Lifestyles

The healthy workplace makeover

Many articles are devoted to healthy lifestyles – get plenty of exercise, practise mindfulness, cut out the sugar. But most of our life is spent working. If our workplaces aren’t healthy, it’s so much harder to avoid stress, maintain a healthy weight and stay on the exercise wagon.

Alarmingly, stress and anxiety have increased nearly 23% over the past two years at New Zealand workplaces. For professionals, work-related stress is equal to cancer and heart disease in causing lost work days, which can lead to financial stress if your income isn’t insured.1

Here are some small ways you can transform the 40-hour week without standing desks and on-site sleep pods.

Learn how to “switch off” from technology –

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says the constant stream of emails and notifications we receive every day is damaging our health. Switching between a range of tasks creates stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that prevent you focusing properly. Noticing an unread email in your inbox can lower your IQ by 10 points!2 If you can, set aside a certain time each day to deal with emails, try to focus on one thing at a time and communicate face to face more. With practice, you can learn to beat your addiction to instant response, boost your performance and build better relationships with your workmates. 

Harness your team –

It’s so much easier to stick to good habits when you have positive reinforcement. To make sure you’re getting out of the office, start a walking group, initiate morning teas with colleagues out of the office once a week, or suggest an office “lockout” for an hour a week to go to the park. Invite others to join you at exercise classes, so there’ll always be someone to encourage you to keep at it – and it’s great for networking too.

Swap the snack box for a fruit basket –

According to a UK study, employees with a poor diet lose 3.5 productive days a year. Reducing fat intake to a healthy range actually boosts productivity by 2.5 days a year.3 It’s a small thing, but suggesting your workplace switch to a fruit basket delivery instead of the cookie and chips box is a good way to encourage better choices.

Look out for each other –

Despite clear guidelines in many workplaces, 46% of Kiwi workers still turn up to work when they’re sick.4 This isn’t healthy for you or your colleagues. If you’re worried about using up all your sick leave, consider income protection insurance to cover you in the event of illness or injury. And consider other ways of helping each other stay safe. UK legal firm Gowling WLG placed posters on its toilet doors advising how to spot when a colleague might be suffering domestic violence. Twelve people got help as a result.5 A happier workplace is a healthier workplace – for everyone.

 

1 https://www.businessnz.org.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/128547/Wellness-in-the-Workplace-Survey-2017.pdf

2 https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/18/modern-world-bad-for-brain-daniel-j-levitin-organized-mind-information-overload

3 https://www.vitality.co.uk/business/healthiest-workplace/findings/

4 https://www.businessnz.org.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/128547/Wellness-in-the-Workplace-Survey-2017.pdf

5 https://www.shponline.co.uk/48151-2/