Health and Wellness Tips for the Workforce

Last Updated: May 20, 2021
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​Health and Wellness Tips for the Workforce

The U.S. Army Public Health Center (APHC) supports Army Worksite Health Promotion efforts by providing health and wellness information and actionable tips to the APHC workforce as well as to Army health and wellness professionals and advocates for use within their own organizations. Army health and wellness professionals can select or tailor health tips to meet the needs of their local employee population. Check back often to see what new content has been added!

Quick links to tips on this page:

Maintain work-life balance | Practice mindfulness | Be physically active | Enjoy healthy snacks | Manage conflict | Manage fatigue | Home office lighting | Handwashing for your family | Quick and easy lunches for children | How many times a day do you laugh | No better time to quit | Maintain an attitude of gratitude


gratitude journal, pen, flowers, tea-lit essential oil, cup of tea

Taking Care to Reduce Computer Eye Strain

Telework and virtual work have meant more time on computer screens for many of us. Some of us may be feeling the eye strain which may lead to dryness, redness, excess tearing, sensitivity to light, dull aches around the eyes, or even headaches. Vision is important and research has shown that many of us will adapt our body posture to accommodate our vision needs. Neck and shoulder aches after a long day’s work may be related to vision problems. Here are some tips to improve your vision, comfort, and reduce eye strain:

  • Check the ergonomics of your desk and chair for comfort and recommended posture. Ensure that the computer screen is placed at about arm’s length and the center of screen is about 10–15 degrees below eye level.
  • Check for screen glare by turning off the computer screen and see if there are any reflections (the less reflections, the better). Reduce glare by slight repositioning of lighting, desk, or computer screen; even small adjustments can make significant changes.
  • Check to ensure appropriate lighting. Many people benefit from reduced room lighting which helps with computer screen visibility and comfort. Reading paper documents on a desk can then be supported with a small desk light. 
    • Try different brightness (lumens/watts) and color temperature (cool bluish versus warm reddish) for room lighting for comfort and preference.
    • Many people prefer cool white or “daylight” lighting in working area. Look for lamps with high Kelvin temperature around 6000 K degrees. The common 2700 K lamp is more reddish or warm in appearance.
  • If ocular symptoms are frequent and/or severe, have your eyes examined. Even small vision changes, which can occur over time, may cause significant eye strain with prolonged computer use.
    • Talk to your doctor about the possibility/potential of glasses specifically prescribed for computer use. Many prescription glasses for distance viewing that include correction for near reading (e.g., bifocal or progressive lenses) are not ideal for computer usage. Tilting your head back (or lifting your chin) to look through the reading segment of your glasses to look at the computer screen can cause neck and shoulder problems.
    • Many people also find OTC (over the counter) reading glasses helpful. Try different ones for the lowest “+ power” lenses that provide best comfort and vision at your screen distance.
    • Avoid commercial “computer glasses” that are supposed to help with eye strains (e.g., “blue blockers”). Scientific evidence does not support their effectiveness.

Click on the links below for additional information:

 
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gratitude journal, pen, flowers, tea-lit essential oil, cup of tea

Maintain an attitude of gratitude

Take a moment to reflect on the fond memories you made and the creativity you expressed when you were faced with obstacles, as well as the strengths you drew upon in the midst of challenges. Regardless of your circumstances in the moment, your thoughts can impact your future. Thinking differently can change your entire perspective. Remember that gratitude is not a one-time occurrence; it’s a way of choosing to live in the moment.

Below are some actions you can take to help you maintain an attitude of gratitude:

Reflect on the good things in your life and write them down. 

Call a friend or family member who has been on your mind and haven’t spoken to in a while. Share a word of encouragement or tell them how much you appreciate them in your life. 

Celebrate virtually. Organize a family gathering through digital platforms. Set up your personal computer, tablet, or phone and share a meal together. Play virtual games and include all ages in the fun!

For more ways to restore balance in your life through a grateful attitude, click here.

 
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man smoking No better time to quit

Smoking, vaping, and hookah exposure damage the respiratory system. The coronavirus (COVID-19) attacks the lungs and poses a serious threat to those who smoke and vape.   

Quitting is the best thing you can do for yourself and anyone you care about. Quitting is not easy and often takes multiple attempts; it is important to keep trying. If you are ready to end your relationship with smoking, vaping, and hookah, use the following resources for steps to lead to a healthier you.

Click on a link below to start your journey:


woman waving in a friendly manner to a laptop screen showing a video call. she has a coffee cup beside her

How many times a day do you laugh?

Do you consciously make time for fun? Humor has a positive effect on health. Laughter reduces stress, eases tension, relaxes muscles, improves immune function, reduces pain perception, increases blood flow, and exercises the muscles in the face and torso. Besides the physical and mental benefits, there are also the social benefits to laughter. It strengthens relationships, defuses conflict, enhances teamwork, and promotes personal bonding. There are many ways to create opportunities to laugh. Some examples include:

Watch funny, belly-laughing movies or TV shows.

