If you are like most Americans (21,638,470 to be exact) you spend a large majority of your time working in an office. The actual amount of time works out to be 1,700 hours per year or about 10 full years of your life will be stuck in a cubicle or for those more fortunate your own office. Unfortunately as you are about to find out, most offices are not the healthiest environments to be spending that much time. But there are a few fixes you can make to keep yourself healthy or at least get through the work day.
Clearing the Air
Unless you have the good fortune of working in a "green building," you are probably being exposed daily to toxic chemicals released from paint, carpeting, furniture glue and even your computer. In fact one study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology discovered that as computers warm up, they release toxic fumes into the air from a coating made of triphenyl phosphate. This can lead to itching, skin problems and headaches in some people. All these toxins place stress on the liver and impair our reproduction and immune systems. If your office isn't properly ventilated, one thing you can do is buy an aloe vera plant or a peace lily. These plants actually clear formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and toluene found in many paints and cleaners. Another option is a salt lamp, which naturally purifies the air by emitting negative ions. Not only can they clear the air of allergens, germs and pollutants they are relaxing and can bring down stress.
Rethinking What Your Drinking
Hopefully you have read enough of my articles to know that soda and juice are a "no-go" when it comes to thirst quenchers and have been drinking water instead. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you stay hydrated, alert and flush out toxins. Nonetheless your office water cooler still may not be your best friend. The problem is many water coolers are not cleaned regularly enough and bacteria and mold can easily grow in the moist environment. Also some plastic jugs and individually package waters still contain endocrine disruptors like BPA and phthalates. The best solution is to bring your own portable water filter or a water bottle with a built-in filter to make sure you are drinking pure radiation, heavy metal and bacteria free water. I personally recommend the stylish glass Soma Water Filter over plastic models.
Detoxing your Coworkers
You know who I'm talking about that special someone in the office you secretly wish would get fired or transfer to a different company. Maybe they are a braggart, the giver of unsolicited advice or intruder of your space. Regardless, they are making your work day unpleasant. Surprisingly one-sixth of workers have admitted that anger at work has led them to damage property and 2-3% have actually pushed, slapped or hit someone at work. Even if these stressful work dynamics don't lead to these extremes, they can pay a toll on your health, performance and overall well-being. So what to do if it looks like your co-worker isn't getting the axe anytime soon? Daily practice of mindfulness techniques such as breathing and meditation can help us re-frame the situation allowing us not to be swept away. One particular technique that I've found to be particularly useful is METTA or loving kindness meditation. Click here to find out more about this technique.
Breaking the Vending Machine Habit
Combine a stressful-day-induced blood sugar crash with the allure of sugar, salt and fat beckoning you from the vending machine or leftover goodies in the conference room, you may quickly find yourself losing all resolve to eat healthy. So what to do? The best plan of attack is to plan ahead by bringing healthy snacks and making sure to make time for lunch. Always have your desk stocked with snacks that have a combination of natural sugars for quick energy like fruit, protein to stabilize your blood sugar such as nuts, beef jerky or hardboiled eggs, fiber, and healthy fats which promote satiation. Having these types of snacks on hand will make you feel satisfied and less tempted to eat that last donut. A good lunch should also be packed with protein, slow carbs and of course lots of veggies. Make sure to do your best not to eat at your desk as most desks harbor a lot of bacteria (400 times more than your toilet!)