The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
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Do you often come home from work feeling physically and emotionally exhausted? If so, you’re not alone, and the reason for these feelings may not only come down to the work you do but also where and how you do it. Many factors can affect our health at work, and they aren’t always clear to see. However, conquering them will help you feel better overall, both at and outside of the office.
Let’s talk about some of the common dangers at our workplaces that we may not always recognize and how we can face these issues and modify how we work to live a happier and healthier life.
Many people have the assumption that because they’re working in an office they’re not putting their bodies at risk every day, but that’s not the case. Even the way you sit can pose many dangers. They say that sitting is the new smoking, and while that might be a bit of an exaggeration in some regards, sitting for long periods can increase the possibility of a number of health risks.
By remaining in your seat all day, you lose out on the exercise that your body needs, and long-term issues can begin to develop. You may lose muscle mass, see an increase in varicose veins due to pooling blood, and face the potential for serious chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and potentially, even cancer. To minimize these effects, make an effort to get up and stretch every 30 minutes and use an ergonomic chair. If you’re not comfortable in your current chair, ask management for a suitable option.
There are other health risks at the office as well. For those who work on computers all day, eye strain can become a major issue. Eye strain can lead to burning or itching eyes, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. To minimize these harmful effects, follow the 20-20-20 rule of looking away from your screen every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Another threat is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), which can occur due to typing or using a mouse for long periods. Avoid the threat of CTS by stretching your hands several times a day and avoid overly repetitive tasks. If you need help in that regard, ask your supervisor.
When it comes to your time at work, it isn’t only about preserving your physical health but also your mental well-being. Your career can be generally difficult, but you need to avoid additional stress and set yourself up for success while on the job. For the best chance at a stress-free workday, you need to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night so your concentration and problem-solving skills will be at their best. When you wake up, have a healthy breakfast complete with plenty of vitamin B, which will keep your body healthy and your mind sharp.
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and if yours is especially taxing, you must create a healthy work-life balance. This essential structure will provide time for all of your responsibilities while also helping to avoid the burnout and unneeded stress that can occur when you take on too much at once. If unchecked, stress can lead to headaches, fatigue, chest pain, frequent colds, and more. Talk to your management about set working hours and take advantage of your sick and vacation days so you can recharge and come back to work refreshed.
A hard day’s work is one thing, but if you’re feeling especially drained due to workplace bullying or a toxic boss, then your stress levels could be through the roof. The signs of an unhealthy management team could include anything from verbal aggression to a manager who tries to force employees to take actions against their will. If you’re uncomfortable approaching your boss about their behavior, talk to your human resources team to express your concerns.
There are other unseen health factors that any office environment could create regardless of the work you do. For example, if you often feel nauseous, sick, or irritable while you work, it could be the result of poor air quality. If left untreated, these side effects can get worse, so if you suspect there is an issue, raise your concern to management. They can attempt to reduce the issues by checking ventilation systems, replacing air filters, and placing humidifiers in trouble areas.
Another threat that just about every office creates is the presence of harmful germs. Any surface that is touched by you or your co-workers becomes a germ factory, and if you have a habit of touching your face, you could get sick more often. To reduce the chance of harmful germs, management should place soap and hand sanitizer dispensers in bathrooms and break rooms where germs are most present. Employees should always wash their hands after using the bathroom or eating.
Another part of your job that can affect your health is your daily commute. People who need to drive many miles through traffic-congested streets to get to work tend to be more stressed, and once they get to work, a challenging job can elevate that irritability. You can try to relax during your commute by playing soothing music or a podcast you enjoy. If the commute is just too much to take, ask about the possibility of working from home.
Every day, we all go to work expecting to return home in the same condition of which we left. Unfortunately, this is not a guarantee. However, by being conscious of workplace dangers, both seen and unseen, you will have a healthier and happier life overall.
About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.