Given that many of us spend hours upon days sitting down, staring at screens and not using our bodies, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen an increase in the reported cases of digital eye strain, weight gain, diabetes and general soreness. Whilst we’re lucky to have modern luxuries like standing desks and ergonomic chairs, there’s a whole lot more you could be doing to maximise your workplace wellness. Below are some top tips and quick fixes on how you can make a change for the better today.
We’ve all been here.
1. Add Some Greenery Into Your Life
Obvious, but always a great first move to improving your workplace wellness. Not just a pretty sight for eyes, plants in general have some great benefits, especially when placed in an office or working environment. Your green friends help convert carbon dioxide into clean, oxygenated air, with some reports from NASA that they can go as far as removing chemicals from the air, too. Colour psychology suggests that a plant’s shade of green has a relaxing and calming effect, offering reduced levels of stress and anxiety. The office environment often creates new habitats for nasty microbial communities that may be quite foreign to human skin, and may not be good for your health. Plants enhance microbial biodiversity and balance the complex network of the office ecosystem, helping to reduce the incidence of viral illness and the number of sick days among staff. So whether you’re into a leafy green friend, cacti duo or consider yourself a succulent aficionado, you best believe there’s some incredible benefits when surrounding yourself with indoor greenery.
2. Move Your Body More (I promise this isn’t impossible!)
For most of us, we spend a minimum of 8 hours sitting down each day. As a new breed of digital humans, our bodies simply are not used to sitting down for this amount of time for majority of the week, resulting in detrimental health, poor posture, sore joints and lower levels of energy. Contrary to the popular belief that we should all squeeze a run into our lunch time breaks (which let’s be real, is super tricky), instead, we’re being encouraged to ‘snack’ on exercise and movement. By snack, I mean aiming to utilise your time with short bursts of energy to keep your body moving consistently throughout the day. For starters, we can aim for simple swaps, like changing seated meetings to standing ones or moving meetings, where you can chat and walk around the block, plus the fresh air is an added bonus. Other things you can do to improve your physical wellbeing includes stretching every hour or so to increase blood flow and move your limbs, take the stairs or aim to do a few stair runs in your break, utilise bicycle sharing systems to travel to local meetings, or when you’ve got the kettle boiling see if you can drop into some squats, lunges or push ups. These short bursts of energy will also help you to focus more once you’ve settled back into your desk.
3. Make Time To Breathe and Decompress
Workplaces can get super intense and stressful at the best of times, and more often than not we forget to decompress and allow ourselves time to breathe and focus back on what we’re doing. As highly emotional and intelligent creatures, we need this time to mentally relax and cope with the day to day needs of a busy workplace. So it’s important to take time for yourself, and also remind colleagues that it’s okay to take 5 to go outside, get some fresh air, make a tea and have a mini digital detox. If you’re surrounded by noise, consider plugging in your headphones for 15 minutes and listening to some of your fave, chilled out music, or escape the noise by heading outdoors for a quick coffee break. If you find yourself drowning in an overflowing inbox, take 2 minutes out of your day to focus on deep breathing before jumping back into emails. By releasing stress and internal emotion, we allow ourselves to increase our overall productivity with a fresh mind and attitude when approaching new work. Often, the time to do these things isn’t available, so it’s important you make time for yourself and look after that awesome brain of yours.
4. Swap Your Sweets for Healthy Snacks
Ugh, I know I totally sound like your mum right now, but she has a point! There’s been major studies that show eating healthy foods and snacking on the right kind of stuff reduces the likelihood of depression, and of course, promotes a healthy digestive system. Trust me, I know how temping it is once 3pm rolls around to reach for that chocolate bar or packet of chips floating around the office, but at the end of the day these have close to no nutritional value and don’t come close to filling you up, meaning you’re just going to want to snack more. Some of the best healthy snacks you can have include fruit, berries (think all of the blueberries, strawberries, grapes and raspberries), mixed nuts (just be mindful of your portions), veggie sticks with lite dip like hummus or tzatziki, beans in the form of edamame or roasted chickpeas, or even plain popcorn (yeah, the kind without salt or caramel, sorry). If you’re really hitting the cravings hard, try swap a Mars Bar for a better alternative like some squares of dark chocolate, or swap Doritos for vegetable chips or a slice of cheese. Sometimes you just really need a snack, and I’m here to stand for that. Everything in moderation, folks.
5. Office Dogs Really Do Help
You can’t call me biased here because yes, I know Yakkazoo already has the best ever office dogs, but there’s been scientific studies that prove having a furry companion in the workplace really does benefit productivity, energy levels and overall mental wellbeing. Apart from their obvious charm consisting of puppy eyes and floofy ears, petting dogs has been proven to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. Pets remind people to pause and step back from whatever they are involved in. Short walks, a little playtime, and temporary distractions allow mental breaks so as not to overwork and become stressed. Dogs also increase camaraderie in the workplace, forging relationships between people that may not have naturally happened, since people love bonding over and talking about dogs (mutual interests, get it?). Of course, the novelty can wear off quick and fast, but having dogs enter the workplace once a week can improve overall health and wellbeing whilst promoting a fun, team-based office. If you don’t own a dog, fear not, because dog sharing services do exist! Simply hire out your ideal furry pup for the day and just wait until you see the benefits they bring to your life.
6. Check Your Ergonomics
Sounds a bit snooze-worthy, but there’s a reason why everyone bangs on about it. Ergonomics are important in the modern-day office considering it’s where we spend majority of our time. If you haven’t already, invest in a really good chair which supports your back, legs and arms, and make sure you try your best to sit in an upright position (I personally suck at this one but I’m working on it). If you feel like you’re getting swamped by your computer screen, make sure you’re not sitting too close to the monitor, or consider downsizing to a smaller screen. If anything, please invest in a good pair of blue-light glasses. Whether you need prescription or not, blue-light glasses help combat digital eye strain which is extremely common, although many people are unaware that they’re suffering! Digital eye strain feels a lot like sore, dry eyes, tiredness, headaches, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating and increased sensitivity to light. I bought a pair and they have helped my eyes immensely, I cannot recommend investing into a pair enough.