Once you hit the office, it’s usually all-systems go. You’ve got meetings to attend, deadlines to meet and clients to care for. If anything gets pushed to the back burner or ditched, it’s almost always our own health and wellness.
You owe it to yourself to make self-care in the workplace a priority. You’ll feel better – and, ultimately, you’ll become a better employee as your health improves and your energy levels increase. Here are eight ways to stay healthy while you’re working.
Workplace Health Tips
1. Drink plenty of water
Hydration is vitally important, yet it’s an area of self-care that’s often neglected. According to a recent CBS News report, about 75 percent of Americans are in a state of chronic dehydration. Neglecting proper water intake can cause extreme fatigue, joint pain and a host of other issues.
Although water intake needs vary, a good rule of thumb is to drink an 8-ounce glass of water eight times a day (just remember: 8x8). Having a quality water bottle will help encourage and remind you to drink while you’re sitting at your desk or while you’re driving to work.
2. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks
If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, soda, an energy drink or a candy bar are all tempting options. Although they may seem enticing, these kinds of snacks don’t provide long-term energy. After a small buzz, you’ll end up crashing and feeling worse than when you started.
Instead, reach for some fresh or unsweetened dried fruit, yogurt or nuts for lasting energy without the crash. Apart from that, having the occasional glass of coconut water or cup of tea can be a great mid-day refresher and will also give you an added boost of health benefits.
Sugary snacks are bad for your oral health as well. According to Dr. Alexie Aguil of Exquisite Dentistry in Los Angeles, Calif., overindulging in these kinds of foods during the work day can cause extensive damage to your smile over time. If you have an occasional soda or piece of candy as a treat at work, he recommends bringing a toothbrush to work to clean your teeth after you eat or drink.
3. Meditate for relaxation
Is office stress getting the best of you? Consider meditation to clear your mind of the negative effects of the day. Taking five minutes to meditate may seem like a waste of time, but you’ll likely find that you’ll be more effective the rest of the day as you refocus your energy.
Christian R. Stiller, Co-Founder and CEO of Brightmind Meditation puts it this way: “Meditation can improve your productivity and your enjoyment of your work, by increasing your concentration. It’s typical in meditation to redirect your attention to your breath every time you realize you’re daydreaming. Each time we do this, it’s like a rep in the gym, and our ability to concentrate gets stronger. By spending 10-minutes a day sharpening your mind, you will be able to stay more focused at work and your mind will naturally be more at ease."
4. Get up!
One of the dangers of working in an office is being sedentary—you end up sitting behind a desk far too long. If you sit all day, be sure to make an effort to get up and move around. Set an alarm on your phone to go off every 30 minutes to remind you to get up out of your chair and stretch. Plan walking meetings where you get out and walk around the building instead of sitting in a conference room. You could try using a standing desk. Find creative ways to move around and stay active!
5. Chew sugar-free gum
If you feel you need to cleanse your mouth after lunch, but there’s no time or opportunity to brush your teeth, chew some sugar-free gum. Chewing gum not only freshens your breath, it stimulates the production of saliva, which in turn will cleanse your teeth and gums. You may never have thought your dentist would encourage you to chew gum, but it’s actually a healthy thing to do when you can’t brush your teeth at work.
6. Avoid the spread of sickness
During certain times of the year, sickness can spread through offices like wildfire. When cold season approaches, keep hand sanitizer nearby, and use it when necessary. Use antibacterial wipes to clean your computer keyboard, phone, and desk. Although it may seem anti-social to avoid handshaking, if you have the ability to set office policy, encourage employees to avoid this kind of contact to keep germs from spreading during cold and flu season.
If you’re sick, you may feel pressured to come to work anyway. Instead, stay home, keep germs from spreading and allow your body to rest and recuperate properly. Taking vitamin C is good for immune health, so boost your intake until you begin feeling better. You can also take vitamin C daily as extra support when sickness starts to spread at the office
7. Leave your work behind
Everyone needs to take time to relax, but unfortunately, many people never untether themselves from work. They continue to check emails, take phone calls and work on projects far into the night at home. Although this can sometimes be helpful for short periods of time, it’s harmful if it becomes a long-term habit. One of the keys to stress management is to leave your work at work.Avoid using your phone to make late-night work calls or send work text messages. Wait until the next day to compile emails to customers or fellow employees. Take measurable steps to reduce your anxiety and stress when you get home, and you’ll be more productive when you get back to the office the next day.
8. Get a good night’s sleep
Most of us don’t get the sleep we need each night, usually staying up far too late to catch the end of a TV show or the fourth quarter of a late football game. To make sure you start the next day on the right foot, get a good eight hours of sleep each night. Start the process of winding down at least an hour before bedtime, and avoid computer or cell phone screens, which stimulate the brain instead of readying it for sleep.