Holding meetings whilst walking around the office, lunchtime yoga classes and workplace running clubs are just some of the strategies Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England is supporting, according to The Observer. Selbie believes that small and medium-sized companies should apply these suggestions, to help boost employees wellbeing.
We have asked our experts for other ways that we, ourselves, can support our health in the workplace…
1. Does the shoe fit?
You could spend less time sitting in traffic, or being cramped on a tube, by swapping public transport for your feet (or at least for part of the way), which can also help to up your step count. However, make sure your footwear fits properly to avoid discomfort. “Sore feet after even a short walk? This is a common occurrence for those of us who do not have correct fitting shoes, and this can put us off walking altogether. Be sure your foot has enough room in the toe box. There should be a thumbnails width (or about a half inch) between your toes and the end of the shoe. The shoe should be wide enough in the toe that your toes can move freely. Your heel should not slip, and the shoe should not pinch or bind, especially across the arch or ball of your foot,” explains Carnation Footcare Podiatrist Dave Wain (www.carnationfootcare.co.uk).
2. Opt for a packed lunch
Are you a regular at the local lunch hot spots near your work? Skip the lunch queues and start by making your own lunches; not only can this be much cheaper but you also know exactly what is going into your meals, rather than thinking the salad you purchased is healthy, before learning how calorific the dressing is.
“Making your own lunch gives you full control over what you eat and how much of each food group you consume, which can help especially when looking for lower calorie options. You can prepare sandwiches or salad bases over the weekend if you struggle to find time in the mornings,” suggests Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
If you’re not sure what to add to your lunchbox to make a nutritious and filling meal, try the general rule of having the size of your clenched fist as your carbs and the size of the palm of your hand as your protein.
3. Curb your sugar cravings
If you’ve had a stressful meeting, have had to deal with a difficult customer or are struggling to get through your emails try to avoid the feeling that you ‘deserve’ a high calorie treat each time. Identifying your emotions and finding alternative ways to deal with them, as opposed to powering your way through the likes of endless crisp packets, can help you take back control of your eating habits. “This may take effort and time, as we often hang on to what is familiar, but if you stick to it, you will soon be reaping the rewards for a little thoughtful decision-making, retraining and application of willpower – with a little help from your Slissie friend,” explains Psychologist, Corinne Sweet.
Slissie (from £24.99, www.slissie.co.uk) is the first of its kind as it delivers curb-craving flavourings that instantly help you resist the temptation of sugary, calorific snacks. Once the flavours that contain aromas are detected by your tastebuds and olfactory receptors, messages are sent to the appetite control centres of the brain leaving users feeling their appetite has been satisfied. At the press of a button you can taste flavours such as, chocolate, vanilla and mint, making your brain think you’ve had that sweet treat without any nasty sugars being involved!
4. Don’t become a desk potato
Feeling snowed under at work? Make sure you still take a break and stretch your legs to help combat against stress. “Exercise is a great stress reliever. Take a brisk walk to stimulate anti-anxiety effects, this helps to clear your thoughts and feel more relaxed upon returning to the office,” suggests Cassandra.
5. Set an alarm
“If you’re a bit of a desk jockey, set a reminder to make sure you have a brief walk around the office to get yourself moving,” advises Dave.
6. Replace your Americano for a green tea
Green tea is an excellent healthy mood booster. “It contains some caffeine, which gives you a bit of a lift, but also contains the amino acid theanine. Theanine which can have a relaxing effect and may help to relieve anxiety and mental stress, potentially by increasing your levels of serotonin, dopamine (responsible for reward and pleasure), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, which has a relaxant effect),” explains Cassandra.
7. Learn to say no
“If you feel the symptoms of stress coming on, learn to get your priorities right. There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health. Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much. Being assertive is invigorating and empowering. It also helps to make lists of what is, or is not a priority, and to tackle the priority tasks first. This will help give you a sense of control over your life,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s (www.marilynglenville.com).
8. Get your veggies
Does your lunch lack vegetables? This can be a significant way of you adding calories to your diet, by filling your plate with other food groups, such as carbs. “Soups are a fantastic way of boosting your veg intake and using any odds and ends of vegetables in the fridge, especially those that are starting to look a bit limp and sad! Gently steam all vegetables, add lots of garlic, onions and herbs such as rosemary, caraway and thyme. Then blend in a food mixer or liquidiser. Serve hot or cold!” says Cassandra.
9. Make time for breakfast
“The old saying says that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and when you have breakfast you are literally ‘breaking the fast’, this supports the idea that you shouldn’t skip breakfast. Sleeping causes your metabolism (fat burning capability) to slow right down and nothing gets it going faster than breakfast,” explains Marilyn.
“But always remember that just as important as having breakfast itself, it’s also vital to choose healthy breakfast options such as wholegrain cereals like porridge, organic ‘live’ natural dairy products like yogurt, organic eggs and fruit. Sugar-laden cereals will cause your blood sugar to rise sharply and drop quite quickly, making you feel more hungry quickly – you need something that will sustain you and keep you feeling fuller for longer,” adds Marilyn.
10. Spring clean your desk
It may not come as a shock to you that the technology you use every day is often swarming with germs. Your computer keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat and your mouse is 45,670 times dirtier than a toilet handle, according to CBT Nuggets. “Make time to clean your desk on a daily basis to prevent germs and to give your immunity a boost try Quest Nutra Pharma Immune System Biotix (from £13.40, www.qnutrapharma.com). This supplement is in a DR capsule format that delays the release of the probiotic formula until it can be most effectively absorbed,” suggests Cassandra.