Why Not Return to Work With Your Health Action Plan?
Labor Day in America. A day off from work and a day off to relax to kiss the summer goodbye. A day off, right? Not always. It seems that even on Labor Day, Labor Day, the American workforce is strong in action. Of course some employees must work, such as hospital staff and police, but what about the rest of the workforce? For many employees, Labor Day does not guarantee a day off from work. The grocery stores and retail establishments are open and in full force for Labor Day, a day that should be a day off of work for employees. Unfortunately, working too many hours or a living in a stressful work environment can wreck our personal health.
Americans put in more hours at work than just about any other industrialized country. According to the ILO:
“Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.” (from article called “The U.S Is The Most Overworked Nation In The World.”
America is a nation with a high work ethic; something I agree with and admire. But too many work hours without a good life balance leads to increasing problems with health issues and less job productivity. Here are more statistics from this article called “The U.S. Is The Most Overworked Nation In The World” .
It requires an effort to keep healthy when you are working many hours with limited vacation time and paid days off. Those work days feeling tired, having a constant cold you can’t get rid of or just being sick is a loss of productivity and days lost that you can feel good.
Do you have your personal health tips while on the job?
In keeping with thoughts of our American Labor Day, a day of what should be a paid day off for rest and fun, I have compiled a list of my 10 top tips for staying healthy on the job (for your return to work!). They are personally tested and I know they help. As you read down you may already practice some of these. Maybe other tips will be impossible to do at your job, but I feel most are possible and once you plan and set up your pattern, these work tips can be adapted easily to your job without much effort.
This list is not exhaustive. Do you have a few health techniques that you can add? Let me know what they are and I will publish an update using the best ones.
My 10 easy health tips for staying healthy at work
- Plan, Prepare, Produce: You do it at work for your work, now do it with your health at work. Plan on ways you can stay healthy on the job, prepare a realistic action plan, and produce results. Need help? Read the rest of these tips.
- Start the work day right: Get to your job in a relaxed way. Whatever time you start your workday, plan to eat something ahead of time. If breakfast is your meal before work, eat something; even a small meal will do, but include foods in this pre-work meal with healthy fat or protein to keep your blood sugar stable and feel satiated until your first break of the workday. That morning latte on the go from Wawa, Starbucks or McDonalds? Read the ingredients. Some of these flavored coffees and teas contain a lot of sugar which bring your energy level down a couple of hours later.
- Water Works Wonders: The drink of choice? Water with freshly squeezed lemon, lime or orange. Prepare your favorite water container with fresh water (filtered or bottled in preference) before work and leave it to drink all day by your workstation. You will be surprised on how well you can feel by staying hydrated and drinking fresh water all day long.
- Stay Moving: If you have a job that requires long hours sitting at a desk, take a break every 1-2 hours to get up and move around for 5 minutes. Not only will this help you focus better when you get back to your desk, but you will decrease your risk for DVT, deep vein thrombosis, an increasingly common ailment of employees who sit too long at a desk without moving.
- Food Satiety and Lower Stress Levels: Take a break to eat your meals. Take time to eat away from the workplace. If your job does not allow you time to leave your desk to have a break, at least turn on voice mail, turn your computer on sleep mode and use the time for meals to eat in a relaxed state. Ideally, eat something outside the office, never standing up or eating too quickly. Food satiety helps with stress levels and good nutrition. All workplaces should entitle you to have a break when working a full day. Use it as zen time.
- Power walk, power run, power! : Even if you cannot take your full break time to do real exercise, take a part of your break and do a power walk. If possible take it one step further and do a power run. Some workplaces have gyms on the work site, take advantage of them. Any exercise, even a short ten minute walk , helps with stress and blood pressure reduction.
- Afternoon snack: To avoid the afternoon blood sugar dip, the ‘ride home blues’, or major hunger during after work dinner preparation (which leads to nibbling half your dinner before it is on the table), prepare ahead with handy and healthy afternoon snacks. They should contain something with either protein or healthy fats. Examples include: dark chocolate, nuts, a low-fat or full-fat yogurt (not non-fat), dried fruit and nuts together. Snacks to avoid: sugary drinks, sugary cookies and cakes. Basic message in the afternoon too: avoid sugar or combine small natural sugar (like fructose in fruit) with fat and/or protein.
- Just say No. This is probably the hardest one of the 10 tips to do because it requires delicacy and the strength to say NO! Does your job have weekly ‘bring in donuts” or birthday party drinks and cakes in the afternoons? Just say “NO” to cakes, cookies and all those goodies that are served at work or that your colleagues bring in and beg you to take part. Can’t say no? Why not use one of my favorites (and it is not a lie for me), “No, thank you, I don’t eat sugar very much, it makes me feel bad” or just “No thank you”. If you can’t say no why not either take “just a tiny piece” or just participate with drinking a drink? If you plan and eat a good breakfast and lunch your body shouldn’t be hungry nor craving these high sugared foods that are one of the fast ways to add calories and extra weight.
- Practice safe stress: For me, this is one of the most important tips to stay healthy. Avoiding high levels or managing stress on the job is a very critical part to staying healthy long-term. Learning to stay away from this hidden killer: STRESS can be self-taught and controlled through using the other 9 tips on this list. The difficulty with stress is that we often do not see the real health effects of long-term stress on our physical and mental well-being in the immediate term. By planning and practicing good health habits at work, it can help to keep your stress level at a healthy balance and avoid blowing up either at work, at home or in the car! What is your favorite way to deal with stress at work?
- Find a work health buddy. What I love about American work places is that you can really find some true friends at your job. Why not get your colleagues together for a walking club during lunch hour or just depend on one work health buddy? Work health buddies can be a group or single person that support each other and help keep track of health goals on the job. Healthy work relationships are also key in a good work environment.
Please feel free to incorporate one or all of these work health tips. I can guarantee that if you use most of these tips on a regular basis you will feel better on the job and at home. Everything you do counts, even your small efforts. Feel free to share this list with your work colleagues and friends. You can do so via email or another share method below this article. Looking forward to hearing your success stories and comments.
Much success at work and with your health! Success at work helps your health, success with your health helps your work.