Workplace Wellness Post-Lockdown

by Jul 8, 2020

So you’re finally back at work!  And the businesses you love supporting are also back at work!  And the people you’re tired of being quarantined with are likely back at work too!  Yay!  Work!

But things are different, aren’t they?  You were (for once) looking forward to interacting with Carol at human resources, but now she wears a ski mask at all times, and you can’t understand a word she says.  And the communal coffee pot is now off-limits because everybody wants to touch it and there simply isn’t enough sanitizer.

And now, it’s that time of year when we all gather together for a workplace wellness presentation!  But we can’t gather together in the same room unless that room is huge, and we only have a handful of coworkers.  The six-foot-rule is still in order, or at least it is at every place I’ve visited since the state reopened.  So, to save you the trouble of finding a huge room for your workplace wellness presentation, I’m writing one that you can read from the comfort of your isolated cubicle!

Workplace Wellness

Let’s get to it! We’ll break down a few categories of wellness, and how you can maintain them at work post-lockdown.

Physical Fitness

I had to search pretty hard, but I found this blog that I wrote just over two years ago: Your Own Monthly Fitness Challenge.

The good old monthly fitness challenge!  Let me tell you what it entails (or feel free to read the article above), and why it’s a great idea when social distancing is in order!

At Moyer Total Wellness, our monthly fitness challenge went as follows:

  • Dr. Moyer picked a random exercise.  Squats, pushups, jumping jacks, etc.  Anything that generally didn’t require special equipment.
  • All staff members were encouraged to do that randomly chosen exercise every day of the month, with a randomly chosen number of repetitions (ie, April 2018’s monthly challenge was 25 pushups per day.  I hated it.  But I did it, yay!)
  • A chart with everyone’s name on it, as well as every day of the month, was tacked to a board in the breakroom.  Every time you completed the exercise, you found your name and checked off the day on the chart!  (And there was absolutely no shaming for not completing the challenge!  There’s nothing more unmotivating than being shamed.)

Here’s what’s great about a monthly fitness challenge at the workplace, post-quarantine: you don’t have to be near any of your coworkers (or anyone at all, for that matter) to do the challenge!  When things normalize again, you can squat alongside Carol during Squat Month.  But for now, it might be best to do your monthly challenge back at home, unaccompanied.  Shouldn’t be hard… I think that’s the way most of us (if not all of us) were doing it before the pandemic started, anyway.

But if you really do want to mix some socializing into your month’s challenge, you can always Skype, Facetime, or Zoom with your coworkers while you’re doing the exercise!  Or, meet up somewhere and try to stay six feet away from each other.  You’ve been isolated for quite some time, so some socialization might be a nice mood booster.

And that brings me to emotional health!

Emotional Health

This is a big one right now.  Being locked away and unable to work can really mess with your head.  The isolation.  The claustrophobia.  The repeated sanitizing of groceries.  The strong desire to touch your own face on one of your rare public appearances… yeah, it’ll get to you after a while.

But now, back at work, you can cross cabin fever off your list of awful things you’re enduring.  Yay!  Your emotional health may have perked up just sliding a sharpie across those two words!

Awful Things I'm Enduring

I personally felt magnificent.

In the event that you’re still feeling pretty down even after crossing that off the list, here are some things you can do at work to boost your mood post-lockdown:

Be Nice to Your Coworkers

    • Whether you’re required to wear a mask and stand six feet away, or if you just feel more at ease wearing a mask and standing six feet away, still be friendly to your coworkers.  A hello and a smile can always go a long way, but especially when we’ve just gone through a rough time.  It’s normal for us to not feel our best right now.  Most of us couldn’t work, nobody could go to school, and many of us endured sickness and/or loss of loved ones.
    • If you have agitated coworkers, be patient with them, and don’t pass judgment.  If you find yourself being the agitated coworker, remember that you’re not alone in this strange time and consider reaching out to someone.
    • Something as simple as a kind note on the dry erases board can brighten someone’s day.
      • If you know someone who loves lame jokes (like me!), consider writing this one on the board: What do you do when you see a spaceman?  Park your car, man!
      • If your coworkers hate jokes, maybe write something along the lines of I work with the coolest people ever!
    • Since you all haven’t seen each other in a while, maybe give your coworker a little gift to cheer them up.  But keep gifts sanitary before giving them!  I think the best gift to give right now is a bottle of sanitizer!

