Wise words: How to make your workplace healthier and happier

If you’ve read this blog before, you will know how much we love inspirational stories and articles surrounding bettering yourself in general.

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We’re big fans of Oprah and the type of messages her platforms put out, like  16 Ways to Make Your Workday Healthier, Happier—and Oh-So-Fulfilling.

Take a look at what Oprah.com suggests:

1. Find out what kind of flexibility you have at your job. If you stay late Monday nights, could you take Friday afternoons off? Maybe one day a month you can work from home—and that’s the day to schedule the plumber, electrician, furnace repairman.

2. Sit on a big exercise ball instead of a chair. You’ll save your back and feel more energetic. Ask whether your company will do an ergonomic assessment of your workspace. Many do.

3. Look away from the computer screen every 45 minutes to relieve eyestrain. And stand up for a minute every hour to avoid low-back pain.

4. Pick a special day to celebrate yourself. Have a picnic lunch with a coworker, schedule a mammogram, skip out for a quick shopping spree.

5. Don’t wait to inhale. If your boss or a deadline sends you into a panic, do a mini-meditation, suggests Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Boston IVF and the author of Self-Nurture: Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath; imagine you’re lying in a field, or just focus on your breathing. If that doesn’t work to dispel the anxiety and help you deal with the crisis, Susan Love, MD, medical director of her eponymous Breast Cancer Foundation and the author of Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause & Hormone Book, suggests an alternative approach: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You might say, “The boss will yell at me.” Then ask again, What’s the worst that could happen? You yell back? You apologize? The point is, Love says, “No one’s going to die.”

6. Wash your hands every time you pass a sink—it’s the best way to avoid catching the current office bug. If a coworker comes in coughing or feverish, encourage her to go home.

7. See the light. If you feel lethargic, depressed, and carb crazy at work, poor office lighting may be giving you mild symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Norman Rosenthal, MD, an expert on SAD at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the author of The Emotional Revolution. Try a desk lamp designed for SAD sufferers (you can find them for $225 to $250 at SunBox.com and Amazon.com), and make it a point to get outside for lunch.

8. Control your e-mail time. Block off five or ten minutes a few times a day to open and answer messages, and if possible avoid reading them as they pop into your box.

9. Leave it behind. When you head home for the day, walk or commute without mulling over work (we dare you!); if you drive, listen to music. “Feel the freedom of walking away and going to another area of life,” says LLuminari CEO Elizabeth Browning.

10. Ask for help. If you’re in a bind, see if a coworker will pitch in for you with the promise that you’ll cover for her the next time she’s in a crisis.

11. Make sure you’re not working too hard. This can be tricky, according to LLuminari experts, some of whom have trouble figuring it out for themselves. “Maybe this is a time in your life to pull out all the stops,” Browning says. “Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel between nine and five.” Are you comfortable with the effort you’re putting in? Or—and here’s where the long hours get unhealthy—do you have such a heavy workload you practically need to sleep at the office to get your job done? Then again, are you using work to avoid being at home? Is your job the only thing that gives you a sense of self-worth? Depending on your answers, you may want to talk to your boss about delegating some of your responsibilities, or to a therapist to address the problems that are driving you to live at the office.

12. Ask yourself once this month what you want to be when you grow up. Is it what you’re doing now? If not, can you take more pleasure and pride in your job, even if it’s only helping you pay the bills for the moment? Is it time to reinvent yourself?

13. Schedule a 30-minute break into your workday—for tomorrow. Write it down in your calendar or PalmPilot, tack it up on your bulletin board next to what to do in case of fire. If a half hour is tough to swallow, start with ten minutes. But tomorrow, take that break. Doctors’ orders.

14. If you work in a high-rise, take the stairs every time you have to go up or down five flights. At lunch choose a restaurant that’s a 15-minute walk away. Hurry there and back (you’ll have more time to eat), and you can get one and a half or even two miles under your belt.

15. When you make a phone call, stand on one leg. “I balance on my right foot for as long as I can. And when I get fatigued, I go to my left,” says surgeon Nancy Snyderman, MD, the author of Girl in the Mirror. It strengthens your legs and keeps your balance sharp.

16. Get up and walk around the block once a day to break the routine and clear your mind. Take a friend with you for extra stress-busting.

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About releaseyourvoices

Release Your Voice with Pamela Hart: Public Speaking training based in Vancouver BC. We offer training seminars, oral presentation skills, corporate communication, private lessons or group training
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