We know you probably are being inundated with health promotions at this time of year. However, as cliché as sounds, your health really is your wealth and a big part of marketable company culture. In fact, companies that have exemplary safety, health and environmental programs outperformed the S&P 500 by between 3 and 5 percent. If you want to create more value at work by being more productive, creative, energetic, and happy, health needs to be your top priority.
Establishing healthy habits at the office is actually easier in comparison to when you have time off. This is because of the routine and structure a workplace provides. Take advantage of this by practicing some of our favorite tips.
Be Conscious of What You Consume
No amount of coffee, life hacks, or quick tips will have an impact on your health quite like your diet. The food you consume directly impacts your mental sharpness, mood, and energy levels, so it is imperative that you are conscious of what you put into your body. You want to keep your blood sugar level steady, your nutrition high, and prevent toxins from entering your body.
A simple strategy is to eat as many plant-based foods as possible. This includes foods that came directly from the Earth such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds. In addition, eat fewer foods that create inflammation. These foods include sugar, gluten, dairy, meat, and most processed foods. “Perfect is the enemy of good,” so make it easy on yourself by just eating as many plant-based meals as possible and reducing your consumption of inflammatory foods when you can.
Pack it up.
Need an easy lunch to pack? A superfood salad. I make the base any organic green (spinach, arugula, romaine, kale, etc) and mix in as many “superfoods” as possible, based on the season and what happens to be in the kitchen. This could include berries, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, roasted vegetables, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, edamame, tofu, tempeh, and many more. For dressings, I like to either use a basic vinaigrette, hummus, mashed avocado, or tahini.
Other examples of healthy lunch or snack options: Oatmeal (quick, affordable, and very easy), vegetable soups, quinoa salads, avocados (I’ll eat a whole one as a snack), nut butters, nuts, vegetable chili, roasted vegetables (squash and brussel sprouts are my favorites), stir-fry with tofu and vegetables, apples, hummus, sweet potatoes, and many more.
Let’s go out.
When going out to eat, Try to choose the options with the largest amount of plant-based foods as possible. For example, at Chipotle, order a salad with whole grain rice, beans, extra fajita vegetables, tomato salsa, corn salsa, and guacamole (free when you order the veggie bowl). The larger the number of micronutrients, fiber, and variety of plants, the better.
Regardless of your work setting, you can find a way to incorporate activity into your day if you make it a priority.
Enjoy some fresh air.
If your office is in a decent area, consider walking during a portion your lunch break and eat lunch right after (even if it is only a 10-minute walk). Getting a breath of fresh air and change in setting is healthy for the mind and will bring you back feeling refreshed. If it is cold, pack appropriate clothes.
Take a break.
Another idea is to set a timer on your phone for an hour and walk to the bathroom or at least stand-up and stretch each hour. This will prevent you from feeling lethargic and make you more productive by keeping you conscious of how quickly an hour can pass by.
Try a workout.
Finally, my favorite option is to go to a nearby gym during my lunch break. To do this efficiently, I like to divide my lunch hour into 20 minutes. The first 20 minutes are my time to get to the gym and change. The second 20 minutes are for working out. During these 20 minutes, I either run a few easy miles on the treadmill (or outside if the weather permits), perform a short weight lifting routine, practice yoga, or do a combination of the three options. The last 20 minutes are for changing back into work clothes and going back to the office. Be sure to pack a gym bag the night before with a change of clothes, shoes, baby wipes, dry shampoo, and deodorant.
Outside of the Office
What you do outside of work directly affects your motivation to take care of yourself while at the office. The following are a few basic practices for your consideration.
Make sleep a priority.
The CDC reports inadequate sleep leads to worker errors, low productivity and safety incidents which affect business profitability. If you can manage to get approximately 8 hours of quality sleep a night, your leptin levels (a hormone that creates hunger) will be normal and you will not crave sugar as much (the body craves glucose when sleep deprived). To achieve this, practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding caffeine past 3 pm, avoiding your phone 20 minutes before bedtime, and sticking to a routine.
Are you happy?
When feeling down or not having enough sweetness in life, you are more likely to crave the sweetness through food. Make fun a priority and try to engage in activities that bring you joy and positivity. This includes anything like singing along to the radio on your commute, calling a friend, playing with your kids after work, or going to a dance class one or more times a week. Additionally, do your best to surround yourself with other happy individuals. The people around you dramatically impact your well-being and overall mindset.
Life is hard and stress is unavoidable. However, managing stress is key to controlling your health. The CDC reports that work-related stress is the number one workplace health issue and a major occupational risk, ranking above physical inactivity and obesity. Seek out healthy relationships, take time to relax, try a yoga class, journal your feelings, hug your loved ones, and avoid taking on more responsibilities than necessary.
In closing, becoming healthier not only greatly enhances your quality of life; it also dramatically increases the value you add at work, for clients, and for your family. When you feel better, you come up with better ideas, spread positivity to others, and are much more productive. If you’re a manager or business owner, check out some of the resources the CDC offers for companies looking to build a workplace wellness program. Even if you can’t get a full program off the ground, try consistently practicing a few of the listed tips and discover the positive impact you can create.
Here is to a happy, healthy, and productive 2019.