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Is Your Job Stealing Your Health From You?

Make a few changes to put yourself first and you'll end up a more productive employee and a healthier person.

I read in the paper that Fidelity is closing one of its offices and moving to New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Without getting into any of the business reasons or politics behind this, it made me angry. I thought of the employees that are affected and what they’ll need to do to accommodate for this change.

I’m not a controversial writer nor an expert about this decision, or the business decisions that employers make about reorganizations or closing offices. I also recognize that employers need to make hard decisions, especially in this tough economic climate, to keep a company solvent. A failing company benefits no one.

But I can speak from personal experience and from my work with people in the context of yoga that when it comes to the choices people make and I made, on behalf of their jobs, and the impact that it has on their overall health, we may want to reconsider those choices.

When I see that one morning, employees of Fidelity went to work to learn that their office would be closing, I wonder if all the decisions they’d made putting their job first were worth it. Here they are, considering how they’ll need to adjust their life because of this change and what have they given up along the way to their employer? What are you giving up to your employer right now, when it comes to your health, that you might want to change?

  • Do you go to work before 8 a.m.?
  • Do you leave work after 7 p.m.?
  • Do you work at home on weeknights and on weekends? Do you go into the office on the weekend?
  • Do you eat lunch at your desk?
  • Do you cancel events with friends and family members because of last minute changes at the office?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep?
  • Do you find yourself quick to be angry and short with people you love?
  • Do you often get home after your kids are already asleep?
  • Are your hips and shoulders tight?
  • Do you spend time worrying about your future?
  • Have you done any sort of physical exercise in the past five days?
  • Have you had a general physical, including blood work, within the last year?
  • Have you taken any time off of work in the past 12 months? (Weekends don’t count.)

Depending on how you’re working the “work/life balance” equation, you may or may not have any concerns about the above areas of your life. Maybe you’re sleeping well, leaving the office at 5 p.m. and you’re burning through your gym membership. However, if these questions started to raise red flags for you, I only ask that you take some time to think about this:

If you’re not exercising, eating on the run, neglecting regular health check-ups and missing time with your family and friends, all because of your job and one day, that job is gone, how much will your overall health have suffered in exchange for a job you no longer have? We’re the only ones that can introduce balance into the equation because the job won’t. There will always be unread email, the unfinished project, the client that just has to be seen and the last minute budget numbers that have to be delivered. Holding yourself and your health as the highest priority becomes a challenge when 8-12 hours of your day feel completely out of your control.

Make little changes. Take time to walk to lunch and spend time outdoors during the workday. If you want to combine it with working, buy a Bluetooth and walk and return calls as you do (not recommended). Charlestown offers lots of early morning work outs: yoga classes at 6:30, bootcamp classes at 6; take one of those and you’ll find your still at your desk by 9; a very reasonable time to start work.  

Make an appointment with your doctor and keep it. The same excuse that worked as a kid (“I have to leave school early to go to the doctor’s office”) still works here. Use the weekend to be outside with family and friends and set some guidelines for “no tech” -- no smart phone, no computer for a few hours on the weekend. If you’re connected to work email, don’t check it or if you must, read it but don’t respond. If you don’t set some guidelines to protect you and your health, no one else will.

Become not only an inspiration to yourself but to your family and friends as you start to live a life of balance. And, the amazing thing is once you do, you’ll be a better employee! Less drained and stressed by the constant stream of outgoing energy, you’ll have a body, heart and soul that the feels fulfilled and restored. That will bring you to work happier, healthier and ready to take on the challenges of your work place. Love yourself first!

Lyndi Thompson March 24, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Even though I work with yoga studios everyday getting away from the desk, the keyboard, the cell phone for even a couple of hours is not only tough. I love the two yoga studios I attend, as well as the Crossfit box I try to visit once or twice a week. Those are communities I value. Yet, it is important to zoom out a bit beyond the social aspect, but look at the benefits I recieve when I do break up my day with a little movement, exercise and add focus.
Karen Fabian March 25, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Lyndi, thanks for the comment. It IS so helpful to break up the day with some kind of moving around, even if it's to go grab lunch. Have a great day!

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