1. Be a "Positive Pat"
Research shows that having just one "Negative Nancy" or "Doug the Downer" in the bunch can affect the workplace culture negatively, and decrease the productivity of the working group. Try to keep a positive perspective even when your co-worker is pointing out, convincingly, all the potential headaches, complications and timewasters the new software program will bring with it. If you think, speak and behave with a positive attitude, the small stuff will roll off your back and you will lessen the health effects of stress that work life inevitably produces.
2. Be a Contributor not a Contaminator
If you like Dr. Phil, you will relate to this one. Phil has used the above phrase when referring to the actions of individuals in a relationship and I find it also applies to employee relations. As our co-workers know too well, there are often many things about our work to complain about. Complaining tends to keep us problem focused and perseverating on frustrating issues, contaminating the workplace. Try to spin the focus to finding solutions when faced with a problem at work, disagreement with a co-worker or boss and you can feel good about being part of the solution, being a contributor, instead of being a contaminator. Avoid joining in on what seems like light hearted teasing or bullying of co-workers, trash talking the boss and other contaminating behaviours.
3. Walk it off
With email being the primary mode of communication in the workplace, visiting your co-worker to share some important news or notifying your secretary that the photocopier is low on ink have been replaced by email notifications. If your job requires you to sit for the majority of your day, you are burning less calories, compromising your circulation and assuming static positions that cause muscle fatigue and discomfort, more so than an employee who gets to stand or walk for some of their day. You can introduce a "Steps to Health" pedometer campaign that tracks the distance you walk in a day and will surely get people moving. You can make the resolution this year to include more walking in your workday, to leave your workstation at lunch, to get water of coffee, and to visit your co-workers to share information, and the will to walk just might spread.
4. Become Ergonomically Inclined
Advocate to your Health and Safety Committee for an ergonomic education session for all employees to review the principles of ergonomics and to help you all with setting up your equipment and furniture and to apply healthier working behaviours. If your workplace does not have an internal ergonomics program or does not outsource ergonomic services, there is still much you can do to prevent musculoskeletal injuries and be more comfortable and productive as you work. There are many free references and checklists online to help you set up your workstation to improve the fit and function of your furniture. Search "office ergonomics guidelines" to understand how to position your equipment and apply proper body mechanics to conduct your work in a healthy manner. You could then post the ergo information on your wellness bulletin board, so everyone benefits.
5. Improve Your Food For Thought
We know spikes in blood sugar and the corresponding drops between meals contribute to weight gain in people working sedentary jobs. We are supposed to eat smaller more frequently to stabilize blood sugar, but this task may be difficult to master with the conveniences of fast food. Many people are not hungry first thing in the morning and skip breakfast, the meal that gets our metabolism engine started, just to get that extra 10 minutes of sleep and race to work. Often lunches are purchased in food courts, cafeterias and fast food restaurants, most offering high sugar and high fats in exchange for speedy service. Snacks in vending machines are commonly filled with sugar, trans fats and quick burning foods that spike your blood sugar. Caffeine in coffee and soft drinks effect blood sugar the way eating sugar does and will spike your blood sugar level, dehydrate you and deprive you of the water your body needs to stay healthy. You can advocate for a water cooler next to the coffee maker to remind employees they have a healthy fluid choice, request healthier snacks in the vending machines, start a weekly "Healthy Plate Pot Luck Lunch", start a "Healthy Brown Baggers" lunch recipe club, keep healthy snacks at your workstation to prevent those lows mid-morning and mid-afternoon that nearly put us to sleep at our desks. Avoid sugary snack bars and choose high protein snacks likes nuts and cheese to keep you alert and feeling well.
Marnie Courage, OT Reg (MB)