We’ve all heard those famous hard workers saying things like “people need to work 80 to 100 hours per week if they want to change the world” – the insomniac Elon Musk. And then there’s Winston Churchill, who even went so far as to have a desk made to fit over his bed. So yes, while these extreme lifestyle habits helped these people change the world, they aren’t sustainable or compatible with everyday business life. But can a typically healthy lifestyle really give you an advantage in business? And what does being healthy at work look like, anyway? Let’s find out.
Everyone’s Talking about Mindfulness
Yes, it’s a buzzword at the moment. But how mindful is the average office life, anyway? Mounting research shows the benefits of mindfulness on work performance. Yoga, exercise, and mindfulness improve productivity, according to a 2017 study.
Want to reap some of these benefits? At work, or even at home, try taking 5 or so minutes just to chillax. Focus on your breathing and maybe even do a stretch or two. If you feel the health effects, why not try a meditation app or join a class near you?
Get Regular Exercise
Everyone knows the importance of regular physical activity, but how often do we act on it? Exercise promotes good brain function, helps manage stress, and impacts most areas of health – all very important when you’re in the business!
When you’re working hard, or even expanding your small business, it’s all too easy to miss your regular exercise routine. It’s difficult to get away from the desk and head to the gym for that imperative hour. However, fitting exercise around your work doesn’t have to be complicated. Try getting up from your desk every hour for a stroll and a stretch. Take a quick walk around the office, or head outside for a stroll around the block if the weather’s good.
Why not invest in some home office workout gear if you work from home? For example, keeping some dumbbells on your desk to use while you wait for a program to load could work for you, or an active sitting option could keep your posture in tip-top condition as you type. Try a treadmill desk, under-desk treadmill, or some inexpensive bike pedals. Some resistance bands are great for both your arms and legs for a more subtle and portable workout option.
Choose Healthy Foods
Whether you’re working from home or busy at the office, it’s easy to grab a desk snack that may not be the best option. Now that we’re staying at home more, many people are falling into the habit of grazing from the fridge and at work, those staffroom snacks are always tempting. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with snacking per sé – just prepare some healthy ones.
When you’re working hard, you’ll want to have stable energy levels to keep you going all day. Good nutrition can play a big part in this. Grab-and-go snacks like celery or carrot sticks for dipping into your favorite peanut butter, yogurt, or spread are great for eating healthy at work. Snacks like these will help keep your blood sugar stable between meals and won’t put you off with excessive preparation needed. The protein from yogurt or peanut butter will also keep your energy up.
Take Real Breaks
When’s the last time you took a proper break at work? And no – taking a 5-second break from typing to stretch your fingers and bathroom breaks do not count, nor does your rushed lunch break. On the contrary, research shows that workplaces that allow workers to take short breaks any time they get distracted or feel unfocused actually have better productivity in the long term and a more successful workplace overall.
On top of this, regular breaks improve your mood, help you to relax and boost your long-term physical health. So, take those breaks when you need them, and enjoy your complete lunch break – it’s good for business!
Get Some Sleep
Yes, sleep-deprived business may work for Elon. However, for most of us, 8 hours are more like it. When you don’t get enough rest, your work undoubtedly suffers. You find it difficult to focus and may make mistakes at work. Throughout the whole workplace, sleep deprivation leads to an increase in workplace stress and more absenteeism!
Sure, you may occasionally need to pull an all-nighter or two. And who would miss out on those gatherings that sometimes tend to roll into the wee hours? But it is still a good idea to keep an eye on how much sleep you typically get. 6 or 7 hours is thought of as the absolute minimum you need to get, while 8 hours is the sweet spot.
We feel you if you struggle to make it to bed on time with your busy lifestyle. One way to ensure you go to bed on time is to set a reminder on your fitness tracker or phone. Many phones already encourage you to set this up! Another way to increase your sleep quality is to work on your nightly routine. For example, some relaxing music, a spritz of your favourite scent on your pillow and some downtime could get you right off to sleep. Whatever works for you.
