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Health Hazards in the Workplace: Part 2

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In continuation of our two part discussion on health hazards in the workplace, today we’re taking on two more problems: office bullying and the bottomless candy jar.

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed two health concerns in the workplace that are common and not entirely within our control to stop completely–stress induced open floor plans and pain associated with computer screens. In summary: tough to tackle, but manageable with the right tools and mindset. In order to control these health hazards, we must empower ourselves to make better choices and seek conditions that create a better environment for ourselves.

Today, we’ll discuss two more office health hazards: bullies in the workplace and the allure of sugary treats.

Office Bullying

According to the article 12 Surprising Health Dangers in the Office, bullying is defined as such:

While the definition of bullying varies, it typically refers to aggressive behavior associated with work primarily intended to cause physical or psychological harm to others …

Whether or not you’ve ever experienced bullying in the office, chances are you’ve likely witnessed it. So it may not come as a surprise that being the recipient of aggressive behavior can conjure a mixture of emotions–fear, frustration, annoyance, anxiety, intimidation, just to name a few. But, what about the physical side effects? According to the article above, victims of bullying suffer more than just emotionally. The stress associated with it can wreak havoc on the body:

Targets of bullies often suffer from sleep and digestive problems, depression and other forms of stress.

Ways to overcome office bullying can vary based on the situation. But, the most common suggestion for problem-solving emphasizes communication. Whether it be with the human resources department, direct managers, or the bully, it’s important to vocalize your concerns with the working relationship. Not only does this put solutions into action, but it will hopefully relieve you of some of the side effects that have left you physically and mentally exhausted.

If, despite genuine attempts at mending the problems, the bullying continues and/or increases, it’s time to reconsider whether the job or company is worth your health. This isn’t to say that you should up and leave your job without contemplation. But, do not lose sight of what is important–a healthy, happy life. Everyone is entitled to achieve satisfaction in their job. If your current company does not present avenues for this, then perhaps it’s time to move on.

Candy Jar

© Flickr user Idle Type

Free Candy Dish

Ugh–too many of us know all to well about the wretched office candy jar. The moment someone fills it to the brim with yummy, gooey, chocolatey deliciousness, a bell rings in your head and immediately your overcome with a need for sugar. Why is that?

According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, falling victim to our cravings can lead to pretty severe effects:

. . . people ate an average of 225 calories more each day when the office candy dish was within arm’s reach and 100 calories more with the dish six feet away. That amounts to an additional 17 or 7 pounds per year …

Yeah, after reading that I pretty much wanted to faint. 17 pounds extra per year? But, as I think back to my former years in a large office setting, I totally remember “candy Wednesdays” and how I’d take that as an invitation each week to transform into a veritable kid in a candy store. I suspect many of us can’t seem to avoid the temptation for one of two reasons: boredom or stress. Either we need to get away from our desks because we’re overwhelmed with the work, or we simply need to fill our time with something.

Mindless eating in the office causes serious health risks beyond just weight gain. The combination of indulgent food and the stationary demands of working behind a desk can increase several health risks, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, explains:

Exactly how sitting a lot contributes to poor health isn’t clear. But some research suggests that it has harmful effects on sugar and fat metabolism, both of which affect a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The obvious solution to this health hazard is to abstain from the tempting treats in the office, but that’s easier said than done. Possessing willpower on call (in front of delicious food) is a lot more difficult than we like to admit. So rather than setting yourself up to fail, consider making small goals each week to wean yourself off the candy jar habit slowly. And while sitting on the job is rarely discouraged, take it upon yourself to stand periodically throughout the day. It burns 30% more calories an hour!

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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