Incorporating Wellness at Work can be Simple yet Transformative

As we work in the first quarter of the New Year, health and wellness are always top of mind. Working in an office setting, however, can often discourage physical activity throughout the day, leaving today's workers disheartened and sedentary. Incorporating wellness into your workday or in your workplace doesn't have to take work. Instead, it can just take small, manageable changes to your daily routine that will have a big impact.

The following are simple yet transformative tips that anyone can do at work:

•Diversify your posture throughout the day to stay active, offsetting some of the damage done by sitting all day. Swap out your task chair for an active seat like turnstone's Buoy or even a yoga ball for a few hours to get a little moving and grooving while sitting; spend a portion of the work day standing or working at height-adjusted desks; let your next conference call become a walking call. In fact, I usually take conference calls walking the halls or even just pacing a conference room for a physical and mental change of pace.

• Every few hours, get out of your desk, walk around and talk to a different person for 10-15 minutes. Not only will these short breaks improve circulation and reduce eyestrain and buildup of muscle tension, they'll help you foster better relationships with employees and colleagues but also might spark fresh ideas.

•Bring your furry friend to work from time to time. Dogs have long been regarded as man's best friend but they are also increasingly seen as a way to limit occupational stress. I take my dog (Mini Golden Doodle named Miles) to work because he won't let me forget to get up and take breaks. What we might forget to do for ourselves, we will not forget to do for dogs or kids!

•Purposely leave your brown bag at home. Even though it seems counter-intuitive, I don't pack lunch sometimes because it forces me to go outside and take a walk to get lunch.

•Carve out time to run errands during your work day. I actually save pesky errands, like depositing a check at the bank, to do during the work hours with my running shoes. Why? Not only do I get some fresh air and a mental break from the task at hand, but I also get to cross errands and mini-workout off my list all at once.

•And if nothing else, close your eyes and breathe! Meditation is becoming a more popular way to stay focused and reduce stress at work. Sneak in 10 deep breaths while you're getting your morning coffee or even at your desk. Take a deep breath and recite a daily intention to yourself every time you put the phone down after a call.

These tips above have been personally effective for me so much that I've shared them with my employees, letting them know that it's okay to take breaks at work. As a result, wellness has become part of our work culture.

As a business leader, you too can encourage a wellness culture in your workplace by leading by doing. Here are additional tips to help you incorporate a wellness culture at work:

•Keep your ‘business casual' dress code. It's harder for your employees to bike to work or take a walk during lunch in heels and ties.

•Don't make your employees sit for every occasion. Put Buoys in your conference rooms and sprinkle standing desks throughout your work space for a physical and mental change of pace.

•Incorporate a mandatory leave the building during the day policy. When I was running operations for a startup, I was seeing a lot of mental burnout and lack of physical activity. So I started making rounds a few times during the day to see who had not been outside yet. Employees, even at health care startups, need reminders and permission to integrate wellness into their day.

•Agree that you will not use the break room as dumping grounds for the leftover Halloween candy and boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that you don't want in your own house. If it's there, people will eat it.
•Hang a white board in a well-traveled area where people can scribble wellness goals. Announcing them to coworkers adds a level of accountability.

Work and wellness can be fully integrated so start the year off right with these small, manageable changes that will have big payoffs at work.

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