Being healthy is not only good for the individual, it’s good for business. Healthy people don’t miss work and are more productive when they are at work. So, let me share seven important unhealthy habits at work based on material from my book, Healing Begins in the Kitchen.
- Sitting still for hours can compromise your immune system. Your body needs movement in order to stay healthy. Getting up and walking, or even using a stand-up desk, keeps your lymphatic system flowing and your oxygen levels higher, so take stretch breaks or march in place at your desk every half hour. Studies have shown that people who do this consistently retain more of what they are learning and have better recall.
- Don’t drink coffee or black tea all day long. One cup of coffee or black tea in the morning isn’t a bad thing, but you need to drink water throughout the day in order to maintain optimal health. Herbal teas are okay to have frequently, but too much coffee or black tea will raise your body’s acid level and can lead to calcium depletion of your bones as your body tries to regulate the blood pH.
- Avoid taking work home with you on a regular basis. Maybe you want to impress the boss, but you’ll be more productive at work and will avoid burnout if you take quality time off every day. The concept of “be here now” is so important to your health. Taking work home with you robs you of your personal time and adds to your immune-suppressing burden of stress.
- Skipping lunch can be hazardous to your health. Sometimes it is tempting to press into a project and miss out on lunch, but you need to fuel your body and brain with nutritious food to be your best at work. Running on empty leads to low blood sugar which can restrict your ability to think quickly and clearly, and also slows you down. If you don’t have time for a lunch break, at least have some almonds or a healthy meal-replacement bar handy so you can refuel.
- Watch your bad attitude. It’s common to hear employees bellyaching and complaining about various things, but keep your attitude positive and have a solutions focus. You’ll find you have a stronger immune system. Positive attitudes lead to healing hormones like serotonin and oxytocin being released which support healthy immune function. Negative attitudes lead to damaging hormones being released (such as adrenaline and cortisol) which suppress healthy immune function. Attitudes are contagious, so surround yourself at work with happy, positive coworkers. Besides, it doesn’t do any good to complain to others. Half the people you tell don’t care, and the other half are glad you’re worse off than they are!
- Stop letting deadlines stress you out. OK, this one’s a little woo-woo. Stick with me though. Change your approach to those deadlines by scheduling frequent micro-breaks for focused breathing. Take five deep breaths every 30 minutes to an hour to help keep your immune system strong in order to protect your health. Studies have shown that when your brain is oxygenated, you perform better as well. I know, it sounds crazy – but it’s the truth.
- Resist starting your day with donuts. Give your body something better than a high-carb, sugary breakfast to start your day strong. Try having a quick skillet scramble with pastured eggs cooked with high-antioxidant vegetables. Then you will be happily and healthily full and able to say no to those sugary treats at the office. If you’re not able to cook a hot breakfast, blend up a vegan protein drink.
Here’s a quote you might find interesting: Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
These are not words of some twenty-first-century alternative health-care guru, no. They are the words of Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine (b. circa 460 BC).
We should take that to heart. Literally. Being healthy is smart for you and smart for business. I know. I learned this the hard way. If you’d like more information on how I learned this, check out my book, Healing Begins in the Kitchen.