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How to stay healthy in the workplace

19 Jul

The average person will work 1,791 hours a year, which totals  84,171 hours over the course of their career. This accounts for a significant proportion of our lives, which means that there should be no difference between being healthy at work and being healthy in general. 

Not only can focusing on your workplace wellbeing improve your overall health, but it can also make you a more productive, focused and positive employee. It can also lead to fewer sick days taken due to workplace stress and anxiety. So how can you ensure you’re looking after yourself at work? We’ve put together a guide to help you form healthy habits to boost both your physical and mental health.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness has been a buzzword for several years now, yet many of us still don’t fully understand what it means – or how simple it is to incorporate into everyday routines. Studies show mindfulness practice can decrease depression and anxiety, reduce stress, improve sleep quality and boost concentration levels. Better yet, it’s quick and easy to do.

Mindfulness is all about focusing in on the present and not what’s happening around you. Even as little as five minutes of mindfulness practice a day can have significant benefits. Start by simply taking a minute at your desk to stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and connect with one of your senses. Take it a step further with mini meditation sessions, which you can do in any quiet space. Try to single-task instead of multi-task, which allows you to fully focus on one thing at a time.

Take mini breaks

Nearly a fifth of UK workers don’t leave their desks during their lunch time, with the average midday break lasting just 22 minutes. This can have a detrimental impact on both your physical and mental health, as well as your productivity at work. Regular breaks can help you to de-stress and re-charge, providing you with time to fuel up and rest ahead of your next burst of work. Not all workers can manage a full hour every day, but most of us can take several ten-minute breaks for a brisk walk, some fresh air or even just to sit quietly and relax. If you’re not used to taking breaks, force yourself to by setting a work time on your phone, computer or even a stopwatch that encourages you to take pause after a set amount of time.

Get outside and sneak in exercise

For office-based workers, it can be disheartening to see a full day of sun pass by while you’re stuck at your desk. Make the most of any breaks you can take by getting outside, whether that’s for your lunch break, a quick stroll or simply a breath of fresh air. Being outside can reduce stress, eliminate fatigue and improve your focus, which will benefit you not only at work, but also in your life.

If you can make the most of a full lunch hour, this is a great time to fit in a walk, run, sports game or exercise class. However, long sessions of intense activity aren’t your only exercise options during the workday. Simple steps such as taking the stairs where possible, walking to talk to a colleague rather than emailing them and scheduling walking meetings can encourage blood circulation, get your heart rate up and sneak in some cardiovascular activity.

If your job involves manual labour or lots of standing, make sure you stretch regularly and change position to encourage all your muscles to work. Learn about workplace ergonomics (motion, posture and physical exertion) to ensure you’re working safely and healthy.

Keep hydrated and choose nutrient-dense snacks

Hydration is key in any role, and particularly when you’re in an office with de-hydrating air conditioning or when you’re partaking in physical work. Dehydration can lead to poor concentration, dizziness and headaches, so make drinking water a priority in the workplace. Keep an eye on the amount of coffee and tea you consume throughout the day too. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, which means that drinking too much of it may actually dehydrate you, as well as impacting your sleeping habits and potentially leading to fatigue once the energy boost wears off.

Similarly, try to fuel your body with nutritious foods where possible. For many, this includes starting the day with a decent breakfast, while others may choose to graze throughout the day. Look for low-GI, high protein snacks that keep you feeling fuller for longer – and don’t forget your vegetables!

Find your healthy workplace at Travis Perkins

At Travis Perkins, we have a health, fitness and wellbeing hub called myPerks - part of our Employee Assistance platform. A place where you can access advice, support and discounts to make staying healthy at work easy. With more than 20 brands in more than 2,000 locations, there's bound to be a role that suits your lifestyle. Find out by viewing our latest job vacancies

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