Health at work: Health tips and office wellness
How do you stay healthy as an office worker? Nowadays, It is a well-known fact that the office environment can affect your health in numerous detrimental ways.
Stationary workers have a higher risk of developing certain diseases due to the lack of movement for prolonged periods of time. Working in an office can have adverse effects on mental health as well.
Naturally, workers who are physically and mentally healthy are more likely to be happier and more productive at work. Therefore, companies and organizations should promote healthy living and wellness.
Here we will talk about the health risks associated with desk jobs and some useful health and wellness tips for the workplace.
Table of Contents
Desk job health risks
Office workers have a higher risk of developing certain diseases and chronic conditions due to the nature of their work. If you are a sedentary worker, then here is what you should be wary of.
#1. Physical inactivity health risks. Office workers stay seated for prolonged periods of time. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, regular physical inactivity can lead to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, certain cancers, depression, and anxiety.
#2. Weight gain and obesity. The lack of movement combined with an unhealthy diet and excess of calories from food and drinks can lead to visceral fat gain. This increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
#3. Chronic back pain. Sitting still on a chair that poorly supports the back can lead to chronic lower back pain. The pain can increase in severity if the person is suffering from obesity.
#4. Neck strain. Immobilization and stillness can stiffen the muscles and tendons of the neck. This can lead to chronic pain in the neck and the upper back.
#5. Eye strain. Looking at a screen for prolonged periods of time can strain the eyes. With time, the sight of some individuals might be weakened.
#6. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Any repetitive motion done regularly can wear down the body. This applies to people who type on keyboards as well. With time, office workers might experience chronic pain and stiffness in the fingers and hands.
#7. Viral infection. Coming to work in a crowded office during flu season can spread the infection among workers. Coughing, sneezing, and contaminating high-touch areas can lead to infection.
#8. Depression and anxiety. Work-related stress and occupational burnout can lead to depression and anxiety in office workers.
#9. Irregular sleep. Physical inactivity and overconsumption of caffeine can lead to sleep problems. Lack of quality night sleep can lead to other health problems.
#10. Over-illumination. Working under too much light is linked to some negative health effects. Office workers can experience fatigue, tiredness, headaches, stress, and anxiety.
How to create a healthy office environment
Health and wellness at work are crucial because people are more creative and productive when they are healthy and happy. Every organization should take active efforts to ensure the well-being of its employees through wellness tips for the workplace.
#1. Promote office wellness and health at work. Establish a wellness culture by creating communication channels that are focused on healthy eating, exercising, quality sleep, and active lifestyle. Address the office-related health issues and promote advice to combat them.
#2. Balance work and life. Hard work has to be recognized. If your company offers paid annual
leave as benefits to employees, then keep track of how people are using it and encourage them to take some time off work to minimize occupational burnout.
#3. Ensure comfort in the office. People do their best work when they feel comfortable. Do your best to provide good working conditions such as proper ventilation, proper lighting, comfortable chairs that support the back, and plenty of space between desks. Of course, any other amenities and comforts you can offer are welcome.
#4. Keep the office clean and organized. This might be basic but it is incredibly important. People are more creative and productive at work when their surroundings are orderly and clean. Make sure the floor is cleaned daily and the surfaces are dusted regularly. Provide paper towels and spray cleaners so people can clean up their desks regularly.
#5. Add plants and inspiration. A few plants here and there will do so much for the office environment. They can make us feel more relaxed and even clean up the air a little bit. Also, some cool furniture, shelves with inspirational books, and some art can contribute to a creative, inspirational work environment.
#6. Work under natural light. If your office is spacious and has plenty of windows, work under natural light during the day. Turn on the lights only on gloomy days and when it starts to get dark.
#7. Connect with your coworkers. While this may not seem like the typical office wellness tips, it is important to connect with the people you work with. Hold regular meetings and talk about your work. Discuss your problems, pain points, and think of creative solutions. Bond with the people you work with and try to be more than colleagues to make the days at the office more pleasant and be there for each other.
