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Staying Healthy in the Workplace

I’m just going to shoot from the hip on this one (although seriously, when do I not?).

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Most of us know how to stay healthy in public; it’s all common sense. Wash your hands and practice good hygiene, stay hydrated, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, stay away from co-workers who are sick, etc. We learned this stuff in kindergarten, people. Yet despite our best efforts, the occasional virus infiltrates the workplace and in general, makes a mess of things. People are going home sick, and the disinfectant wipes are passed around in excess.

While I don’t want to get long-winded over all the obvious ways to keep from getting sick on the job, there are a few things that many people seem to have issues with. It is really more of a paradigm shift in society over the past several decades, with a little innocent ignorance thrown in, and if people would just get a better handle on these few things, their lives would definitely change for the better.

WATER

We’ve all heard the “8 by 8” rule, suggesting that all the water that the average person requires in a day is eight glasses. While this is an easy guideline to remember, and consequently very popular, it is not accurate for a handful of reasons. First of all, even for the average adult human this amount is quite minimal. Obviously, some water is better than none (some people only drink soda, tea and/or juice all day!), but most contemporary studies indicate that men require 3 liters (13 cups) of water daily, and women need about 2.2 liters (9 cups).

Secondly, every individual person is different and likewise, will have different hydration requirements. Not everyone is going to require the exact same daily water intake, and it may even vary with age, fluctuations in weight, amount of daily exercise, etc. I was once taught that the bare minimum water intake for a person is half of their body weight in ounces. So for example, if I am 145 lbs, then I need to drink at least 73 ounces of water per day.

There are a lot of different studies that compare and contrast whether other beverages count toward your daily water intake. I don’t want to get into them, but in general, I would say that if you are genuinely concerned about staying hydrated, play it safe and stick to the basics: WATER. My personal rule is: for every non-water beverage you have, drink a glass of water with it to balance things out.

BREAKFAST

Historically, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We all have probably heard the old adage, “Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a queen for dinner.” Our bodies are designed for larger meals early in the day, and smaller meals in the evening, but western civilization has slowly turned the tables on this one. In modern times, with our busy, fast-paced lives, we are rushed in the mornings, trying to get to work or school, and we barely have time to shove a pop tart in our mouth and that first sip of coffee is the kick we need to finally shake last night’s slumber out of our system. We often have meager lunches, and then go home at the end of the day for a huge supper with our families, staying up late, and not getting much rest because our bodies are not designed to digest large meals and sleep at the same time…all so we can drag ourselves out of bed the next morning to do it all again!

The solution to this madness? Set the alarm clock a little bit earlier and eat a good breakfast before you head off to work. Heck, get a little crazy and even go for a short jog to work up an appetite if it fancies you! I assure it will help.

STRESS

Looks peaceful, doesn't it?

This is a big one, and many people take it for granted. The thing is, so many things are connected to stress. Stress is pressure. Find a way to relieve the pressure!

The human body is not meant to sit at a desk 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Get up every 20-30 minutes or so, and walk around, just to stretch your legs. Got some vacation days saved up? Use them. That’s what they’re for. And you don’t necessarily have to use them all at once. Studies show that short, more frequent vacations are proven to be more relaxing than the week-long plus excursions that many of us plan months in advance.

Even when you’re not at work, make sure you regularly engage in stress-relieving activities (like…get a hobby). Why? Because it’s healthy! People who are stressed out have diminished immune systems, which means that they are more prone to getting sick. People with low stress levels have boosted immune systems. Sounds pretty logical to me to keep from getting too stressed. I mean, make sure you’re doing something in life you enjoy, otherwise what’s the point, right?

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Of course, there are other things, but skipping meals and dehydration are more common issues than one may think. The thing to remember is that no one makes you skip breakfast. Your employer cannot deny you water. True, there’s lots of ways to get stressed in this world, but there’s lots of ways to relieve stress as well. Take the time to find out what works best for you. My mentality in general is that happy, healthy people with little stress in their lives don’t get sick.

…and if you do wake up sick, please stay home! Your co-workers will thank you.



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