While reading through some research on workplace stress and its effects on health, I came across an alarming comparison. The effect of workplace stress on health is as large as the effect of secondhand smoke on health. That’s right folks, your workplace could be as toxic for your health as sitting in a bar full of tobacco smoke every night. Scary, right?
When you think of a healthy work environment, what do you picture? I've always imagined a fictionalized version of the Runner's World magazine office. Happy employees high five each other as they head back into the office, slightly flushed from a post-lunch team run. The light and airy kitchen is full of fruits, vegetables, and Terry in accounting's latest homemade vegan protein bars. Staff sit (and stand) at adjustable desks with cubicles full of yoga balls, foam rollers, and mason jars full of kombucha. Meetings are structured and productive, each employee's voice is valued, and creativity is encouraged. Everyone leaves at 5pm on the dot to go home and eat a wholesome meal with their friends and families.
So we know it's important to set boundaries when we love our work, but how do we do this? In the same way that it can be tempting to go for a cookie when you're feeling that 4pm energy dip, it can be tempting to log in to your computer to do just one more thing for work at midnight. How do you fight the urge and set up healthy working habits? The same way we make any habit change: reframing our understanding, making small changes, and setting up the conditions for success.
When I talk about work + wellness, I'm talking about something much more comprehensive than balancing eating well and exercising regularly with the demands of a career.