Corporate Wellness: Work Smarter, Not Harder
by Amelia Wilcox
We are excited to have one of our distinguished partners as a guest blogger today. Please meet Amelia Wilcox, CEO and Founder of Incorporate Massage. We have loved having her and her talented team of massage therapists in our office helping us relax. She is going to share a few corporate wellness tips today.
In recent years the myth that we only use 10% of our brains has been largely debunked. But let’s pretend, just for a moment, that it’s true. What if we only used a fraction of our mental powers? And what would be the outcome if we increased our mental capacities at work, even ever so slightly? Of course we’d all like to. And most of us try.
But for many organizations, “trying” to be smarter about work revolves around burning the midnight oil, working longer hours, coming in earlier, plowing through lunch, etc. Does it work? Usually not. Ramping up our input doesn’t always mean increasing our output. When it comes to really moving the needle, increasing brainpower at work often takes a different approach. And the results go beyond production—they create happier, mentally healthier employees. With that being said, let’s take a look at a few ideas that can improve your office’s brainpower.
1. Office Zen
Calming down in a work environment that’s constantly on the go has benefits that go well beyond a decrease in stress. In a recent study, researches found that mindfulness meditation improved critical cognitive skills in a controlled group who practiced it for 20 minutes a day. The list of benefits is extensive. If you’re interested in introducing meditation into your office, consider a few things:
Mindfulness meditation improved critical cognitive skills in a controlled group who practiced it for 20 minutes a day.
- Hire a trained meditation expert to come in for a lunch and learn or a brief training session. You’ll be surprised how effective just an hour of meditation training can be.
- Encourage your employees to focus on their breathing for ten minutes every hour.
- Begin meetings with a few minutes of breathing exercises instead of jumping right into the business at hand.
- Post simple, subtle reminders around the office that encourage employees to take time out of their day to breathe, walk, and be mindful of their surroundings.
2. Nap Time
Napping comes with a certain stigma attached to it. Babies nap, and we’re working professionals after all. But recent data suggesting that we’re becoming more sleep deprived along with another set indicating that napping has some really nice benefits in our daily lives mean that introducing napping into your workplace might not be such a bad idea. Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. An office that’s completely alert and performs more than thirty percent better sounds nice, right? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
NASA Study found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%.
The type of napping we’re talking about here isn’t of the extended weekend variety. Studies show that a 20 minute nap is all you need to feel refreshed and alert without feeling groggy. Let your employees know that it’s ok to nap. Provide timers so they can fall asleep and wake up on time.
Provide the right atmosphere
Looking for something to do with that spare office? Turn it into a nap room. Make sure it’s kept clean, quiet, and designated.
Eat right, nap well
Help your employees get a good nap by keeping the right food on hand. Carbs, caffeine, and sugar wreak some serious havoc on our natural sleep cycle. Instead of the soda, opt for whole, healthier foods.
3. Office Exercise
Hitting the gym isn’t just good for your six-pack. It’s great for your brain. While studies have long documented the benefits of exercise on the heart and muscles, new research suggested that staying in shape is doing wonders for the way we think and process information. The idea here is a fairly new (and extremely fascinating) concept of neuroplasticity.
Your brain is no different than rest of the muscles in your body–you either use it or you lose it. You utilize the gym to stimulate the growth of muscle cells, just as you use a brain fitness program to increase connections in your brain. But you can actually get an additional brain boost by donning your sneakers and hitting the gym. The benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have positive effects on brain function on multiple fronts, ranging from the molecular to behavioral level. According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. Exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of a plethora of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.
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Here are a few ideas to give your body (and brain) a workout at work.
- Provide the equipment
Stock your office with simple workout equipment your employees can use at their desks: armbands, medicine balls, and jump ropes are a great start. Make sure the equipment is readily available to use.
- Bring in the trainer
Hiring a fulltime personal trainer might not be within your budget (if it is, do it). But having a personal trainer visit your office once a month is a great way to teach fundamental exercises to your employees.
- Lead by example
Encourage executives to exercise regularly in the morning and during their lunch breaks. This erases any stigma or self-consciousness among the ranks while motivating your employees to get up and exercise.
- Push-up breaks
Like a fire drill for your pecks, holding 2-3 push-up breaks a day gives your employees an excuse to get their heart rate up. Try it. The results will shock you.
Read more about employee engagement and reducing turnover here.
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