Health at Work: 10 Tips to Improve (cont.)

Stress can impair your immune system, increasing the risk of illness, explains Kramer, so minimizing it is essential -- and fortunately, vacations are just the way to do that.

8. Another way to stay healthy at work is to avoid long stretches of long days.

"Occasionally, people focus on the task at hand and getting a project done, and they aren't aware of the impact it's having on their health," says Kramer. "They may not be aware of it until the stress is at a really high level, and it's affecting their relationships and their moods."

This, explains Kramer, is another type of stress, commonly referred to as burnout. Burnout can also impair a person's immune system, as well as interfere with sleep and his or her ability to concentrate.

9. Your keyboard, mouse, and phone can harbor thousands of germs that are just waiting to make you sick. So get out the disinfectant.

According to Science Daily, researchers at the 100th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported, "We know that viruses can survive (remain infectious) for hours to days on a hard surface ... if a virus such as the rotavirus (a diarrheal virus) were on the surface of a telephone receiver, infectious doses could easily be transferred to persons using the telephone."

To clean these objects, the National Consumers League recommends using a disinfectant cleaner or spray that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and proven effective against a wide variety of viruses.

10. What's the most important thing you can do to stay healthy at work? Kramer sums it up for WebMD.

"The most important way to stay healthy at work starts with self-awareness," says Kramer. "Know yourself and know your limits and do the best you can to stay within those limits given your job. Know when to take breaks and know when to take a vacation. And get plenty of exercise, which helps you both physically and mentally, both at work and at home."

Published Feb. 9, 2004.

SOURCES: The National Consumers League. Science Daily. University of California at Davis. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics, Cornell University. Dawn Jackson, registered dietitian; spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. Jonathan Kramer, president, Business Psychology Consultants.


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