In another life I was a Journalist, chained to my office chair, nervously making my way through deadlines until the sky turned midnight black and the world outside came to a still. I would work from morning to night, with barely a break in between, making my way through paperwork that seemed to be an endless spout of ‘fun’ that I just could not escape. But eventually I realized that the corporate world just was not for me and rocked the boat by quitting my job to blog full time, ignoring the fact that I was pretty much broke ass poor, as in my eyes my mental health came first. Of course with all its cons, my full time job also had advantages like office gossip, making connections and of course handy discounts that made me feel like I had a student card at uni again. But here’s the T, while I might not work in an office anymore, coming from that environment previously has made me very aware of how little regard I had for increasing wellness when working in an office because A. I took very little breaks, B. I ate- lets put this frankly- ate shitty food and C. had very little time for ‘play’. And as we all know, all work and no play does not make for a very happy lifestyle does it? The issue is that in an office environment, we are often conditioned into eating lunch in the office, while hastily drafting emails, or making phone calls and taking meetings when we are supposed to eating lunch and don’t even get me started about the amount of hours which are poor eyes have to stare transfixed at the computer screen, until all the words become a blurred mess.
Which is where my ultimate guide to increasing wellness in an office space comes in; from building stress busting surroundings that will enable you to work in a more positive environment to staying hydrated and keeping on top of your water intake, no matter how many hours you work, there are always guidelines that can enable you to make the most of your time.
Build Stress Busting Surroundings
There is nothing more depressing than feeling like you are being closed in by the monotonous beige walls that attempt to take away your soul, and while many offices don’t allow you to decorate the office per say, you can still make a few key changes to turn your own desk into your happy place. For example for some people increasing wellness would involve sticking positive mantras and ‘go get em’ slogans, until their desk turns into a frenzied quotesville mania, while others prefer the soothing nature of plants including bright and vibrant flowers or the prickly but nevertheless cute cacti. In fact there is an actual name for plant enthusiasts in the office and that is Biophilia which relates to a ‘distinct affinity to the natural world’ and is scientifically proven to reduce stress, detoxify the atmosphere and generate an improvement in team efficiency. But for those of you who find plants irritating or would rather not turn your office into Kew Gardens, here are some key stress buster decorative ideas below!
- Think about who or what inspires you. Is it Ru Paul, goddess of the drag queens and creator of the brilliant Ru Paul’s Drag Queen Race, aka the best show on telly… period? Or perhaps it is someone a little closer to home, a loved one that inspires you to get up in the morning and very reluctantly run for the 6 AM train that is 2 miles away from your home? Whoever it may be, whether it be fictional or real, finding something to identify with can help increase wellness in an office environment because it act as a motivational tool that inspires you to work torwards your goal. For example one of the biggest mantras that I hold close to my heart is by Ru Paul ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anybody else’? And it is very true; not only does it teach you to be more open to ‘self love’ but in an office environment it can enable you to be less critical of your work, by allowing you to see what others see in you.
- Surround yourself with positive energy, whether that be through happy vibrant colours or unique textures and materials that you can relate to. You might have noticed that my favourite colour according to my Instagram is ‘blue’ and according to experts blue is a colour that is not only associated with tranquility and relaxation but in ‘stress buster terms’ is a great colour asset for improving wellness in an office environment. So choose a colour that you can identify with and decorate your office space in accordance. That could be something as simple as filling your pen pot with blue pens, or something more elaborate like bejeweled posters, banners and photo frames depending on what would make you happy. For me as I like the colour blue and am a self inscribed ‘part time mermaid and unicorn at weekends’ surrounding myself with images that conjure a fantastical reality is most likely to put me in a positive frame of mind.
- Eliminate Toxic Energy. It goes without saying that offices might not be the most positive of environments, given that it has a reputation for being a ‘soulless corporate environment’ but it doesn’t have to be like that. So instead of thinking negatively about the environment you are in, take action to eliminate the toxic influences in the environment. For example if you don’t like the colour of the walls, then petition for it to be changed or if you think that something like ‘bring your pet to work day’ or fancy dress can create stress busting surroundings then by all means put your ideas forward. Depending on whether your boss is a miserable, uptight git or a cool, happy go lucky person, the results may vary but I always find that you don’t know until you try!
It might strange to suggest that the ‘right chair’ can improve wellness in an office environment but think of the logistics this way. As someone who suffers from insomnia, the difference between an ‘ok-ish’ and terrible nights sleep can often directly correlate in accordance to the bed that I am sleeping in, including the mattress used, the pillows available and the size of the bed. So naturally a chair that has no back support that you sit in for hours on end is going to make you A. ‘super stiff and sore’ and B. could potentially increase joint and back issues later in life, which can affect mobility. In fact according to ‘Furniture work’ over 40% of survey respondents said that they were not sitting on chairs that were specifically tailored to their physical needs and requirements, meaning more pain and no gain. Whether that be using a chair which can be adjusted to your height or kneeling chairs, please bear in mind what your physical requirements might be. For example if you have back issues like me, a chair that has no back support is less than ideal, whereas a chair that adjusts to your height, will cushion your spine and increase wellness in the office workspace. Also don’t be fooled by ‘softer chairs’ being more comfortable, as many ‘soft back chairs’ are actually incredibly bad for your posture.
