People: We spend a large portion of our lives at work … about a third of it, if you work the usual 40 hours a week.
Why do so many of us live in denial of this fact, by keeping our workstations devoid of any vestige of humanity?
Oh sure, you may keep a box of tissues handy and maybe, if you’re sentimental, a portrait of your kids. But it’s time to acknowledge the fact that your work station is an essential part of your life for 8 (long) hours a day, and you need to supply it with some comfort items that contribute to your health and well-being.
- Let’s start with a green plant, OK? Yes, they look pretty. But they also work hard, just as you do. Plants remove a variety of toxic air emissions including ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, xylene and trichloroethytene – the kind of stuff that is probably all over the place if you work in a modern office environment. And plants make you happy, which is more than you can say of most of your coworkers. Countless studies have shown that living plants indoors can promote relaxation, lower blood pressure and even speed healing in hospital patients. So, put one to work for you.
- Green Tea. Speaking of green things … did you know antioxidant-rich green tea is just about the healthiest beverage on the planet? It’s inexpensive, and convenient if you have access to hot water. Keep some tea bags stashed in a desk drawer and enjoy a cup of green tea at least once a day while at work. More than a decade’s worth of research has found that green tea's antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Nuts and seeds to snack on. When that mid-morning or mid-afternoon funk sets in, you need something in a hurry to replenish your energy reserves and relieve the hunger pangs. Rather than head to the health horror show that is the breakroom vending machine, reach for almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds or your favorite combination. The Food and Drug Administration is now reviewing a proposal that would allow foods containing nuts to carry this label: "Diets containing one ounce of nuts per day can reduce your risk of heart disease."
- Eye drops. This is especially important if you spend long hours at a computer, which inhibits the blinking reflex and causes computer vision syndrome, which can lead to a whole host of eye health problems. If you don’t (yet) have serious issues with dryness, use a natural, preservative-free saline solution to moisten eyes several times a day. If dry eyes are a continual irritation, look for drops that contain a lubricating solution to soothe and protect delicate eye tissues.
- A timer. Use your watch, or your smartphone, or even a reminder programmed into your computer’s scheduling software. Set it to chime softly or vibrate every 30 minutes (ideally) to an hour, reminding you to stand up, stretch, look out a window, and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Human beings were not built to crouch over a keyboard for hours at a time. Recent health reports have warned that sitting for long periods is linked to health problems and a shorter life span. Even a brief, brisk walk to the copy machine and back periodically can benefit your body – and help keep your brain functioning at optimal levels.
What is your favorite way to feel happier and healthier while at work?