Welcome to fall!
One of the things we like to brag about here in the Midwest, and especially in Minnesota, is how we not only get four distinct seasons, but how we hearty folk throw our arms around every single one of them. (Let’s all agree not to revisit that thought in late January, when it’s been below zero for a week straight.)
As the calendar turns away from summer and pumpkins begin to dot your neighborhood, unfortunately that means that we’re heading straight toward the cold and flu season as well. (We say that knowing full well that some kind of strain swept through the Twin Cities in September– if you were a victim, we hope you’re back in full health!)
With all of that in mind, October’s persona here at Innovative Office Solutions is the Germaphobe. You know the type, their hands are usually raw from rubbing sanitizer on them every four and a half minutes and their desks are ready for any white-glove test.
The truth of the matter is, if you’re not a germaphobe, it’s still in your best interest to adopt a few of their habits. They can help you, and your co-workers remain healthy through the cold and flu season.
Here are five tips that every employee can adopt to help build a healthier work environment.
1. Get Up, Stretch and Move
There may be a day here or there when you’re completely overloaded with work and you’re stuck at your desk all day long. Just don’t let that become a habit. Force yourself to take regular breaks where you get up from your desk and move around a little bit. Stretch out your muscles and shake out your limbs. Even just 30-45 seconds at a time is far better than nothing. Regular movement throughout the day will keep your mind and body limber and help avoid fatigue. The math is pretty simple: A less fatigued body won’t break down as much as a fatigued one.
The more movement you can work into your day, the better off your health will be. Look into a sit-stand work station, or do something as simple as replacing your chair with a yoga ball for an hour a day.
2. Improve Your Work/Life Balance
Admittedly, you probably hear this one all the time, but it’s not a simple fix if you don’t really put your mind to it. We’ll also admit that there are a lot of very demanding jobs out there that don’t exactly allow for you to make this a priority. Do what you can.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that healthy, happy work places are far more productive than others. Most employers are now cognizant of this and offer flexible schedules that allow time for working out, or taking some kind of break during the work day. Take advantage of those opportunities. We can’t emphasize enough that active, moving bodies stay more motivated, work better and remain healthier longer than static ones.
3. Eat Better at Work
Everybody loves the person who brings doughnuts to work, right? Well, yeah, but truthfully that sentence worked a lot better ten years ago than it does today. We’re not going to argue that there might be a time and a place to enjoy a doughnut, but it’s certainly not an ideal way to start your word day.
Health and nutrition experts are all in agreement that a well-thought out meal from home will serve you a lot better at work than hitting up the local fast food joints or the vending machines to ease your hunger. It’s also a good idea to move away from one heavy mid-day meal and have smaller snacks throughout the day.
You can even be the person who encourages your fellow employees to stock the break room with healthy choices. It’s pretty simple math that what you put in your body will impact how you feel throughout the day and also your long-term health.
4. Manage Your Stress
That headline probably makes a lot of you chuckle. Easier said than done, right? Stress can break a body down as fast as anything. Obviously deadlines and work tasks can bring a heavy dose of stress into your life, but you have to figure out a way to manage it.
It can be as wide-ranging as communicating your worries to co-workers and bosses, who might have solutions to help you out, to something as simple as reading a book at night to help take your mind off of what might be stressing you out. Many companies are now asking employees to do more with less, so it becomes important for each person to find ways to alleviate their stress at work.
5. The Simple Things: Drink Water, Use Hand Sanitizers, Keep Your Desk Clean, WASH YOUR HANDS
You probably heard the above list in kindergarten. There’s a reason you’re still hearing it: It works. Obviously, there’s no way to prevent yourself from ever getting sick, but those four things above will help tremendously if you’re able to make them regular habits.
Hand-washing is the number one way you can prevent yourself from getting sick. If CSI and shows of that ilk have taught us anything, it’s that germs and bacteria are everywhere. Your mom taught you when you were a tiny child to wash your hands before you eat and after you go to the bathroom. Mom knew what she was talking about.
Staying well-hydrated is crucial to your productivity, energy levels and overall health. Water helps you stay alert and refreshed, and promotes clear thinking. Hand sanitizer’s are quite as effective as washing your hands, but obviously you can’t be heading to the sink 20 times during the day.
So we probably buried the lede, as those things listed at number five are the easiest to pull off and might be the ones that work the best as far as building a healthy work place.
As in anything, you can only do your best, none of this is going to guarantee you don’t get sick a time or two. We wish you nothing but the best of health, and keep your eye on that germophobe, they might be on to something!