The workplace can erode your wellness in some pretty sneaky ways. Sidestep stress, illness and a widening waist with these eight tips..
When you think of high-risk occupations, it’s usually fire-fighters, crane operators and bomb defusers that come to mind. But even seemingly innocuous work environments (home offices included!) can pose a health threat. “Most of us are swept up in day-to-day minutiae, so you may not even realise the toll – both physical and psychological – your job may be taking on you”. Here, what you need to know to stay strong.”
Get in position
Women who park it for more than six hours a day are 37 percent more likely to die – form any cause – than those who sit for fewer than three, regardless of how much gym time they clock. And if your job requires you to be on your feet all day, that isn’t much better. Studies have linked prolonged standing to lower-back and foot pain, as well as pregnancy complications.
- If you stand while working…..Supportive shoes are a must. Anyone who works in an environment that demands standing and walking should see a podiatrist regularly, just like you’d need to see an optometrist if you stare at the computer screen all day.” Comfortable, wellfitting footwear and a firm heel counter (the back piece of your shoe that supports your foot) are essential to avoid foot, leg and lower-back fatigue. Can’t bear to ditch your Havaianas? Stand on an eco-friendly jade Yoga Mat for additional cushioning and avoid using a footstool, which can cause lower-back which can cause lower-back and knee pain
- If you sit at your job….“Sitting all day and remaining in one position for an extended period of time can have serious consequences for your body and work performance”. Ensuring that your chair is ergonomically sound is vital. Invest in a Dat-O Chai, the first chair to be certified by the Ergonomics Society of South Africa. According to a study, the chair had a positive effect on all symptoms related to bad seating position. It adjusts to suit your posture based on your body measurements and the design of your workplace.
Work isn’t meant to be relaxing – if it were, it would be called play. While you can’t change the fact that your job can be a pressure cooker, you can change how you respond to stress with these strategies.
- Take a minute of silence. Constantly responding to stimuli can be exhausting. But it takes only 60 seconds of quiet time to recharge. Take five slow, deep breaths. “And pay attention to your five senses”. “It can bring you out of your mind and into the present, giving the mind some spaces.”
- Go out for lunch. Dining away from your desk is another important way to refresh and recharge, yet according to a survey only 17 percent of you head out to eat lunch. “Changing your surroundings, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, not only gives your fatigued mind a break but also boosts your mood”.
- Smell minty scents. Researchers have found that sniffing peppermint can actually up your motivation levels, so keep peppermint tea, lip balm and lotion on hand.
- Give your desk a makeover. Stress usually stems from feeling overwhelmed and out of control, and if your work area looks as if a tornado hit it, that will only add to the growing tension. “Tidying up – even just a little – will help create a sense of calm”.
- Watch the overtime. Research shows that an extra three-plus hours of work a day can make your risk for heart disease 1.6 times greater. Reduce your OT in incremental steps: if you work 10 extra hours a week, cut back to nine this week, then eight the following, until you’re leaving on time most days. Another tick: deliver the message that “yes means no.” If you say, “I could stay longer to get this done, if you like?” (emphasising the could and intonating up at the end of the sentence), you’ll deliver a message to the boss’s subconscious that you could, but it’s not a desirable solution.
Wipe out germs
To stay healthy at work, you may want to ratchet up your hygiene standards, starting with your desk, which (not to freak you out or anything) typically has 400 time more bacteria than a toilet seat. People touch germy phones and keyboards, then usher microscopic bacteria into their mouth, eyes, and nose about 16 times an hour.
- Disinfect your desk. Your phone, computer mouse and keyboard harbour the most ickiness. You can swipe a disinfecting wipe over all three. But keyboards can be tricky: get at hard-to-reach spots with the sticky part of a Post-it, then wipe between each key with an ear bud dipped in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.
“Sitting behind a desk for hours every day can contribute to increased body fat and decreased muscle tone”. Here are a few exercises you can do while sitting at your desk:
- Triceps bench dips : Grip the front edge of a chair (easier without wheels) and place your feet on the floor in front of you, knees bent. Keeping your arms straight, scoot forward so your butt hovers in the air. Bend your arms to lower your butt. Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the floor, then push back up. Do 10 reps.
- Sit on a stability ball : Replace your work chair with a stability ball. Your feet should be placed hip-width apart, but if you want to increase your stability, widen your feet or bring them closer together. Contract your abs with your shoulder blades pulled down and back. Lengthen your body through the crown of your head. Place your elbows on your desk and bend your arms at a 90 degree angle.
TIP: If the stability ball is the correct height but your elbows don’t touch your desk or they’re at the wrong angle, you may need to adjust the desk’s height. When starting out using a stability ball as an office chair, you should begin with half an hour or less and build up your time each day to work on your tolerance.
- Crunches on a stability ball : Sit on the stability ball and walk your feet away while moving into a lying position. The ball should be positioned under your lower back. Cross your abs to lift your torso off the ball and gaze straight up. If your hands are behind your head, remember to keep your elbows pointing directly out to the sides and don’t pull on your neck. As you curl up, keep the ball stable. Lower back down to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 15 to 20.