You probably already know that stress is a growing epidemic worldwide. But do you know that work-related stress is one of the major sources of stress for Americans?
In fact, 80 percent of Americans report feeling stressed on the job, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The same report also states that almost half of respondents say that they can use help in stress management. Burnout is a real thing, and it ends well for no one. To help counter this, companies have started implementing a health and safety management system to help keep track of things.
You spend a considerable amount of your lifetime working, so it is important that you find ways to make your workplace healthy for you. In addition to fighting stress, a healthy workplace can boost your motivation to work and, ultimately, improve productivity.
Here are four bad habits you need to get rid of if you want to make your workplace positive and stress-free.
Today’s wired world has made it possible for people to complete more tasks at the touch of a button. You can hold staff meetings without having to meet face-to-face, you can email critical reports, stay connected with clients via social media, and so much more.
Unfortunately, all these technological conveniences have also made it easier for people to slip into sedentary lifestyles and spend most of their waking hours sitting down. This is a very alarming health issue. A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found that subjects who spent more time sitting during the day have an increased chance of dying of all causes, including heart diseases and cancer.
You can avoid these health risks by doing simple tweaks to your work habits, such as standing up for a few minutes every hour. Set a reminder on your computer or mobile phone so you can get up, enjoy the view from your office window, grab a drink of water, or even do simple stretching exercises.
Not Taking Breaks
It may sound counterintuitive, but taking breaks can actually help you finish more tasks. It may be tempting to just stay at your desk and sacrifice your breaks when your to-do list is overflowing. Instead of joining your colleagues at the cafeteria, you probably will choose to eat your food and keep working on the computer.
That doesn’t really sound like an ideal break, and it may even be detrimental to your productivity. According to a 2014 study by productivity app Desktime, the highest-performing workers were those who took a seventeen-minute break away from the computer after working for fifty-two minutes straight.
Breaks aren’t just good for boosting productivity; they also help you relax and fight anxiety that may arise when you are too absorbed with a task. Take a cue from top performers, and maximize your breaks by taking a short walk around the office block and catching up with colleagues. Don’t forget to enjoy every bite of your lunch too.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Dehydration is a serious health condition that can have negative consequences not just on your health but also your job performance. Studies have shown that even the mildest form of dehydration can affect your critical-thinking abilities, focus, and mental performance.
So how much water do you really need to drink per day? Health experts commonly suggest drinking at least eight (eight-ounce) glasses of fluids every day. You may have to drink more if you engage in physically demanding work or if you live in a country with hot climate.
Always listen to your body for signs of dehydration, and adjust your hydration habits accordingly. You can effectively keep track of your water intake by taking a water bottle with you wherever you go.
If you are one of those people who do not like drinking water, because it tastes bland and boring, you can add flavor to it by mixing in fresh fruits. Also keep in mind that you can also hydrate using specialty drinks and eating food loaded with water, such as fruits and vegetables.
Dreading Company Health Checks
It’s standard for companies to require their employees to undergo medical exams whether in the preemployment stage or routine checkups throughout the year. The thought of undergoing health screenings makes many people cringe, and you can’t blame them. Nobody likes getting their skin poked with needles for blood and doing the tedious task of submitting urine samples to pass workplace drug tests.
However, it is important to remember that these medical checks are here for a reason. Aside from making sure that you are physically and mentally fit to do your work, health screenings can help you assess your current lifestyle and whether you need to make changes to improve your well-being.
In addition to physical exams, companies may also ask their employees to pass drug tests. This is a very important safety issue for companies involved in high-risk operations that require complete mental clarity, precision, and physical coordination.
Keep in mind that, while marijuana has seen widespread legalization in the US in recent years, it remains an illegal drug under federal law. Some companies may still prohibit its use even in states that have legalized it.
Eating Unhealthy Snacks
Ever notice that you crave junk food when you are feeling stressed at work? Don’t worry, it’s not just you.
A study in the Journal of Consumer Research reports that participants chose the unhealthy snack option (chocolate cake) over the healthy one (fruit) after they finished a complex task. Stress does have an impact on your food choices, so always keep this in mind before you reach out for that bag of chips or chocolate bar when you are feeling peckish at work.
There are several strategies you can use to improve your snacking habits at the workplace. One would be to stock up on healthy options like nuts, fresh fruits, and salads instead of processed junk.
Second, when you crave something, pause and think if you are really hungry or if it is just psychological. Drinking water also helps because sometimes thirst manifests in hunger. Additionally, find alternative outlets for managing stress like exercise to replace stress eating.