On average we will spend 92,120 hours of our lives at work. The way we behave at work can directly affect our health and wellbeing, so it's worth investing a bit of time in good health and hygiene practices to minimise the risk of contracting that inevitable cough and cold that goes around the office three times a year.
Online healthcare booking providers Zesty, called on their health professionals to provide their top ten tips to help you stay healthy at work. Some are motivational, some are hygiene focused and all ensure you are mentally and physically fired up for the challenges ahead to ensure you get the most productivity, creativity and joy out of the working hours ahead.
1. Clean your desk
We sit at our desks around eight hours a day, typing, eating and drinking. Think of all of those crumbs falling into your keyboard; every time you go out and touch a railing, a door handle, something in the shop, you immediately come back and start typing. The average computer desk harbours 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. The area where you rest your hand has 10,000,000 bacteria. With that in mind it is good practice to give your keyboard and phone a wipe with antibacterial wipes. One study by Dr. Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona found that participants who wiped their desk items had a 99.9% bacteria level reduction within two days.
2. Stop touching your face
The germs that cause the common cold spread mainly through droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing. However, they can also sit on the surface of your skin; the flu virus can survive up to eight hours on your skin and the common cold virus up to three hours. It is best practice to avoid touching your face directly after coming into contact with someone with a cold and with other objects around the office. Keep some hand sanitizer at your desk to keep the germs at bay.
Whether it's a twenty minute run, a gym session or using an exercise app, a burst of exercise will get your blood pumping and oxygen flowing, which in turn releases endorphins. Research has proved that exercise makes us sharper, happier and more productive.
4. Try ten minutes of mindful meditation
Mindful meditation has become big news over the past twelve months, and it's easy to see why. With continued practice, it has been scientifically proven to change the patterns of the brain, upping levels of concentration, relieving stress and giving you an overall sense of wellbeing.
An excellent way to prepare you for the day ahead and one of the simplest practices is to simply sit on a chair with your eyes closed and focus all your attention on your breathing. Thoughts will creep in, but allow them to come and go, always pulling your focus back to your breath.
5. Avoid people
We aren't suggesting you become a recluse all winter but be wary of coming into close contact with co-workers suffering from any cold or flu. It is best to minimise contact with those suffering from a virus. Use it as a chance to look like the best boss ever and suggest that they do not come into work until the virus has gone. Coming into work will inevitably spread the virus around the office and you could soon have an entire sick workforce on your hands.
You only get out what you put in and your brain is a muscle like any other in your body. Skipping breakfast won't produce successful results - it will just make you irritable, low in energy, and more likely to overeat later in the day.
Make breakfast a priority and carve out time in your morning when you can sit and enjoy it. Go for a balanced meal that will combine slow-release carbs, fibre and protein such as baked beans on wholemeal toast, mushroom and tomato omelette or porridge with blueberries and a sprinkling of flaxseed.
7. Avoid those sugary snacks.
Around 4pm most of us will hit a work slump and sugary treats are often in abundance around the office. As much as they taste great and may give a short sugar boost, they are full of empty calories that are unlikely to sustain you. If you need caffeine, try coffee (but don't go nuts) or green tea.
8. Consider your posture - get up
Sitting staring at a screen for up to nine hours a day can cause all manner of damage to your health. With these extended periods of being sat down it is no surprise our posture suffers. Poor posture can have serious effects to your health causing fatigue and spine/muscle damage.
If you spend six to eight hours a day in the sitting position your spine and the muscles around it will have to "change" in order to help the spine, which will make them stay contracted. In addition, because your spine is not in its original natural shape it will start to deteriorate, as it cannot cope with the weight as it should.
Practice good posture by sitting up straight or use a back support on your chair. Get a core muscle work out at the same time by sitting on an exercise ball. As much as you may wish to get all of your work done fast it has been found more beneficial to take regular breaks during working to keep momentum up. Try using your lunch break as an actual break and move away from your desk to stretch your legs.
9. Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on your performance at work. Most adults need between seven and eight hours however it has been found that 36% of us only get six hours rest a night. Sleep is vital to a healthy lifestyle. During those crucial hours of slumber your body is healing your heart and repairing broken blood vessels. It is also preparing your brain for the next day, forming new pathways that help you learn and remember information. As well as this, having a good night's sleep can boost your body's cold defences. This has been defined as the most important factor in defence against the cold virus in a Sleep Study at the University of California.
10. Practice good hygiene
Finally, wash your hands. It's the simplest yet most effective line of defence to stop the spread of germs and minimise your risk of catching anything.