Hang out with folks with a sense of humor.     

Play with a pet. 

Keep a humor journal to write down when you see something funny or have a funny thought. 

Spread the fun by sharing a good joke or story. 

Set a goal to choose to laugh whenever you can. Laughter can help you view the world from a more relaxed, positive, and joy-filled perspective.

For more information about how laughter is good medicine, check out this page.


two smiling children eating apples outside

Quick and easy lunches for school-aged children

Did you know that children who eat balanced, nutrient-rich meals are more likely to optimize academic performance, sustain alertness, and concentrate during study and instruction?

Eating a nutritious breakfast, in particular, is associated with increased academic performance. In general, school-aged children (ages 6 to 12) should eat three meals and 1-2 healthy snacks per day.

For more lunch ideas, check out this linkExternal Link

For more resources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants and Children (WIC) assistance, check out this link to search for your local information.  External Link


  

Woman and child with outstretched soapy palms Handwashing for your family

Here are five steps to teach children how to properly wash their hands:

1. Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold); turn off the tap; and apply soap. 

2. Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the back of the hands, between the fingers, and under the nails.

3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.

4. Rinse hands well under clean, running water.

5. Dry hands using a clean towel or air drier.

Sing a song to make handwashing a fun family activity: The CDC recommends scrubbing hands with soap for 20 seconds. To achieve 20 seconds of hand scrubbing, include a few well-known songs including "Happy Birthday," "ABC," chorus for "Stayin' Alive" by The Bee Gees, "Twinkle Twinkle," or even create a song of your own.

Click here for information about handwashing. 

well-lit home office

Home office lighting

Lighting is important when setting up a home office. Appropriate lighting can reduce glare and decrease eye fatigue leading to better work performance and comfort.

Here are some quick tips when setting up a home office:

Natural light is typically best, but the source and direction of the light are critical. Sitting directly in front of a window may cause an overwhelming amount of glare during certain times of the day. Having a window directly behind your seating area can also cause significant amounts of unwanted glare. In general, it's best to have natural light adjacent to your work area. A sheer curtain can minimize the glare during the brightest time of day for your particular location.

Indirect lighting is the best way to avoid glare on your computer displays. Indirect lighting is diffused around the work environment. Options include floor lamps that shine upwards and lampshades that soften the emitted light. Indirect lighting reduces shadowing as well as glare to create a more comfortable work environment.

• For detail-oriented tasks such as reviewing documents, task lighting is recommended. A task light is simply a well-defined light source that illuminates the task area. There is a variety of task-lighting options, but choosing one that is easily adjustable is best. An example of this is a task light with adjustable arms that allows for a wide range of positions.

• To reduce eye fatigue, it is recommended to follow the 20-20-20 rule. This includes looking away from your displays every 20 minutes and focusing on a distant object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Looking at least 20 feet away relaxes the focusing muscles inside the eye to reduce fatigue and prevents accommodation spasm (i.e., eye muscle cramps).

Home office lighting can also play an important role in your overall alertness and performance. As a general rule, bright natural or artificial-enriched blue light exposure in the morning helps wake you up and become alert, while the same light exposure in the evenings can hinder sleep performance. To get a better and more restful night's rest, avoid bright light (natural/artificial) and more specifically blue light (digital displays) within 2 hours of bedtime.

Remember to get outside to soak up a little natural light as well! It's a great way to get a little exercise on a break and to take care of your eyes as well.

The APHC Ergonomics Branch offers virtual assessments of home office environments using videoconference technology, and provides recommendations to help APHC employees with ergonomic concerns at home. Requests can be sent to the Ergonomics Branch email at usarmy.apg.medcom-aphc.mbx.army-ergonomics@mail.mil.

Find below additional resources on creating ergonomically healthy workstations:
AIHA: An ergonomics approach to avoiding office workplace injuries and illnesses External Link
CUErgo: Ergonomic Guidelines for arranging a Computer Workstation - 10 steps for users External Link
APHC Your Computer Workstation Should Receive Appropriate Lighting and Guard Against Glare External Link

womanwith head down on keyboard

Manage fatigue during the work day

High stress and unusual circumstances can place an employee at risk for work fatigue. Here are some tips and recommendations collected from experts at the U.S. Army Public Health Center and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Sleep Center to get you started:

Spot the signs of work fatigue. There are obvious signs like yawning and having difficulty keeping your eyes open along with less obvious signs like being unable to concentrate, feeling easily irritated or feeling overwhelmed.

Take steps to mitigate fatigue:

• Double check your sleep habits. Are they working for you or keeping you mentally fatigued during the workday?

• Take breaks during the day.

• Watch out for screen fatigue.

• Drink water to help stay hydrated (and taking more bathroom breaks).

