03 January 2017
Ring in the New Year with some ‘simple’ healthy workplace changes
The New Year is just around the corner but what resolutions will you be making?
While losing weight, doing more exercise, reducing alcohol consumption or sorting out finances regularly top our lists it will come as no surprise that nearly all tend to focus on improving our ‘personal’ lives. Yet most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else. Isn’t it time we had some New Year’s resolutions for workplace wellness?
A healthy workplace can improve the health and wellbeing of employees while enhancing organisational performance and productivity. There are many ways you can make improvements but the secret to lasting change is to keep it simple. Many people break promises within weeks, normally blaming a lack of will power so it’s wise to break things down into smaller, more achievable, chunks or goals. Ones that can be reached give you more of a sense of achievement; recognition that progress is being made.
These are some healthier habits that we could all do:
Get a good start to the day
Many people skip breakfast at the start of the day, and then spend the morning snacking on unhealthy foods or drinking sugary drinks to tide themselves over until lunchtime. A quick, healthy breakfast (maybe just some wholegrain toast and fruit juice) can get you off to the right start and keep you going until lunch, while kick starting your metabolism so your body does a better job of digesting what you eat for the rest of the day.
Take a break
Studies show that taking regular breaks actually increases productivity by 6-11% throughout the day. Taking a few seconds break every hour is said to reduce fatigue by 50%.
Many of us have fallen into bad habits, such as eating our lunch at our desks or simply not taking any break at all. Make time to step away for an extended break at least two times a day, in addition to taking lunch outside the office.
People who choose to skip their lunch break tend to be less focused, less productive and grumpier in the afternoon. They also tend to be less satisfied with their jobs, leading to a strain on their mental wellbeing.
Being connected 24/7/365 days a year doesn’t help – unplug, get some downtime and recover. If you ignore an email, nothing terrible will happen. The sun is still going to come up tomorrow morning!
Keep moving and exercise. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a growing problem for businesses so anything that improves suppleness and flexibility helps. If you’re deskbound physiotherapists will talk about ‘active-sitting’ which simply means being active at the desk. The knees and back are the main areas of concern so make sure they move or have a break for a workout.
Stretching is also beneficial as it promotes circulation and reduces muscle tension. However, people that already have a pre-existing condition should consult a doctor before adding workplace exercise to the daily routine.
People also need to be reminded that everyone benefits from being up and active, so encourage employees to move around their environment (within reason).
Losing weight is one of those perennial resolutions so it must be hard to do - get active!
Most offices, or car parks that people might use for work, have lifts, and we all get into the habit of using the lift every time. Why not make it one of your resolutions to always take the stairs if they’re available? It’s easy to stick to, and over the course of a working week it can make an important contribution to your overall activity levels.
Cut the stress out
A little pressure now and again won’t kill us, but long-term stress can be a killer? Short bouts of stress give an energy boost; the chronic type is damaging, increasing the risk of insomnia, depression, obesity and heart disease.
Exercise and regular activity also happen to be one of the best tonics for overstressed-workers. Make sure everyone gets involved. Different exercises appeal to different people so as an employer offer a variety of sports that appeal to everyone i.e. gym session, football, yoga, zumba, etc.
Stress is an inevitable part of life but relaxation, sleep, socialising and going on holiday are all things we deserve but don’t always allow ourselves to have.
Get more sleep (but not when you’re supposed to be working!)
A good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood as well as your appearance. Sleep is incredibly beneficial. A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Take a nap—and don’t feel guilty about it.
Here’s to a healthier and happier New Year!