The average American will spend roughly 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. During this time spent at work it is very easy to pick up unhealthy habits that might affect your mental and physical health. At Advanced Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine, we want to make sure you are taking the appropriate steps to stay happy, safe and healthy in the workplace!
Get some Zzzs…
Getting enough sleep every night directly affects your health and happiness. Plus it also helps you stay safe at work. Studies suggest that adults should get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Loss of sleep, even just a few hours can result in potentially serious side effects. Drowsiness can affect your alertness and impair concentration. It can also put you at risk for more serious health problems, some cancers, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure to name a few. Lack of sleep can also affect your mental health. In 2005 a study shows that people who are diagnosed with depression and anxiety likely slept less than 6 hours a nice. Sleep loss can worsen symptoms of depression. If you regularly get 8 hours of sleep every night, that is great! But we all know, sometimes you just can’t sleep, you have to finish the last season of your favorite show, or you work late and have to get up early. If this is the case, we recommend taking a quick nap during the day. It will help you feel refreshed, more alert and get you through the rest of your day safely.
A good diet is also very important to ensuring you stay happy and healthy at work. Rather than getting up to get something to eat from the break room, and being tempted by donuts and other sugary foods we recommend keeping light snacks at your desk. Fruits like grapes or apple slices, nuts, and veggies like cherry tomatoes, carrots and celery make for healthy quick bites. Another way to stay healthy at work is to pack your own lunch at home. By packing your own lunch you are able to know exactly what you are eating, you can save money, and avoid fast food and oversized portions. Small healthy snacks during the day and a fresh lunch can keep your energy levels up, and so can hydration! It is easy to reach for energy drinks, soda and coffee when you’re thirsty. However those drinks can actually cause dehydration. Studies show that mild dehydration can impair mood, and brain performance. Staying hydrated can help you maintain your focus and happiness throughout the work day, it can also help with weight loss, prevent headaches, aid digestion and it promotes clear skin. Health authorities suggest the average adult should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. To achieve this we highly recommend keeping a reusable water bottle at your desk. If you’re forgetful use a water tracking app that allows you to log your daily progress and reminds you when you need to drink.
It is difficult to stay active in the work place, especially if you have a desk job. However, there are several ways you can sneak exercise into your day. An easy way to start introducing exercise your work day is to skip the elevator! Take the stairs to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. If stairs are not an option, another good idea is to hold walking meetings. This way you are still working, but you can get fresh air and a few extra steps in. Take stretch breaks regularly throughout the day so you don’t develop any sore muscles or kinks in your neck and you keep your blood flowing. If you aren’t able to squeeze these small activities into your work day, try working out on your lunch break. This can help you stay energized for the last half of your day. What’s great about exercise, is that it has been shown to increase your mood. The more you’re able to sneak in to your day- the happier you (and your body) will be.
The best way to avoid work place injury is to protect yourself accordingly. If your job requires you to do any heavy lifting, always try to protect your back. Lift with your knees and if you can, try to wear a back brace for added support and stability. Back injuries are incredibly common and happen quite easily, with that said we recommend avoiding any unnecessary stooping or twisting. If possible, try to utilize any equipment that might help you get the job done, while minimizing the risk of bodily strain. If you work in an industry that deals with dangerous or hazardous materials, make sure you always take any necessary precautions and wear protective gear that is appropriate for the job. While working a desk job might not be as dangerous, there are still some things you can do to help protect your body. If you work a desk job, protect your eyes by frequently adjusting them to avoid strain and damage. To do this simply follow the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20-second break, view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. It’s no secret, that sitting at a desk all day can do a number on your back. To help avoid neck and back issues, try to practice good posture. To do this simply make sure your chair is the proper height, sit up straight and keep your hips far back in the chair, adjust your computer screen so it is eye level and relax your shoulders, but don’t let them round forward!
Mental health is just as important as physical health. The workplace can be very stressful, and it can easily contribute to mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that about 18% of the United States’ adult population (44.7 million people, or roughly 1 in 5) has a mental illness in any given year. Many studies and surveys report that one of the leading causes of anxiety and depression, is stress, often work related. While at work try to take the following steps to reduce stress.
- Schedule Smart- When creating your schedule for the day, try to schedule more important or difficult tasks when you know you’ll have the best concentration and few distractions, for example right when you get to work or even after your lunch break.
- Take Breaks- Take a break every hour or two. Step away from your computer or that stack of paperwork and go for a quick walk around the building. Fresh air and a few moments of peace will help you relax, reset and refocus.
- Practice Mindfulness- Mindfulness is a psychological state of moment-to-moment awareness of your current state without feeling inward judgement about your situation. Mindfulness can be achieved through practices to foster control and develop skills such as calmness and concentration. One way to practice mindfulness at work is to pick a positive mantra or saying, and repeat it to yourself throughout the day. Another great way to practice being mindful is to write a gratitude note. At the end of the day write down one or two positive things that happened, this will help you end the day on a good note and help prepare you for a great start tomorrow.