Click here External Link to access the Performance Triad Sleep webpage for steps to mitigate fatigue and find additional information below: 
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Sleep Resources External Link


 

man and woman working with children seeking attention Manage workplace conflict

Some workplace conflicts are unavoidable. However, we can mitigate the difficulties they cause, build bridges, and try to learn from the experience to prevent a similar outcome in the future. Conflict in the workplace can present an uncomfortable situation for those directly or indirectly involved; everyone is impacted. For many of us, our current workplace is at home; however, if problems are not handled appropriately, tensions may increase regardless if you are working virtually or onsite. This can negatively impact morale, increase turnover, result in litigation, and influence the productivity of the organization (Iglesias & Vallejo, 2012). Early intervention is key. Conflict resolution and problem solving can help. Below are some tips for improving the workplace environment:

Decrease conflict tension.

Minimize the time you are around the person you are upset with to allow for a cool-down phase.

Organize your thoughts before you talk to them.

• Enter the conversation with a mindset of compromise.

Talk to the other person one-on-one.

Listen and try to understand the other person’s perspective.

• Be aware of your pitch and tone.

Remain calm.

Be mindful of how your body language may communicate perceived feelings

Focus the conversation on the topic area of contention or problematic behaviors

Provide examples to explain what you feel needs to change

Reference:

Iglesias, Marta E. and Vallejo, Ricardo B, “Conflict resolution styles in the nursing profession.”  Contemporary Nurse Journal, vol. 43, no. 1, 2012, p. 73-80. 

To learn more about managing stressful workplace relationships, click here.

 

One aspect of working from home is easy access to the kitchen. For some of us, this is a delight. For others, it presents a challenge. Below are some tips for eating healthy snacks:

• If you have kids, guide them with healthy snack ideas.

• Your family might be on different schedules now, so healthy snacks can help with the in-between meal times.  

• With a little bit of creativity, a nutritious snack can be the fuel needed to get to the next meal when your kids are constantly asking for something to eat.

 

 

woman doing desk pushup at kitchen table with laptop open on it Be physically active while teleworking

While adjustments to teleworking and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused lost gym time and sports activities, teleworking can provide you with new opportunities to improve and maintain the quality and quantity of your weekly physical activities.  Below are some tips for being physically active while teleworking:

• Create a weekly plan.  Aim for weekly goals of 2 to 3 strength sessions and at least 150 minutes' moderate or 75 minutes' vigorous aerobic activity.

• Mix up activities. Create lists of different aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises to pick from so each week is a bit different.

• Make it count. Get your breathing and heart rate up for 10-30 minute aerobic sessions.

• Do it when you can. Focus on your weekly goal. Ten minutes three times a day provides positive benefits.

• Don't hurt yourself. Build strength using dumbbells or home objects, but start light and learn good form before increasing weights. Break sessions up during the day.

• Keep yourself accountable. Use a "honey-do jar" to pick exercises or a virtual walking group.

• Get bonus points. Set a timer every hour or two to get up for a few minutes and move - stretch, walk around the house, climb a flight of stairs, do laundry!

• Create a workout space. Declutter your home and create a workout space with an exercise mat, weights, and bands for strength training.

For more information on services and programs to help you choose an active lifestyle while working, please visit the P3 staying physically fit while at home External Link webpage and find additional resources below:


 

man with head tilted slightly back and eyes closed with a relaxed look in a day-time outdoor blurred setting

Practice mindfulness for better health, performance, and relationships

Here is a secret for boosting working memory, improving focus and having less emotional reactivity: mindfulness.  Mindfulness has been shown to effectively reduce stress, build resilience and improve health. When we are mindful in our interactions with others, we can improve our relationships as well.

Practice mindfulness

• Breathe with deep, mindful breaths; the longer you exhale the more you'll relax.

• Accept what you cannot control. 

• Send positive thoughts to yourself and your teammates.

• Visualize a place of peace and calm in your mind.

• Slow down and pay attention to nature around you.

• Practice gratitude.

• Set realistic daily goals for yourself.

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Mindfulness Quick Guide External Link
National Institutes of Health Mindfulness Web page External Link
Army Ready and Resilient Performance Centers External Link
Army Resilience Directorate Resources External Link

  

man working on floor beside playing toddler Maintain work-life balance while teleworking

Teleworking can be challenging for many reasons. Life matters. Create a balance of work and self-care with the following tips: 

• Manage your time.

• Complete work duties in order of priority. 

• Build self-care into your weekly schedule (e.g. indulging in a hobby, reading a book, or taking a brisk walk).

 Leave work at work.

• Create a family calendar to ensure you don't miss family events.

• Clearly communicate your time off - tell your manager and co-workers, and make your calendar visible for all to see your blocked out times.

• If you are a supervisor, lead by example.

For more information on work-life balance please visit this page and the resources below: 
Remember to practice healthy sleep, activity and nutrition habits with the Performance TriadExternal Link