In an ideal world, an office job seems like it would be easy on your body and brain. However, the truth is a bit more sinister, with office workers suffering from aches, pains and health issues resulting from their job or surroundings.
More than a million workers miss work every day in the United States because of stress. There are also millions of work-related injuries each year and 55,000 deaths — though not all of these are due to office work, but include industrial work as well. Those are the most dramatic scenarios.
The real health risks are those daily things that build up over time and make you less healthy. You can easily combat these and make your workday at the office as healthy as possible.
Take Time to Destress
Stress is the top workplace health risk. Difficult co-workers, demanding bosses and deadlines all contribute to stress in the workplace. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce your stress levels.
- Communicate your needs to your team and superiors. Ask for a quick meeting or send a memo outlining what you need to do your job better.
- Take a short walk on your break. Get out of the office and get a little exercise to clear your mind and work your heart muscle.
- Relax with an after-work yoga class or get the occasional massage.
Make sure you use your paid time off and get away from the demands of work for an occasional vacation.
Separate Work and Free Time
Employees feel the demands of work these days. Not only are they working more hours, but in particularly demanding fields, it is hard to step away from mobile connectivity even when not in the office.
- Set some specific times when you are not available and can just focus on you or your family. Do not answer your phone or emails during this time. Turn it off if you have to.
- Make a rule that you have to leave the office at a reasonable hour at least a few days a week.
- Don’t make yourself available during vacations. You need the time away to restore your reserves.
Is it possible you’ll get passed over for that promotion this time because you focused on your needs? Of course it’s possible, but a good employer will want you to remain healthy and will understand your need to develop a healthier work/life balance.
Avoid Back and Neck Problems
If you sit at a desk all day, and 70 percent of Americans do, you risk developing back and neck problems due to improper posture. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ensure better posture and avoid pain.
- Be aware of your spinal alignment. Don’t slouch when sitting or standing. Make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders back.
- Ask for an ergonomic chair that supports your back appropriately.
- Invest in an adjustable desk. This allows you to sit or stand throughout the day and avoid sitting in the same position all the time.
Take time to move around throughout the day and try not to stay in the same position for hours on end.
Eat Healthier at Work
When you’re busy, it’s tempting to just grab a candy bar out of the vending machine. So preparation is the key to eating healthier.
- Keep healthy snacks in your desk, such as some nuts or protein bars.
- Pack your own lunch to avoid the temptation of popping down to the food truck every day.
- Keep water nearby and stay hydrated, rather than sipping on sodas all day.
Many people do food prep over the weekend, so they have breakfast, lunch and snacks to just grab and take on workdays.
Be More Aware of Your Health
Take time to be aware of your overall health and well-being while at work. Small things such as taking the stairs or forming a lunch walking group go a long way toward an overall healthier lifestyle. There is no reason working in an office shouldn’t be just as healthy for you as being at home. Take care of you, and you’ll be more productive and well-rounded overall.