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10 tips for being healthier and more productive at work

Sharon Florentine | Aug. 18, 2016
Taking care of your health and well-being can improve engagement and performance, but you need to kick these 10 bad habits first.

Instead, plan your vacations ahead of time, use all the time allotted to you, try to push thoughts of work out of your head and enjoy yourself. Even if you do end up checking in a few times during your PTO, you need to give yourself permission to unplug, Stringer says.

"You need time off to refresh and revitalize to be more effective. And, your family will love you for it. According to John De Graaf, who made a documentary about overworked Americans called Running Out of Time, there is a high cost to not taking vacation. He says women who don't take regular vacations are anywhere from two to eight times more likely to suffer from depression, and have a 50 percent higher chance of heart disease. For men, the risk of death from a heart attack goes up a third," Stringer says.

8. Going to work when you're sick

When you come into the workplace sick, you are very likely spreading germs to your colleagues and making them sick, too, which reduces organizational productivity. As tempting as it is for you to "power through" and minimize sick days, the overall health risk is not worth it, Stringer says.

"Researchers from the University of Arizona in Tucson placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop in workplaces. At multiple intervals, the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, countertops, sink tap handles and push buttons. They found that between 40 percent and 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two to four hours. If you didn't have one already, this may be a reason to adopt a 'work from home' policy, and barring that, everyone should frequently wash their hands," she says.

9. Staying indoors

A good portion of our global workforce spends about 90 percent of each day indoors, which essentially puts workers in a state of 'light deficiency' that negatively impacts sleep cycles, Stringer says.

Instead, you should take every opportunity to get outside, preferably earlier in the day, and stay outdoors for as long as you can.

"We need more intense light to reset our circadian rhythm, which helps us sleep. Some sleep experts recommend being outside as much as two hours a day, but even going outside for 30 to 60 minutes during the day - say, over a lunch break or during a walking meeting outdoors - will provide roughly 80 percent of what you need to anchor your circadian rhythm. That's according to Dan Pardi, a researcher with the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department at Stanford, and the Departments of Neurology and Endocrinology at Leiden University in the Netherlands," she says.


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