Virgil put it succinctly: “The greatest wealth is health.”
Without our health, we are in no condition to provide for our families and do our best work. With some tweaks to our home and work lives, however, we can improve our health and well-being while building our wealth.
Here are seven steps you can take to become healthier at work and beyond.
You spend the majority of your day at your desk, so it makes sense to make the investment to make it a healthier portion of your workday. You can do this with standing desks—or sit and stand desks if a combination is more your speed—and also with better office chairs.
When you do sit, you need a chair that supports your spine and keeps your neck in the proper position. Ergonomic chairs can change your work life and cut down on that neck and back pain caused by sitting at a computer all day. Be sure to reference our Factors to Consider When Buying Office Chairs.
James Levine, leading standing desk researcher at the Mayo Clinic (how do you get that job?!), said this: “Step one is get up. Step two is learn to get up more often. Step three is, once you’re up, move,” he says. “And what we’ve discovered is that once you’re up, you do tend to move.”
Curious about standing desks but have not yet taken the plunge? Well, this is what happened when I tried a standing desk.
On top of creating a better standing/sitting desk situation, you also need to move around throughout the day. This could mean getting up and getting outside for a few minutes, climbing a few stairs to improve your circulation, or just taking a quick stroll around the office.
You could also try some simple stretching exercises right at your desk. This can make you more aware of your posture, helping to protect your back, and can even help you burn more calories throughout the day. Plus, when you keep that blood flowing, you give your brain a creativity boost, meaning you will work smarter.
Forbes has some rather useful Desk Exercises To Do At The Office.
Take breaks and protect your eyes
Along with taking breaks to move around, make sure you are also giving your eyes a break. Staring at a computer screen all day is a risky proposition for your eyes. It can cause dryness, irritation, and strain.
Using a standing desk can help keep your eyes in a better position in relation to your screen, but they need rest too. You can use an extension like EyeCare for Google Chrome that puts a reminder on your screen to give your eyes a break at specified intervals.
Another resource, called f.lux, will help you adjust your screen brightness to the time of day to make the computer light easier on your eyes.
Manage your stress
Even if you love your job, the workday can bring a lot of stress. Learning to manage our reactions is essential. There are numerous ways to cope with workday stress. Getting in some exercise and movement throughout the day can really help, along with other stress management techniques like talking things out, journaling, and establishing healthy boundaries.
Being organized and staying on top of your tasks, as much as possible, can reduce stress too. Get in front of tasks and act. Then you will not have to react when things come up later. Eliminate as many interruptions as you can and train yourself to shift your breathing from shallow to deep throughout the day. Try this when you are taking your eye breaks, and be sure to check out our 5 Foolproof Ways to Relieve Work Day Tension.
Keep healthy snacks on hand
The right snacks are not just great for your waistline, but they can power up your brain too. Keeping healthy snacks easily available at work will keep you from grabbing junk food when that afternoon slump hits.
Almonds and walnuts are easy-to-grab brain food. Add a bit of dark chocolate and you have a delicious combo. Boiled eggs are another one to give your body and mind some energy when needed. Or try a salad with some healthy fats like avocado, coconut, or olive oil. Check out 20 Foods To Naturally Increase Your Brain Power via Mind Body Green.
And please, for all things healthy, do not forget to hydrate. Drinking plenty of water while at work can mean more bathroom breaks, but your body and brain will thank you.
Raise money for charity
When we think about creating a healthier work life, we typically focus on the physical aspects. But giving back is a great way to keep you mentally in the game and boost your confidence. Helping and supporting others makes us feel good while doing good.
See if you can get your company to sponsor a race for charity. This can be great for team building, gets you exercise, and gives you an extra incentive to stay fit. To get the whole company excited about upcoming fundraising events, post announcements and updates to bulletin boards, corkboards, or whiteboards. Post team pictures of completed races. Have fun together while showcasing the giving side of the company.
Leave work at work
At the end of your day at work, take a few minutes to reflect. What were your wins? What could have been better and how? What are the main tasks you need to get done tomorrow? Write them down.
Then… let it all go. You can pick up where you left off the next day. Spend time with your loved ones. Gaze at the sky. Reconnect with who you are outside of the office. Observe the world. You will be a healthier and happier person and your work will be better for it. Go ahead and unwind after a stressful day at work. You have our permission.
How do you stay healthy at work? Let us know in the comments, and follow us on social media for more great workplace insights and tips.