And speaking of posture, here are a few tips to keep in mind. If you are anything like me, you can spend hours slouched in front of your screen without taking breaks which can cause an elevation of tension in your neck and shoulders. So first and foremost you need to learn how to sit in a chair without putting your joints under strain. Make sure you sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back, distributing your body weight evenly on both hips. Above all keep your knees bent at a right angle and keep your feet flat on the floor, which will enable a healthier back and increase wellness in the workplace.
Make Sure That You Keep Hydrated And Eat Foods With Nutritional Value
I must admit I would be the last person to preach the importance of good nutrition and hydration as I am hopeless at both but I have made a visible effort to increase my water intake, as I can get dehydrated easily. And with it being hot all week- if only I could enjoy the warmth of the sun- chances are that you are going to find working in an office, even more difficult than usual. Especially if your office was anything like mine and lacked any air conditioning to speak of, which in office suits does nothing for our temperature regulation. So even if your office is in the middle of the Sahara Dessert, in this current climate keeping hydrated can be the difference between passing out and staying focused. I have passed out at work many times before and while it can sometimes be related to stress, in other cases it is because of lack of hydration and food, something that is incredibly easy to do, given our lack of taking breaks. But not only does good food and drink help us feel more motivated and productive, but it can also enable us to feel healthier and increase our wellness in a working environment.
How much should we drink?
On average we should be drinking 2 Litres of water a day, which as our bodies are made up of 60% water, makes a lot of sense. But to someone like me, drinking 2 Litres can seem daunting, especially as I am not used to it, which is why you should also drink other types of fluids like juices, flavoured waters or more exciting beverages that will hydrate you and help you work towards that 2 Litre goal. Don’t force yourself either, ensure that you are drinking manageable amounts of fluids as otherwise this can make you sick.
Healthy & Nutritious Snack Ideas
- Brazil Nuts & Mixed Fruit like apricots, raisins and dates
- Vegetable crudites and hummus with wholemeal pitta bread
- boiled eggs, quorn chicken (meatless) and salad
- Kale stir fry with peppers and quorn
Be Sure To Take Plenty Of Breaks To Nourish The Mind, Body and Soul
It goes without saying that we are more likely to be productive if we take regular breaks. And by breaks I don’t mean writing emails while you are watching your favourite programme or creating social media content because that definitely does not count as a break at all. Whether that be taking a break every two hours if your boss permits that for 15 minutes or choosing to spend time with friends after work, rather than filling out paperwork, the possibilities are endless. Even if you are under the reign of an arsehole of a boss, we are all entitled to lunch breaks so make sure that you use yours wisely. You might choose to take a walk outside or chill in the park but whatever you do make sure it is not work related. And if your office work does involve a lot of time in front of a computer screen, then make sure that you are taking a break from social media and anything that is technology related by switching off and spending time with friends outside in mother nature. You might choose to create some social events for work like evenings out or dinners, or on the other hand might choose to take a break, from people in general, so whatever you choose, do what feels right for you.
Keep Active: Whether That Be Through Walks Or Office Yoga
One of the biggest issues about working in an office is how little ‘we move around’ and get up from our office chair. And that is not to say that office workers are not active, more to say that we are often working hours on end without taking a break and as a result our muscles and joints can become very sore. But with 8-12 hour days, with little movement this can create chronic joint and muscle issues, which is why I am a firm believer in the Office Yoga movement, proving that no matter what environment you work in, there is always an opportunity to find time and space to exercise. For example as I work from home and on the go, I have to be careful not to fall into an inactive slump, so I ensure that I take walks or go out with friends which is not only beneficial for my mental state of mind but also physical health too. And in an office, while pacing up and down the floors might not be as exciting given that your surroundings are mainly made of grey slabs of concrete, office yoga is a great way of nourishing the mind, body and soul. Whether that be through doing the downward dog or even finding alternative ways of excercising like an impromptu dance class, there is no limit when it comes to working out or keeping active.
For me as someone who comes from a musical theatre background, I love to dance (not that I am a professsional mind) so everyday, I will dance for an hour at home to my favourite music, freestyling and grooving until I am quite literally ready to melt into the floor. But for those of us who would rather not dance, even something as simple as using the stairs instead of the lift, or walking outside into mother nature during your lunch break, all counts as extra steps to keep you moving during your working hours. Besides we all know that excercise is a great mood booster, known to increase our endorphins and fill us with a sense of andrenaline that will motivate us to become more productive as the day reaches its climax.
What Are Your Tips For Increasing Wellness In The Office?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts and opinions are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.