If you’re reading this article because you’ve already decided that you want to boost your workplace wellness, congratulations. You’ve already taken the most important step towards improving your health. With a little motivation, you’ll soon fall into healthier habits that will keep you happier and more productive and might even inspire your coworkers to make similar lifestyle changes.
Like everything else, a little guidance will help you to more achieve workplace wellness with greater ease, so you can spend your energy on something else (office yoga, anyone?). Here are ten tips that will help you boost your workplace wellness, from body to mind.
1. Do Your Homework And Be A Trendsetter
Education is always the first step towards changing behavior—whether our own or that of others. It’s certainly common knowledge that physical activity promotes wellness, and most of us are generally aware that physical inactivity is unhealthy. But it’s only in the last decade or two that research has started to clearly show the link between disease and sedentary lifestyles—and sedentary work behaviors—and educating yourself will probably inspire you to start making changes.
When research started showing how harmful cigarettes are, people gradually stopped smoking once they became aware of the true risk. It’s likely that we’ll see a similar trend in the future, as awareness grows of the harm done by sitting too much. Get ahead of the trend here by getting educated now, using the vast body of research already available to us.
2. What You Do With Your Body Is Just As Important As What You Put In It
If you’re already on board the meal prep train, you’re a step ahead of the game. Packing nutritious lunches to bring to work is a great way to avoid eating easily and badly at fast food restaurants or cheap and quick pizza fixes. But what we do is just as important as what we eat, and together these lifestyle choices determine our overall health. So why is it that we only focus on food, but not movement?
Our bodies were made to move, and keeping them still all day is killing us. It is estimated that physical inactivity causes one out of ten deaths in the United States, is a leading cause of global mortality, and puts people at risk for a wide range of fatal diseases like heart disease and diabetes. What you eat for lunch is important, but so is what you do before and after lunch!
3. This Is Your Brain On Chairs
Feeling depressed or anxious? Workday got you stressed? Our workplace lifestyle choices can have a profound effect on our mental health, as well as our physical bodies. Studies show that people who sit for more than six or seven hours a day are more likely to experience psychological distress and display symptoms of depression.
Your brain needs physical activity to do its job well, relying on the blood and oxygen you get when you move around. Give your brain what it needs, and it will thank you with happiness!
4. Switch To A Standing Desk
One of the easiest ways to inject healthy habits to your workplace is by switching to a standing desk. You can invest in a whole new desk, or just DIY it, as long as the end result is standing more, and sitting less. Once the option is available, you can build the sit-stand routine that works for you.
5. Set Alarms To Set Yourself Up For Success
You’ll get in the habit of taking breaks and standing up, but in the meantime, why not set alarms to remind yourself? Decide how long you want to spend sitting down (research suggests that 30 minutes at a time is a good increment) and set an alarm to go off that often. Then, stand up and continue working, or take a break to stretch and move around.
6. Posture Makes Perfect
Whether you’re sitting or standing, your posture will make a big difference in your workplace wellness. Stiff necks and backaches are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health problems that slumping down or craning the neck can cause, which can have a ripple effect and cause problems all the way down to the knees and feet. Nip it in the bud by being mindful of your posture, whether working at a desk or playing on your smartphone on your commute.
A good way to improve posture is by keeping your desk and computer at the appropriate height relative to the body. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle, and your computer screen in front of your face.
7. Eyesight is 20-20-20
Your eyes are working hard throughout the day, and it’s important to give them a break. Try the 20-20-20 trick to avoid eye strain, which can cause blurred vision and headaches and even nausea. After every twenty minutes, you spend working, spend twenty seconds looking at something twenty feet away.
This simple trick accomplishes several goals at once. It gives you a great reason to stand up and take a break after a stretch of sitting down, and it gives your eyes enough time to relax.
8. Walk It Out
Our desk hours might all blur together, and it can be hard to remember to sit down less. If you work in an office or organization where you have a lot of meetings, try holding walking meetings instead of sitting meetings. Studies show that employees who participate in walking meetings find themselves being more creative, productive, and efficient throughout the day. Plus, when we’re walking and talking, we’re less likely to be distracted by technology, so we can be more present for our coworkers in the meeting. Switching to walking meetings is a great day to reduce sitting time throughout the day and add moderate physical activity, both of which promote workplace wellness.
9. You Can’t Make Up For Lost Time
Hitting the gym after a long day at the office is a great start to boosting your overall health, but unfortunately, it might not be the solution to sitting disease. Time spent engaging in high-intensity physical activity outside of work hours doesn’t take away the negative effects of being sedentary for the rest of the day.
Engaging in simple, low-intensity physical activities like walking and standing throughout your day account for as much or more of our daily energy expenditures, so don’t skimp on your workday steps. Where overall health is concerned, you might actually be better off passing on the gym membership and investing in a standing desk, instead. If you need help picking one out, check out our handy guide on how to choose a standing desk, or explore our ergonomic standup workstations here.
10. Building Better Habits, Bottom Up
Though our gut instincts tend to tell us to make lifestyle changes little by little, to avoid getting overwhelmed and slipping up, studies show that changing all our bad habits at once might be the key to success. This makes sense when considering workplace wellness because when lifestyles as a whole are so deeply ingrained, it can be more difficult to make individual healthy choices if they diverge from the norm.
Make health a priority. Start with wellness, and work your routine and workflow around your needs, instead of the other way around. It’s absolutely possible to adopt new habits and incorporate small, individual routines into your work day. But what if we incorporated our workday into our wellness, instead? If you use your wellness as the cornerstone of your workplace choices, health will naturally follow.