Most adults spend a large proportion of their life at work. Whether working inside an office block, outside in the open air, for someone else, or for ourselves we need to be aware of the environment in which we work. Given that many people spend 40-50 years working it is important to consider whether your workplace is good for your mental or physical health, or whether it is setting you up for a life-time of illness and a shorter life-span.
If you spend many hours working inside a building, ventilation and fresh air is very important. Luckily, open plan areas are becoming more popular in many work places. Not only does this improve air circulation, but it encourages interaction with other workmates. Working on your own, in a small office, can become depressing and boring. It has been shown that most people are happier, and can work more efficiently if they are able to interact with others. If you work on your own or in a cramped environment, then make an effort to take walks or even call someone on the phone in your break.
In an office setting it is also important to maintain your fitness. Many recent studies have suggested that sitting down for long periods is very bad for your long term health and well-being. So take a walk in your lunch hour, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or even set up your computer on a high desk so that you stand to work. Your body will thank you for it. Spending some time each day stretching and changing your posture is also very important, especially if you sit at a computer. Sleeping without a pillow may be good for your neck and back if you start to have problems in those areas.
Make your work environment enjoyable and attractive. Having plants and artwork, colorful walls and decor, and even having access to good quality coffee can make a big difference in the happiness of those who work inside. Temperature is also important. If a workplace is too hot or too cold, then most people are not going to work as effectively.
If you work outdoors there is little you can do to influence the temperature, so being prepared is incredibly important. Having decent wet-weather and winter clothing will keep you warmer and reduce the chance of getting unwell. Finding a way to work under shade, or using sunscreen is just as important in hotter weather.
If your job is physical, then you need to listen to your body. It’s likely that you need extra sleep, so get to bed earlier. If you have physical ailments that are not improving then get yourself to the doctor, and eat well. Many men particularly have shortened their life span, and worn their bodies out early by not looking after themselves properly in a physical job.
In whatever job you do, take care of your mental health. Stress, depression and anxiety do not always get better on their own, so if you feel yourself struggling with one of these conditions get support early. Sometimes re-arranging your work-space, changing routine or even changing jobs may be necessary to improve your mental well-being.
You will never regret making your work environment healthier. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else you can make changes to improve your situation. This might be just going for a walk, bringing in a plant or talking to your neighbor. Anything you do that looks after your mental or physical health will make you happier in the short term and healthier in the long term.