Office First Aid

August 30, 2012

Last week, our office was visited by a bunch of bees that somehow managed to gain entrance to the building. No one had an up close or otherwise painful encounter with them prior to their being escorted (well, something like that) from the premises, but we were prepared in the event that someone might have. We have a first aid kit on board, something that should be an integral part of the supplies in any office setting.

Of course, for any true medical emergency, a team member should immediately call 911 but more garden variety complaints and injuries can readily be treated by having the following items on hand.

Bandages – A variety of shapes and sizes can come in handy. It’s also advisable to stock brands that are latex-free for those who have sensitivity issues. Gauze pads can also be useful as bandages or to stanch bleeding.

Cleansing Agents – Most minor cuts and scrapes can be readily treated without medical intervention. Run clear water over the area to flush out any germs or residual material that can invade the opening. Use mild soap to clean the area or, alternatively, wipe gently with an alcohol pad, being careful not to cause irritation. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean a wound.

Ointments – Antibiotic ointments can be applied to an injury that causes a skin opening. Include medicated creams e.g. Benadryl that can be used to treat insect bites or stings as well as a cream or ointment that’s formulated to treat burns, especially if your office has a kitchen where team members can prepare food.

Cotton Balls – Use cotton balls to apply ointments and creams or moisten with clear water to clean an affected area.

Medications and Analgesics – Stock over the counter medications and painkillers to treat headaches, muscles aches, common stomach complaints, and other mild annoyances.

Cold and Heat Packs – Both are commercially available and can be used to relieve discomfort. Alternatively, stock basic long-cooking white rice and a pack of new white cotton socks. Fill the sock with rice, microwave for a few seconds, then use as a heat pack.

Miscellaneous Implements – Other items that might prove useful are medical scissors and tweezers. An eyeglass repair kit  and scaled-down sewing kit can come in handy, too, as can safety pins, disposable nail files, and protective gloves.

Assign someone to periodically check expiration dates and to replenish supplies when necessary.

Winter Beverages to Warm and Spice Up Your Day

January 12, 2012

When the temperature outside makes its way downward, it’s always nice to sip a beverage that warms you from within. While some winter drinks are traditionally laden with fat and calories, you can readily adjust them, resulting in a tasty but healthy variation. It’s the ultimate in winter comfort, made and served up right at your desk.

Hot Cocoa

Why settle for a cup of powdered mix and water when you can have the real thing?  Simply microwave a cup of 2% or skim milk, add a packet (1 teaspoon) of Sugar in the Raw or similar and 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa. Stir well and enjoy.  For a spicier variation at home, add a dash of chili powder or a cinnamon stick or two.

Hot Apple Cider

Want to add some anti-oxidants to your day?  Warm some apple cider or apple juice and you’re on your way. Apple cider does have more nutrients per ounce than its more processed counterpart but both have nutritional value. Heat a cup of either in the microwave, then add a cinnamon stick  or a bit of cinnamon flavored syrup.

Spicy Tea

The jury is still out relative to the health benefits of tea but some studies have supported they are there. Whichever, it remains a favorite of many. Prepare tea per usual then add a packet ( 1 teaspoon ) of sugar and a couple of lemon slices. Alternatively, add a cinnamon stick instead of the sugar. For a completely different taste, add cinnamon and cloves.

A Drink to Your Health!

November 3, 2011


It’s important to stay hydrated regardless of one’s level of physical activity. That means that time spent in your desk chair at the office isn’t exempt. Up to 75% percent of the body’s weight is comprised of water and a portion of it is lost when simply breathing. The air expelled is humidified, as evidenced by the cloud that’s formed and visible when outside on a cold day.

Adequate hydration is an essential element of a healthy body. Every cell, tissue, and organ depends on water to function as it should. Temperature maintenance,  waste removal, and  proper joint functioning are all facilitated by the availability of water in your overall system.

To stay well-hydrated, you might consider following a few simple guidelines.

The body’s first response to a lack of water is thirst, typically followed by a dry mouth or eyes. Pay attention to these cues and have something to drink when you first notice them. Often the sensation of thirst will dissipate if ignored.

The amount of water needed per day varies due to activity levels and size. A general rule of thumb is to drink six to eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day.  There are also specific guidelines that are specific to a person’s weight, the larger the person, the more water necessary.

It’s preferable to sip small amounts of liquids throughout the day rather than in large quantities. It also helps to have beverages on hand, reminding you to drink before symptoms of dehydration begin.  Keep bottles of water at your desk or better yet,  buy a filtering water bottle. Coffee and other beverages are also okay to an extent but caffeine can have a diuretic effect, prompting more water loss and frequent trips to the rest room.

So grab a glass of water and drink up and drink often!

Enviro-Friendly Cleaners for Your Office

September 1, 2011

Cleaning your office doesn’t have to mean that you’re polluting the environment in the process. There are many home and office cleaners that are enviro-friendly, effective, and cost less than their store-bought counterparts. Even better is that you likely already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.  Here’s what you’ll need.

Spray bottle and glass jar
Baking soda
White vinegar (Distilled)
Liquid soap or detergent (Choose one with natural ingredients.)

To clean the laminate surface of your desk, simply dampen a sponge with plain water and wipe clean. Dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. For more stubborn spots combine:

1 cup water
1/4  teaspoon liquid detergent
1 -1 /2 tablespoons white vinegar

Pour into clean spray bottle, spritz on spots that need more attention, wipe with a cloth. This solution can also be used to clean painted steel surfaces.

