Maggie Radl

There are thousands of occupational hazards in an office setting to avoid. While workplace threats are often small, many can also be avoided altogether. Here are some tips to answer your much-needed workplace health questions, and to improve your health in China. Get fit and healthy while working in 2019!

Where do you get your meals at work?

It's no surprise that what you consume is a massive factor in your health. Make sure to take responsibility for your own food choices. Lots of English First centers are in malls, and although it's tempting to sneak down to Mister Donut and snag a few of those tasty sweets before work, make sure you don't make this a routine. While there's nothing wrong with a “treat your self” attitude every once and while, if this craving becomes a mindset you're in trouble. The best course of action is to make your own meals. In doing so, you are in control of your food and therefore you know exactly what's going into it; there are no hidden ingredients. Similarly, this allows you to control the portion sizes to a reasonable amount as well as save tons of money that would otherwise go to Starbucks or Eleme. I know this is harder than it seems. Personally, I order from the Eleme app almost every day, but I constantly try to remind myself to make healthier choices. One little cheat I do is to simply search the word “ 健康 “ meaning health, into the search box and scroll through those results.

How much water do you drink a day?

The average person needs at least 2 liters/half a gallon of water a day. While this seems obvious, sit back and ask yourself, are you really drinking and getting this? Solutions to getting enough water are getting a 1-liter water bottle and making sure you drink at least 2 of those, downloading a water tracker app, or setting reminders on your phone.

How much sleep do you get a day?

I'm sure you've been told this a million times in your life, but let me stress it once more: aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night. I know just as much as anyone that this is easier said than done, insomnia often has me up until 3 am. However, sticking to a regular schedule helps me obtain the sleep I need. Feeling well rested is more about quality, not quantity. I can feel ready for the day with only a few hours if I have proper REM sleep, versus 12 hours of tossing and turning. There are dozens of apps you can download to help track the quality of your sleep and help you with your busy EF lifestyle.

What am I not getting from my diet?

In my first few months here, I was always getting random small illnesses that were all across the board. It began to take its toll on me and I had to step back and think: what am I not getting from my diet? For the first time in my life I began to take supplements and vitamins such as probiotics, one-a-day women's vitamins, cranberry supplements, and Vitamin D. Low and behold, my constant strain of illnesses came to an abrupt halt. Keep in mind the best course of action is to get these from your diet first. If you've tried that and you see no change then it might be time to turn to my good pal supplements. Another thing to note is that if you buy these off of Taobao, lots of medicines (including vitamins and supplements) require you to have a Chinese ID to pay. You can have a Chinese friend purchase it for you or can simply go to a store and get it in person.

How do I avoid cubicle blues?

Cubicles are definitely not for everyone. So much so that there is a whole phenomenon called “cubicle depression” just to encompass those who struggle against the cubicle lifestyle, such as myself. This may not be as applicable to in-center teachers who don't spend the majority of their hours sitting at their desks, but for those of you who find themselves sitting at a desk, listen up. One way to combat cubicle depression is to make sure you get up and walk every hour or so. I am grateful enough to have a Fitbit to constantly remind me to get off my butt and take a quick lap, but hourly reminders on your phone will do the job just as well. Similarly, try to get up and stretch every so often. I'm certain that everyone who has sat for too long has noticed an ache or pain once they've gotten up, therefore it's important to stretch to give your muscles a good reset. If you're using a laptop, try to focus on the upper third of the screen, or get a laptop stand, as looking down can cause quite a strain on the neck.

Also, don't be afraid to add a little flair to your desk! Something as simple as a plant or some photos from home can make a big difference in your environment. If you need a source of inspiration (shameless plug for myself) please keep an eye out for my future blog article on desk decoration for more ideas on how to give your workspace that extra touch!

I want to make it clear: I'm not a health guru who wakes up at 5 am for a run or only eats quinoa salad. I'm simply a girl who constantly struggles with making healthy choices, living and working in China has brought me a whole host of new situations and choices to grapple with. I hope you can learn something helpful from my personal experience to help guide you in the new year!

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