Maybe you should actually sleep on the job!
Do you ever feel sleepy when you’re working? Well, it’s been proven that even a short nap can boost productivity and give you the energy you need to keep going for the rest of your day! Just make sure to set a timer for 15 minutes or so so you wake up again. Also, if you’ve ever been given an Ostrich pillow as a fad gift, don’t be ashamed to rock it! There’s a reason Ador made siesta the law.
Turn the Radio On
In many workplaces, listening to music while you work is seen as distracting or unprofessional. The worry is that employees may get sidetracked. But with more of us working at home, we’re finding out a lot more about what works for us. For example, listening to music you like helps improve your mood when you’re working on something tedious or stressful.
Of course, it’s crucial to pick the right music – the lo-fi music that plays while you’re on hold with customer service is hardly a good choice to blast all day (unless you’re into that). Since music can affect your mood, choose something relaxing when it’s time to relax, maybe towards the end of the day, and get pumped up with something polyphonic when you start working or come back after a break. Music without lyrics is probably best when you need to concentrate.
Though the endless chatter and banter in the office can distract you from getting into the flow of things, many people who have been forced to work from home have missed it. Plus, many workers struggled with setting up this or that piece of new software without the support of their trusty colleagues!
Whether it’s the free tech support and work advice or just the companionship and camaraderie, keeping a social connection with your colleagues is essential. First, get your Zoom, Teams, or email set up if you’re working from home. It may be fiddly, but this gives you that imperative social connection with your workmates. Next, see if you can get a weekly or monthly video call into place. An itinerary can help you all keep on-topic if you’re discussing work or having a meeting. Alternatively, have fun and build bonds with your teammates with a quiz or home scavenger hunt.
If you are in a physical workplace, making some time for the team to get together for lunch or an after-work meetup will help you get to know each other over something more than a spreadsheet or software glitch. In addition, a monthly or weekly non-business-related meeting is a great way to relax away from the workplace. Now, social support is more important than ever.
Go Easy with Overtime
Part of having a healthy business lifestyle is simply not working so much. Tying in with all our other health advice, working too much overtime inherently intrudes on your work/life balance. You have less chance to get enough sleep and go to sleep at the right time. You don’t get as much opportunity to socialise both in and out of the workplace, which could mean missing out on your peers’ helpful advice or not getting the chance to chill out with friends. Having less time may also make it more difficult for you to get the proper nutrition and lead to many health issues.
Senior or influential members of the workforce who are seen to be working more typically influence the rest of their team to do the same. Workers feel obliged to do overtime. The whole team will work too hard, burning the workplace out. This is not sustainable!
Try New Things, but Not Too Many
Yes, implementing new habits can help you improve your lifestyle. However, changing too much all the time can get confusing. In the office, for example, it’s very confusing when the space is constantly reorganized and new policies are consistently enforced. Remember the last time someone tried spring cleaning or a new organization method? What about that time you all got into hotdesking, feng shui and minimalism simultaneously?
Even personally, trying to do too many new things can mean that you don’t pick up the habits in the long term, or you confuse yourself. It’s impossible to keep track of too many new things.Do try to improve your lifestyle, but just don’t try to do everything at once.
Start a Wellness Program at Work
If you find it hard to keep up your wellness habits, what could be better than a wellness program to keep you accountable at work? Wellness programs vary, but they generally start with everyone completing a questionnaire or two. You can expect both a health risk assessment and an employee wellness survey. These questionnaires help your employer gauge the health of employees, so that they know what everyone wants to work on.
On top of this, you’ll probably encounter biometric testing and screening. These tools help your employer get a sense of where everyone’s health is at now.
Fancy having an employee wellness program at your own workplace? Ask your boss if they can set one up. You could send small employee wellness challenges around, or swap recipes and advice with your colleagues by email. See who can take the most steps or get the most activity in a week! Maybe you could all wear pedometers or use an app – there are great apps out there specifically for work wellness programs. Ask your boss if they want to sign up to one.