Back at work after a blissful summer break? With the new school term well underway, parents and grandparents across Britain have also returned to the daily routine - and, for many full-time workers, this means longer hours than for most of our European counterparts.
Office of National Statistics data shows that full-time workers in the UK spend an average of 42.7 hours in work every week; higher than the EU average of 41.6 hours and with only full-time workers in Austria and Greece working longer hours. With such a significant portion of our lives spent working, it’s important to maintain healthy workplace habits to prevent our wellbeing from deteriorating and affecting other aspects of our lives.
If you’re facing a long haul until your next block of annual leave, here are some simple tips and habits to help you stay healthy at work:
Manage stress in your workplace
Stress is one of the leading causes of employee absence in the UK, with 40% of all workplace illness being related to stress, according to the NHS.
Many jobs are stressful but, with the right approach, you can help to limit the effect of stress on your life. For example, being more assertive and knowing when to say no at work is an important step to take.
Taking on extra duties may keep your boss happy in the short-term, but unmanageable amounts of work will ultimately result in higher stress levels and a lower quality of work overall. Set realistic targets for how much you can get done in a day, and communicate openly with your colleagues to ensure that this workload isn’t exceeded.
Take advantage of flexible working
Recent analysis shows that the trend towards irregular shift patterns in some sectors is having a detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of workers. While it’s partly the responsibility of employers to look after their staff and take appropriate measures to ensure the wellbeing of employees, individual workers can also take action by making a request for flexible working.
Since 2014, UK workers have had the right to request flexible working measures from their employers, such as working from home or choosing hours that better suit their lifestyle. This can be particularly useful for managing stress, disability and medical conditions that may be negatively affected by your work.
Beat back pain with desk-based stretches
Thanks to a rise in desk-based professions, back pain and posture-related injuries have soared. Failing to sit correctly at your computer can lead to a number of painful ailments, but stretching regularly will reduce your risk of needing medical help.
A variety stretches can be performed at your desk, making them easy to fit into your working day. From forward bends to spine stretches, try these simple desk-based stretches to relieve tension and prevent back pain at work.
Stay physically active at work
It’s no secret that exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to remain healthy. It’s not always easy to fit a workout into your working schedule, but taking a few minutes to exercise each day will make a big different to your physical and mental health, helping you feel better both in and out of the office.
If your office has stairs, squeeze some cardio into your day by skipping the lift and powering your way up and down them whenever you get a chance. Simple exercises like press-ups, wall sits and planks can all be performed without equipment, while walking or cycling to and from work can be a great way to increase your overall activity without committing to a monthly gym membership.
Seek professional help
Sometimes it’s best to consult a professional about your health, particularly if it’s affecting your performance at work. Health Insurance can provide cover for the medical care you need, as well as taking away the lengthy wait that you might face to be treated on the NHS.
ActiveQuote offers a handy online tool that lets you compare health insurance and find the best deal for your personal situation. If you’re an employer, there’s also the option to compare company health insurance quotes, which will help to ensure the long-term health and wellbeing of your staff.