Four Work Habits That May Be Derailing Your Health

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

We’ve discussed the importance of a healthy workplace at length on this blog, and rightfully so. After all, the average American spends 8.8 hours of his or her day in the office. To contextualize this, that’s more time than we spend doing any other activity, including sleeping. Given the outsize importance of work in our lives, fostering a healthy workplace is absolutely critical. That’s why we’re sharing the four sneakily (or not-so-sneakily) wellness-derailing work habits. Read on!


That Friday happy hour.

Let’s be clear about one thing: We’re all for team bonding and, for that matter, for a good old-fashioned happy hour. But post-work drinks can turn from casual to crushing quickly, which is why it’s important to be conscious of several things when punching out on Friday. For one, given that most of us roll right into happy hour straight from the office – usually on an empty stomach, at the end of a long week – drinking alcohol can impact us very, very quickly. Limit your drinks to one or two, maximum, and space them out, sipping on water on seltzer to ensure you stay hydrated. Moreover, if you know that a happy hour is looming, eat a protein-heavy snack before you head out the door, such as a serving of nuts, a hard-boiled egg or a low-sugar protein bar. Doing so will slow down the absorption of alcohol, plus you won’t be tempted to (slightly) drunkenly order that plate of chicken fingers.


That drive-by office candy bowl snag.

It may not seem like anything, but grabbing a scoop of M&Ms here or a couple of mini Twix bars there from the beloved office candy bowl can really add up throughout the day. In fact, you may be unwittingly and unconsciously downing hundreds of calories if you’re a regular candy bowl devotee. I say “unwittingly,” because when food isn’t technically “yours” – say, you’re picking off of your husband’s plate – it’s easy to disassociate from it. (In other words, you start to think those calories “don’t count.”) But your body doesn’t distinguish from your candy versus your office’s candy, so wise up.


Those days of marathon meetings.

Ever look at the clock and realize you’ve been sitting in a conference room for three hours? It’s a sobering (and bizarre) feeling. While your meeting might be productive work-wise, those long stretches of being sedentary really take a toll on your body. In fact, researchers and medical professionals alike are now sounding the alarms, noting that “sitting is the new smoking. We’re not saying abandon your meetings, but make a point to get up, stand and stretch your legs every 20 minutes or so, ideally for about five minutes. Don’t worry if your colleagues are giving you strange looks. Simply tell them, “I have some back issues and my doctor told me I need to get up and move regularly.” No one will say a peep.


That afternoon coffee break.

When I first started working, my younger colleagues and I made a habit out of getting out of the office around 4 o’clock to take a break, gossip and gulp down a latte. Many times I remember not even wanting coffee – and feeling jittery after consuming it – but I simply enjoyed the ritual. That’s understandable: I’m all for taking an afternoon break with work buds, especially if you're putting in long hours – which I did at the time. But relying on the quick fix of caffeine, particularly at that time of day, can really do a number on your bod: For one, it can tax your adrenals, leaving you feeling more rundown than you were pre-java. Furthermore, the additional of sweeteners and other sugary additives can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, again leaving you lethargic. Lastly, it can disrupt your sleep pattern, keeping you wide awake at night and  you guessed it  rendering you exhausted in the morning. So, by all means, head out for “a coffee” with your coworker, but opt for a sparkling water, low-sugar green juice or a caffeine-free herbal tea.

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