Employee wellness took a big hit during the pandemic, with alarming increases in both physical and mental health issues.  Remote working and hybrid office models blurred the line between work and life. Nearly 65% of respondents in a recent survey reported they experienced new physical health issues during the pandemic, while nearly three-quarters (73.6%) reported new mental health issues.  Another recent survey found more than 70 percent of workers have described the pandemic as the most stressful time in their professional careers.

“Companies can do a lot to help their employees improve healthy behaviors through incentives, tools and formal wellness programs,” said Sheldon Oppermann, Compass Properties executive vice president. “That said, at the end of the day, wellness is ultimately up to the individual. In my opinion, the best path to overall health and wellness is to put conscious thought into your choices and be aware of their impact.”

If you’re resolved to live healthier in 2022, here’s 5 wellness tips that can make it happen for you.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking more water offers you many remarkable benefits; it’s good for your mind, can improve physical performance and may prevent headaches. Keeping well hydrated can also reduce the risk of heart failure.  Your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Water helps keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy in addition to giving you energy throughout the day. Most of us have been told to drink 6-8 glasses (8 oz) of water each day.  While that’s a reasonable goal, it isn’t based on solid, well-researched information. The current IOM recommendation is 131 ounces for men and 95 ounces for women. This refers overall fluid intake and includes anything you eat or drink that contains water, like fruits or vegetables.

  1. Sit Less, Move More.

Some have called sitting the new smoking.  There are numerous downsides to too much sitting — decreased blood flow to your legs, increased risk for the buildup of plaques in the arteries, increased risk for diabetes, depression and obesity.  Some estimates say the pandemic added an average of 3 hours of sitting time to our day!  To sit less at work, take breaks when sitting for long periods and find ways to build physical active times into your schedule, such as walks during lunch or taking the stairs whenever you can.  Click here for more hacks to Sit Less and Save Your Life.

  1. Reduce Your Screen Time

Most Americans get almost 11 hours of screen time every day – a potential health hazard that can cause serious sleep, vision and attention issues.  Most people who use electronics and computers frequently are also at risk of Computer Vision Syndrome  —  which can cause serious discomfort,  burning/dry eyes and sleep issues.  Cutting down on screen time has many wellness benefits, including better sleep, reduced anxiety, and waking up more focused.  There are several ways to reduce screen time and improve your digital well-being, starting with tracking your screen time.   If you’re working at home, Inject detox breaks throughout the day to replace the natural breaks that are part and parcel of working in an office (e.g.  commuting, coffee break chats, in-person meeting, lunch breaks with colleagues.)

  1. Don’t Get SAD, Get Outdoors!

In Milwaukee where daylight can be scant during the winter months, one in three people consistently struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) –a metabolic disorder that causes fatigue and depression. Symptoms include low mood, loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed, sleeping too much and feeling of worthlessness.  For people with severe symptoms, treatment options include psychological intervention, antidepressants and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Aside from professional help, there are several things you can do to avoid or cope with milder cases of SAD.   Number one on the list is going outside and getting some natural daylight. Exposure to sunlight and spending time outdoors, especially in the mornings, can help boost mood.  This can also entail increasing the amount of sunlight that shines into one’s home and workspace. Another way to cope is to move with, rather than against, the changing seasons. That may involve adjusting your bedtime and morning routine to work with the shorter days and daylight.

  1. Eat Healthy to Boost Your Immunity

A strong immune system can protect you from seasonal illnesses and other health conditions, according to the Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital and the Medical college of Wisconsin. Citrus fruits can help in the formation of antibodies to protect you from infection. Vitamin A can help stave off infections, while healthy protein from lean meats, poultry, eggs and seafood is another key part of a healthy immune system.

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The start of the new year doesn’t have to be the official kickoff of a daunting list of new goals and resolutions. It can be just as productive to spend time reflecting, researching and putting together a plan that’s based on what you actually want to accomplish —  not just what other people expect,  Often, the difference between success and failing short is simply choosing the right goal.  Be kind to yourself, celebrate your progress and enjoy the journey to improved personal wellness in 2022!