Workplace Wellness 101
I recently had the opportunity to speak on a panel at a corporate wellness event in Halifax. While I was a speaker at the event, I also learned some things and took home some important messages. So I figured I’d combine these with some of my own top workplace wellness tips to bring you a little guide to keep you feeling good at work! Let’s dive in.
- Fuel your workday properly and adequately
Of course, as a dietitian my first rule of thumb is going to be about food. It’s imperative in order to have enough energy and focus at work that we fuel our bodies properly. I talked a little bit about this in my post about the importance of breakfast, which you can find here. Our brains and bodies need sufficient energy from food to move throughout our days.
Did you know that carbohydrates are our brains preferred source of energy? I recommend having a source of carbohydrates at most meals/snacks, but balancing that meal or snack with protein and/or fats as well. By doing this, it will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller longer, which means you can focus on the tasks at hand – and not your grumbling tummy.
Despite your balanced meals, still feeling hungry mid-day? Keep emergency snacks in your desk drawer! I love keeping a container of homemade trail mix or mixed nuts in my drawer for a quick fix.
I also want you to listen to your body and find what foods feel good for you. While it’s important understand the value of nutritious foods, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a donut when your work friend brings you one. Office party? Don’t stress! If you feel like having cake, have a piece of cake and enjoy it with your coworkers. If cake doesn’t sound good to you, skip it.
Get in tune with your body, what makes you feel satisfied and energized, and what you truly enjoy! That is the most important.
- Take breaks to refocus and recharge
In North America our culture has become so much about “the hustle” and we’re often encouraged that if we’re not constantly busy, we’re not doing enough. While I fully recognize the value of working hard to achieve your goals, I do believe that we can work hard and crush goals while taking care of us by practicing things like mindfulness and self-care.
This is why I try to take a breather each morning and afternoon. At my clinical job, my “breaks” are 5-10 minutes in length. I sit at my desk, munch on an energy ball if I need one, and just breathe and refocus myself. I don’t look at e-mails or my list of patient priorities for the day. Since I started doing this, I experience much less stress at work. I feel more calm, more focused, and much less like a chicken with it’s head cut off.
When I’m working on my business at home, my breaks may be a little longer. I’ll head down to the kitchen for a snack or some tea, maybe get up and do some stretching, or sometimes it’s even a short workout video, a walk with Bella, or a run. It looks different each day, but I’ll do something to give myself a little energy boost and realign my energy and focus.
- Get moving
I know that many jobs require us to be sitting at desks for prolonged periods of time, which can actually lead to poor circulation and it definitely doesn’t help with our energy levels. It may sound counterintuitive to some, but getting up and moving can actually give you a boost of energy – especially if you get outside for some fresh air.
I don’t know about you, but for me there’s no worse feeling that working inside all day when it’s beautiful out. So if you can, get out and enjoy it! Even if it’s just a 5 minute walk around your building or walking to a picnic table or bench to enjoy your lunch outside.
Can’t get outside? Just get up and away from your desk for a while. Instead of eating at your desk, walk/take the stairs to the cafeteria/break room for lunch. Do some stretches in your office. Every little bit helps!
- Take advantage of supports
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are there stressors in your personal life that are affecting your work? How is your mental health? If you need to, talk to someone. A lot of organizations/employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can help get you set up with the supports you need in difficult times. Talk to your superiors or human resources department to find out what’s available to you.
If your organization doesn’t have an EAP – or if you work for yourself – do you have a close co-worker who you can talk to? A friend or partner? A doctor who can refer you to see someone? Talking to someone, even if they’re unable to provide an immediate solution can often help lift some of that weight you’re feeling. We all have our struggles, so know that you’re not alone. Remember, taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally is just as, if not more important than taking care of your physical body.
- Make it fun!
Just because it’s work, doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Practice some of these tips with your colleagues at work.
- Walk at lunch with your coworker.
- Get up from your desks and eat together in the break room.
- Take turns bringing in healthy snacks for the office.
- Challenge your department to take the stairs for one day or one week
- Purchase reusable water bottles and challenge your team to drink more water.
Want to bring workplace wellness initiatives to your workplace? Talk to your superiors about programs your work may offer.