Office Wellness

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We all want to be well, or at least more-well. We all work (well, most of us work). We all work at an office (well, mostly anyway). And here we find challenges: unhealthy food options, sitting, stress, no fresh air, no sunlight, and more. Work life, especially office-based work life, is often seen as an obstacle to healthy living, understandably so.

And yet there ARE ways to incorporate health & wellness into work & office & meetings etc. Here are a few ideas:

  • Walk. A quick 2-minute lap-around-the-desks, up and down the stairs, circuit of the building etc. Head office Wealthsmiths are lucky to have a special 1000m “Stride” route marked out in the building but even without this, almost everyone can include a bit of walking into their work day. It’s just a matter of making a start.
  • Stand. Prolonged sitting can be harmful so try to stand up often. Try mini-breaks (just a minute or so helps) every 30 minutes or so. Stand-up meetings can be energizing and creative and they are healthy for sure. Many call-center agents stand when making calls and they feel better for it. Maybe consider a stand-up desk even.
  • Fruit. We know that when people have healthy options, they eat better, so making sure you have alternatives to the pies & pastries, is critical. It’s a great idea to form small “fruit clubs” where a small group of people take it in turns to bring fruit to the office, for the group to share.
  • Water. You want to drink 1-2 liters a day at the office. Get jugs or large glasses. Add a slice or two of lemon, orange, cucumber, mint or berries. Ice if you have it. Get this onto everyone’s desk (yours and those around you). Refill each others’ glasses & jugs. Repeat…
  • Challenges. Why not enter a walk or run or cycle or swim event, as a group. Make sure it is far enough in the future so that everyone has enough time to train. Do some training together. Support each other. Celebrate when you succeed but be sure to book the next challenge immediately. Repeat…
  • Talk. Share your favourite healthy recipes. Discuss the best options from the local catering outlet or shop (there are nearly always some good options and if not maybe you can approach management with ideas). Forward valuable articles you’ve read online. Make wellness part of your conversation at work.

So there are some simple but hopefully valuable ideas.

What works for you? What happens in your office? How are you making your workplace healthier? Please post your comments below and let’s really share around workplace wellness.

About the Author:

Colin was a medical practitioner (GP) from 1988 to 2000. Since then he has worked in the wellness field, designing, developing and delivering various products and services. Out of clinical practice for many years now he no longer practices medicine formally but retains a keen interest in helping people become more-well versions of themselves. He acts as a wellness coach and not as a medical practitioner today. Colin's approach and philosophy is based on empowerment: the notion that people only need a little help to make choices they usually already want to anyway - it's about respect and support rather than instruction or correction. Colin lives at the Vaal Dam with his wife Cathy. He spends time walking mountains, cycling, motorbike riding, kayaking, sailing and always looking for better & better balance.

9 Comments

  1. Faith Podile July 3, 2018 at 5:27 am - Reply

    This is a very informative article. I didn’t know standing up helps ,most of the time I work sitting down and I sometimes get back pains and my feet will swell up. I will definitely stand up now and again.

  2. Refilwe Letebele July 3, 2018 at 6:00 am - Reply

    Water is a big factor in our office; we all buy a 1.5l bottle of water daily and try to get through it before the end of the day. Also, although we have a delivery service from our canteen, we most times prefer to walk to the shopping center nearby the office to get fresh air and stay active. Another important factor not mentioned in the article is how to maintain mental health–it is so helpful to have a colleague to confide in when things (whether work related or personal) become a little tough to deal with.

  3. kelvin golden July 3, 2018 at 6:24 am - Reply

    Great article…I would add that its important to have healthy snacks in the work place and to do some jumpin jacks in between breaks

  4. Nicholas July 3, 2018 at 6:29 am - Reply

    These are very helpful tips, but be careful not to use them all at once, as it may turn out to be unproductive. since you may lose focus on your daily/current task at hand. I like the Talk tip the most, on your “two minute walk around the desks”, stop to talk to someone. I have come to learn and share a lot by doing this. Invaluable Knowledge, is not in your training manuals, or process documents, it is in the experience of your colleagues around your. Go Ask Them Something! I dare you.

    • Dr Colin Burns July 3, 2018 at 6:44 am - Reply

      Thanks Nicholas. Yes, some caution is necessary: work is primarily a place of, well, work! But in most cases these small changes actually increase productivity rather than decreasing it. This is the great win-win of wellness: well people are more productive too, so everyone wins.

  5. linda.neethling@sanlam.co.za July 3, 2018 at 6:34 am - Reply

    It is very important to drink at least 1.5l or at least 8 glasses of water. You can also drink look warm water with lemon juice after you got out of bed in the morning. You can do excises in the office behind your desk. You can turn you head to the left side and then to right side for 10 sec. Then drop you chin on you chest for 10 sec. You can bring both your arms in front of you that you elbows meet and press them together for a few sec. Then you can also stretch you arms in front of you and stretch your fingers for a few sec. This is al stationery exercises that can be done.

  6. Thando Angome July 3, 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Drinking a lot of water, standing and walking around is the methods that I mostly use as I am in the contact centre department, I also sometimes look away from the computer screen as it cause eye problems.
    Keeping the desk clean and tidy is also important as germs can cause bacteria’s that build up flu and other sicknesses.

  7. Thando Angome July 3, 2018 at 8:31 am - Reply

    I also sometimes look away from the computer screen as it cause eye problems.
    Keeping the desk clean and tidy is also important as germs can cause bacteria’s that build up flu and other sicknesses.

  8. Dr Colin Burns July 9, 2018 at 8:08 am - Reply

    There are some great comments here, with some neat ideas. Eye movement (reduce screen glare), clean desks (actually very important on many levels), healthy snacks, jumping jacks, etc. Water is clearly popular and has been mentioned by many, and fair enough. It just shows that we CAN be more healthy at work! Thanks everyone.

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