Eleven Healthy Work Place Habits That Will Improve Your Health
Most of us spend more time at work during the week than we do at home so developing healthy workday habits is critical to our overall well-being and productivity. Try practicing these 11 tips daily for increased energy and efficiency, improved work-life balance, and better health.
1. Take active breaks – Studies have shown that employees that take short physical activity breaks throughout the day are more productive, show less fatigue, and are happier at work. Taking a 10 to 15 minute walking break twice a day will keep your metabolism revved and energy level at its peak.
2. Pack a healthy brown-bag lunch – Eating a nutritious, satisfying lunch is the key to maintaining positive energy and productivity throughout the afternoon. A lunch that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will curb your hunger and keep food cravings in check. Foods that are heavily processed, and high in sugar and sodium can cause your blood sugar to spike which may perk you up short-term, but will set you up for a big letdown later in the day.
3. Eat protein – Compared to carbs and fat, protein keeps you feeling fuller longer, helping to carry you straight through the afternoon to dinner. Some excellent sources of low-calorie proteins are a can of tuna, a lean chicken breast, boiled eggs and legumes. All of these foods will help fill you up and keep you from being hungry later in the day.
4. Bring low-calorie snacks to share with your co-workers – It’s natural to want to bring some of your favorite desserts and treats in to share with your co-workers. Always keep in mind that some employees may be trying to lose or maintain weight or have health issues that prohibit them from eating certain foods. Honey crisp apples, Clementine’s, almonds, low-fat trail mix, fresh veggies with hummus, and other healthy snacks will be just as appreciated and will allow all employees to benefit from your generosity without having to ditch their diet or do without.
5. Drink 8 glasses of water a day – One of the underlying causes of persistent fatigue is dehydration. Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already partially dehydrated? Staying hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of water a day will keep your energy level in tact throughout the day.
6. Sit for 60, move for 3 – We all know that too much sitting is bad for our health. The best way to combat the ill effects of sitting behind a desk is it to move around more. For every 60 minutes that you sit, make it a habit to move for three minutes. Stretches that you do at your desk, three minutes of strengthening exercises with an elastic band, tube or dumbbell, or walking in place are all good ways to get 3 minutes of activity in every hour.
7. Breathe deeply to reduce stress – The pressure is on. The project you’re working on is due, the copy machine is down for the count, your computer is slow, and the kids are calling to tell you the dog threw up on the new carpet. The natural tendency is to go into overdrive and try and handle as many tasks as possible at one time. But, if you feel like you’re headed for a meltdown, taking four or five slow, deep breaths can decrease your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and help you regain your composure so that you can handle the stress.
Relaxation Breathing Technique: Count to five slowly as you inhale through your nose. Again, count to five, as you exhale slowly through the mouth. By the third cycle you will begin to feel calmer and more in control.
8. Purge negative thoughts – On average we have somewhere between 50 and 80 thousand thoughts each day. Most of these thoughts are negative, repetitive, and serve no real purpose but have a big impact on our quality of life. Practicing thought-stopping techniques or learning to distance yourself from your thoughts are two methods that have been found to be helpful in changing repetitive thought patterns. The Positivity Blog provides some good tips for controlling and calming the mind.
9. Practice Good Posture – Sitting and standing up straight not only make you look better, it makes you feel better. Good posture improves circulation and digestion, expands our lung capacity making breathing easier, makes us look slimmer and younger, keeps our bones and joints in correct alignment, and enhances our frame of mind. To achieve good posture, practice keeping your shoulders back, abdomen pulled in, and head lifted so that the chin is parallel to the ground until it becomes a habit.
10. Be supportive of your co-workers – Having a good support system both in and out of the workplace is important to your health. Research shows that when people feel isolated they are more susceptible to depression, and illness. On the other hand, having friends and a good social network can strengthen your immune system and increase longevity. Seek out co-workers to take walking breaks with or invite them join you for lunch or a cup of coffee.
11. Leave work at work – Making the switch between work life and home life isn’t always easy. Turning off the events and stressors of the day to focus on the other parts of your life is vital to your happiness. When you come home from work, have a ritual that signals the end of the work day. Light a candle. Hang a sign that greets you when you arrive home that says, “Please leave your troubles at the door.” Turn off the cell phone and laptop by 8 p.m. These are just a few things you can do that will draw boundaries to balance life at work and at home.
What’s Your Action Plan?
Setting specific goals will make it easier for you to practice these tips each week. Pick out two or three that you think will have the most positive impact on your work day and begin incorporating those daily. As they become a natural part of your day, continue to add in the others. Over time, you will find that you feel healthier and happier throughout the day!
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