Written by: Four Wellness Co.
If you happen to be one of the many American adults who spends 8+ hours each day at an office job, you may already intimately know the importance of workplace wellness. Though a desk job is not considered “physical” work, it certainly takes a physical toll on your body.
As we spend about a third of our time (half of our waking hours!) at the office, it’s an important place to maintain good physical and mental health practices—which ultimately make a big impact on our overall health and well-being.
Good health is good business.
Here are ten simple ways to prioritize wellness at your workplace, and during the workday:
how to prioritize wellness at work
1. create an intentional workspace
You may or may not have much control over where your office is located and how it’s set up, but workplace wellness begins with our workplace environment. We’re best able to set ourselves up for healthy practices at work when our office environment supports positive working conditions that help us stay inspired, focused and productive.
Think about how you work best: Do you need a quiet space? Plenty of light? Do you need desk space to write on, a place to easily access paper files or documents? Are you most focused if you’re facing a wall, or most inspired if your desk positions you to look out a window?
Though it seems simple, intentionally setting up your workspace to increase focus and productivity can significantly reduce workplace stress down the road.
2. prioritize an ergonomic set-up
Working long hours at a desk with improper posture can (and mostly likely will) wreak havoc on your body over time.
It’s best to set up your desk, chair (or yoga ball), monitor and keyboard in ergonomically correct positions. This interactive workspace planner helps determine how your desk should be best positioned for your height. Due to the importance of ergonomic work stations for employee health, many companies and organizations now offer in-house ergonomic assessments to get you set up properly.
If you’re interested and able, and your workplace offers this as an option, a standing desk is ideal—as you may know, sitting is not too good for your health.
3. add “office-plants” for clean air
We’ve talked before about the health benefits of houseplants in your home. And the same is true of your office!
Whether you’re able to create a full-blown garden at your desk, or you just have one plant in a corner, there are a couple key reasons to add plants to your office space:
- Sadly, indoor air is typically much more polluted than the air right outside your office building. But certain plants—like easy-to-care-for peace lilies, rubber plants and spider plants—are great natural air purifiers. Adding them to your workspace can help to remove toxins from the air you’re breathing in.
- Exposure to greenery from plants is shown to reduce fatigue, boost creativity and productivity, and may even make you happier! Woohoo!
See our list of the best air-purifying houseplants (or office plants!).
4. get up from your desk regularly
Ughhh, so hard, right? When you’re busy / overworked / rushing to meet deadlines, it’s tough to pry yourself away from the computer, simply for the sake of health.
But ideally (for your health), you should get up from your desk at least every half hour. For some people this feels near impossible, or breaks focus and diminishes productivity, so play around with the timeline works best for you.
It’s helpful to set reminders that prevent you from “forgetting” to get up. For example, set an alarm on your phone for 30 minutes. Even if you just stand up and walk around your office for a few seconds as you’re turning off the alarm, that counts as movement, which is good!
5. follow the 20/20/20 vision rule
Computer eye strain is real—and can lead to dry eyes, blurry vision and headaches. When working on a computer it’s a good idea to follow the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
6. cultivate positive professional relationships
Workplace social drama can have a hugely negative impact on your overall well-being. Your colleagues are some of the people you likely spend the most time with in your daily life. Negative relationships in that area can certainly cause stress and discomfort—and even make you feel less comfortable or excited going to work.
Cultivate positive relationships in your workplace by being a kind, courteous colleague who’s known for being a team player and showing kindness and professionalism to everyone. Don’t start office drama, and don’t encourage office drama—both contribute to a toxic work environment. Though you can’t control how others behave, removing yourself from any unprofessional situation (or speaking up against it) sends a message to your colleagues that you expect professional behavior in the workplace.
Some of the most effective business relationships come from connecting well with others. Particularly if you work closely with your colleagues, make an effort to get to know them—what do they do for fun outside of work, what’s most important to them, what are their professional goals and how can you help them along the way?
7. dress for the job you want
There’s a saying: Dress for the job you wish you had.
While workplace fashion may seem like a superficial addition to a wellness list, we’ve included it here because of how significantly your external appearance can influence your confidence and how you feel about yourself in the workplace. (And, confidence hugely influences your willingness to take risks that will advance your career!)
Though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a casual approach to workplace fashion if that’s what works for you, many people find that they feel their best while wearing work clothes that make them feel good and feel the part.
It’s true that what you wear to work can help you feel more professional, productive and, most importantly, more confident—so have some fun intentionally dressing the part if you’d like!
8. plan a healthy lunch
Workplace lunchtime can be one of the pitfalls of an otherwise healthy lifestyle. If you haven’t planned ahead for your workday lunch, you may find yourself at the mercy of whichever options are available nearby—which, often, are not the healthiest, and not something you’d turn to if you had more choice.
Whether your particular workplace lunch options mean that your best bet for a healthy lunch is to bring one yourself, or if you have other options available to you, be intentional about what’s for lunch each day and how it supports your overall nutrition and healthy eating habits.
It’s helpful to create a weekly meal plan that outlines what you’re eating for lunch each week—this small planning effort ensures you have all the ingredients on hand for healthy lunches.
9. take a walk
One of the workplace wellness tips that can be most helpful, both physically and mentally, is to get outside during the day to take a walk. Not only does this help boost energy and creativity (particularly in the afternoon!), but it’s all-around good for your health to get some vitamin D and fresh air.
Even if your workplace doesn’t support you taking leisurely strolls at your whim, there are other ways to incorporate walking into your day: suggest a walk-and-talk meeting with a colleague; take a walk on your lunch break; take a phone call while walking.
This can also help you to reach your 10,000 steps each day!
10. know when & how to unplug
Demanding job responsibilities and the increased ability to connect with smartphones, laptops and wi-fi hot spots adds up into something that’s seemingly useful but can actually be quite detrimental: being able to work anytime, anywhere. This is detrimental in that it can lead to working all the time, everywhere.
A healthy work/life balance means different things for different people, but in general it’s a fulfilling mix of both work and play. For some people this means keeping fairly strict 9-5 office hours and then shutting down work and spending time with family or friends outside of that. For some people it means working periods of long, intense hours and then enjoying a longer period of time off.
Work/life balance is not about achieving an exact ratio, but rather finding the mix that works best for you—maintaining a division of work and play that feels balanced and allows you to stay healthy outside of work too.
In addition to knowing how often to step away from your work, it’s also important to know what’s needed to step away: Do you leave your laptop at the office so you’re not tempted to open it up at home? Do you turn off work notifications on your phone? Do you completely cut off communication with the office on a family vacation?
Part of staying fresh and healthy for work is actually stepping away from work as needed too.