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January: the new year is the perfect time to make a fresh start. The perfect time to make positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle, to finally sign up to a gym, to become a happier, more confident person.
But it's mid-January now. The post-Christmas hype is over, and if you started the year on the 'new year, new me' health hype, your willingness to preserver with this health kick may have begun to wane. One reason for this could be down to our attitude towards health at work.
On average we spend around 38 hours a week at work. If we take into account an average of eight hours of sleep a night, that's 34% of our entire conscious week spent at work. And if you work in an office, at a desk, it's often quite hard to stay healthy during this time.
So how best can we stay healthy while in the office? And more importantly, stick at it for the rest of the year?
The key is by being prepared. If you work long hours or attend lots of meetings during the day it's usually just easier to pick up a sarnie or snack. But implement just a handful of our ideas and you could soon be reaping the rewards of a healthier lifestyle - alertness, productivity and energy to name but a few.
Meal prep - Taking a bit of time the night before or at a weekend to prep some nutritious yet delicious meals for the week will not only save pounds in your bank account each week, but pounds around your waist too! When cooking our own meals, we become much more aware of the amount of salt, sugar etc. going into our dishes, compared to buying processed food from the shop.
Take a look at The Everygirl for some easy meal prep ideas!
Get moving - It's so important not to spend your entire working day sat at your desk, but this can easily be solved by making some small changes. Instead of emailing or phoning colleagues, get out of your seat and go speak to them face-to-face. Especially if they work in a different area of the office or on another floor.
And always take the stairs instead of the lift! If you work on the ground floor, try parking a little further away from the office, or getting off the bus / tram / train a stop earlier. A walk in the morning will help to wake you up and leave you feeling revitalised for the day ahead.
Remember to get moving on your lunch too - especially if you're no longer heading to the shops for your usual £3 meal deal. Suggest a group of your start a lunchtime walking club if you don't like the idea of wondering about on your own, and if the weather's a bit shoddy wrap up warm and get on with it - we're hardy English folk after all!
Stay hydrated - Feeling a bit peckish? You could be dehydrated instead. So before heading to the biscuit tin or fridge grab a glass of water and see if that curbs your hunger.
If you regularly have fizzy drinks with your lunch try swapping these out for water, green teas or smoothies and juices (although watch the sugar content in these - especially pre-packaged ones)!
Beer fridge Fridays - The obligatory beer fridge has become a staple in many office these days. And it's nice to be offered a treat on a Friday afternoon for all your hard work. But if you're trying to do Dry January or watching your calorie intake, a bottle of beer isn't the best bet. Try asking if some nice juices, J2Os and flavoured waters can be added in there too.
Snacking - It's super hard to get out of the mindset of snacking, and sometimes our brain just needs a bit of a boost between main meals. So as well as prepping your meals in advance, try pulling together some healthier snacks to bring to the office too. Things like nuts, fruit, veggie sticks, houmous, nut butters and hardboiled eggs will fill you up - and stop you eating the cake Janet from Accounting brought in today.
Get physical - With families and busy social lives it can seem impossible to find time to also fit in a trip to the gym. Yet a Lancet study from 2017 found that people need to do at least an hour of physical activity a day to counter the negative health impacts of every eight hours spent sitting.
Try utilizing the bit of free time you have each day instead. It might be that by waking up a little earlier you can fit in an early morning gym session, swim or run before work. Or there might be gym classes that fit in with your lunch breaks. Find a gym that runs classes at a time that suits you. This might involve spending a little more on your gym membership, but it'll be worth it in the long run if you're then more likely to actually attend it.
Get social - Being healthy in the workplace isn't just about what you're eating or the physical activities you do; it's also about having a healthy mindset. Social interactions have been shown to reduce stress and promote happiness, so going for lunches with colleagues and having non-work related chats in the kitchen will help you return to your desk with a more positive attitude.
Stay clean - When you're sick, snotty and full of cold it's very easy to fall out of your healthy routine - and much harder to get back into it. The best way around this? Try to avoid getting ill in the first place! Office environments are notorious for spreading germs and bugs - we've all seen the whole office go down with flu at the same time. But you can take steps to try prevent this - by giving your desk, keyboard and phone a regular antibacterial wipe and by trying to stay away from other sick people in the office if possible.
