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10 Best Practices to Staying Healthy at Work

03/18/2015 08:00 am ET | Updated May 18, 2015

Health care is a hot topic these days, and the personal health and wellness industry is booming. With health care reform, some companies are in a bind and are seriously looking at ways to promote wellness and preventive health measures for their employees.

If you are an employee, you know that staying healthy benefits you in many ways: fewer missed work days, greater productivity and less stress. Staying healthy is good for your pockets too, in the form of lower health care costs and health insurance premiums.

So when you're going to the office and working in close quarters (ah, the cubicle life) every day, how can you stay healthy? 10 best practices to staying healthy at work:

  1. Wash your hands often. Hand-washing is the number one way you can prevent yourself from getting sick. There is no such thing as washing your hands too much. Although it may seem obvious, many don't take it as seriously as they should. Always wash your hands before you eat, after using the restroom, and after sneezing or coughing.

  • Keep your workspace clean. The average desk harbors hundreds of times more bacteria than a toilet seat -- pretty gross, right? Keep your work area neat and organized. Tidy up at the end of each day for five minutes. Keep sanitizing wipes and spray at your desk and wipe down the surfaces often.
  • Drink more water. Staying well-hydrated is crucial to your productivity, energy levels and overall health. Water helps you stay alert and refreshed, and promotes clear thinking. Buy a large water bottle that you can keep at your desk and refill throughout the day.
  • Keep hand sanitizer at your desk. As stated previously, there are many times when it is best to wash your hands -- however it's understandable that during the workday you may not always be able to step away from your desk to do so. In those cases, such as after sneezing or coughing, immediately use hand sanitizer. Keep some handy at your desk, so it can be applied immediately and used in between hand washings when needed.
  • Avoid others who are not feeling well or exhibit symptoms of illness. Whenever possible, avoid close interactions with others who may be sick. Wash your hands after spending time at or near the work space of someone who is sick, sneezing or coughing. Also, it's a good idea to make sure that management is aware if someone is coming to work sick, as it's best for all if they stay home to rest and recover where there is no concern of infecting those nearby.
  • Eat well including light, healthy lunches. Plan out your meals for the week, including what you will eat for lunch. Then take time the night before to pack a healthy lunch for the next day. Make sure to include some lean protein, salad or fresh veggies, and fresh fruit for lasting energy with no afternoon slump.
  • Take breaks and get out in the sun and fresh air. Make sure to get your daily dose of vitamin D by getting outdoors every day. Even on your busiest days, it's important to take a few minutes to step away and regroup. Invigorate yourself by going outside and taking a brisk walk around your office building. Or calm yourself from a hectic day by simply sitting and meditating quietly for a few minutes surrounded by nature.
  • Eat snacks throughout the day vs. a heavy mid-day meal. For optimum health and energy, make sure to keep healthy snacks at your desk that you can munch on when hunger strikes. Forgo the vending machines in favor of fresh or dried fruits, nuts, yogurt and string cheese. Going several hours between meals can cause your blood sugar to drop and lead you to grab the nearest fast food or sugary treat available. Instead, opt to eat something every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar steady and energy levels up the entire day.
  • Limit caffeine intake. Yes, we love our coffee, but remember to drink it and other caffeinated beverages in moderation. Try to reduce your intake to one cup each morning to avoid a caffeine crash later on. You can also greatly reduce calories and sugar intake by drinking your coffee without cream or sugar -- for some, this may be an acquired taste, but it is well worth it for your health.
  • Manage stress properly. Most American workers live a fast-paced life that can feel hectic at times. In this new economy, many companies require employees to do more with less. To be effective and to work healthy, you must learn to properly manage your stress levels. Whether it's the occasional spa day, time with family, or a good book, find what works for you and take time out for it. Make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost, and maintain a healthy balance.
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