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The American workplace has a bad reputation regarding health and wellness. Long hours coupled with short or non-existent lunch breaks makes it challenging for people to prioritize self-care. Furthermore, sitting might not be the new smoking — but it isn’t doing most folks’ waistlines any favors.
However, there are proactive steps you can take to minimize your job’s impact on your health. Doing so benefits you and your employer. Research shows that how you feel affects overall productivity — as anyone who’s struggled through the workday with a cold or headache can attest.
What should you try? Here are five wellness tips for the workplace.
1. Get a Tomato Timer
What’s a tomato timer? It has nothing to do with your spaghetti sauce, although the original idea did feature a kitchen device. Instead, it refers to a tool used in the Pomodoro method, a science-based formula for keeping your energy levels and productivity high.
How can you modify the Pomodoro technique as a wellness tip for the workplace? Take the following steps:
- Set a timer: Each Pomodoro period is 25 minutes long.
- Take a break: After each Pomodoro period, take a 5-minute break. Here’s where workplace wellness applies — instead of scrolling social media or heading for the smoker’s bench, take a stroll around the office or practice a few stretches.
After three or four Pomodoro periods, take a longer rest period of 15 to 30 minutes. Fortunately, this technique lines up nicely with the model of 2 15’s and a 30 for lunch.
2. Pack a Lunch
Does your lunch consist of whatever fast food you can grab on the fly or a trip to the office vending machine? You probably know that this practice is disastrous for your health. Ultra-processed foods may give you a quick energy burst — followed by a debilitating crash. Furthermore, problematic ingredients like white sugar, flour and additives produce numerous adverse health effects, like weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.
Instead, get your meal prep game on point. When you fix your healthy freezer meals, spend a few minutes chopping fruits and veggies and putting them into individual containers with a bit of hummus so that you have convenient, nourishing snacks. Trade in your all-white sandwich bread for a whole-grain or sprouted version and stick to roasted meats or veggie fillings — the World Health Organization classifies processed meats like salami as carcinogens.
It’s okay to “cheat” a little if you do it with workplace wellness in mind. For example, swapping out single-serve bags of chips with an individually portioned pack of nuts gives you more nutrients with less salt. Nuts and seeds are great sources of minerals like magnesium and selenium, crucial for cognitive function — adopting a new noshing routine could help you beat the 3 p.m. doldrums.
3. Consider Your Seating Alternatives
You know that sitting all day isn’t good for you. Why not look into a standing desk? Many fans swear by these devices for easing back pain. You’ll also burn a few more calories over your day. Talk to HR to request one. However, if they decline, you can always create a makeshift version with boxes and books.
Another option is sitting on an inflatable exercise ball, at least part of the time. You’ll work your core muscles and burn a few calories, especially if you bounce and roll around a bit. Furthermore, you can lean back and stretch your lumbar vertebrae anytime — a plus if back pain plagues you.
If you choose a traditional chair, ensure it fits you. It should have sufficient lumbar support and let you sit with your knees bent at 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor.
4. Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
You might not exercise any control over how well your organization maintains your workplace HVAC system. However, you can take small steps to improve the air quality in your space:
- Keep tidy: Dust and particulates can irritate your mucus membranes. Keep wipes handy — the antibacterial kind reduces your chances of infection and decreases allergy symptoms.
- Add a plant or two: Plants are little air-purifying machines, cleansing toxins like formaldehyde and releasing oxygen.
- Try an air purifier: You can find desktop air purifying devices. While they receive mixed reviews, some people swear by them.
- Cut the aerosols: Please don’t rely on chemically-laden sprays to freshen your space. Instead, opt for an essential oil diffuser or beeswax candles. Some aromatherapy scents, like eucalyptus, may also boost immune function.
5. Advocate for Flexibility and Inclusivity
Perhaps the ultimate wellness tip for the workplace is to advocate for inclusive policies like flextime that empower you and your colleagues to take better charge of your health. For example, switching to a partial telecommuting schedule could easily free up two to three hours of workout time each week if you typically spend that time on the road.
Flextime also decreases stress and allows people to achieve a better work-life balance. Busy parents no longer have to fear late fees for picking up their children at daycare after the deadline. Chronically ill individuals who require frequent physician care can work their schedule around their appointments since specialists rarely offer evening or weekend hours.
Wellness Tips for the Workplace
Please don’t let your job take a toll on your health. These wellness tips for the workplace can help you thrive while on the clock.
Implement one or more of these wellness tips for the workplace into your life this week. You’ll notice the difference when you have more energy on Friday.
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