your goals are company-backed or you’re going solo, your efforts won’t be wasted.
Given we spend so much time at work, it makes sense to incorporate the time into your wellness routine. All it takes is a few simple behavioural changes.
When maintaining health and preventing illness, it’s the small changes that can make all the difference. By simply switching to using the stairs over the lift, or choosing herbal tea over a fizzy drink, you’re putting in that little extra effort to protect your health.
A typical work day
Typically, in our work environment, we experience long periods of sitting, consume fast food meals that we grab on the go, eat morning pastries, drink lots of coffee, and get computer screen eye strain. And we do this 5 days a week.
I am sure you have felt at some point that this is not how things should be. Thankfully, many workplaces are recognizing that this routine behaviour is harmful to our mental and physical well-being and health and are supporting their workers in making positive changes.
How do we define wellbeing?
There are five areas associated with well-being.
- Purpose. Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social. Having supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial. Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Community. Liking where you live and work, feeling safe and having pride in your community
- Physical. Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily.
Using these five areas of well-being, we can implement strategies throughout the workday to improve each aspect and achieve better overall wellness.
I would start with being honest about your work and life. Are you happy with your work? Do you enjoy what you do? Do you value your colleagues? Is your workplace a positive environment? This is really important and can affect the health choices you make.
If you need support with this, my advice is to find someone you can talk to within your workplace, or an independent careers coach.
Developing a wellness routine in the workplace
Let’s start with things you can incorporate into your personal routine to achieve better wellness in the Workplace.
Drink more water
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. You can bring in a large insulated cup to keep water cold. If you don’t care for water, try a flavour-infused water bottle that is designed with a compartment for fresh fruit and herbs to add a little flavour to your water.
One of my favourites is lemon, cucumber, and mint!
If you’re worried about frequent bathroom breaks, don’t! It’s a good excuse to get up from your desk and go for a walk. Our bodies aren’t designed for long term sitting, which is why 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in life.
Take a walking lunch
This is great to do with a work buddy or even a group of you. Take a walk during your lunch break instead of spending it sitting in the cafeteria or at your desk. Find a local park or even take a stroll down the street.
The goal is to get moving, and if you can do so outdoors, even better!
You can also increase your activity throughout the day by taking the stairs, parking further away from your workplace, or getting off public transport a stop or two earlier.
Another option is to schedule walking meetings. Get your team outside or take that phone meeting on the go.
Eating better at work
No more excuses! With some simple meal prep and planning, you can have healthy snacks and lunches every day. By making your own food, you have full control of what you’re putting in your body.
When you fuel yourself properly, you’ll have more energy throughout the day and won’t be reaching for sugary snacks.
Healthy snacks include nuts and dried fruit, bell peppers or carrots and guacamole, brown rice cakes and avocado, roasted chickpeas, apples and peanut or almond butter, and homemade granola.
Stand up and stretch often
The importance of getting up throughout the day cannot be overstated! Did you know sitting is considered to be as detrimental as smoking? Sitting for too long can actually cause disease in your body.
Try spending at least 30 minutes a day standing while working. You can do this while answering emails or making calls. Talk to your office administrator about a standing workstation or designing something for your desk.
At the very least, stand up once every hour.
Practice smarter computer habits
Find out if your office has someone who can help you set up your desk ergonomically.
This will help reduce strain and prevent injury from repetitive movements and poor posture. Your monitor should be an arm’s length away and at eye level.
Your hands should be at elbow level, and knees should be level with hips.
Here are some stretches to incorporate into your day to reduce tension:
Upper shoulder and neck stretch
Sit on one hand. Tilt your head away from the hand you’re sitting on. Tilt your head slightly forward, towards your shoulder. You should feel the muscles in your neck and shoulder being stretched. Change sides, and repeat.
Posterior shoulder stretch
Hold one arm across your body. Pull your elbow into your chest. You should feel your shoulder gently stretching.
Seated spinal rotation
While seated, cross your arms over your chest. Grab your shoulders. Rotate your upper body from the waist, turning gently from left to right as far as you can. You should feel tension on both sides of your lower back as it stretches out.
By making these small changes, every day you‘ll be well on the way to improving your Wellness in the Workplace.
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you feel and look better with more energy and vitality then get in touch.