About 15 years ago, I worked with a woman who used to take a quick nap during her lunch break. She’d sit on a comfy chair, close her eyes and sleep.
Some members of the management team hated it. They thought she ought to be talking with her coworkers during the lunchbreak, after all, the comfy chairs were for informal team bonding, not sleeping.
The rest of us just found it a bit awkward, especially when she was napping right next to you.
Turns out, this woman was way ahead of her time. Now it’s no secret that power napping is a brain boost and a great way to grab some wellness during your workday.
Here are three more workplace wellbeing hacks to help you replenish body and brain while you work:
Know how to set up (and use) a safe digital workstation
In an ideal world, we’d all have a workstation risk assessment guru visit us at our workstation, watch how we use it and then talk us through the optimal set up for our body size and shape, how we can improve the use of the equipment we have, and any ergonomic accessory purchases that might be useful within our budget.
If this option is open to you – seize it. Unfortunately, we don’t all live in this ergonomic nirvana. So, for the rest of us, brushing up on how to set up and use a workstation well is the best way to protect ourselves against musculoskeletal injuries.
There are lots of great diagrams of well set up workstations that you can Google in a flash. Print one and tape it near your keyboard so that every time you start to work you can check yourself. And every time you move to a different space, you can re-set up safely again.
The trick is not being afraid to adjust your workstation using whatever materials you have access to. I find that most people are waiting for the ergonomic workstation fairy to show up and do the work for them. This is YOUR wellbeing we’re talking about, so get help when you can, but don’t wait for permission to make changes that will help immediately.
Move, move, move for more workplace wellbeing
My journey with serious repetitive strain injury caused me many years of physical and mental distress. But today I consider myself lucky because I know how to use pain as an alarm bell.
Now, it’s my cue that I’m overdoing it, or not using myself or my workstation well. I’m not suggesting that you wait until you are in pain to make a change, but pain can be a handy reminder that a change is needed.
And because I learned the hard way, I now listen to my body when it warns me something’s wrong. When I’m working, and I feel the first ache, I know I need to stand up and move. (Actually, I know I should’ve stood up and moved before this, but I’m still not perfect!)
Moving during the workday is such an important part of protecting your wellbeing, it cannot be emphasized enough. And it’s not only beneficial to the body. Your brain wants you to move too.
Even for those of you who are dedicated gym-goers, I’m sorry to say, it isn’t enough to offset the ill effects of sitting all day. That doesn’t mean you should stop going to the gym, simply bring some regular, gentle movements into your work day too.
The movement you do during your workday doesn’t have to be strenuous and it doesn’t have to last long, it only needs to be done regularly throughout your day – as frequently as you can manage.
So, stand, walk, climb stairs, do the Macarena – just don’t be still all day.
For great info on moving at work, why it’s so important, and how you can do more of it, check out Active Workplace Expert Justin Eade.
Connect in the flesh for even more workplace wellbeing
We all know we’re spending way too much time with our screens, and too little time making real-life connections with people. This social isolation is affecting our bodies and brains.
Taking steps to fix this in our social lives is great, but what if we extended this remedy to work?
For example, the next time you and your coworker go out to get lunch, could you agree to leave your phones in your desk drawers? Fully-detached breaks are better for you than breaks that involve constant phone checking, so leave your tiny screens behind to get the best benefits. (In addition to the advantages of a screen break, lunch time is a great opportunity to reap other benefits too. Getting away from your desk for a short walk, being near nature – even if it’s only a few trees – also helps boost body and brain function.)
Before, during and after meetings is another great opportunity to increase real-life interactions with your coworkers – when we are free from the distraction of our phones.
Start small by choosing one meeting that you could designate device-free. Include a request in the meeting invitation that participants come without screens of any kind.
Of course, there are meetings when digital devices are required, but I’ve sat in plenty of meetings when they weren’t needed and watched people pay more attention to their phones than the proceedings. These are missed opportunities for substantive team bonding and ideas generation.
Don’t underestimate the power of small, easy-to-do behavior changes to help you protect and nurture your wellbeing during your workday.