In a perfect world, the intense structures associated with office environments would be a non-issue. We could all pursue side hustles we’re passionate about or quit our day jobs to run frozen yogurt shops — and make a solid living doing it. Wouldn’t that be nice? It would be, and we’d probably all feel a lot better in that kind of world. Unfortunately, that’s just not reality — but who says we can’t learn to cope with the existing pressures of work in a healthier way?
When business networking expert and BNI CEO Ivan Misner was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, he decided to take steps in his own workplace to promote better health for himself and his employees. “Most people don’t consciously realize that the things they do, or don’t do, at the office when it comes to food and fitness can really harm their health,” he tells us. Misner — whose book Healing Begins in the Kitchen was released last month — points out these seven common unhealthy work habits, as well as easy tweaks that can put you back on track.
1. Having Deadline Drama: The pressure to meet deadlines is one of the most stress-inducing aspects of any job, and stress is a persistent threat to good health. While deadlines are a totally reasonable part of professional life and can’t exactly be eliminated, you can switch to a healthier approach to them. “Take five deeps breaths every 30 minutes to help keep your immune system strong,” Misner suggests. “Studies have shown that when your brain is oxygenated, you perform better, as well.”
2. Eating Fast & Easy Breakfasts: Maybe you’re running late to the office and feel like you have no choice but to swing by the convenience store for a donut, or maybe the conference room at work is constantly hosting pastry parties. Whatever the situation, if you’re making a habit of high-carb, starchy breakfasts, it’s time to revisit your morning routine. Indulging instead in eggs or a protein drink will boost your energy and help you maintain strength, which will keep your whole body healthy throughout the day.
3. Sitting Still: You’ve heard about the dangers of being stationary for too long (hello, step counter!), but we’re here with another friendly reminder — and this time, we’re more concerned for your immune system than your waistline. “Getting up and walking, or even using a stand-up desk, keeps your lymphatic system flowing and your oxygen levels higher,” Misner explains. “Take stretch breaks or march in place at your desk every half an hour.”
4. Over-Caffeinating: Start your day with one cup of coffee or black tea, but cut your caffeine intake after that. By switching over to water or herbal tea for those later-in-the-day refreshments, you’ll be feeding your body’s need for hydration and avoiding the extra acidity caused by too much caffeine. Elevated acid levels can lead to calcium depletion and weaken bones.
5. Bringing Work Home: With deadlines approaching and a boss to impress, it often feels like the best (or only) option is to bring a big stack of work home to finish after hours — but while this may be unavoidable sometimes, it should never become a regular habit. “The concept of ‘be here now’ is so important to your health,” encourages Misner. “Taking work home with you robs you of your personal time and adds to your immune-suppressing burden of stress.”
6. Skipping Lunch: On a busy day, it’s easy to suppress your appetite and focus on the projects at hand, but regularly skipping lunch will result in consequences even more negative than a grumbling pre-dinner tummy (we know — that already sounds pretty miz). Skipping a meal will cause your blood level to drop, which can slow you down and restrict your ability to think clearly. Be mindful of your physical and mental health by prioritizing midday nutrition for your body.
7. Having a Bad Attitude: Your mom had no patience for a bad attitude, and when it comes to your professional situations, you should also have a zero-tolerance policy for ‘tude. By laying off the complaining and negative gossip, you’ll do more than just look like a happier camper — you’ll be healthier too! “Positive attitudes lead to healing hormones… being released, which support healthy immune function,” Misner shares. “Negative attitudes lead to damaging hormones being released.” Remember that the people you choose to surround yourself with play a huge role in your attitude, so seek out office friends who are as happy and positive as you would like to be.
How do you maintain healthy office habits? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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