Many of us spend 40 hours or more at the office each week, and while we may not realize it, certain behaviors we engage in could impact our health both immediately and over time. Of course, the healthier you are, the less likely you'll be to need to call out sick and fall behind on deadlines, so it pays to be mindful of ways you can practice personal wellness at work. Here's how to start.
1. Go easy on the free coffee
Access to an unlimited coffee supply is a common perk for folks who work in an office. But too much caffeine can negatively impact your health, and an abundance of cream and sugar can lead to weight gain. A better bet? Limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee per day, and stick with water the rest of the time. Additionally, invest in a reusable, large-sized water bottle and fill it up twice a day so you know you're staying hydrated.
2. Avoid the snack pantry
Many companies offer workers free snacks both as a means of being nice and a means of keeping employees in the building (as opposed to running out every time you get a craving). But too much munching could lead to weight gain and even dental issues, depending on what you're eating. If you feel the need to snack frequently during the day and your employer doesn't provide much in the way of nutritious treats, pack your own pre-cut vegetables and fruit, or invest in a jar of protein-packed trail mix. At the same time, don't hesitate to speak up if you feel your employer's snack selection leaves much to be desired. You never know when the person in charge might agree to offer a more wholesome variety.
3. Stretch your legs
It's no secret that leading a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health, but sitting too long can also result in circulation problems, blood clots (in extreme cases), and back problems related to poor posture. If your job requires you to spend lots of time at a computer, ask your employer for a standing desk -- ideally, one that adjusts so that you're not on your feet the entire day. At the same time, make a point of taking breaks to walk around the office or do a little stretching. Moving around for a couple of minutes each hour could make a world of a difference.
4. Keep your workstation clean
A cluttered workspace won't just make it hard to stay organized. The more piles you have, the more dust you're apt to accumulate, which could trigger allergies and other respiratory issues. If your desk is buried at present, carve out a chunk of time to clean it out. Then, implement a filing system so that papers don't just remain stacked next to your laptop for weeks on end.
5. Wash your hands frequently
School-aged children are often encouraged to wash their hands frequently to avoid germs. Well, the same holds true for adults in shared workspaces. That conference room you attend meetings in? You never know when someone with a cold sat there before you did. And while you can't avoid human contact in a traditional office setting, you can lower your odds of getting sick by washing your hands often, especially after you've been in a communal space.
6. Take mental breaks
It's not just your physical health you need to safeguard at the office; you should pay attention to your mental health as well. Plugging away for hours on end can contribute to elevated stress levels and poor concentration, so make a point of taking one or two substantial breaks from your work on a daily basis. You might go for a 15-minute stroll in the late afternoon, or pop out for a 20-minute lunch break with colleagues. It doesn't really matter what you do as long as you get a chance to stand up and look away from your computer screen.
Though the above tips are designed for folks who work in an office, many of them apply to folks who work from home, too. Taking breaks, stretching your legs, going easy on coffee and snacks, and having a clean workspace are just as crucial if you do your job from a home office, so be mindful of these tips as you go about your work -- no matter where you do it from.