12 Tips for Staying Healthy at Work

Diet and exercise don’t always cut it.

by Maggie Koontz, January 15, 2018

Although most people are familiar with the concept of physical health, they often forget about emotional and mental health. Your body is important, but it is not the only part of yourself that you should be focusing on. Emotional and mental health are vital in order to have healthy relationships with yourself and others. These three aspects of your health have significant roles in achieving a state of wellbeing.

It can be difficult to feel happy and healthy at work especially if you’re stuck in an office all day, but it is important to pay attention to all aspects of your health. When you aren’t feeling completely healthy, your happiness declines and so does the quality of your work. The people that have attained a state of wellbeing are often happier and more successful in their endeavors. Those are the people that are ready to take on the world and change it for the better.

The physical part of your health usually gets more attention and is easier to take care of, but what about your emotional and mental health? How can you improve those abstract parts of your life in an office? Here at tbd*, we’ve compiled a list of tips for each of these three sections of your health. Feel free to use any or all of them to improve your wellbeing.

Physical Health

Physical health is all about taking care of your body. At your peak physical health, you should be full of life and energy instead of feeling miserable while sitting at your desk. When your body suffers, then other parts of your life are affected too. If your body isn’t taken care of properly, then that can lead to fatigue, low mood, lack of energy and bad mental health. These consequences can cause a sharp decline in the quality of the work you produce.

  • Sleep enough: This tip seems simple on paper, but in practice, it is much more difficult. Sleep is essential if you want to be able to function the next day. Get your necessary amount of sleep. Try preparing for the next day the night before so that you can sleep in a little more and have your stuff ready to go for work.
  • Exercise: After a long day at work, going to the gym sounds dreadful. Exercise is still important though because it releases endorphins and boosts your mood. Consider moving around during the day by taking short walking breaks around the office to get out of your chair. Try to walk outside during lunch for a little bit to enjoy the fresh air. Perhaps you could even take the stairs instead of the elevator some days.
  • Pack a lunch: The night before work, try to pack your lunch and include healthy homemade food. That way, you won’t be in a rush in the morning to make your lunch and you can make better choices about what to pack for lunch. Also, this reduces the temptation of going out to buy fast food and then eating it quickly during your break. You could also enjoy your packed lunch outside with coworkers.
  • More water, less coffee: Most people run on coffee and it is a staple item for every office. Although it provides a necessary jolt in the mornings, too much coffee can make you feel jittery and have trouble sleeping. Stay hydrated by drinking at least one cup of water for every cup of coffee that you drink. Also, don’t drink more than two or three cups a day and try to drink those cups before noon. That way, you can lower your caffeine dependence and stay hydrated. Your body will feel much better.

Emotional Health

Emotional health transcends the body because it relies on connections with others and your feelings. If you are emotionally healthy, then you should feel a sense of balance regarding your relationships with others and your emotions should not drastically interfere with your life. When your emotional health is not the best, this can lead to feelings of isolation, interpersonal conflict, being overwhelmed and not having a sense of purpose. This can absolutely affect your work by lowering your motivation and causing negative reactions.

  • Talk with coworkers: Find some time to chat with your coworkers whether it’s during lunch, in the break room or briefly in passing. You can share some of your problems with a person that understands your work environment. These conversations can make you feel like your points are valid and help vent your frustrations so that those thoughts don’t remain inside of you. Also, this is a good time to ask for input on something that you might be working on.
  • Set goals: Try to make a list of your goals and put it somewhere on your desk where you can see it. These goals can be work-related or not. They can be long-term and short-term goals of objectives you want to achieve in the future. After each accomplishment, check it off the list so you can see your progress over time. This list is a good way to remind you what you are working toward and what you have already done.
  • Find meaning: The concept of meaning is abstract and it really depends on what matters to you. If you find meaning in your job, then you feel like you have a purpose and you will have a positive outlook about what you do. When you believe that you are making a difference, you will be motivated to do your best work.
  • Ask for help: Some problems seem like they don’t have a solution and you feel like you’ve run into a brick wall. In these situations, it is best to seek out the help of a coworker. No one is expected to know all the answers. Your coworker might have a different perspective and can offer a solution that you would have never thought of on your own. A little bit of help can go a long way and make things easier. That way, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed and the problem can get solved faster. 

Mental Health

Mental health is a subject that is becoming more recognized by people as an integral part of life. You don’t need to be diagnosed with anything to take an interest in your mental health. This kind of health is internal and is all about your mind. It encompasses your thoughts about yourself and how you cope with everyday life. Bad mental health can occur due to a variety of factors, such as poor physical health. If your mental health declines, then you might experience anxiety, increased stress, a lowered immune system and a feeling of being stuck. These effects could lead to a decrease in work ethic and accomplishments.

  • Find a positive outlet: Don’t keep all the stress and negative thoughts inside of you. Those thoughts can fester inside of you and cause you to dread coming to work each day. Your emotions will build up and then you will suffer for no reason. Eventually, all that frustration might explode out of you, but there is a better solution. Air out your concerns with a coworker who might understand why you feel that way. They might be able to help you. However, if the problem is quite large and is affecting your work, speak with your boss about it. Don’t let it become bigger than it needs to be and take action to make your office comfortable.
  • Stay structured: Keep your day organized by planning out your projects for the day. Make sure to include breaks. These breaks can help get you back on track and provide some inspiration. Working nonstop can dampen your creativity so it’s important to shift your attention sometimes. Use these breaks to walk around, go outside, briefly chat with a coworker or get some water. Then get back to work with fresh eyes and a new outlook on the task.
  • Say no sometimes: Although it is nice to show your bosses that you are eager to work, sometimes you should refuse projects or delay them until later. Make sure to offer them an explanation instead of flatly denying their request. If you put too much on your plate, then the work will not get accomplished efficiently or thoroughly. Stress does not make a project better. It’s better to redirect it to someone that can devote the right amount of time to the task.
  • Reward yourself: If you did a job well done, then give yourself recognition. You deserve a treat for your hard work. A reward can help you in a variety of ways. It can give you something to look forward to and increase your motivation to work your hardest. Also, when you appreciate your achievements, you will brighten your mood and boost your self-worth. Even though it may seem useless to reward yourself for a job that you are paid to do, it improves your attitude and helps your self-esteem.

These tips don’t require a major overhaul of your life, rather they are small ideas that you can incorporate into your day. It is amazing how little tips like these can have such an effect on your work life. A sense of wellbeing is vital to having happiness; the two are closely weaved together. It’s also important to recognize that there are other parts of your health that aren’t as easily seen. A lack of sleep can be seen on your face due to the dark rings under your eyes, but bad mental health and emotional turmoil are not as easily noticed. Take care of yourself first and then the rest will fall into place. You’ll feel much better when you are healthy in all aspects of your life.

Originally published June 7, 2017