Working hard doesn’t have to mean working hurt. Here are some things you should start – or stop – doing to ensure you stay sound of body and mind at your workplace.
Corporate and health gurus today are constantly touting the importance of “wellness in the workplace.” It’s very easy to be cynical about this New Age-like rhetoric or to dismiss it as so much jargon. But for accountants, whose days are largely spent hunched over digital spreadsheets, workplace well-being is more than just another buzzword. It’s important to take care yourself at work, for professional as much as personal reasons. Poor health – both mental and physical – can seriously impact your performance; over time, it will temper the ambition and drive that can help you get ahead.
It’s increasingly hip to be health conscious, and more and more employers are proving receptive to efforts at introducing positive lifestyle changes into the office routine. So don’t be shy about asking for what you need! Here are some of the most crucial workplace wellness tips to strive to live by at work.
Stop eating at your desk
This sounds easy enough: when the noontime hour rolls around, you just have to stand up and step away from the computer. Eat somewhere else – a staff lunchroom, an outdoor bench or park, a café. Anywhere is fine, as long as it’s a spot where you can get a bit of well-needed distance from your work and recharge for the afternoon to come. Even better, eat with co-workers (or even your boss) and throw some socializing into the mix.
In practice, however, we workaholic North Americans are pretty terrible at introducing the much-needed separation between work and life. Instead, we multi-task, and our health suffers accordingly. Stubbornly remaining at your desk, even as you shovel in yesterday’s stir-fry, will just tire you out and lower your concentration and productivity as the afternoon – and, ultimately, the week – progresses. The lack of space or socializing during your lunch hours can contribute to feelings of stress, isolation, and depression. Plus, when you eat while you’re working, you’re more likely to eat quickly and mindlessly – increasing your chances of gaining weight.
Start taking walks
Taking a whole hour off at lunch to dine out, or sparing yourself a few minutes to go for a stroll in the afternoon, can feel positively decadent, especially when you’re swamped or you’re facing an important deadline.
But getting some fresh air, moving your muscles, and taking a break from your tasks is actually integral to improving the quality of your work overall. It can also elevate your mood, which matters more than you might suspect for your productivity.
But for accountants, whose days are largely spent hunched over digital spreadsheets, workplace well-being is more than just another buzzword.
According to a recent study, roughly 80% of Americans have reported experiencing back pain at some point in their life.
Whether or not you currently experience aches and pains, chances are that if you’re constantly sitting at a computer all day, your body will eventually feel the effects. To help curb this, pay careful attention to your posture and alignment, in order to determine whether you are prone to slouching.
If you’re not sure how to sit or stand properly, there are many resources that you can to turn to – yoga or pilates classes, a chiropractor, or even videos on YouTube – to help correct your stance. And be sure to take regular stretching breaks to loosen up throughout the day.
Start being ergonomically smart
Being aware of your posture is important, but your body will thank you if you take things a step further and set up a full-out ergonomically-friendly workspace. That includes ensuring that you have a proper chair, are sitting at both the right distance and height from your desk, and are using a keyboard and mouse pad, even if you have a laptop (since these will help to keep you from slouching).
Creating a space that’s ergonomically-friendly may, of course, require a considerable financial investment. If you’re unwilling or unable to put the money in yourself, consider asking your manager if they might be able to help cover the expenses of comfortable office chairs or ergonomic keyboards.
Stop burning the candle at both ends
Work-life balance has become a major topic of discussion lately, and not without good reason. Seriously overworking yourself and sacrificing all of your free time to your job will almost surely lead to stress, along with other potentially severe mental or physical health issues.
If you’re facing a period of high stress and feel that you’ve taken on – or have been given – too much to handle, raise the issue with a supervisor, mentor, or HR professional. Ask about the possibility of adding an extra hand to help out or reducing your workload. Remember: your employer has a vested interest in making sure you’re sound of body and mind. The last thing your boss wants or needs is a burnt-out employee who feels that they’re not receiving the support they need from their superiors (there’s a reason why they say people quit their managers, not their jobs). As long as you broach the matter respectfully and honestly, they’re likely to be sympathetic.
Seriously overworking yourself and sacrificing all of your free time to your job will almost surely lead to stress, along with other potentially severe mental or physical health issues.
Start making use of your benefits
It’s amazing how commonly employees will forgo using their health benefits, in the absence of serious health issues (indeed, according to a survey from a couple of years ago, as many as 40% of employees don’t even understand their benefits options).
But instead of viewing your benefits as something you fall back on only when you get sick, think of them as a preventative measure – a way for you to proactively stave off illness and injuries. Investigate your company’s policies closely, and make the most of those massage therapy, counselling, and chiropractor discounts.
Stop beating yourself up
It’s a widely recognized truth: we’re our own harshest critics. But while you need to be open to feedback in order to grow professionally and personally, too much self-criticism can contribute to mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. It’s natural to be stressed out by your work. But you’ll only make things worse by constantly beating yourself up for your apparent mistakes, or harping on the perceived milestones you’ve failed to reach.
Be gentle with your own ego, as you would be with a friend. Reframe your weaknesses and limitations as opportunities for growth, rather than as evidence of failure. Especially in moments of stress or self-doubt, take a few minutes to close your eyes, breathe, and praise yourself for those things you’re truly great at. Heed the advice of other successful people who have emphasized the importance of building on your strengths, as opposed to only focusing on your weaknesses.
Breaking bad habits requires serious willpower. But a positive and healthy work life will pay major dividends for both your job satisfaction and productivity. Your body and mind will thank you for it – as will your employer and co-workers.
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!