Workplace Wellness Makeover

People working in an office

If you work in a 9 to 5 setting, you spend the majority of your week at work. And if your workspace was ergonomic, pleasant, and healthy wouldn’t it make you feel less stressed and more efficient? That’s the argument you’ll want to use with your boss as you request that many of the following healthy changes be made in your office. (Others are your sole responsibility to handle.)

Posture — You should be able to sit in your chair with your feet on the floor and knees bent at a 90 degree angle and knees level with the hips. Your wrists, forearms, and elbows should be level with the keyboard and your eyes should be level with the top of your computer monitor. If that’s not currently the case, get adjusting!

Monitor Placement — Your computer monitor should be 20-28 inches from your eyes. To give your peepers a much-needed break, you should make a point of looking away from your computer screen 3-4 times an hour for at least 20 seconds.

Lighting — Got windows? Great! That means you’re being exposed to some natural light during the day. If not, and you’re sitting under harsh fluorescents, consider swapping them out with full-spectrum bulbs that mimic sunlight. If you can’t do anything about your fluorescent lights, fill your office with plants—they thrive in that kind of light and will provide extra greenery as well as act as a natural air filter.

Personal Touches — Hang a piece of art on the wall, keep a few framed photos on your desk, and bring in a favorite mug for tea. It all helps to give your space a feeling of warmth and personality.

Break Time! — Get up, frequently. Studies show that sitting for long periods of time is truly detrimental to your long-term health (see Resources).

Food Choices — It’s easy to avoid the temptation of the vending machine when you have healthy snacks stashed in your drawer. Keep nuts and dried fruit on hand for when you feel like a pick-me-up. Also, making a habit of bringing your own healthy lunch to work means you’ll be less likely to skip your midday meal. That’s always a good thing!

Friendly Colleagues — Aside from making the workday more pleasant, friends at work can improve your wellbeing. Sharon Toker, a Tel Aviv University researcher found that employees who believe they have the personal support of peers at work are more likely to live a longer life.

Employers want their workforce to stay healthy so don’t be shy about requesting all you need to make your space comfortable, healthy, and ergonomic—even if that includes special requests for such items as a standing desk (yes, they exist!), an air filter (especially if you work in an old building), or special blinds (to mute afternoon sun). In many cases, your wellness depends on it.

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