Erin Nitschke – Blog Post #1 – March 23, 2012
Let’s face it – the American culture is one that lives to work. This can make it a challenge to prioritize the act of nurturing a well work place. In a typical day, many of us experience events such as meetings, phone calls, deadlines, and presentations, which often take priority over our personal workplace wellness practices. This is likely due to the fact that we, as we busy ourselves with tasks and to-do lists, forget that a workplace culture of wellness actually facilitates the accomplishment of those tasks and to-do’s in an effective, efficient, energetic – and even enthusiastic – manner. Although daily tasks and deadlines are crucial to job performance – do they really take priority over personal wellness? The answer, as I’m sure you have guessed, is no. The bad news – the American “live to work” sentiment is unlikely to change. The great news – there are some simple and inexpensive ways that you can influence a positive change in the workplace by encouraging and modeling certain wellness practices and behaviors. Here are a few ideas to help you and your colleagues get well, be well, and stay well.
- Walking Meetings: Meetings are certainly an example of sedentary behavior, but do they always have to be? Reduce seat time by encouraging a walking meeting. First, evaluate how “walkable” your workplace is. Next, ask your co-workers for input. Involving colleagues in a decision will help garner ownership and support for your idea. Finally, work to discuss this with your supervisor or manager. Even if the entire meeting cannot be done feasibly or effectively in a walking fashion, perhaps the first 5 to 10 minutes can. This simple act will boost brain power, encourage creativity and problem-solving, and make you and your co-workers feel energized! Remember – activity is cumulative; even short bursts of activity throughout the day are beneficial.
- Active Social Capital: Just as activity is important for overall health and well-being, so is positive social support. So why not combine the two? Invite colleagues for a brisk 10 minute walk once a day or join a company or community sports-league. Many communities also offer active events such as runs, walks, triathlons, etc. You can benefit from training with a colleague both socially and physically.
- Flexible Benefits: A large number of jobs are sedentary in nature. We spend a lot of the day sitting, typing, texting, and tweeting with others. If you utilize a calendar system at work on your computer or cell phone, try setting reminders every couple of hours to get up and stretch – even if it is for just 5 minutes. Periodic stretching helps energize the body and mind and reduce stiffness as a result of maintaining a relatively inactive position for several hours at a time.
- Change Seats: More often than not, our workspaces are not ergonomically designed. We can start by evaluating the chairs we use. If you have a job that is largely sedentary, consider investing in a stability ball chair. This tool is not only comfortable, but it provides a unique opportunity to enhance core strength and improve posture. If a stability ball chair is not within the budget (starting at approximately $70 on www.amazon.com), consider purchasing just the stability ball; many retail for under $20. Remember, stability balls come in different sizes (typically, 55cm and 65cm). To determine which size is appropriate for your height, check the box for guidelines or test one out. When seated on the ball, your knees should be at a 90° angle.
- Out of Site-Out of Mind: Candy can be a major culprit. Evaluate the availability of enticing candy in the area nearest your desk or office. Generally, candy is displayed in plain sight or in a clear crystal dish. Switch out the dish for one that is opaque and preferably has a lid. Research shows that people are less likely to mindlessly consume candy and sweets if they are not on display.
Keep this in mind as you embark on this journey, leadership in the workplace takes on many forms – a manager, a top executive, a department chair, etc.; however, it does not necessarily have to be these individuals that take the lead in creating a culture of wellness. You hold more power than you might think. Choose your role in your workplace when it comes to positively impacting the culture that surrounds and influences you. These strategies are uncomplicated and easy to accomplish without a lot of time, money, or extra resources – and the best part is, these ideas represent a very small fraction of the strategies that can be employed in any workplace – even in the home.
Please, share your ideas with us. Let’s take this opportunity to learn with and from each other! Put your creativity to work and enjoy the journey in nurturing a well workplace!