sitting standing desk healthy posture yoga work workplace wellness

How to make your workplace a healthy one

Workplace wellness is a large topic and there’s no doubt that discussing solutions for improving wellness can raise challenging and complex questions. However, does this imply the solutions adopted are always complex or complicated solutions?

Are we overcomplicating workplace wellness solutions?

I get asked lots of questions. After frequently receiving a particular question following a workshop I run on the impact of excessive sitting, it got me thinking. Are we at risk of overcomplicating our choice of wellness solutions? The key message from my workshop is to sit less and move more. The question I am often asked is, “Do I need to ask my employer to buy me a standing desk?”

The question itself prompts me to assume those asking may have concluded four things. That sitting at work is the major impediment to sitting less and moving more. My employer is responsible for how much I sit. For me, to sit less and move more, I need to stand more. That standing more is sufficient to counter-balance the Health impacts of excessive sitting.

Simple solutions

Identify simple wellness solutions where possible. Sitting excessively at work is one of the major impediments to sitting less and moving more. I am not against standing desks. However, there is a simpler solution on offer than asking your employer to buying a standing desk. A simpler, cost-free solution would be to take regular breaks from sitting. Research suggests that taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes is a solution that will negate the impact of excessive sitting.

Being intuitive in wellness is encouraging you to build awareness of how your body responds to what you do from a wellness perspective.

I encourage you to be personally accountable for your wellness where feasible, in and out of work. Your role may require you to sit at work; however, if you are aware of the benefits of regular breaks and are easily able to take breaks, I would encourage you to be responsible for doing so. Investing in a standing desk for every employee is a significant investment for an employer and for many businesses may not be financially feasible.

Understand your wellness needs

Become aware of your own wellness needs. I often get asked for a list of things you must do to enable optimal wellness at work and I’m guilty as charged in providing it. However, I am now more and more promoting the message of being intuitive in wellness.

Being intuitive in wellness is encouraging you to build awareness of how your body responds to what you do from a wellness perspective, whether it relates to what you eat, your quality of sleep or your work habits. There are general guidelines and principles that underpin wellness, but we are all a little different, so what will work for you will not necessarily work for others.

The polar opposite is to go on a never-ending pursuit of “the wellness list”, the all singing, all dancing set of rules required to achieve and sustain wellness. We know wellness is multi-dimensional. The quality of your wellness reflects the investment you have made in each of the dimensions of wellness, including the trade-off in priority you assign to each dimension. It’s not black and white.

Become familiar with your wellness needs at work. In the case of regular breaks, does a break every 30 minutes work best or is taking a 10-minute break every two hours more feasible for you?

Identifying the right solution

Reflect on wellness information in totality, particularly where you are making recommendations for others. You are likely suffering information overload. You don’t need more information. You need to look at targeted information in the context of the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is that you sit more in and out of work. You likely sit on a bus, car or train to go to work. Then perhaps you go Home and sit in front of the TV for two to four hours after work. Your lifestyle overall is more sedentary.

In addition, recent research indicates that, although a standing desk will not exacerbate challenges arising from excessive sitting in the workplace, and it may help in some part, the real solution lies in more movement throughout the day. That’s what will mitigate health risks from excessive sitting.

Be aware the wellness solution on trend may not be the right solution for your situation. And that the first solution you consider may not be it, either. I encourage you to delve deeper for the answer and stand back and ask yourself intuitively from a big-picture perspective if the solution appears right.

Move more & sit less

I am in many ways echoing a similar message to that in the phrase “just eat real food”. I can spend time giving lists of foods to eat and labelling food as good or bad when, in fact, what is most important is for me to encourage more people to eat whole, natural, nutrient-dense real food.

It’s now time to move more and sit less, to get up and move — and possibly even shake your booty. Have fun and stay well.

Jan McLeod

Jan McLeod

Jan McLeod is a highly respected coach, mentor, speaker and consultant and a specialist in the areas of high performance, wellbeing, nutrition and change strategy in the workplace.

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