Many occupations deliver stress, sedentary behaviour, and unhealthy habits along with the pay check, which can take their toll both physically and mentally.
But whether you work from a home office or sit in a corporate cubicle, there are things you can do to make your workplace better for your health and wellbeing. Here’s how to give your office space a health makeover, according to the experts.
Remind yourself to sit less
People who work at desks should stand or walk around for at least two hours a day to avoid health risks related to too much sitting, “Moving around throughout your workday is really important,” says Robert Graham, MD, director of integrative health and wellness for Northwell Health System, in Great Neck, NY. “Not only is it good for you physically, but studies show that it can increase productivity and more likely to focus on the task at hand.”
Clear the air
It’s not unusual for office environments to trigger what’s known as occupational allergies—sensitivities to chemicals in carpet, office furniture, or paint, for example, that can trigger problems like headaches and rashes. And even if you don’t have physical symptoms, it’s possible that stuffy air in your workplace could be hampering your brainpower. You may not be able to change furnishings or ventilation system at your job, but perhaps you can let in some fresh air by keeping windows open while you work.
Display a few personal items
Decorating your desk can help you feel comfortable, which can reduce workplace stress and dissatisfaction. But to avoid a cluttered feeling, which can actually cause more stress, stick with just a few items.
“Pick out three or four things that are significant to you—like a family photo or an award you’re particularly proud of—and make sure those are in your view. “But remember that the more stuff you add to your desk, the more your brain has to constantly scan and keep track of.
Stop eating at your desk
“One of the most important things you can do during the work day is to not eat at your desk. “Have a dedicated area where you can go to get out of your own environment and have lunch, preferably with other people, so you can truly get that break during the day.”
Sitting down to lunch away from your desk won’t just keep crumbs out of your keyboard; it can also help reset your brain for an afternoon of productivity. Plus, it can stop you from eating mindlessly while you work or surf the Internet. “If you’re eating while distracted, you are much more likely to overeat.”
Adjust your lighting
Getting natural light during the day is ideal, so your best bet is to sit near a window if possible. In fact, people with windows in their offices get better sleep and are more physically active than those without, according to a 2013 study from Northwestern University. “Being exposed to daylight helps keep your stress levels and your circadian rhythm in check,” Augustine says.
If windows aren’t an option, consider the temperature of your office lighting. “Cooler, bluish light is generally good for analytical thinking, while warmer bulbs are better for socialising and interaction with other people. Having a desk lamp you can turn on and off, rather than just one overhead light, can also help reduce eyestrain.