In terms of human environments, it’s fair to say the office is not our natural habitat. As animals that were built for chasing animals down with sticks, eight hours per day in even the most comfortable office space can eventually begin to take its toll on our health. But don’t despair, there are lots of things you can do to stay healthy and happy in the workplace. So if you feel tired, stressed and overworked, remember you’re not alone, and read on for our top tips to good office health.
Be careful what you put in your body
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can help to improve your energy and health levels dramatically. Set yourself goals. Bring a large bottle of water to work and try to finish and refill it 4 times a day.
Snacks can be a tasty way to give you a boost and relieve boredom, but they don’t satisfy your real hunger and can really pile on the pounds. Why not try replacing sweets with healthy alternatives brought from home such as carrot sticks or nuts. These can give you a slow release of energy that will get you through those sleepy Monday mornings.
It has often been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s certainly true that a wholesome breakfast can be the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Avoid the temptation of skipping this essential meal in your morning rush, and instead fuel up on foods that will keep you going and prevent you from consuming junk food in the 10.30 lull.
Change positions regularly
Tension neck syndrome (TNS) can occur when the neck and shoulders are held in a fixed position for long periods of time. Regular movement can help to loosen up these muscles as well as improving your mental and physical acuity.
Stand up as much as possible
If you’re sitting at your desk all day, it’s important to walk around and stretch as often as you can. Move while waiting for programs on the computer to load, or for pages to print. If you need to discuss something with your colleague, go to his or her desk instead of making a phone call or sending an email. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
Exercise at lunch
Using your lunch as an opportunity to walk and exercise is a great idea, not only because you’ll be burning calories, but you’re also de-stressing and refreshing. Working through lunch is never advised, but if you absolutely have to, why not try parking further away than usual in the mornings, or make a habit of using the stairs instead of the elevator. That way you’ll still get a daily workout.
Take breaks when needed
Did you know even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity up to 13%? Or that a 15 second break from staring at your computer screen every ten minutes can reduce your fatigue 50%? The importance of taking regular breaks should not be underestimated, and is an easy way to reduce your stress and boost health.
Keep work at work
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that working out of hours, or answering your emails from home, will boost your productivity, but in fact it has the opposite effect. Failing to get the rest and relaxation you need will result in decreased efficiency and burnout. Burnout can impair a person’s immune system, as well as interfere with sleep and his or her ability to concentrate.
Stay organised to avoid stress
Organising your time well will reduce your stress levels considerably. It’ll also allow you to schedule in all the rests, meals and exercise breaks you need in order to keep you happy and healthy throughout the day.
Keep screen at arm’s length
Having your monitor at the correct distance and in the right position can prevent you from encountering eyestrain and TNS, among other things. As a general rule, you should also be able to comfortably read what’s on your screen without having to squint.
Personalise your desk space
Make your personal space a relaxing and inspirational place. Put up your favourite quotes to remind you of your goals, and consider getting a small desk plant. Not only do desk plants brighten up the office, they also release oxygen which can help to keep you energised.
Keep it clean
Your keyboard, mouse and phone can be a hotbed of germs. Get out the spray disinfection and give these objects a good clean every now and then. It could prevent you from catching viruses and infections that are just waiting to make you ill.
Take care of yourself
Keep up with things outside of work
Try to spend time outside of the office doing things you love. Go for walks in nature, visit a friend, cook something nice – anything to unload the stress of the workday and give yourself a well-earned break.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Waking up refreshed and revitalised in the morning will help to prevent caffeine cravings and bingeing on sugary quick-fix snacks later in the day.
Look away from the screen occasionally
Most office workers suffer from some kind of eye strain at some point in their careers. Why not try the 20-20-20 rule? every 20 minutes, you gaze at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. The protocol allows your eye’s muscle’s to relax, helping you to avoid the symptoms of fatigue.