Develop these habits to improve your health at work

The average American spends more than 40 hours each week on the job. This adds up to about a third of our lives. With so much time spent in one place, it’s important to ensure we make the most of that time and do what we can to stay healthy.

Managing stress and practicing healthy habits can seem like a lot to handle on top of a busy schedule. But, as Amanda Budzowski, director of Clinical Training and QA at UPMC Health Plan, notes, you can make healthy changes manageable by starting small and adding a few things at a time.

Smart Business spoke with Budzowski about her tips and tricks to improve your health while at work.

What are some important eating habits?

  • Eat a good breakfast — Most Americans admit skipping this important meal, citing a lack of time. But eating breakfast will help you feel fuller longer, prevent unhealthy snacking and improve your concentration and mental sharpness.
  • Build a healthy lunch routine — One of the common barriers to eating healthy (and managing weight) is the lunchtime rut. We’ve all been there: You rush out the door, forget your lunch and have to eat takeout. Typically, those meals are not the healthiest. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can enjoy a healthy lunch every day.
  • Change your snacking habits — It’s important to pack small meals that you can eat when you’re moving from meeting to meeting. If you don’t, you may make unhealthy food choices if you allow yourself to become too hungry. Develop a habit of keeping healthy snacks in your lunch bag or desk. Easy go-to options include hard-boiled eggs, rice cakes, almonds and protein bars.
  • Stay hydrated — This healthy habit plays an important part in both fitness and weight loss. Your body uses water to maintain your temperature, lubricate your joints, remove waste and much more. For most people, water is the best option to stay hydrated, but foods like fruits and vegetables also have a high percentage of water.
  • Practice good hygiene — Many of us eat lunch (and sometime breakfast) at our desks. This habit can make you sick. There are bacteria lurking on our desktops. Make sure you protect yourself from food-borne illness by cleaning your area before and after you eat, properly storing hot and cold foods, and eating office snacks when they are their freshest.

How else can you improve your health?

  • Prepare for the stress you can’t avoid — Unmanaged stress in the workplace can take a toll on your performance. It’s important to identify your triggers and have a coping technique planned.
  • Reduce your sitting time — Many of us have long commutes and even longer periods of sitting once we’re at work. Find ways to cut your sedentary time and add minutes of activity to your day. Doing so can lower your risk for health problems, including back pain.
  • Wash your hands — Handwashing is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself from getting sick or spreading germs to others, yet many people don’t do it often enough. Always remember to wash before eating, after encountering someone who’s sick and after using the restroom.
  • Avoid digital eye strain — The average office worker spends six to nine hours each workday on a computer or staring at a screen. To give your eyes a break, follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break to stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Make time for physical activity — Use part of your lunch break to walk, schedule walking meetings, park farther away and take the stairs as much as possible. All are simple ways to incorporate more activity into your day.
  • Get enough sleep — Not getting enough sleep can affect all areas of your health and wellness. In addition, it can impact your productivity at work. Getting seven to eight hours sleep (or the amount that works best for your body) will help you begin each workday feeling energized and refreshed.

Staying healthy at work doesn’t have to be a chore. The best advice is to start slowly and add healthy habits as you can. In time, you will find that you feel better, are more productive and are a lot less stressed. What tip will you try today?

Insights Health Care is brought to you by UPMC Health Plan