All too often, the hectic workday can feel like a barrier to good health. Rushing out the door in the morning, meeting deadlines, hunching over your computer, gulping coffee and snacking from the vending machine can lead to a decreased sense of wellness and overall health.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of planning and a few small changes, it’s definitely possible to incorporate wellness at work.
“Workplace wellness increases productivity and decreases the risk of developing chronic diseases,” says Parinaz Abyari, MD, a family medicine specialist at Scripps Coastal Medical Center, Oceanside. “You can start small, by incorporating a different strategy every week and enjoying the positive benefits.”
Here are some simple ways to incorporate wellness at work:
Stretch it out
Remember to take a stretch break every so often. You can do this while seated, or stand up for a moment and complete a few stretches. “Stretching at work eases the stiffness of major muscles and in the long term reduces the chance of injury,” Dr. Abyari says. “Think about stretching your arms, legs, fingers and torso. Even little movements can feel refreshing.”
Take a walk
If possible, step outside and take a breath of fresh air. Notice the sky, trees and other natural elements around you while you take a brisk walk. “A lunchtime walk increases your focus and enthusiasm and increases your ability to handle the work stress,” Dr. Abyari says. “If you’re confined to a building, you can still take a little ramble inside to get your legs moving — even a parking lot will work in a pinch.”
Caffeine may seem like the ultimate lifesaver on long days, but water is the healthier choice. “The human brain is 85 percent water, so if you are not hydrated, you cannot function optimally,” Dr. Abyari says. “Sip on water throughout the day and you’ll feel more alert.”
Refuel with healthy bites
Snack on healthy foods, such as almonds, bananas, peanut butter or veggies and hummus. “Fatty food has a short-term effect on focus and brain, Dr. Abyari says. “Healthy food gives you the energy to avoid mid-afternoon crash. Packing small snacks can help you avoid reaching for processed foods at work.”
Get a good night’s sleep
Sometimes the best thing you can do to prepare for a healthy day at work occurs the night before. Get to bed on time and the workday will feel much less demanding. “A good night’s sleep is the secret to success,” Dr. Abyari says. “Sleep deprivation increases your risk for chronic diseases.”
Sometimes taking a break to clear your mind, meditate quietly or reflect on positive quotes or images can help you feel more peaceful and less stressed. “Consider spiritual wellness, meditation and relaxation techniques,” Dr. Abyari says. “Also, being mindful of mental health. Check in with how you’re feeling. Take breaks when you need them.”