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5 ways to promote a healthy lifestyle at work

Work. We spend most of our waking hours at the grindstone, but what effect is it having on our health?

For a start, it seems that our working hours don’t foster the healthiest eating habits, as the average British worker spends £20,000 on snacks outside of meals during their working life. That’s potentially a few holidays, a room extension and a wardrobe update or two. Aside from eating foods that won’t help our energy levels, or that only boost them temporarily, 21st century working means that we’re forgetting basics like drinking enough water, putting ourselves at risk of text neck with poor posture, and not leaving enough time to keep fit.

In a bid to save you some money and keep you and your team healthy at work, we’ve compiled a guide that explores how to stay healthy at work and the tools to help you get there.

Get calm, and then carry on

Often the impetus to snack and gorge on the sweet stuff comes as a result of stress. It’s an emotion that you’ll inevitably encounter in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean that it has to get out of control, especially if it’s going to impact your health in the long run.

The solution? Get mindful.

Mindfulness is a concept with its roots in Buddhism that requires you to focus on the emotions you feel in the present moment, without passing judgement. It’s also great for stress reduction, dealing with conflict and anxiety, as well as improving resilience and communication skills.

It might not be as instantly gratifying as the biscuit cupboard, but it will help to alter your perspective, calm you down and clear your mind so you can tackle your to do list and deal with emails without spontaneously combusting. All you need is a few minutes, some headphones and a tool that works for you – take your pick from the selection below.

Headspace is the global phenomenon launched by one time monk Andy Puddicombe. This app is essentially a personal trainer for your mind. Alternatively, Buddify is an award-winning app that comes with over eighty guided meditations to help you focus and relax during different tasks – options include ‘work break’, ‘working online’ and ‘feeling stressed’. Finally, Room to Breathe comes with guides to help you master breathing techniques and focus your thoughts.

Sit up straight

Staying healthy isn’t just about what you eat, it’s also about making sure you look after different areas of your body. A working world more heavily dependent on technology sees us hunched over laptops, smartphones and other devices for hours on end, giving us postures to rival Disney’s Quasimodo.

As such, it’s worth taking a leap into the bizarre world of posture apps and devices. Lumo comes as either a magnetic tracker or back support device that monitors your posture.

Text Neck refers to the pain and strain experienced in the neck and shoulders caused by excessive smartphone usage. Naturally, there are apps to help, Text Neck Indicator monitors your posture and sends you notifications when you are at risk of lapsing. Strong Posture is probably best if you are working flexibly. You take pictures of your posture to monitor asymmetry over time and work to improve it.

Work out 

‘I don’t have time to work out, I’m working!’ How many times have those words left your lips? If a hectic schedule means that working out never quite makes it on to your to do list, then it’s time to do things the 21st century way, and get multi-tasking.

There are a range of ingenious tools and devices that you can use without even leaving your desk to release those endorphins, and keep you on top of your game for the working day. While treadmill-desks, desk-cycles and ball-chairs (seriously) might strike you as a little excessive, the Freeletics app offers a training programme and lets you work out on the go provided you can find two metres squared of space. Far from being an opportunity to attract strange glances from your colleagues, see this as a team building opportunity to get fit together. For more subtle moves, ErgoMinder comes with options to work out specific areas of your body including your eyes, hands and feet, all from the comfort of your chair. If your whole office wants in on the action, with Endomondo, you can get fit and monitor your progress as a group.

Stay hydrated 

Not drinking enough water can leave you suffering unnecessarily with headaches, or feeling drained from a lack of energy. Despite being so important, it’s something that we often forget to do, so it makes sense to keep an eye on your hydration levels throughout the day and make sure you’re getting enough H2O. Rather than seeing this as yet another thing to think about, try using Daily Water, which enables you to set drinking goals and set yourself reminders. Water Tracker and Hydrate Daily are great apps for keeping things simple. They break down your intake to ‘cups’ so you know how many more you need to drink before the end of the day.

Monitor and plan

If all of the above still leaves you wanting to snack, then at least keep an eye on what you’re eating. The Snack App helps you monitor the calorie count of a range of snacks that have been organised into categories varying from ‘healthy’ to ‘sinful’. Substitutions is a fantastic app that does what it says on the tin and offers alternatives to options such as ‘alcohol’ (not that you’d have this at work!) and ‘cake’. Shake a Snack comes up with healthy snacking options for you. Sit down at the end of each week to go through your options and you’ll have a week’s worth of healthy options waiting for you on Monday.

Let us know how you get on by tweeting @O2BusinessUK, and share your health tips.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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