No matter how much you might love what you do, there’s no escaping the fact that work can be stressful. Whether you’re juggling tasks, meeting deadlines, or working long hours, it’s no secret that work can take its toll.
Still, it would all too simple to think of job-related stress as purely an issue of mental well-being. Without incorporating the right healthy work habits, the day-to-day reality of work can have negative effects on the body, too, including everything from sore muscles and sapped productivity to eye strain and increased anxiety. In fact, research has found that on-the-job stress is more strongly correlated with physical health complaints than any other life stressor.
Use these workplace wellness tips for employees to take care of your body at work and reduce physical stress.
Start with the Right Setup: Crafting an Ergonomic Workstation
Taking care of your body at work starts with having the right ergonomic desk setup. Because office work so often involves repetitive tasks and postures, even slight changes to the way your workstation is configured can make a huge difference in how much stress you place on your body throughout the day.
Follow these healthy workplace tips to make your space more ergonomic and create a physical environment that supports your body at work:
- For desk workers who spend most of the day sitting, an ergonomic office chair, such as this Tempur-Pedic® task chair, is essential. Choose a chair that supports spinal alignment and sound posture. In addition, set your chair at the right height, ensuring that your feet can lay flat on the floor.
- Your chair isn’t the only factor in supporting good posture. Avoid slouching and craning your neck by placing your computer monitor atop a stand, stack of books, or small box to keep it at eye level. A good rule of thumb for monitor positioning is to align the top of the screen with your eye line.
- Support your arms and wrists to avoid straining your back and shoulders. Adjust your chair’s armrests so that your arms are slightly lifted at your shoulders. A wrist rest can bring additional comfort and ergonomics to your workstation setup.
- At the end of the day, just sitting for too long—even at the most ergonomic desk—can take its physical toll. Consider counteracting the effects of so-called “sitting disease” by opting for an adjustable workstation. A sit-stand ergonomic solution that allows you to adjust the height of your desk, as needed, between sitting and standing, can reduce discomfort and help you maintain productivity.
So easy to assemble. I love how comfortable and easy to adjust the Quill Brand Hyken Mesh Task Chair chair is.” – Raquel C.
Build in Breaks
Even when supported by the best workstation design, the body is simply not meant to withstand very long sessions of stationary desk work, whether it’s done sitting or standing. That’s why it’s critical to take short breaks throughout the day to stretch, hydrate, improve circulation, and help keep stress and strain from building.
Of course, during a busy or productive period, it can be easy to let too much time pass between pauses in your work. Luckily, technology can help remind you to take care of your body as well as your work tasks. Setting recurring notifications in your calendar or on your smartphone’s clock app can provide timely reminders. You can even use fitness trackers to set reminders, too. Similarly, following the Pomodoro technique can incorporate short breaks in a productive rhythm of work while encouraging longer breaks over time.
Rest Your Eyes, Too
Be sure to care for your eyes as well as you do the rest of your body during these breaks. After all, prolonged use of your computer can lead to a range of aggravating eye health complications. Avoid eye strain, dry eyes, and even potential migraines by adhering to the 20-20-20 rule. It’s just about as easy to follow as it is to remember: Simply pause every 20 minutes to look into the distance 20 feet for 20 seconds. In the meantime, take even more strain off your eyes by outfitting your workspace with eye-friendly office lamps and lighting.
Take Your Meetings on the Move
For many office employees, a schedule full of meetings might make it even harder to find the time to get out of the chair—whether it’s at your own desk or in the conference room just down the hall.
However, a slate of meetings doesn’t necessarily need to be incompatible with movement. For instance, you can easily convert your one-on-ones and team check-ins from stale sit-downs to dynamic walking meetings. Even if you don’t head very far, just getting outside for some fresh air can reduce stress and give you yet another opportunity to stretch, away from your desk.
Make the Most of Your Time Outside the Office
When it comes down to it, even the best-structured workstation and schedule won’t necessarily be a cure-all for bodily strain and fatigue. Supporting your well-being and fighting physical (and mental) stress at work will require some effort outside the office as well.
After all, maintaining your physical well-being and reducing stress on your body is a crucial part of achieving a healthy work-life balance. In addition to the healthy workplace tips we’ve covered above, be sure to practice a healthy and balanced overall lifestyle.
For instance, getting enough sleep each night isn’t just important to having a fresh mind at work. Healthy sleep habits are also closely connected to your physical well-being, helping to regulate stress, improve immune function, repair cells, and maintain cardiovascular health. Meanwhile, regular exercise during the day can improve the quality of your sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and potentially lower the risk of work-induced strain and injury.
All told, supporting your physical health at work requires effort both in and out of the office. With the help of these workplace wellness tips, though, you can establish the mix of workplace ergonomics and health habits that you need to take care of your body throughout the day—and over the course of your career.