January is the perfect time to embrace new activities to support a healthy workplace. Motivation is typically high with healthy resolutions top of mind. Efforts to make the healthy choice the easy choice at work don’t have to be complicated (see my blog from last January for some tips to consider). This year, the focus is on simple, practical examples that anyone can lead, not just those in a senior position. There are literally thousands of ideas for activities out there, but here are five simple, tried, tested and true ways to energize your workplace in a healthy way.
- Bring healthy food to work. Instead of the classic donuts in the staff room, why not switch it up for some fruit? It’s just as easy to stop at the grocery store and pick up a dozen apples. If you’re extra ambitious, bring your blender to work and pick up some key ingredients to make smoothies in the staff room. Starting your day with a dose of healthy food provides a boost in energy and creates the same caring environment that sweet treats symbolize for a team.
- Make a “positivi-tree”. Compliments and good news stories improve our mood, so why not celebrate them a little more publicly? Find a fake tree, a real tree or make a paper tree—anything will work—and leave pens, paper and markers for colleagues to write down positive stories experienced that day or things that they are grateful for. As the tree leaves flourish, they serve as a constant visual reminder of the positive experiences that surround us. Check out the photo below for a fun example.
- D.R.E.A.M. No, not the regular, deep-sleep kind of dream—although that’s important too. I’m talking about the Drop-Everything-And-Move kind of dream. Many students at APPLE schools are taking five-minute breaks once a day to stop what they’re doing, turn on some music and get moving. It’s simple. First, share the idea with your colleagues. Second, come up with a signal—music is a great choice—and get everyone moving once the signal goes off. Some schools have free-style dance time, while others get students to write down activities on Popsicle sticks to pick out of a jar for inspiration. The activity leaves everyone smiling and that little bit of heart-pumping activity reminds us to not sit in our seats all day, every day.
- Start a salad club. To make healthy lunches every day is an ambitious goal, so why not tackle the task with your colleagues? Leave a sign-up sheet on the fridge at work where each person has to bring just one fresh item chopped up and ready to throw into a salad. On the scheduled salad day, you’ll be left with a buffet of options to create your own healthy masterpiece. Let me know if you want a template for this activity and many more!
- Work with a team. We know it’s easier to stay motivated and have fun when you’re not doing it alone. There are many ways to set up team challenges at work. Not everyone thrives on competition, so one key condition is to avoid comparing individuals. It’s important to ensure anonymity at work and promote a positive environment for everyone. For example, at APPLE Schools we completed challenges to reduce the time we sit at our desks, increase our vigorous physical activity and even improve our water consumption. Setting up simple tracking tools for people in small groups helps to motivate and inspire.
You can be a leader for healthy change! Sometimes you just need an idea—that spark—to get you going. If you have more tips, thoughts or fun activities to do at your workplace, let me know in the comments so we can all try them out!