Make your office healthier

Make your office healthier

As I sit here eating macaroni & cheese out of a cup because I forgot to bring lunch today, and I had to raid my “in case I have to bring my daughter to the office” stash, it occurs to me that I could certainly be healthier – even at work.

Since a new year is just around the corner, it’s a great time to look at ways I – and a lot of small business owners – can develop healthier workplace habits and create a healthier work environment.

Keep healthy snacks handy

This one, of course, comes from my current lack of anything remotely nutritious to eat. Not only should you plan for any meals you’ll need while at your office, but you should also make sure you have healthy snacks for those times you may not “plan” to be working. Some days you just can’t get away to go out to lunch, or you may be working later than originally thought. For those situations, you want to have some healthy snack options to help you power through your work – while avoiding the office candy dish or vending machine. Granola bars or nuts are good options, as is cheese (if you have a refrigerator and coworkers who won’t steal your snacks.)

Keep your workspace clean

I am guilty of having a messy desk. It wasn’t always like this, but my days have become fuller – and when you have to triage your tasks, sometimes organizing your desk falls to the bottom of the list.

Of course, scientific studies have shown that a cluttered environment (work or otherwise) can hinder your ability to focus. That clutter can also be a significant cause of stress. In other words, not only can clutter in your workspace make you less efficient and productive; it can also have a negative influence on your health.

Reduce stress

This may sound like an impossible task. After all, for most people work is the primary source of stress. But there are things you can do in your office to reduce your stress level (and that of your coworkers)

Get some exercise

Dance around, take a walk, or even do a few jumping jacks. There are plenty of things you can do to get your blood pumping. You could even start a “walking club” to get yourself and your coworkers moving during the day. And if you’re doing something as a group, there’s the added bonus of coworker bonding.

Get an office pet

This could be tricky if you have employees or coworkers with allergies. But I can say from experience that having a pet in the office can be a great stress reliever. We have a cat in our office. And although she’s not a particularly friendly cat, sitting down to pet her for a few minutes has certainly lowered my blood pressure on more than one occasion.

Walk away

Sometimes you need a break. Five minutes may be all it takes to bring your stress level down. Get up from your chair, visit a coworker, sit in the break room, read a magazine article… something to take your mind off the task at hand, even briefly. When you get back to what you were doing, you may be able to focus better.

Pay attention to your office lighting

So few of us do this. Most of us suffer through the yellowish glow of fluorescent lighting, and seldom think twice about it. But the reality is that natural light (or even a high-quality artificial light) is so much better for our eyesight and overall health.

Find a work/life balance

When you’re a small business owner (like ourselves and many of our clients), it can be difficult (if not impossible) to draw the line between work life and personal life. We tend to try to take care of personal tasks (doctor’s appointments, etc) during the work day, and work tasks (checking and responding to emails) during what should be personal time.

As a small business owner, sometimes separating work and personal aren’t entirely possible. After all, in order for your business to be successful, you have to be available for your clients and/or employees. But having some limits is important. Even if it’s something as simple as going into your home office (or another designated space) when you’re checking and responding to work emails, you’re at least keeping a bit of separation between work and personal. It may seem silly to make such a distinction, but these small steps can go a long way toward helping balance professional and personal.

A healthier business owner runs a healthier business

It’s well known that healthier workers are more productive – and that goes for business owners as well. Even if you’re currently only a one- or two-person operation, it’s a good idea to implement healthy workplace strategies right away. These habits will only carry on as your business grows and becomes more successful.

Nov 25, 2015

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