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Wellness at workplace: 10 things you must know to keep lifestyle diseases at bay

Climbing up the corporate ladder brings along many good things – a fatty pay cheque, bigger car, more spacious abode, among others. But, it's not just the pay slip that goes up as we scale new heights. The responsibilities, workload and stress, too, experience a hike.

The ride upward, after all, is not as hunkydory as it often appears to be. Unhealthy habits, which come with the sedentary lifestyle, too become part and parcel of your life, though inadvertently, as you climb the professional ladder. Deadlines take over proper diet, presentations overpower physical activity, stress stumps sleep, and gadgets steal moments of calm – to put simply, one gets too busy to see what's healthy and what's not. Chained to the desk all day, thriving on countless cups of coffee, resisting sleep, and relying on junk, alcohol and smoking to combat stress, one just doesn't know the fine line between being healthy and unhealthy.

Today, doing more work than you can actually handle is seen as a mark of efficiency, even if it hurts your health. Multitasking is a necessary criterion, and it doesn't matter if it leaves you burnout. "About 20-25 per cent of working professionals are hypertensive, and more than 50 per cent of them are on medication. Long working hours and pressure of work do take a toll on your health, and stress is now a leading cause of lifestyle disorders like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, thyroid , heart diseases, etc," says Dr Sanjeev Bagai, Vice-Chairman and Director, Manipal Hospital, Dwarka.

Though stress in our lives is never going to reduce, practising healthy lifestyle habits is in our hands. "Hectic schedule demands for convenient choices, which are mostly unhealthy. Strive for 'mindfulness' when it comes to staying healthy at workplace and beyond," advises Loveneet Batra, clinical nutritionist, Fortis Healthcare, Vasant Kunj. Strike a balance between wellness and work through healthy habits, as this will make your ride up the ladder not just exciting but worthwhile too.

SOCIALISING FILLED WITH ALCOHOL EFFECT ON HEALTH: When you get busy discussing the deals, strategies and targets, you lose the track of your alcohol intake. The high-octane environment makes you indulge in smoking and oily snacks. "Excessive intake of alcohol because of corporate needs like socialising and networking events predisposes one towards fatty liver and chronic liver disease," says Dr Bagai.

KICK BACK: The trick lies in making conscious choices. "Do not have too much alcohol in one go. And, do not mix it with sugary or energy drinks as it makes you more likely to overdo alcohol," says Batra. If possible, try to limit your social outings at night.

NEGLECTING NUTRITION EFFECT ON HEALTH: Look at your diet closely and you will realise that it doesn't fair well on nutrition. "Imbalanced diet produces 'metabolic disorders'. It also causes vitamin and micro-nutrients deficiency. A majority of us are running low on calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, haemoglobin, etc, without even realising it," says Dr Bagai. It slows you down and affects your body's resistance power to fight diseases.

KICK BACK: "Go for meals that are small in volume but wholesome," says Dr Veena Aggarwal, Head – R&D, VLCC Healthcare Ltd. Avoid easy-to-get but unhealthy junk food. "Come out of the calorie cloud. Pick a good combination of protein, carbs and fat. Your regular dal, rice and curd meal is more nutritious than green salad served with fat-free dressing. Think fresh, eat fresh" suggests Batra.

CHASING TARGETS ALL THE TIME EFFECT ON HEALTH: "Target and incentive-based performance leads to psychological stress, under-nutrition or overeating, disruption of sleep pattern, anxiety and depression. These people are highly disposed to 'myocardial infarctions'. It also leads to hypertension and peripheral vascular disease. In fact, 40 per cent of the heart attack victims these days are under the age of 40," informs Dr Bagai.

KICK BACK: Chasing targets or deadlines for a long period can leave you feeling anxious all the time. Get more organised and don't overload yourself with too much, so that you don't go crazy chasing one after the other. Allow yourself some breaks or breathers. Create time. Don't do it all – delegate!

WORKING ON WEEKENDS EFFECT ON HEALTH: You stand a risk of burnout if you don't allow your body and mind to unwind and rejuvenate. Working on weekends, vacations or late in night increases your stress, which is a major cause of many diseases today. "Today, major mortality rate is because of the lifestyle disorders," says Batra.

