Welcome to Part 2 of Wellness in the Workplace In this article we will identify easy ‘hacks’ for improving your workspace, your posture, and breaking poor habits so you can move forward into a less painful and more enjoyable working and personal life.
Fresh air and natural light
No one likes being stuck in a workspace with stale, recycled airconditioned air and artificial light. Heating and cooling of the air leads to dry eyes, dry skin and often contributes to aggravating allergies, breathing issues and symptoms of asthma.
Although it is often an unavoidable issue in large office spaces and buildings, if you work from home or are in an office where you have access to natural light and fresh air, try to make it so that at least for a certain amount of time each day the artificial air and light are shut off in favour of the more natural alternatives. Fresh air and natural light can help boost mood and productivity. Perhaps, if there are no accessible options within the office space, you can take your laptop outside for a couple of hours each day to get that burst of sunlight and fresh air.
Place some indoor plants in the office to improve mood, mental stamina and help to alleviate stress. Plants will also help ‘clean’ the air in the office and promote an overall feeling of wellbeing – just don’t forget to water them!!
Use a stand-up desk
For anyone with back problems a stand-up desk is a lifesaver. If you struggle to sit for long periods of time, switching from sitting to standing intermittently throughout the day can make all the difference. Even if you are in perfect physical health without any back problems sitting all day is not ideal and can lead to back pain and stiffness after a period of time. If a stand-up desk is not an option for you then look at setting a timer on your phone to remind you to get up from your desk every hour. Take a walk to the rest room or the kitchen and grab a glass of water or a cup of tea. Just get up and move. It will make all the difference to your productivity and fatigue levels.
Consider herbal tea and fresh fruit
Herbal teas can be a great alternative to water and often a more attractive option, especially in the winter when we instinctively want to grab a warm beverage. Having a variety of herbal teas on offer will keep you hydrated and stop you reaching for yet another cup of coffee, and the added bonus is that herbal teas have many health benefits.
Fresh fruit is also another great option for a go to snack that does not contain a high level of empty calories, is filling and full of fibre, and looks bright and fresh and inviting. An apple in the afternoon will stop that afternoon tiredness or ‘slump’ by boosting energy levels and mental alertness more than a cup of coffee and won’t keep you awake at night. If you prefer to snack, then instead of whole fruit, take some cut up pieces of fruit and have that on your desk for a quick snack and pick me up.
Utilise your lunchbreak
Have you considered splitting your lunchbreak into half? Half of your allocated time can be dedicated to eating and nourishing your body, and the other half of your time can be used to take a walk around the block, get moving, get some fresh air and sunlight. On days that the weather is too hot or raining, then consider some simple stretches to loosen the neck and shoulders, hamstrings and lower back and wrists and ankles. Your aim is to increase circulation and fill the body with endorphins and the lungs with fresh air.
One of the easiest ways to improve your posture is to hold your stomach in. The more you engage your abdominal muscles, the stronger they become and the because of the nature and size of those muscles they have quick muscle memory, so after doing this as often as possible in the beginning, they start to remember for themselves, so you have to remember to engage them less often.
Another bonus to engaging your abdominals while you sit, stand and walk is that you are also increasing your core strength which helps to maintain a strong back and limits any back issues you may have in the future.
Try this little exercise for yourself – sit comfortably in a relaxed position without engaging your core. Now sit up straight with good posture and engage your core muscles. Try to slouch. Its uncomfortable and virtually impossible to do. This will be a lifesaver for the longevity of your back health and your overall posture.
If you take on these simple hacks you will find that your working life is much better, healthier and happier and you will be more productive, less tired and have less aches and pains at the end of each day.
Samantha Ashley – Green Valley Bowen Therapy