For resources on managing current events, log in to the portal using your company code.

Wellness at Work: How to Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Health Even on the Busiest Days

June 25, 2024

Have you ever gotten to the end of the workday and realized you haven’t eaten a thing since breakfast? Do you find yourself reaching for another cup of coffee to get through the afternoon slump? Are you experiencing increased back pain, headaches, or dry eyes or finding yourself snippier and more irritable with your colleagues and loved ones?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you have put your physical and mental health on the backburner in your day-to-day life. And you aren’t alone! Research shows that Americans struggle to balance work and family responsibilities, and that our engagement in healthy activities like exercise, preventive healthcare appointments, and even sleep suffer as a result. Don’t worry, though. By incorporating some simple yet effective practices into our daily routines, we can create healthier and more fulfilling work workdays.


Here are some tips for building more physical and mental wellness into your every day:


  1. Move Your Body Regularly: Staying in one position, such as sitting at our computers, for prolonged periods takes a toll on our bodies and our minds. Luckily, taking short movement breaks throughout your workday can help counteract these negative effects and boost your energy to tackle the rest of your day. Try taking short walks around your home or the office or doing a few squats or lunges to get your blood flowing. For people with mobility challenges, seated stretches are equally effective. Even a few minutes of physical activity can make a big difference in how you feel throughout the day. For an added energy boost, get outside for some sunshine and fresh air!


  1. Prioritize Ergonomics: If you end the day with your lower back aching, poor ergonomics may be to blame. Make sure your workspace is set up in a way that supports good posture and reduces strain on your body. Adjust your chair, desk, and computer monitor to the appropriate height. Ideally, your desk height should allow your arms to rest comfortable with your elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees. Your feet should rest flat on the floor or on a footrest, and your knees should be at approximately a 90-degree angle with your thighs parallel to the ground or sloping downward slightly. The top of your monitor screen should be at or just below eye level when you are sitting upright in your chair, and the monitor should be about an arm’s length away from your eyes to reduce eye strain. You can also consider using ergonomic accessories like a lumbar cushion or a standing desk converter. By being a little more conscious of your physical environment, you can prevent aches and pains and stave off longer term injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.


  1. Take Care of Your Eyes: In addition to ensuring your monitor is not too close, you can further reduce eye strain by remembering to give your eyes a rest! Practice the 20-20-20 rule as much as you can throughout the day: For every 20 minutes of screen time, you should look away at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will help reduce eye fatigue and leave you less bleary-eyed at the end of the day. You can also consider wearing blue light-blocking glasses, which reduce your exposure to the blue light waves produced by all our screens. These waves contribute to eye strain and can also keep us awake at night.


  1. Fuel Your Body with Nutritious Foods—and Water: We all know the feeling of wanting a nap after a big meal! What we eat clearly has a significant impact on our energy levels and mental clarity. Instead of reaching for sugary snacks or caffeine to get you through the day, opt for nutritious options that will nourish your body and sustain your energy levels. Pack healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, or yogurt to keep at your desk, and aim for balanced meals that include a mix of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Staying hydrated is also essential to our energy levels and cognitive function, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day!


  1. Practice Mindfulness: The demands of our jobs and family lives often leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Practicing mindfulness can help us stay more present and calmer in the face of challenges, improving our performance, productivity, and overall mental and physical health. Take a few minutes each day to engage in a mindfulness practice such as deep breathing, meditation, or simply focusing on the sensations of the present moment. To help build the habit, set a reminder on your phone or computer to take a mindfulness break once every couple of hours. Over time, these practices can help reduce stress, enhance concentration, and give you a greater sense of inner peace amid the chaos of the workday.


  1. Protect Your Boundaries: We are all hyper-connected these days, and it’s easy to feel like we need to be available 24/7. But constantly feeling like we’re on call can lead to burnout and can significantly impact our health, well-being, and relationships over time. Set boundaries around your work hours and office commitments and prioritize activities that recharge your batteries outside of work. Whether it’s spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby or sport, or simply taking time to relax and unwind, carving out space for yourself is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Managers and employers can help employees better set and protect boundaries by allowing for flexible working arrangements when possible, respecting employees’ out-of-office hours, and modeling good behavior by taking time to shut down and step away themselves!


  1. Foster Social Connections: Whether it’s in person or online, we spend a huge amount of our lives with our colleagues. Getting to know one another as people can make that time much more enjoyable! Take the time to connect with your co-workers on a personal level, whether it’s grabbing lunch together, starting a workplace sports or trivia team, or just chatting over coffee or on Teams or Slack. Having a strong support network at work can provide a sense of belonging and camaraderie, reducing feelings of isolation and enhancing your overall job—and life—satisfaction.


  1. Seek Support If You Need It: If you’re struggling with your health or facing challenges that are impacting your well-being at work, don’t hesitate to seek support. Your EAP provides resources to support your mental and physical health, such as counseling services and wellness initiatives. Don’t be afraid to reach out to HR or a trusted colleague if you need help navigating difficult situations or managing stress.


Bringing more physical and mental wellness practices into your daily work routine doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Small changes can add up quickly! Remember, taking care of yourself isn’t selfish—it’s essential for being your best both at work and in life.

Share this on