Treat yourself - We're about to go against everything we're just said about healthy eating and wellbeing - but hear us out. If you want to stick to your new healthy lifestyle for more than just a few weeks, it's important to give yourself a treat every now and again...
Yes, have a beer from the office beer fridge once a month. Delve into the biscuit barrel when you've had a good week at the gym. Go for a pub lunch with your work mates every now and again. If you don't reward yourself with the odd treat you'll end up hating this new healthy lifestyle and will be more likely to give up on it altogether.
Another way to ensure you keep at your new healthy routine is by taking baby steps. Don't try to make loads of drastic lifestyle changes all at once - it'll become over-bearing and hard to stick at. Pick one thing off the list you're going to implement first, then once that becomes consistent in your daily or weekly routine add in another, and so forth.
Staying healthy requires a bit of time and effort - it can't be achieved overnight. But adopt some of these habits into your daily routine and you'll begin to earn both the mental and physical benefits of doing so in no time!
By guest blogger Emma Clayton, Managing Director at Grey Bear Consultancy
We all have a vested interest in making sure the NHS is fit for the future, and I believe one very important way is by empowering the workforce.
The health service is becoming a wellness service, as disease-specific silos give way to primary care-focused models that take a wider population health view. But this transformation is being hindered by the current workforce crisis.
Budget constraints and the rising number of older people living with multiple long-term conditions leave those working on the front line running just to keep up, let alone having the ability to drive any kind of revolution.
Last week, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned that staff within the NHS were so overworked and lacking in expertise that patient safety was at risk.
"Staff told us time and time again that safety should be their top priority, but they are working so hard with the workload that sometimes it is very difficult to prioritise it the way they want to," Ted Baker, lead inspector at the CQC, told the Healthcare Services Journal.
It is widely acknowledged that the health service needs a Joint Working makeover if it is to overcome its current challenges.
Integrated pathways that join health and social care across specialisms via a primary care hub are in the making. Government investment in primary care models is growing and is a key focus of the 10-year plan, with pilot projects showing promising results.
But the people we are asking to drive and ultimately deliver this change - the GPs, nurses, prescribing pharmacists - are not necessarily equipped with the skills needed to do that.
Skills such as how to commission services; how to have difficult conversations, drive challenging negotiations, and undertake the responsibility and accountability conversation with social care colleagues; how to work with sustainability and transformation partnerships to build better relationships that allow for staff retention or the uplift of staff skills.
These skills are not taught in college or medical school, but yet we have them within pharma.
Next level safety
To embrace joint working and integrated care, we need to ensure primary care is ready for the challenge by investing in commercial, outcomes and skills education.
If we want to take patient safety and outcomes to the next level, we need to stop tinkering with brand-specific education, service redesign and outdated detail aids. We need to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and invest in the workforce.
The pharmaceutical industry has the ability, resources and expertise to assist in the joint development and implementation of patient-centred projects.
Healthcare professionals care about their patients and they know what they need to do to deliver integrated care and better outcomes. But sometimes they just don't know how to get there. Its like knowing you need to get from Birmingham to Southampton and not having a road map of the route.
In pharma we need to ensure marketing and market access strategies are aligned to the capacities and capabilities within the primary care model. It's about assessing the gap analysis and then working with centres to install the competencies they need to thrive. Do they have everything that they need to deliver the future NHS?
Working together to build the 'NHS of the future' is good for everyone.
It benefits the patients, who get the right people with the right skills treating them at the right time.
It benefits clinicians who, with the right skills, are able to build care systems to meet the needs of their population. It benefits the NHS by offering more cost-effective and efficient ways of working.
And it benefits pharma by allowing us to build the relationships and the credibility we need to take integrated working in a mutually beneficial direction.
*Grey Bear specialises in working with the pharmaceutical industry to deliver skills and competency -based training for healthcare professionals. Get in touch with our Managing Director for more information at [email protected]