Does your employer offer a robust wellness plan? The Rand Workplace Wellness Programs Study reports that 90 percent of employers with more than 50,000 employees offer wellness programs and only half of smaller employers with at least 50 employees have one. Because small businesses make up 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms, chances are there is a wide range of offerings among these firms. Regardless of your employer’s wellness plan components, there are things you can do for your personal health and wellbeing during the workday.
Scientific evidence suggests that stress plays a role in all disease. There is a body of evidence that suggests you can create a new calmer normal by practicing mindfulness techniques. Before you cave into the stress, try these seven tips to increase your energy, maintain a positive mindset, stay physically strong and keep stress at bay.
- Take a walk. Walking is the fastest mood booster available to you and a great way to clear your head. Motion equals emotion. When you feel stress knocking at your door, getting up from your desk to take a short walk will send blood flow to the brain and help you think more clearly. By the time you sit down to your work, you will have a plan of where to start. “Starting” also reduces stress.
- Take a deep breath. Deep breathing techniques counter the stress response. Stress triggers the release of hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream, muscles tense, heart beats faster and breathing becomes shallow. Deep breathing techniques help you relax and slow your breathing and heart rate, and you can do this at the privacy of your desk. To practice this technique, release your breath and then close your mouth and inhale deeply through your nose. Fill your lungs and feel your abdomen expand. Hold that breath for a few seconds and release it through your mouth with or without a whoosh sound, depending on your work environment. Repeat a few times and feel the difference in your tension. Do this every day and have a calmer normal.
- Take a minute. Pausing before you react to any stressor can be your best friend and strategy to combatting stress. This is a present moment choice. Ask yourself if what you are about to do or say is going to benefit anyone. This will give you enough time to think of better options and de-stress.
- Take 10 minutes. When you really need a break at work, is there a place you can go to sit in silence to pray or meditate? Don’t get hung up on whether you can clear your mind completely or not. One strategy is to focus on what you want to achieve, keep it positive, stay peaceful and get clear. This is another way to create a new calmer normal.
- Talk to a friend. Support systems matter. Know who you can go to if you are feeling troubled. Remember to keep it light and not get too deep into personal matters with work colleagues. It is helpful to talk through things with a friend. Sometimes the sharing helps us find the answer we need to move forward.
- Use the gym. If you are one of the lucky ones with a gym at work, fit some time into your schedule to use it. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per week of physical activity. They even suggest 10-minute bouts of physical activity, three times a day offers health benefits. Ten minutes is achievable. You will discover any physical activity will enhance your mood, reduce your stress and offer many other health benefits.
- Pack your food. Never leave home without a bottle of water and a healthy snack at the very least. Water keeps fatigue at bay and having a healthy snack may keep you from less healthy vending options. Taking time to pack your lunch is also worth your time. Planning and preparation are the very foundation to ensure healthy eating in our fast paced eat on the go society.
Your wellbeing matters. Caring for your mind, body and spirit can help you reduce stress and make you stronger. Part of that process is learning to control what is in your control and not worrying about the things that are not. We all have work and life pressures and practicing these seven tips will have you well on your way to better health and wellbeing.
Director of Employer Health and Wellness
St. David’s HealthCare
 Soeren Mattke, Kandice Kapinos, John P. Caloyeras, Erin Audrey Taylor, Benjamin Batorsky, Hangsheng Liu, Kristin R. Van Busum, Sydne Newberry. 2014. Workplace Wellness Programs Services Offered, Participation, and Incentives. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/ebsa/researchers/analysis/health-and-welfare/WellnessStudyFinal.pdf January 25, 2017.
 SBA Frequently Asked Questions Advocacy: the Voice of Small Business Government. September 2012. Retrieved from https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_Sept_2012.pdf January 25, 2017.