Back-to-school is Here.
For youth serving organizations, transitioning from summer to the school year is stressful. With tight budgets, limited capacity and less-than-inspiring news headlines, staying optimistic, energized and creative is a challenge.
This article builds on my previous blog, “Designing Welcoming and Healthy Environments” with seven ways to makeover your office and break room this fall. Like this topic? I will be presenting a workshop based on this article at the National Recreation and Park Association Conference in September.
1. Be a Bulletin Board Boss
Go look around your break room, what do the walls look like? Swing by your local discount store and buy some colorful bulletin board supplies (borders, paper, cut out letters) or just use extra materials from your supply closet. Turn a boring wall into a source of motivation and positivity with inspiring quotes, snack and lunch recipes, healthy tips and physical activity break ideas. Savor the energy of the summer with an appreciation wall made of sticky notes and markers for “kudos.”
2. Master a Mindful Lunch Break
I recently read an article on the myth of multitasking (spoiler: we cannot do it). Encourage mindful eating and actual lunch breaks by creating dedicated space to eat. Does your break room table double as a morning meeting table? Assemble a picnic basket filled with simple supplies like a tablecloth, centerpiece and conversation starters. Before lunchtime, turn the table into a space to refresh, rest and connect. Consider adding features that promote relaxation. If you are an administrator, set the tone with your staff that taking a break is an important part of the workday.
3. Nurture a Natural Connection
This summer I attempted to grow a hard-shelled gourd (see my journey on Twitter) and joined a community garden (also documented via Twitter). To be honest, my gourds have just started to grow and squirrels ate the corn in my community garden, but I have enjoyed mid-day walks to the garden and taking stretch breaks to check on the gourd. Why not start a small garden or collaborate with your nearby community garden for an employee engagement activity? Blending nature and wellness is a great way to foster school-afterschool collaborations too! Find an opportunity to add a simple linkage to nature in your office or break room, perhaps a windowsill box or communal plant. Show your community how your staff walk-the-talk during the day. Sharing your progress on social media can lead to inspiring connections. Shout out to Child Nutrition Services at Pittsburg Unified School District who encouraged my workday-nature connection!
4. Keep it Smooth
When I asked my Twitter friends for healthy break room makeover tips this summer, my teammate Jonathan who coaches afterschool programs across Arkansas shared, “blenders ready to make fresh smoothies.” Even an inexpensive immersion blender can add a smile (and refreshing snack) to your day. Host a healthy smoothie party at your next meeting or set up an infused water station to turn a workday into a spa day. If you’re like me and struggle to drink enough water during the day, check out this refresher on drinking enough water.
5. Ditch the Donut
This next makeover tip is not expensive. In fact, it could save you some money. If you order food for meetings, skip the donuts and muffins. Opt for healthier options like a do-it-yourself trail mix bar or DIY fruit kebabs. If you are hosting a meeting, a healthier DIY snack can help make the experience more memorable (and Instagrammable). Brand your work site as a healthy celebration zone with a wellness policy that makes the healthy choices the norm.
6. Prioritize Play Spaces
Not every work site is fortunate to have an on-site gym or walking loop (i.e. trail) for impromptu physical activity breaks. Gather your co-workers and brainstorm where you could paint activity prompts using stencils that promote movement and encourage walking meetings (great for role modeling). Imagine going outside to play in the shade of a colorful and inspiring mural the next time you have writer’s block.
7. Phone a Friend
Like most of my Healthier Generation teammates, I do most of my work virtually. One of my favorite office makeovers is a daily phone call. Typically in the morning and almost daily, I have a short phone call with our Senior Marketing Director, Megan. When we chat, we try to be as optimistic and cheerful as possible. We use words like “awesome,” “great” and “amazing” way more than you probably should, but it is an intentional way to add optimism and a smile to even the most frustrating day. A workplace that encourages healthy eating and physical activity is important, but so is a workplace that boosts social and emotional health. How can you make over your day (even if you are not in the office) to have a healthier and happier day?
I hope you enjoy trying these ideas.
Please share yours in the comment section below and with me on Twitter @hatchdw
There will always be those days when we arrive at work already feeling stressed, a few adjustments to our environment can ensure our offices and break rooms help us stay healthy and happy.
For breakfast, I had a bowl of cereal and a few cups of coffee.
*Photos courtesy of Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Author Profile: @danielh