Avoid Stress Before It’s Too Late!
According to OECD Statistics, the average American worked 38.6 hours per week in 2016. We were told that the age of technology would reduce our work time and increase our leisure hours. Yet when we compare this figure to that of 2000, we find that working hours have reduced by 0.3 hours (approximately 20 minutes). We’re not exactly getting the extra time for the fun that we were promised, are we? If we are lucky, we have enough time for one extra latte with friends per week.
According to a survey by Attitudes in the American Workplace VII, 80% of workers feel stress on the job. 14% of respondents felt like striking a coworker in the previous year – hopefully, they didn’t.
The workplace can be a tough, unpleasant place, and we spend a huge chunk of our lives there. This means that to keep yourself sane and well, you need to make an effort to improve your workplace health.
How many times have you felt stressed just looking at the never-ending size of your To Do List? Do you have to work virtually 24/7 just to reach the end of the list? That’s not good for you; your body’s not designed for that. You aren’t a machine. You can’t keep on working and expect to perform at your peak.
Your body needs rest and relaxation to perform at the highest level. While this is fairly obvious in terms of physical performance, it is just as important to ensure peak mental activity. Taking regular breaks boosts productivity.
A University of Illinois study concluded that taking brief breaks from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for long periods of time.
This is one of the reasons why Francis Cirillo invented the Pomodoro Technique, which requires you to take a 3 – 5-minute break from a task every 25 minutes.
If you are wondering what a giant tomato has to do with time management, we have covered it in more detail (along with providing a free guide on how to carry it out) in 7 Tools and Techniques to Improve Your Time Management.
TIP: FocusMe is ideal for helping you stay on task while working. You can set FocusMe to only give you access to tempting but time-wasting sites like Facebook and YouTube during your breaks.
Your body is not made to be stuck in one position for long periods of time. It is certainly not designed for some of the more common work-related positions, like sitting at a desk pecking away at a keyboard all day.
Studies show that sitting for more than an hour can have negative effects on your health, leading to increased risks of heart disease. However, studies also indicate that standing at work can cause its own issues, such as varicose veins and atherosclerosis. Do we all really have to spend our workdays perched on a yoga ball – not much fun for the uncoordinated amongst us?
Actually, the right answer is to mix things up. Spend different parts of your day sitting and standing.
Try and keep your back straight as much as you can. When you take your regular breaks, get up and move around.
Time to put on the lycra and start moving that body. Of course, your boss might get slightly upset if you start pedaling on your exercycle behind your desk.
There’s no need to upset your fellow workers by doing a full workout at your workstation, wearing the most unflattering of exercise gear. There are many other ways you can keep your body moving.
We have some relatively simple stretches you can perform at your desk (hopefully without the lycra).
Water is your most important nutrient. It is involved in every metabolic reaction in your body. However, most of us don’t drink enough water.
In short, if you drink enough water, you think better, have improved strength and endurance, feel better, are healthier, and live longer. It’s a pity that it doesn’t have a more enticing taste!
And when I say water, I mean water – not coffee, tea, gin, or any other liquid that contains water. If you want to remain healthy, you need to drink about 2 liters each day, which is equivalent to about 8 to 10 decent-sized glasses.
It’s all very well attempting to maintain good posture, but if your basic equipment is poorly designed, your health will suffer. Firms often buy cheap office chairs. These are usually mass produced and not designed for the user’s wellbeing. These chairs are particularly bad for a “plus-sized” person.
Regular office chairs don’t provide adequate back support. Many of these cheaper chairs don’t allow for the backrest to be adjusted, and this often worsens lower back pain.
Ergonomic desk chairs are better designed for long periods of sitting. They are usually adjustable and can be customized to fit a person’s height, spinal curvature, and seating arrangement. They also have lower back and lumbar support and more comfortable neck positioning. All of this leads to an improved ability to work for longer periods of time without suffering from back pain.
You may not have too much say about the air quality in a corporate environment, but you should do whatever you can to improve the air around your workstation. Many people suffer from occupational allergies, coming down with headaches, rashes, and breathing issues due to poor air quality.
If you can, open any nearby windows to help with the air flow. Encourage your business to improve the filtering in its air conditioning system. If all else fails, consider purchasing an air purifier with a HEPA filter to sit on your desk.
Close your eyes. Breathe calmly. Try and clear your mind. If stress is starting to creep up on you, meditation can do wonders for your wellbeing.
It probably isn’t a great idea to imitate a Buddhist monk in front of your workmates or clients, but I’m sure you can find a quiet spot to sneak in some meditation.
Meditation provides you with profound rest. It allows you to fully rejuvenate your body in a fairly short amount of time. It releases even the deepest stresses and strains.
Ideally, you should allow 20 minutes twice a day for meditation. The loss of 40 working minutes a day may horrify you – and your bosses – but it won’t be long before the benefits become obvious.
It is easy to get swamped with your work. The problem with this is that you sometimes get so buried that you don’t get the opportunity to think up ways to improve your situation. Job 37 follows Job 36 follows Job 35, ad infinitum.
The danger is that one day, your body or your mind will rebel, and you will suddenly break down – either physically or mentally.
It is far better to take gradual steps to improve your workplace health. That way, you and your colleagues can remain productive, happy, and healthy. It will also make you far less likely to spend your leisure hours worrying about your work problems.