We live in a time where work is not only part of but all too often takes over a great deal of our everyday lives. Regardless of the demands that you regularly face at your workplace, surely everyone has experienced those long days at work and the negative physical, mental and emotional effects that this may have on our bodies. We can all make positive changes in our daily routines to overcome work demands.
Have you implemented any strategies to prevent and maintain your overall health while performing at your absolute best in your workplace? Here are ten easy steps that you can take to prove that good health and workplace productivity can co-exist!
1. Get quality sleep.
Sufficient sleep and rest is paramount to starting your day off the right way. Although many experts advise 7-9 hours of sleep, it is important to remember that each of us are unique and have different sleep requirements to function optimally. Regardless, make sure to establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, sleep in a dark room, avoid watching television or using a computer prior to sleeping, and finish eating 2-3 hours before your bedtime. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol prior to sleeping and ensure that you have a good quality mattress and pillow.
2. Eat a nutritious breakfast; do not skip this important meal.
Make sure that you have a healthy breakfast before you begin your workday.
Consume complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and fresh foods such as oats, rye bread, dried fruit, oatmeal, flaxseed, berries, almonds, yogurt, granola, fruits and drinking freshly squeezed juice. Complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index, which results in a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream meaning you will feel full and have energy for longer. For protein, try eating nuts, seeds, peanut butter and egg whites.
Avoid eating sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods such as pancakes, waffles, toast, donuts, bagels, breakfast bars and muffins. Limit your consumption of caffeine and high-sugar foods such as cereal since these products provide a very fast, but short-lived boost of energy. Stay away from the fat-rich foods such as sausages, bacon, cream cheese and hash browns.
3. Manage your time.
Determine your goals for the day and set a clear plan on how you will complete them. By writing down specific steps and deadlines for each of your tasks, you will be more efficient and increase the likelihood of meeting your deadlines, all while avoiding the stress that you would have experienced at the end of the day.
4. Perform stretches 3-5 times per day.
There are simple exercises that can be done seated, standing or on the floor to improve your range of motion and flexibility while reducing the negative effects of prolonged work postures. Perform stretches for the upper and lower body 3-5 times per day or as needed. Do not wait for pain and discomfort for you to begin these exercises! Be proactive and remind yourself to stretch regularly.
5. Maintain good posture
Every work environment has preferred work postures which will minimize the likelihood of injuries and pain. In reality, do your best to keep moving and take breaks throughout the day. Try different postures and stretch regularly. Ask your employer about proper body mechanics and postures which are recommended for your particular job. Inquire about any supportive devices, such as back support and braces and footwear, which your supervisor may be able to provide for you.
6. Eat a nutritious lunch and leave your work in the office.
Prepare a healthy lunch and avoid settling for fast-food alternatives. Try to prepare a lunch that is 400-500 calories with a breakdown of 30% protein, 50% complex carbohydrates and 20% healthy fats. Good food options include dark, green leafy vegetables, salads, sandwiches with whole wheat bread, fish, lean meat, tofu, nuts and fresh fruit. If you feel rushed in the morning, prepare your lunch the night before.
7. Use relaxation strategies.
It is important for you to reduce your stress level at work. Try closing your eyes and taking a full gentle breath in through your nose and slowly exhaling through your mouth. Place your hands on your lap and try to assume a comfortable sitting position. Visualize yourself in a peaceful environment and simply be in the moment. Consider drinking hot green, black or chamomile tea instead of coffee. When possible, try taking a break from you work and go for a short walk around your office.
8. Eat healthy snacks.
Choose to eat healthy snacks that provide you longer-lasting energy. Good options are fruits, nuts, low-fat yogurt, vegetables with light low-fat dip, and whole grain crackers with hummus. Limit your snacks to no more than 200 calories each and no more than 3 per day.
Perform a range of strength, endurance, flexibility and aerobic exercises at least 4 times per week. Choose activities that you enjoy and change your exercise routine between days to keep yourself engaged in the workout. Whenever you can, walk, bike or run instead of driving your car.
Set aside time to exercise for at least 30-60 minutes on most days of the week. This may be in the morning prior to work, in the middle of your day or after you leave the workplace. Most importantly, set an exercise schedule and program and commit to it. Encourage a friend, colleague or co-worker to join you.
10. Get fresh air – it’s as simple as!
This last tip is free and readily available. Simply take a step outside to clear your mind, reap the health benefits of fresh air, and re-establish your focus for the rest of the day.
Try these tips to maintain your overall health and lighten your work day. Take the steps necessary to ensure that you are able to work efficiently and feel at your best!
If you would like to discuss your lifestyle choices and strategies for maximizing your health, contact Dr. Levi to book an appointment.
Dr. Fabio Levi, B.Sc. (Hons.), DC