Ask Dr. Julie / Health & Wellness

Workspace Wellness: The Forgotten Impact on Our Overall Health

When it comes to productivity at work, environment matters: For many of us who spend a majority of our weekdays in an office space, it can be hard to control the stresses from our workflow, coworkers and more. Increasingly, people are beginning to realize that the environment cultivated in one’s own workspace has a significant impact on overall productivity, output, mood and even other factors that impact our overall health.

How can you begin to cultivate workspace wellness? Even if you can’t have total creative control over your work environment, small changes in the way your desk looks and feels can make big changes. So whether you work in a cubicle, co-working space or corner office, follow these five tips to pave the road to a healthier office environment and a happier you.

Go Green: Want to add life to your otherwise monotonous workspace? Look no further than a fresh bouquet of flowers to brighten your desk and improve your mood. Plants are a great way to boost morale and add a pop of color to your desk; not only do they look and smell great, but they can also improve air quality around you and increase creativity. Spider plants, aloe, orchids and succulents are fairly low-maintenance plants that thrive even in indoor environments and add character to an otherwise inanimate workspace.

Stand, Not Sit: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who sits for a majority of the workday, you may be familiar with the neck and back pain and bad posture that commonly affects those who sit for eight-plus hours a day. Research is now showing the importance of adjustable height desks that give you an option to raise your computer up to standing level and back down to a seat as needed. Not only do standing desks offer a great way to work out leg muscles, but they also are proven to improve circulation and even increase productivity. The combination of sitting and standing during the day allows your body to re-align itself, correcting poor posture. In addition, increased blood flow while standing can give you more energy to power through long afternoons.

Take a Walk: If you find yourself eating lunch in front of your computer screen on most work days, take a step back and put on your walking shoes: Taking a walk during your lunch hour is essential to your health and productivity during the day. Not only does walking burn calories, it also works muscles in your arms, legs and core that go unworked for a majority of the workday. Walking outside gives you the opportunity to relax in nature, quell anxieties about work and gain a sense of calmness. Take your lunch to a nearby park or green space and enjoy the sounds of nature while you dine, sans interruptions from your smartphone. Putting away technology and walking gives you more energy and lowers stress, better preparing you for the rest of the workday.

Personalize Your Space: Give your office space a touch of flair by personalizing it with items that represent your interests. Studies have shown that personal touches like photos of friends, inspiring quotes and paintings can bring a sense of warmth and comfort often associated with home to the workspace. Incorporate funky photo frames on your desk and hang a quote of the week on your wall—both are great conversation starters with coworkers or clients that could further increase socialization and networking with people in the office.

Invest in a Wellness Jar: It can be quite a challenge to resist many of the snacks and sweets brought into work on a daily basis. From birthday cake to pizza to candy bars, the lunchroom can feel like a battleground if you’re trying to eat healthy. If you find yourself feeling tempted with treats, considering investing in a wellness jar. Simply put, a wellness jar is filled with healthy snack options like unsalted popcorn, raw almonds, dried fruit and whole grain bars. These healthy alternatives will curb cravings without ruining your diet. Remember that not all snack bars are created equal–many of them have high levels of sugar and are just as bad as a candy bar—so look for bars that are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar.

 

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