How to stay healthy at work in the office
Here we at Office Topics have outlined some office health tips. Keep in mind that these are some general office health tips that are based on good practices. However, if you are experiencing symptoms, you should consult with your doctor.
#1. Protect your eyes. Is the majority of your workday spent in front of a screen? Install software that negates the blue light coming from the screen. This will significantly reduce the strain on your eyes.
#2. Aim to work under natural light. Too much artificial light during the day can cause a phenomenon known as over-illumination which has numerous negative health consequences.
#3. Take a small break every hour if possible. Take a short walk outside or maybe just stand up and stare through a window for a couple of minutes. The idea is to let your eyes rest a little bit and take a break from a prolonged seated position.
#4. Mind your posture if you work seated. Don’t slouch, don’t hunch. Keep your back straight and make sure you get up at least once every hour or so.
#5. Consider the option of using a standing desk. Sure, it might seem a little weird at first but most people get used to it pretty quickly. Being able to sit up and down whenever you wish is actually quite refreshing.
#6. Stiff shoulders? If you experience pain in your shoulders from too much slouching, then you can introduce resistance bands to your training routine. Do a band pull apart exercise and band face pulls regularly for healthy shoulders.
#7. Get a massage from time to time. It’s pleasant, it is relaxing, it relieves back pain, there are all kinds of benefits. Even one of those automatic massage chairs can do the job.
#8. How to have better posture at work? Is your old office chair ruining your back? Request for a more ergonomic one. Make sure that it supports your lower back.
#9. Stay at home if feeling sick. Social distancing and isolation are crucial in this day and age. Even if you feel the slightest of symptoms, stay at home to protect the people you work with.
#10. Keep your desk clean and organized. Remember to clean your desk from time to time. This includes the computer keyboard and mouse as well.
#11. Exercise regularly. Jogging, weightlifting, riding a bike, Zumba classes. Whatever makes you happy. Just make sure that you move a lot throughout the week and you stay active. This will add years to your life, and you will look and feel better.
#12. Don’t abuse painkillers. Unless you have some medical condition that requires strong pain relief, don’t be tempted to pop an Aspirin or something stronger. Use those only when you have a strong headache or if you are hurting somewhere else.
#13. Don’t listen to loud music while you work. If you need to listen to music in order to concentrate while working, don’t blast the volume too much as this might damage your hearing over time.
#14. Open the windows from time to time. Letting some fresh air will energize you and boost you
#15. Deal with stress. Stress is a silent killer, find ways to tackle whatever is bothering you. Seek professional help if necessary.
#16. Are you a smoker? You know that it is a nasty habit that will eventually catch up with you. It is never too early to quit it.
#17. Keep plants around the office. They contribute to a more tranquil environment which has a calming effect.
#18. Keep your desk and general working area clean and orderly. On one hand, this will reduce the amount of dust that accumulates. On the other, it will take away some of the daily stress you experience.
#19. Limit the use of air fresheners in the office. First of all, at least half the staff probably finds them annoying, and second, they might contain irritating chemicals.
Sleep tips for office workers
#1. Establish a sound sleep schedule. Go to sleep and wake up every day at the same time for at least two weeks. Keep in mind you need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to feel wakeful and focused at work.
#2. Find ways to relax before you go to bed. Something that will take your mind away from the daily struggles. Be it reading a book or soaking in the tub for a while, turn it into your bedtime ritual.
#3. Stay away from screens when bedtime approaches. The blue light coming from your phone or computer is actually messing with your hormones and this is keeping you wakeful.
#4. Air out your bedroom for at least 10 minutes before you go to bed. The cool night air will help you relax and you will easily fall asleep. In fact, sleeping in a slightly cooler room actually leads to improved sleep.
#5. Your bedroom should be as dark as possible. The thing is, even the slightest source of light can interfere with your sleep because your eyes and even your skin can sense it.
#6. Dust your bedroom regularly. Accumulated household dust is irritating and it can definitely mess up your breathing while you are trying to fall asleep. So dust the surfaces during the day and vacuum clean the floor to remove any fallen dust.
