Summary: Improving Your Workplace Wellness 101
How often do you set aside time in your life to prioritize your health and well being? If you’re a busy professional, chances are you’re letting your health slip to the wayside and you may not even realize it. Luckily you don’t need to sacrifice your work ethic while getting intentional about your workplace wellness. In fact, improving your workplace wellness will actually add to your productivity, happiness and success. In this article, I am going to share 3 simple and effective ways to improve workplace wellness, so that you can thrive in all areas of your life.
FRESH AIR & INTENTIONAL BREAKS
Are you someone who walks into the office and you’re immediately bombarded with emails and meeting requests? In the workplace, it’s all too common to think that the more you get done all at once, the better off you’ll be. When the reality of it is that taking breaks away from your screen to either get fresh air or walk around a bit can actually INCREASE your productivity and brain power. According to research, more ‘aha moments’ occurred when professionals took an actual break in their day. Taking regular breaks can add to your engagement and in turn correlate to more productivity within your work.
So how the heck do you go about taking these breaks?
If you find it challenging to step away from your work, start small and plan ahead. If your calendar is jam packed, try allocating 5-10 minutes in between meetings or calls every hour or so, and putting that time frame off limits so that you’re sure you’ll get up from your desk and take time for yourself. If your work is more remote or self guided, try setting an alarm on your phone every 1-2 hours to remind yourself to take a 10-15 minute break. Blocking off this specific time period in your day will help you actually implement your break.
Treat your breaks as you would an important meeting. This is intentional time out of your day to look after your mental health, rest your over-stressed eyes and, as an added benefit, it will have you coming back to your work more focused and refreshed.
On top of those more frequent breaks, get outside if you can! Fresh air is proven to not only boost mental health, but also increase awareness, engagement and decrease stress levels. Plan to take your lunch outside or schedule a meeting in the form of walking to go grab a coffee together. The fresh air will benefit everyone involved and allows you to get moving, hitting two birds with one stone!
Whether you sit at a desk all day, or are actively on your feet in your work life – your body needs energy and nourishment to function optimally and get important tasks done within your day.
If you find it challenging to step away from the office or your desk for sufficient breaks, I bet you also find it hard to take time to have a real lunch or tune into hunger cues when you’re busy. I’ve spoken to numerous busy professionals, and similarly to feeling like they can’t step away from their work commitments to take a break, they also feel like if their day is swamped, most meals go out the window.
However, just like breaks, eating consistently and having meals ready to go for a busy day is important to increase quality of life, overall health, productivity and engagement. You cannot run at full speed ahead or at optimal capacity on an empty tank!
Some simple ways to ensure you’re prioritizing nourishment is taking time on the weekend, and nights before your work day, to plan out some meals, pack some food and have things ready to go. When you cook a few items in bulk for your week, you can easily make simple meals to bring with you for your work day. By preparing your meals the night before, you’re not going to be scrambling in the morning or rushing out the door. Try cooking a protein source (like chicken, beef or fish) and a carb source (like rice, potatoes or pasta) and sprinkle in veggies, condiments and/or fruit to accompany the meal. It really can be that simple!
If you struggle with taking the TIME to actually eat that meal you packed – make a point to schedule off time for yourself to eat your lunch – just like you did with the breaks. Get into the habit of setting aside time for yourself FIRST in your calendar, if your bucket is full FIRST, you can better perform in your career. It will give you the energy you need to continue conquering goals in your profession, and it will assist in preventing burn out.
MOVEMENT YOU ENJOY
Physical activity is proven to not only increase our overall health and prevent disease, but it also helps us relieve stress, decrease feelings of anxiety and promote our mental health in a positive way. Oftentimes, when we get into a hectic and consuming routine around work, our other hobbies or interests go out the window. If we want to thrive in our careers, we need to also be take time to do things that are good for our mental health so we can live a long and enjoyable life as we climb the corporate ladder or reach new business goals. Physical activity and daily movement you ENJOY is one of the best ways we can promote overall health and increase our workplace wellness.
Moving your body doesn’t mean you have to be in a gym or on a treadmill for hours each week. In fact, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to the daily movement you choose. Physical activity you enjoy and benefit from can be anything from going for daily walks with your dog, playing a fun game of basketball with friends, doing an at home workout or ending your night with a yoga session. Either way, the important factor here is that you have fun with it, as it adds to your lifestyle and it allows you to move your body in ways that also give you a sense of fulfillment and purpose outside of your busy career.
So how do we implement this new, fun movement that we want to prioritize? Start by getting realistic with yourself. If you KNOW you won’t have time in your schedule to do 5 workouts in a week, don’t commit to it as it will leave you feeling defeated or stressed out if you don’t achieve that goal. Start small – if you can squeeze in 2 activities that get you moving in your week, make time for those 2 things and give them your full, undivided attention. This will set you up for success, and give you a feeling of accomplishment. The more consistent you find you are in implementing this movement, the more you can build on it or add to it!
You will also want to literally put it into your calendar. If your schedule is so busy you have a hard time taking breaks/finding time for lunch, this new movement that you want to make a priority definitely deserves its own spot in your busy schedule. Block off 30 minutes to 1 hour each day that you plan to do this activity so it’s a priority. You got this!
In conclusion, consistent daily movement and nourishment can not only help improve your workplace wellness and productivity, but it also helps us reduce anxiety, prevent burnout and depression, and protect us from other illnesses. We often forget to prioritize our well-being due to our busy career and lifestyle, but now you can get started on making these areas a non-negotiable for yourself, and watch how much things shift in a positive way!