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Illness is inconvenient when you have a job. It doesn’t matter if it’s short or minor in nature. It means days off work, lost productivity at work, and loads of additional stress. According to the Office of National Statistics, the most common reason for missed workdays is a minor illness, accounting for 24.8% of all missed days. Musculoskeletal problems account for 22.4% while mental issues such as stress and depression make up 11.5% of missed days.
Staying healthy at work is the key to increased productivity, reduced sick leave, not to mention an overall healthier you. It’s easier said than done, however. In this post, I share my 10 favorite ways to avoid being sidelined at work. Let’s get started.
1) Stay happy, stay healthy
According to Psychcentral, there is evidence that indicates a link between mood and the immune system. The reason for the link is unclear. However, what is clear is that the brain affects the production of stress hormones, which have an effect on a person’s energy levels.
In short, if you are happy, your immune system will be better and it’ll be easier for you to fight common illnesses like flu and stomach problems.
So, in order to stay healthy in the workplace, find ways to manage your stress and stay optimistic. You can do this by finding ways to stay organized, taking regular breaks and having a bit of downtime with your friends and family at the end of the day. The latter will give you something to look forward to and help you to rejuvenate for the next day!
2) Exercise regularly
It’s common knowledge that healthy people exercise. The American Heart Association suggests that this is because regular physical exercise helps to:
- Lower a person’s blood pressure
- Decrease the cholesterol in their blood
- Improve their blood sugar
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Maintain a healthy body weight
All of these things have short and long-term effects on a person’s health.
The problem is that when you’re busy, it’s easy to postpone your exercise regime. So, it’s important to find ways to stop yourself from going without exercise for days on end. The solution is pretty simple – make an exercise corner in your office and make use of it at small intervals throughout the day. Make it manageable and a part of your routine.
3) Find a balance
As mentioned before, health is often linked to stress, and managing stress is hard. It’s hard to say no when you’re at work, with a million things piling up around you. But remember that maintaining a balance is important. Here are some tips to keep that balance:
- Don’t overload yourself. Put in the extra time when you have to and take a step back when you can. It’ll definitely help you to maintain your health while at work.
- If you’re a working mom, find ways to offload some of your responsibility. It’ll stop you from constantly having to split your mind between your kids and your boss while at work.
- Don’t stress if you aren’t giving your 110%. You won’t be able to do your absolute best every time. Stay consistent, people will find it easier to dismiss your mistakes when you’re having an off day.
4) Eat well
Ever hear that saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? If you eat well while you’re at work, it’ll be easier for you to stay healthy. Give your body the nutrients it needs, it’ll thank you later.
Here are some tips that’ll help you to eat healthy while at work:
- Prepare your meals at home in batches for work one week in advance, and freeze them. It’ll stop you from cutting corners if you’re in a rush.
- Limit junk food. One chocolate bar is OK but balance it out with some fruit.
- Go for foods that are packed full of energy and easy to eat like nuts, dates and chicken salad.
- Try to eat things that will release energy throughout the day, like chickpeas.
Remember that it’s important to know your foods and their health benefits before you choose what you want to eat. Take a bit of time out and make a meal plan. You won’t regret it!
5) Don’t forget that water
Drinking water regularly at work is essential to maintaining your health. This is because each and every one of the cells, tissues, and organs in your body require water to function. Water helps:
- Removes waste and toxins from your body
- Regulate your temperature
- Lubricate your joints
- Strengthen your immune system by reducing dehydration
Keep a water bottle on your desk and sip from it throughout the day. Make sure to refill it a few times to ensure that you are meeting your daily water requirements.
6) Optimize your workspace for ergonomics
Ergonomics is a key component to staying healthy in the office. An ergonomic office space reduces the strain on your musculoskeletal system and aches and pains that you feel on a daily basis.
Make extensive use of ergonomic furniture that is designed for better comfort and health. This includes an ergonomic office chair with good neck and lumbar support, height-adjustable desks that let you stand periodically, plus a keyboard and mouse that contours to your fingers properly.
7) Watch your screen time
The problem with office work is that it involves a lot of time spent on the phone or on the computer. You need to send emails, answer calls, research, write…the list goes on.
Technology is great for your productivity, but it definitely has adverse effects on your health, with eye strain being a key issue. According to a report by the Vision’s Council, 65% of Americans experience symptoms like fatigue and headaches that are associated with eye strain.
It’s hard because you can’t avoid the computer, but there are ways to minimize the negative effects on your eyes. A very helpful routine to practice daily is called the 20-20-20 rule. Developed by doctors, it basically stipulates to relax your eyes every 20 minutes, by looking 20 ft into the distance for 20 seconds each time. You can use a timer to easily remind you to do this exercise while at work.
8) Brighten the place up
Believe it or not, working in a well-lit office has its benefits. It will:
- Brighten up your day, literally and figuratively
- Reduce your eye strain
- Increase how alert you are at work
The best type of lighting are LED lights that mimic natural light, with adjustable intensity.
Artificial light isn’t always the answer though. Try to position your desk near a window so that you can make use of the sun.
9) Make your own little corner of the world
Having an office where you go and work is one thing. Having a place that you can call your own is a whole other ball game. Personalizing your office is important because it’ll give you a sense of independence and belonging, which will make you happy to go to work.
Try to incorporate design techniques that increase the health benefits of personalization.
- Plants will increase the levels of fresh air in your office.
- Green walls have proven to increase your creativity.
- A picture of your family will remind you why you do what you do.
- A small bowl of fruit will help you to keep your energy levels up.
10) Rest and rejuvenate
Sleeping isn’t something you can do at the office, but a good sleep the night before will impact your entire next day. Getting a good night’s sleep will help to:
- Increase your productivity
- Speed up your problem-solving abilities
- Keep your mood up
- Allow your body to deal with health issues more effectively
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure a better night’s sleep is to turn off all of your electronic devices 1 hour before bed. Numerous studies have confirmed the negative effects of blue light – the spectrum of light your monitor, cell phones, and other devices with a screen emit – on the quality of your sleep, especially if exposed to just before bedtime.
Maintaining your health isn’t hard. You just need to sit down and think, are you making the best decisions? Or are you going to allow things to continue to slip?
Author bio: Jon Muller is a mechanical engineer turned ergonomics enthusiast and blogger. He is the founder of Ergonomic Trends where he writes about ergonomics, office productivity, and the most cutting-edge ergonomic products. During his spare time, he loves walking his dog and hiking with his friends and family.