Seven ways to stay healthy at work

woman eating apple
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

7 April 2016

In honour of World Health Day today, here are some of our top tips for improving your habits at the office.

1. Mindfully manage your stress

Deadlines are looming, the boss is angry, colleagues are crying.... Breathe. Relax.

Work-related stress and anxiety accounted for 43% of all sick days in 2014/15. Being stressed-out doesn't just mess with your emotions, symptoms include insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches and trouble concentrating.

Not exactly conducive to productivity.

Practicing mindfulness by taking 10 minutes out of your day to stop and relax can help manage your daily stress levels and put you in a better mood. There's even an app for that!

2. Swap your snacks

Snacking is unavoidable. We get it. Eight hours of non-stop brain-work is going to need some fuel to keep going.

It's so very tempting to reach for that chocolate bar or packet of crisps you have stashed away. They're calling to you, aren't they?

Good old fruit is a much healthier (and often cheaper) alternative. Apples are low in calories and high in antioxidants. Bananas have natural sugars that act as an energy boost. Oranges are packed with potassium, calcium and pectin, which is great for cholesterol.

Afraid of your nibbles spoiling? Dried fruits and nuts usually come in sealed packaging that can be kept in a drawer for some time without going bad.

Preparation is key! Stock up and feel better about your 3pm munchies.

3. Take the stairs

It may be a cliché but opportunities for exercise when sitting at a desk all day are few and far between.

A flight of stairs can be a daunting challenge first thing in the morning. As can the thought of arriving to the office disheveled and out of breath.

But even forgoing the lift for just a floor or two is better than nothing. Climbing stairs burns more calories in a minute than jogging does and builds muscle tone in your thighs and glutes, which can only be a good thing.

Think of it less as exercise and more as planning ahead for your summer wardrobe.

4. Keep hydrated

Tired in the afternoons? You're probably thirsty.

Dehydration can cause lethargy, headaches and irritability. We won't tell you to cut out caffeine by ditching the tea and coffee (that would be massively hypocritical) but keeping a water bottle on hand can be hugely beneficial.

Drinking six to eight glasses a day is good for your kidneys, your skin and for keeping that dry-mouth feeling at bay.

5. Clean your keyboard

Think about everything your hands do. Think about how that gets transferred onto your keys.

Now think about the last time (if ever) you gave your keyboard a clean.

Eating at your desk just became a whole lot less appetising, didn't it? Research conducted by Which? in 2008 suggested that computer keyboards harbour more bacteria than your average toilet seat, making them a major home and office space health risk.

Try using a soft toothbrush dipped in cleaning alcohol to get in between the keys. It might improve your typing speeds too!

6. Rest your eyes

No, we don't mean taking naps at your desk.

Eye strain has a lot of the same symptoms as migraines and can be caused by over-exposure to computer screens. Looking away for a minute and focusing on distant objects can provide quick relief, as can taking a break to make some tea. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Make sure your station is well-lit and if you have glasses, wear them.

If not, maybe get an eye test scheduled.

7. Sit up straight

You're tired at the end of the day. It's probably best to avoid being sore and stiff too.

Poor posture and an improperly aligned work station can lead to back pain, neck pain and repetitive strain injuries. Adjusting your chair or distance to mouse and keyboard can make a world of difference.

Your feet should be flat on the floor and your arms should stay at a 90 degree angle with your desk to avoid over-stretching. Be careful about repeated use of phone handsets damaging your neck too.

Basically, don't be afraid to get comfy.

How many healthy habits do you have at work? Tell us in the comments below.


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