THE BLOG

How To Be Healthy in the Workplace

09/24/2014 11:52 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST

Let's talk wellness, your work day, and the fact that people are dying of heart attacks really young.

Just a question, but how do you start your day? Alarm clock goes off, you hit snooze, no excitement to get up, or maybe you are still exhausted?

The better question might be, how did you end your day? Or when? I'm writing this after an amazing Yoga class at Yoga Public in Winnipeg. I'm winding down, and I'm so relaxed. My eyes are hardly staying open, I'm going to sleep like a baby. I do as much Yin Yoga as I can. 2 classes at night a week is my goal. I've started practicing a little just before bed on my own. 10 - 30 minutes no clock, just deep breathing and a lot of pigeon pose. I normally wake up happy and rested to begin with. With the introduction of some Yoga, my happiness is palpable in the morning.

Workplace Wellness is one of the hottest topics right now. Not just so employers can save money on health care and lost productivity time, but also because people are literally killing themselves to climb the corporate ladder. Do this little assessment from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it's sort of "fun" to see where you stand. Be honest, it might be time to change a few things!

It's exciting to do my job. I get to go into office places, tell some jokes, talk about health, inspire people and then keep the conversation going with E - Newsletters and support. Workplace wellness has become such a hot topic that this country boy from the Manitoba prairies gets to chat with people around North America. The conversation is always about getting people who don't want to change, to change. So I say this, keeping in mind I'm the most stubborn person you'll meet.

Change has to be easy and gradual

Change has to be from an educated perspective. Give people the why and how, then you'll succeed

Change has to produce fast results, and results over the long term. Teach perspective.

Change has to be done in the ENTIRE COMMUNITY AND CULTURE. Top down.

Step 1) Easy, gradual change.

Make plans at your workplace that can be brought home simply, and incorporated into a work day. Remember how I started this with talking about Yoga? Well, I'm still new to Yoga as a practice. However, deep breathing has been something I've been doing my whole life. Yoga teaches it best, so I encourage this as a starting point. The easiest things to bring into a wellness plan are:

Smoothies for breakfast - share recipes in the office, and encourage trying new things all the time

Yoga breathing - Take 5 minutes in the day and clear your mind. Then take 5 - 7 breaths in a minute. This is a great way to instantly reduce stress and calm the body. It works instantly!

Walking groups - Just go and move during the day. 20 minutes of walking, 20 minutes of eating, and then time over lunch to just chill out and enjoy being alive.

Recipe exchanges - what ever happened to potlucks and people feeding each other? Maybe that was just a country thing. Growing up, I was always hanging out with families and friends eating food made from the produce grown in gardens. Let's bring that to the workplace! I'd love if you subscribe on Youtube. My goal is to make simple ideas available to everyone.

Step 2) Top down culture change

Really start to invest in this. I'm watching as Minister Sharon Blady and the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce get their "Wellness Works" initiative rolling. What I love about their program is seeing success stories arise. Hearing about companies starting initiatives or listening to what their staff want and going out and changing the layout of their business. I've mentioned National Leasing before, but it is absolutely amazing how adaptable their upper level management are when they are present with a proper proposal for health. They have a full gym at the office, and a kitchen staff fill with health food. It is simple brilliant. For change to exist, staff need to feel heard and important. In Manitoba, the "Wellness Works" initiative let's employees know which places in our Province have committed to their staffs well being. If I ever need to join the 9-5 world, I'm shopping around from that list. My health is more important than a paycheck.

Step 3) Create a community

Deep breathing, changing food choices, and support from upper management all create quick results in moral and feelings of well being. The next step is to create an active community. Make plans to meet up in small groups for rock climbing, yoga, kayaking, or any other adventure. Join walks for charity as groups from your office. It's amazing if you ask around, and support a charity that means something to a co-worker how much moral will increase. Get to know your co-workers, not all of them, and not best friends, but simple things like their partners name or if they are a cat person or dog person. Simply start to get together and do active things. You'd be surprised how much fun you have with your co-workers. It's easier to ask a friend for a favor at the workplace, than just "the person in the next cubicle". Making it a more positive environment means less stress. More friendly means you care about the conversation, and the workplace becomes more fun.

Fitness and active living is the best way to build friendly bonds. Not that your co-workers have to be your new best friends, but they can be a great source of laughter and brainstorming.

So breath deep, share recipes, create a culture of activity and fun so that you don't die of a heart attack and work doesn't suck. That's the messaging I take to workplaces when I give short 90 minute seminars. My hope is it helps me make this Nation healthy, and it happens One Fit City at a time.

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