Since most adults spend the majority of their waking hours at work, it’s no surprise that your job has a major affect on your lifestyle. It affects everything from your eating habits to your sleep schedule to your exercise choices. Because of this, it can feel daunting trying to find time and energy outside of work to become healthier. Instead of adding “find time to get healthy” to your already hyperactive to do list, it makes sense to focus some attention on what you can do to improve your well-being while at work.
In addition to dominating your schedule, work also plays a big role in how stressed we feel. According to the American Psychological Association, there are many new factors adding stress to today’s work environment. Stress, especially chronically, can affect all facets of your health. Instead of solely focusing on one area of health, like your weight, and ignoring other aspects of well-being, like your mood, it’s better to use a holistic approach to wellness at work.
There’s more to a healthy lifestyle, than food and fitness. Thinking holistically about health and well-being is the best way to get lasting results in creating a healthy lifestyle. A holistic wellness approach considers the five key health arenas:
- Physical Arena: This deals with tangible things in your life, including your body and your physical environment. Some activities you can do to improve this arena at work include having ergonomically sound office equipment, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and stopping what you’re doing for a moment each hour to stand up and stretch.
- Mental Arena: This arena addresses your thoughts and beliefs; it’s that little voice in your head that seems to narrate your day. It also involves your memory. Keep this arena fresh by learning something new about your job every day. That may include something about your company or something in a related field. If work worries keep your mind raising at bedtime, do a “brain purge” before hitting the pillow. Write down everything you have to do the next day and completely forget about it until the morning. They will be there on your list when you get up.
- Emotional Arena: Anger, joy, sadness, shame, fear, etc. all fall into this category. Writing down everything you’ve accomplished (instead of everything you didn’t do) is a nice way to boost emotional well-being during the workday. Giving yourself a moment to focus on something positive and to feel joyful can put some wind in your sail for the rest of the day.
- Social Arena: Marathon workdays can make this arena a well-being challenge. Instead of waiting until after hours to get your social fix in, consider doing some connecting during the work day. For example, invite a coworker out to lunch or to take a short walk during a break. Making a friend at work, rather than casually socializing, also has big benefits. Not only does it give you someone to decompress with when something bizarre happens, but research shows that having a good friend at work also helps you feel better about the work you do and how you’re treated at the office.
- Spiritual Arena: This arena focuses on personal values and life philosophy, including the ideals, actions, and relationships that make you feel more grounded. If you feel stress creeping in during the workday, do something that helps you get grounded and centered in the moment. Looking at a picture of your loved ones, or spending a few minutes listening to your favorite uplifting music could do the trick. Or, you could take a moment of silent reflection.
About Donna L. Hamilton, M.D.
Dr. Donna L. Hamilton is Chief Wellness Officer and owner of Manifest Excellence, LLC. She also is author of “Wellness Your Way: The Short and Sweet Guide to Creating Your Custom Plan for a Happier, Healthier Life” (www.wellnessyourwaybook.com). Dr. Hamilton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia, and received a Master of Science degree in Zoology at Rutgers University. She then did medical research at New York University Medical School prior to attending medical school. After receiving her Doctorate of Medicine degree from Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Dr. Hamilton completed her pediatric residency at the University of Minnesota. She has shifted from her career as a board-certified pediatrician and now speaks nationally about holistically improving health and well-being.
A wellness thought leader, she champions a comprehensive approach to health by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual & physical well-being with a simple and potent message. Her book Wellness Your Way offers a practical strategy to assist readers in creating a happier, healthier life. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit www.ManifestExcellence.com or www.DonnaHamiltonMD.com