Is Work Harming Your Health?

Is Your Job Harming Your Health?

Is your office environment taking it’s toll on your health and well being? Here are some common problems and health hacks to help keep you feeling well.

You don’t go out at lunch

Often there is a strong temptation to skip a lunch break to catch up with work, however this can be counter-productive; regular breaks have many advantages both physically and mentally and can also have a positive impact on individual and team performance.

There are many reasons why you should not skip natural breaks and especially lunch time ones. Mental performance drops if we don’t take breaks; decision making becomes slower, attention levels wane and thinking can become more rigid. You’re also more likely to eat unhealthy food when you stay at your desk, which can not only affect health in the long term but also impair your concentration later on in the afternoon.

We also tend to eat faster when at our desks, which means that the stomach doesn’t have enough time to send signals of fullness to the brain, causing us to overeat. We unfortunately consume more calories when we eat quickly.

Your boss is a nightmare

This one isn’t easy to resolve, but it could be time to seriously consider a new job if you’re being unfairly treated. A study from Sweden found that the chronic stress of a bad boss was linked to a raised risk of heart disease. Other research has linked working for a nasty boss to depression, sleep issues, high blood pressure and being overweight.

You don’t wash your hands

And I don’t mean just after visiting the loo! Commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles, printer buttons and the photocopier are all teaming with bacteria. Think about it – how often do you reckon the office cleaner wipes any of these? To avoid catching colds and flu, or even nasty food poisoning bugs, wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible.

You sit near the photocopier

It’s not always a choice you have, but if you can, avoid being close to the photocopier – if the filter isn’t changed regularly, deadly ozone can leak out. Laser printers can also release toner particles which can cause lung problems. Indoor air pollution can be very harmful and is blamed for thousands of deaths across Europe every year. Open windows wherever possible, and introduce some greenery – NASA recommends the following plants for removing air pollutants: English ivy, philodendron, bamboo palm and peace lily.

You don’t get up enough

We’re all aware that sitting is the new smoking, and it’s important to move around as much as you can while at work to avoid increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Here are a few moves to counteract the damage of a desk job:

  • Sit straight on your chair, knees over ankles. Place your right hand on your left knee. Inhale and lengthen your spine, exhale slowly and twist from the root of your spine to the crown of your head and place your left forearm on the top of the back of your chair.
  • Take five breaths on each sides, growing tall as you inhale and twisting your spine, looking over your back shoulder as you exhale.

If you enjoyed that, then move to the next variation of the pose:

  • Place opposite elbow to knee and your hands in prayer in front of your chest. Aim to align shoulder over shoulder by moving the top shoulder towards the back and lifting your top elbow towards the sky. Take five breaths on each side, lengthening the spine as you inhale, twisting your spine and looking over your shoulder as you exhale.

To release tension in your neck and my shoulders you need to stretch!

  • Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head. Gently bring your chin to your chest to add a bit more weight by using your hands. Take three deep breaths. Then bring opposite hand to ear and extend your arm on the side. Add a bit of weight with your hand to stretch your neck. Aim for three to five breaths on each side.

YOU DON’T BLINK ENOUGH

At work we’re often concentrating on computer screens meaning we naturally don’t blink as often as we should. This means our tears can evaporate too quickly and cause sore, gritty and dry eyes. We normally should be blinking eight times a minute but when we concentrate, we could be blinking as little as one or two times a minute. The best thing we can do to protect our eyes when on a computer is to take a break!

The 20:20:20 rule is a great way to rest your eyes between emails – every 20 minutes; look away for 20 seconds, at something 20 feet away. This is a good one to do at your desk, but it’s even better if you can get up for a walk over to the window. If your eyes are feeling dry and sore relieve the problem using a good preservative free eye drops to hydrate your eyes.

Rachel x

Why You Should Be Eating Organic

Glynis Barber: Why You Should Be Eating Organic

Back in the 80’s there was a furtive group of people who had a common purpose. Their numbers were small, and people scratched their heads when they heard about their ‘peculiarity’. This group consisted of some leftover ‘hippie types’ and Prince Charles. Their ‘peculiarity’ was that they wanted to eat organic food.

The naysayers in the 1980s sounded very much like the naysayers today – the main argument being that organic food has the same nutritional content as conventionally-grown food. In fact, research at Stanford University in 2012 famously showed this to be true. However, I’ve always been taken aback by this argument. I don’t eat organic food because of what it does contain, but rather because of what it doesn’t contain. It seems blindingly obvious to me that consuming chemicals on a daily basis is going to have an adverse impact on your health. And if by any chance organic foods do contain more nutrients, that’s a bonus.

Low and behold it’s now been found that organic fruit and veg contain higher levels of beneficial phenolic phytonutrients. They also contain more antioxidants which play a critical role in the prevention of diseases. Organic berries, for example, appear to suppress the growth of cancer. Organic foods also have much lower levels of cadmium, a known carcinogen that has a number of negative effects on human health. Eating organically-raised meat also reduce your exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria which in turn may minimise your risk of illness.

Pesticides, on the other hand, are associated with a whole host of medical problems. Research has shown an increase in allergic reactions and high sensitivity to foods and the carcinogenicity of pesticide-covered foods has led to concern and debate for many years.

There’s also another big benefit to organic farming – it improves soil diversity and the communities of life that exist within the soil. These are vital to our health and to the nutritional value of the food grown in the soil – It seems like a no-brainer to me.

My top tips

1. Buy organic versions of the ‘dirty dozen’

Apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, blueberries, and potatoes.

2. Eat organic eggs

These have been found to be more nutritious than non-organic eggs which are also far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria like salmonella.

3. Stick to organic meat and dairy

It’s been found that these contain markedly higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids. According to Professor Chris Seal from Newcastle University, diets high in this are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease and improved neurological and immune function.

Rachel x