Our Health at work – a productive edge?
In our modern day workplaces how much do we link taking care of ourselves to our productivity?
Each of us is a unit of production – a unit of expression and our physical and physiological health makes quite a difference to our productivity – not just in our output but in the quality of the way we work, and the quality of the way we are with others at work.
If we look at this practically what does it mean?
How often do we take short cuts with the things that we know support us (e.g. hydration) because we are 'too busy'?
What if this is a false economy because of the impact it has on our ability to focus, concentrate, our spatial skills, and the quality of the way we work?
Let's take some obvious practical examples:
*Over riding the need to go to the toilet – when we over ride the need to go to the toilet our body immediately multi tasks – as it needs to focus on holding on, as well as doing what we are doing. Whilst the bladder can hold as much as half a litre, if we hold for long periods of time, or regularly 'hold on', it has an impact on the elasticity of our bladder, and can cause infections. We wouldn't hold onto rubbish so why hold onto toxic waste inside our own body? When we do ‘pee on time’ we feel refreshed, our body can focus more, and doesn't need to concentrate some of its efforts – and we avoid infections and problems with our elasticity later down the line.
*Dehydration – what we drink during our days and how much we drink can make a difference. Drinking caffeine fuelled drinks doesn't necessarily hydrate us. How much water we drink for instance can have an impact on how we feel. When we are dehydrated – even slightly, it effects our spatial skills, our ability to concentrate or focus, and we can feel sluggish or headachy. It is simple to tell if we are hydrated by checking the colour of our pee (!) – and checking in as to how we feel. When we do hydrate we have flow, and our body is able to focus on the task in hand rather than having to focus on compensating for lack of fluid.
*Eating too much sugar – often we eat sugary snacks because we are tired – yet when we eat too much sugar it can have an impact on our health – there are obvious things like weight gain with excess sugar and some less obvious – it can effect our metabolism, increase our uric acid levels, affecting our kidney/bladder,and it is actually an addictive substance. Sugar can also make us racy in a way that focus and concentration can be affected, we can also become agitated, jumpy and moody too.
*Caffeine overdose – whilst we can use coffee as a stimulant to keep us going – there can be a cost to this – coffee (and caffeine e.g. caffeine drinks) can cause the body to go into a false rhythm falsely pushing the body where we can keep going but we cant feel how our body is actually feeling, so it can mask tiredness amongst other symptoms. Caffeine can also cause headaches, dizziness, thirst, diarrhoea and metabolic problems, as well as endocrine and other problems. At its worst it can cause heart palpitations, seizures and some people have died from it. It can also affect our ability to rest, and sleep.
*Lack of sleep – we know how we feel when we have had a good night’s sleep, and how we feel when we haven’t. Minor things we may observe can be our mood, or concentration, our spatial skills, ability to focus, and our energy levels in that we can feel more or less vital. Over time chronic lack of sleep affects our metabolism, immune system, mental health and wellbeing, perspective, and all major organs of the body, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions too. When we sleep or rest well or to the best we can our body has the foundation to be balanced throughout our day, and to focus, concentrate, with well focused spatial skills.
*Poor posture – the effects of poor posture may seem obvious like sore muscles, aching limbs, but poor posture can also effect our focus, concentration, spatial skills, and can cause long term issues over and above muscle tension including chronic back pain, or neck pain. When we focus on even the smallest aspect of our posture the flow of our work, focus and spatial skills can improve and it takes only a second to change our posture. There are also simple stretches we can do throughout our day to support our posture.
We could extend this list also to:
Lifting or carrying too much (even our work bag or hand bag can be too heavy for our shoulders and a wheelie bag may support us more) which affects our posture, and sense of wellbeing
Eating certain foods such as gluten which can make us sluggish
Not wearing the right clothes e.g. allowing the body to get chilly in air conditioned offices which affects our spatial skills, and vitality
I am sure we could all think of other examples to add to this list too.
What is striking here is that however busy we are, or wherever we work, many if not all of these things are small, easily correctable, and, free of charge in most cases...
Yet, in our busy world and work – we may not pay attention to them, or we may say to ourselves, I'll hydrate later when Ive finished 'x', or I'll go to the toilet later on my way to my next meeting etc, and we may feel that we are utilising time effectively when we do this, but are we at our best when we over ride our body's basic physiological needs?
With small changes where we experiment and can feel the difference of what works and what doesn't it is possible to feel more prepared for work and life, and fit and vital at work.
This could be done by having a month focusing on hydration and seeing what works and how it feels. Having another month to 'pee on time' (to the best of our ability!), to see how that feels, and having another month to take account of posture for example - learning what supports our productivity and feeling of wellbeing and what does not.
We could also do this not just for ourselves but amongst our workplace team e.g. a hydration month for the team, or a 'pee on time' month for the team, and talk about the effects it is having on our ability to work, and on our overall wellbeing at work and in life.
Further more, it's interesting that in many workplace job descriptions, or contracts or job advertisements it does not state one objective or task or duty to be to "take care of your physical and physiological body" and, maybe it is time we did so? Added to which a responsibility for all employers to support employees to take care of their physical and physiological body.
Maybe our physiology and physical body is a productivity edge to our work (and life) that we haven't yet truly considered?
It is definitely worth giving it a go...