Staying healthy at the office has always been a minefield of breakroom donuts and long hours of questionable posture in a rolling chair. It may seem even more daunting as fully remote work winds down and you try to remember the best healthy lunch spots near the office and whether hitting the gym before or after work was better for your schedule.
Now is a great time to reset health goals and remember that taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing will help you be a better coworker in the long run. We’ve pulled together some common sense office health tips like staying hydrated as well as some whose impact you might not have realized were so important to staying healthy at the office.
Wash your hands
Let’s get this one out of the way. Minding your health at the office isn’t just about diet and exercise. We still have to be vigilant about how we overlap in shared spaces, and washing your hands and following health guidelines will help make our return to work safe and permanent.
Keep healthy snacks nearby
Fruit, vegetables, and dried nuts will fill you up and provide energy that lasts longer than the junk food in the vending machine. Your office may even be able to help the whole team improve their health at work by subscribing to a healthy snack service.
Bring your own lunch
Another great way to avoid reaching for unhealthy yet convenient snacks is to pack your lunch ahead of time. Planning your meals allows you to hit all the right food groups and emphasize healthy fats, proteins, and vegetables.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Providing a smarter way to hydrate is literally what we do at Bevi so it’s safe to say that this is our favorite tip. It should be yours, too, as proper hydration increases oxygen throughout the body, improves mental clarity, and combats fatigue. One study showed that all of these benefits contribute to an increase in productivity, and staying hydrated will also prevent overeating.
Meetings and calls on the go
Assuming you don’t get distracted by the sights and sounds near your office, fresh air and increased blood flow can only help your input at the next meeting. Try dialing in “remotely” while you take a couple of laps around the office park and you’ll hit your 10,000 steps in no time.
Take the stairs
Speaking of steps, for those of us who aren’t in the penthouse, taking the stairs is another great way to add some movement to your work day. Start with skipping the elevator on the way down (hopefully to a healthy lunch!), and work up to climbing the stairs on your way back to your workspace.
If you can’t get outside for an extended period of time, make sure to at least take a break from your screen and look out the window at some greenery. An NIH study found that “contact with real or simulated green settings…has positive effects on mood, self-esteem and self-reported feelings of stress and depression.” Who knew that our verdant Zoom backgrounds were actually helping our coworkers?!
Meditate with an app like Headspace
Setting intentions and honing your focus for just minutes per day can help you make better decisions. A Harvard Medical School study found that “meditation can change the…brain regions linked with memory, the sense of self, and regulation of emotions.” When stress levels rise, you’ll be better equipped to focus on the facts and get your job done with confidence and composure.
Find an outlet for negative reactions
We’re all human, though, and sometimes no amount of mindfulness can prepare you for a particularly aggravating sequence of events. Instead of losing your temper with a coworker or a client, try stashing something squishy (though not squeaky, lest the office dogs come running) at your desk to unleash your fury on. Here are 18 possibilities that will fit on your desk.
Everything’s better together. Whether you’re meal planning or taking a midday walk, find a partner who can motivate you when you feel like skipping one of the goals you’ve set to improve your health at work.
Try standing up as you read this. Do you feel better? Does your whole body, including your mind, feel more engaged? There are many health benefits to standing desks including improving energy levels and reducing back pain.
Check-in with coworkers
One of the best parts of returning to the office will be face time with coworkers. Checking in on a personal level outside of collaboration on work-related tasks will lead to deeper, more communicative relationships and make everyone feel better in the office.
You’re not always going to choose the right snack and there will be times when you need to take the elevator or prioritize a deadline over your midday meditation. And that’s OK. Be kind to yourself as you return to work and remember that staying healthy is a lifelong journey.