#7. Avoid napping in the afternoon. If you have troubles falling asleep at night, then you shouldn't compromise your established sleeping schedule with power naps.
#8. Move during the day. Being stationary at the office for prolonged periods of time can mess up your sleep as well because your body is simply not tired enough from just sitting all day long. That is why you need to find a way to move around more. Exercising regularly would be even better.
#9. Less caffeine during the day. Having trouble falling asleep at night? How much caffeine did you have during the day? Some people are a little bit more sensitive to it and the effects can prevent you from falling asleep even if you are very tired.
#10. Get out of bed if you wake up before your morning alarm. Being woken up by an alarm every day is stressing you out.
Diet and healthy eating tips for office workers
#1. Have a hearty breakfast in the morning. Spare a few minutes in the morning to prepare yourself a healthy and nutritious breakfast. Perhaps a bowl of oatmeal and some fresh fruits?
#2. Bring a homemade lunch. If your only option for lunch at work is junk food, then maybe it’s time you start bringing your own lunch from home.
#3. Avoid mindlessly snacking on junk food at your desk. Instead, have designated times for proper healthy meals.
#4. Don’t reheat your food in plastic containers. Certain chemical compounds might transfer from the plastic to the food and ingestion of such can have negative health consequences.
#5. Don’t overeat during your lunch break. Do you get terrible power crashes after a big lunch and then you want to take a two-hour nap? Opt for meals that are high in protein and fiber but low in carbohydrates to eliminate this issue. This will keep you wakeful and satiated.
#6. Don’t consume foods that contain hydrogenated oil. Typically, these include packaged foods such as cookies, crackers, candy bars, and chocolates. Hydrogenated oil is quite unhealthy and it has been linked to several chronic diseases.
#7. There are plenty of healthy snack options. If you need a quick snack to blunt your hunger, then there are plenty of healthy options that you can rely on: raw and roasted nuts, dried and whole fruits, raw bars, and smoothies.
#8. Wash your hands before you eat. Everybody knows that a computer keyboard is among the dirtiest things in the world.
#9. Consume more fiber. Food rich in fiber such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and oats is a great source of fiber and other nutrients that will keep you healthy.
#10. Keep track of your micronutrient intake. Nutritional deficiencies are very common nowadays, even with the abundance of food available. If you are feeling down, like you have no energy, then consider visiting your doctor.
#11. Supplementation with vitamin D is a good idea if sunlight is scarce where you live. Vitamin D is produced by your skin when you are exposed to direct sunlight. If this is not an option, then either supplement it or consume fortified foods that contain it.
#12. Vitamin B12 is another very common nutritional deficiency related to low energy and lethargic moods. Such a deficiency can be diagnosed through a simple blood test. The treatment is usually supplementation.
#13. Be aware of your daily caloric needs. They pretty much depend on how active you are during the day. To get some perspective, find a total daily energy expenditure calculator online and find out how many calories you should be consuming from food.
#14. Trying to lose weight? Remember that is all about being in a calorie deficit. There is no need to go on a crazy juice cleanse. Find a sustainable way of eating that will allow you to stay in a calorie deficit for at least 2 months.
#15. Trying to gain weight? Again, it’s all about calorie intake. However, what you are probably really after is gaining more muscle mass and as minimal fat gain as possible. Find a workout routine and a nutritional plan that best fits your needs.
#16. Do you put sugar in your morning coffee? Come on, you know refined sugar is not good for you. Use stevia instead or just drink it black.
#17. Avoid carbonated beverages. Speaking of sugar, do you drink lots of soda and other carbonated drinks? They contain lots of sugar and are quite bad for stationary workers.
#18. You find yourself preparing a cup of coffee every hour or so? Consider cutting down your caffeine intake a little bit. Especially if it prevents you from falling asleep at night. In the afternoon, have some tea or hot cocoa instead.
#19. Hydration is important. Remember to drink water during your workday. Of course, you can opt for other healthy options such as tea, hot cocoa, or watered-down black coffee.
#20. Don't abuse the power of energy drinks. Use them strategically when necessary but don't turn such products into a daily habit.