KICK BACK: Go for a vacation that also allows you to detox digitally. It is important to disconnect from your work mentally. When you truly take breaks, it works wonder for your concentration, alertness, memory and performance at work.

EASILY GIVING IN TO STRESS EFFECT ON HEALTH: "Stress-related irritable bowel syndrome is extremely common among working professionals. They feel dyspepsia (burping or belching, nausea), frequent passage of stools and malabsorption," says Dr Bagai.

KICK BACK: Stress doesn't lead to solution, it only aggravates the problem. It plays havoc on your appetite, food intake and sleep. When stressed, you either skip meals or eat more junk. "Control the stress, instead of letting it controlling you. Deep breathe or just walk out of the situation for a few minutes; it helps calm the body and mind," says Pulkit Sharma, clinical psychologist, Imago – Centre for Self, Delhi.

NOT GETTING OUT IN THE SUN EFFECT ON HEALTH: "Osteoporosis in males and females is linked to low calcium and low vitamin D. The corporate professionals spend a lot of time on their laptops – typing and slouching – they develop chronic pain in their fingers and wrists," informs Dr Bagai.

KICK BACK: The myth is occasional exposure to sunlight can cure vitamin D deficiency. According to Dr Bagai, Indians need more than two hours of intense summer sunlight to synthesis vitamin D, which is virtually impossible in today's world and age. "You need to take vitamin D supplements but consult a physician first as overdoing it can lead to toxicity. You can also get vitamin D from egg yolk, fish and mushroom," says Batra.

STAYING PHYSICALLY INACTIVE EFFECT ON HEALTH: Too much sedentary behaviour is bad for your waistline, heart and brain. "According to a recent research, inactivity kills as many people as smoking. If you are sedentary for long hours, you are at risk, regardless of your weight and amount of exercise you do," says Batra.

KICK BACK: Before you know it, hours can go by with you glued to that screen and the chair. Get up and get moving more frequently – there is no running away from it. Set your smartphone alarm to go off every 30 minutes as a reminder to get up and stretch. Also, you can walk to your colleague and talk instead of chatting or calling on the intercom," suggests Batra.

TOO MUCH CAFFEINE EFFECT ON HEALTH: "When stressed or hungry, people quickly reach for caffeine. However, it leads to acid reflux and dehydration. And, the sugar in your coffee makes you crave for refined foods," says Batra. What about green tea? "It's a better filler but cannot replace food. Since it also contains caffeine, drinking too much green tea can also disrupt appetite," she adds

KICK BACK: Replace your coffee or tea mugs with tall slender glasses. "Mugs have big diameter so you don't realise how much you are having. These glasses give an optical illusion of being bigger. "Contrary to the popular view, fruit juices are not a healthy option either. One regular glass of fruit juice contains five teaspoons of sugar. When it comes to keeping yourself hydrated, nothing can beat the good old water. You can also infuse your water with a slice of lemon or mint leaves," suggests Batra. Buttermilk is an excellent option for summer.

TRAVELLING TOO MUCH EFFECT ON HEALTH: Long flights and waiting at the airport with your legs bent lead to deep vein thrombosis. "Blood circulation of the lower leg is compromised when you sit like that for long hours at a stretch in the plane. Also, when one also doesn't take enough fluids while travelling or consume alcohol, the blood gets more viscous and puts you at a greater risk for developing heart disease," says Dr Bagai.


KICK BACK: While waiting at the airport avoid sitting and working on your laptop. "Business class – stretch your legs; economy class – walk the aisle," advises Dr Bagai. Avoid taking alcohol in the flights as it dehydrates the body. Drink lots of water.

EFFECT ON HEALTH: Internet has blurred the line between work and home. Multi-tasking, racing thoughts and buzzing mobile do not allow your mind and body to relax and rejuvenate. "As you succeed, you cut on your sleep hours and take pride in it – not a right thing," says Batra. The rays from the screen induce hyperactivity in the brain and not let you relax.

KICK BACK: Don't be tied to your mobile in your off hours – it's the easiest way to escape work stress and demands. It's about building an immunity system that protects you from digital exhaustion, and we all need it more than ever. Put a limit on the time you spend on Twitter, Facebook or any other social networking site. Allow yourself some moments of calm during the day. A settling down procedure before bed is important – have a bath, read a book, relax and, yes, put the screen away.


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