Make the Most of Your Break

    • Add some mood-boosting foods to your lunch.  Blueberries, spinach, yogurt, avocados… anything high in antioxidants!  But above all else, make sure your lunch is delicious.  If you love food as much as I do, an awful lunch will kill your mood.
    • Get up and move, especially if you work at a desk.  Long periods of sedentary behavior are linked to depression, so it’s important to get yourself moving.
    • Do some breathing exercises or meditate, if that’s your thing.  Not only is it relaxing, but meditation can improve your quality of sleep.  And good sleep quality has quite an influence on how your next day at work will go!

Spruce Up Your Environment

    • Did you know that studies have been done on the effects that flowers can have on one’s mood?  Well, they’ve been done, and the research shows that flower arrangements make people happy.  So, some carnations on your desk!
      • If you don’t like flowers, try a snow globe.  They’re pretty too!  A picture of your dog can also do the trick.  Or a picture of anything that makes you smile!

Immunity Enhancement

Oh, health precautions.  They’re most of the reason why work is so weird right now.

We all have unique workspaces, and our social restrictions vary from place to place.  In some places, no two people can be in the same room at the same time.  In others, coworkers can stand side by side, as long as they’re masked.  And maybe some places have little to no restrictions at all.  It all depends on the type of work you’re doing, who you’re working with, and where you’re located.

With that in mind, just make sure you’re doing these things:

  • Wash your hands often.  Soap and water, 20 seconds… you know the drill and are likely tired of hearing it.  Sorry.
  • Sneeze and cough into your shoulder.
    • Don’t sneeze and cough into your bare hand, or on other people.  Your coworkers won’t like you, and everyone’s emotional health will suffer for it.
  • Respect your coworkers’ personal space.  Even if you work in a place with lax restrictions, your coworkers may still want to keep distance.
    • If you don’t respect anybody’s space and somebody gets sick, your coworkers (again) won’t like you.  And the emotional health (again) will suffer.
  • Wash your clothes after every workday.  Even if the work environment is strictly sterile (sanitizer on every desk, everyone is wearing chemical resistant coverall suits), the office is probably not the only place we’re frequenting now.
    • This week, I’ve already walked into a business without any sanitary procedures from a single employee — which is gross enough when there isn’t a pandemic.  We can’t control how others go about their hygiene, but we can wash those businesses off of our clothes!
  • Get your vitamin C!
    • Decrease your chances of getting sick and bring some immunity-boosting foods to work.  If it’s a plant with a yellow, orange, or red hue, it’s probably high in vitamin C.

Happy to Have You Back at Work!

Keep moving, be nice, eat well, and wash your hands!  Stay healthy, everyone!

 

Written by: Katrina Jenkins, LMT

Photo Credit: Canva

Resources:

Stubbs B;Vancampfort D;Firth J;Schuch FB;Hallgren M;Smith L;Gardner B;Kahl KG;Veronese N;Solmi M;Carvalho AF;Koyanagi A; “Relationship Between Sedentary Behavior and Depression: A Mediation Analysis of Influential Factors Across the Lifespan Among 42,469 People in Low- And Middle-Income Countries.” Journal of Affective Disorders, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29329054/.

“A Cheap and Easy Way to Treat Insomnia (and Beat Stress): Meditation.” Sleep Foundation, 10 June 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-meditation-can-treat-insomnia.

Haviland-Jones, Jeannette. “Emotional Impact of Flowers Study.” About Flowers, aboutflowers.com/quick-links/health-benefits-research/emotional-impact-of-flowers-study/.

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