Easy Tips for Workplace Wellness
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adults in the US with full-time jobs spend approximately 47 hours per week at their jobs. With so many of our waking hours spent at the workplace, time devoted to wellness and fitness can be hard to fit in. Incorporating workplace wellness strategies into your time spent at the office can help to reduce your stress, raise your productivity, and ensure that your personal wellness goals can be met – regardless of how much time you spend at work. So, what can you do to promote office wellness? Find a few tips below.
Install a water cooler or purchase a water pitcher for your office.
The benefits of drinking water and staying hydrated are innumerable. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommend at least 2.7 liters per day for women and 3.7 liters per day for men. Staying hydrated boosts energy and concentration, promotes weight loss, and contributes to a healthy immune system. Several studies have shown drinking water prevents and treats headaches. Keeping a reusable cup or water bottle at your desk each day is a good reminder to keep drinking. If you prefer flavored beverages or sodas, make a point to get a cup of water every time you get a cup of your preferred beverage. This will start you toward a new healthy habit!
Ensure that healthy options are available for catered meals and as office snacks.
Most office environments have a snack basket or cabinet. Ensure that your snack area is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, or other healthy options. When that 3:00 PM sugar craving hits, you can have a healthy piece of fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth rather than a cookie or piece of candy. The same idea goes for catered meals or workplace cafeterias. Ensure that there are some fresh, healthy options for meals you are ordering, or work with your cafeteria contractor to create a healthy menu. These options don’t just have to be salads! Think outside the box – instead of white rice, order brown rice or a different grain such as quinoa. Rather than serving cream-based soups opt for broth-based soups and double check the salt content. Vegetable pastas, such as zoodles, are a delicious and healthy alternative to regular pasta. To make dessert healthier, shrink the portion size. Look for “mini” sized brownies or cookies, rather than full-sized. Opt for phyllo pastry over puff pastry (it is made with much less butter). Changing up a few options can have great health benefits for you and your co-workers.
Stand up every hour.
Though studies suggesting that “sitting is the new smoking" are somewhat overblown, there is evidence that prolonged sitting has negative effects on our physical and mental health. Get up and stretch or walk every hour for 5
minutes to combat the fatigue that can come with sitting and looking at a screen all day. Need a reminder? Set up a calendar alert or use the “stand reminder” feature found on many fitness trackers and smart watches. Combine this tip with the first one – get up every hour to refill your water bottle and you will start feeling more alert and more productive as your healthy habits take hold.
Find time during lunch or a break for meditation.
Another stress-relieving technique is setting aside 15 minutes for a quick meditation exercise or incorporating breathing exercises into your everyday work. There are many options to find a meditation exercise that works for you. Check out the app store for ideas or look up workplace meditation on YouTube. If you prefer an unplugged meditation, a simple exercise is to develop a series of affirmations and combine them with deep breathing. If you are in a stressful situation and can’t take time away from your desk for a meditation, practice mindful breathing by closing your eyes, placing your hands on your stomach, and breathing in and out 5 times, increasing the length of time you are inhaling and exhaling with each breath. Slowing your heart rate and reducing the amount of cortisol in your system will help you feel more centered and ready to take on any challenge.
Don’t forget about mental health.
Many of these tips and workplace wellness in general focus on physical wellbeing. While physical wellbeing can promote mental wellbeing, make sure that your workplace wellness plans include a focus on mental health too. Take a look at your sick leave policy and see whether mental health days are allowed. Ensure that your company health insurance provides coverage for counseling or therapy. Mental health is not always visible on the surface the way that physical health is, so create an atmosphere of support and encouragement to de-stigmatize mental health.
Elizabeth Maynard is an Executive Director at McKenna Management, Inc. Her professional interests include: government relations and grassroots member advocacy, membership recruitment and retention, meeting planning, and website builds.