Mix water, baking soda, and a bit of liquid detergent to clean the office microwave, refrigerator, or toaster oven. Store excess in covered jar.

Straight vinegar can be used as a sanitizer and air freshener. Wipe on a surface before leaving the office at night. The smell of vinegar will dissipate by morning, leaving behind a clean smell. Vinegar can also be used to cleanse sinks or toilets seats and to eliminate molds.

Healthy Snacks for the Office

July 21, 2011

A good way to derail a healthy nutrition plan is to discount the hours spent at the office.  Time passes while sitting in a meeting or sustaining focus on a task, blood sugar levels drop, and cravings begin, prompting a bee-line to the vending machine to grab a not-so-healthy snack.

Sound familiar?  If you’re like most people, the answer is yes.  But with a little planning, you can eliminate the extra calories and other negatives inherent in impromptu snacking.

Try to incorporate snack foods into your diet that not only satisfy your hunger but contribute to overall nutritional requirements for the day. In addition, be aware of portion sizes and don’t snack mindlessly. Pay attention to what you are eating while you are doing it so that you don’t continue to eat for the sake of something else to do. When the portion is gone, snack time ends.

As in most things related to good nutrition, it’s important  to have healthy alternatives available when the urge to snack surfaces. You can accomplish that by storing low-calorie snacks in your desk drawer. Baked tortilla chips, air-popped popcorn, rice cakes, or peanut butter on whole wheat crackers are all good choices.

Other options are dried soups, fruit cups, mini-cans of water packed tuna and instant oatmeal. Or place a small bowl on your desk and keep it stocked with fruit, a colorful focal point for your office and a quick go-to place when the urge to snack strikes.

Another alternative is to add a mini-refrigerator to your office and keep it stocked with yogurt, veggies and low cal dressing, celery stuffed with peanut butter or lettuce wraps.

Also be aware of the number of sugar laden drinks you’re consuming throughout the day. Not only do they cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels they can quickly add up to a significant amount of unwanted calories each day.

Staying Safe at Work

June 9, 2011

In spite of extraordinary events that occasionally dominate the news, the American workplace is by and large a safe place to be. Most of us take for granted that the incidence of  negative events is low and don’t give a thought to preparedness or prevention. However, that might not be the wisest course of action.

Regardless of where your office is located, you might consider assembling an emergency kit if your work place doesn’t already have one. Weather contingencies, chemical spills and other unforeseen events can happen virtually anywhere and it’s possible that a few basic emergency supplies such as a flashlight and walking shoes could come in handy.  Store them in a desk drawer or cabinet along with a spare water bottle and perhaps some non-perishable food.

In addition to disaster preparedness, pay attention to your environment. Report areas of the building that are not well-lit and note any differences in windows or doors that might indicate attempts at intrusion.  If you find it necessary to stay late at the office, consider establishing a buddy system and walk with a colleague to your car. If that’s not possible, be sure to phone a friend or family member when you leave the building.

You should also familiarize yourself with your company’s emergency plan. If one doesn’t exist,  volunteer to help create one.  Ideally, co-workers from all levels of the organization should be involved.  Set up a procedure to warn employees about an event and designate an away from the workplace telephone number that employees can phone to indicate they are okay. Alternatively, consider setting up a password protected page on your website for that purpose.

Also, plan and practice what you would do in an emergency.  Designate an evacuation route and design a shelter-in-place contingency in the event that leaving the building becomes impossible.

The Secret to Eliminating Afternoon Office Fatigue

April 7, 2011

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another.  Mornings are fine — you’re productive and energetic — but then two or three o’clock rolls around and suddenly an overwhelming sense of fatigue settles in, rendering you drowsy or lethargic for the next hour or so. There are multiple theories about why it happens; stress, simply being sedentary, discomfort, or even boredom to name a few.  But if you don’t live in a culture that encourages a bit of an afternoon siesta, what can you do to alleviate or perhaps even prevent it?

First, if fatigue isn’t an uncommon feeling for you, see your doctor to rule out any potential medical causes. Once you’ve been assured that all is okay, consider a few easy tips to lessen the incidence of afternoon tiredness, or perhaps even eliminate it.

Don’t sit still. We emphasize that a lot on this blog but even though office seating is one of our passions, we encourage you to take frequent breaks from your office chair despite it being so comfortable that you might not want to! There’s an old adage that suggests that the less energy you expend, the less you’ll have but research shows that there really is truth to that. Stand up and walk around your office with frequency.

Open a window!  Fresh air can potentially elevate your energy levels and your mood. Better yet, try to schedule a short walk outdoors after lunch each day.  Recent studies have shown that standing for as little as a minute can reverse chemical changes that happen when one is seated.

Bring in a healthy snack and save it as a mid-afternoon treat. Fruit, trail mix, or even cut vegetables are all good choices. Another alternative is to chew gum. Many people race for the coffee pot but beware that caffeine can actually have the opposite effect for some people, causing a sedating effect rather than a stimulating one.
Try to schedule more challenging tasks for the morning hours. Some research indicates that stress might be one of the causes of fatigue and accomplishing those projects earlier in the day might have less impact on  energy levels.

Pay attention to the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting each night. Try getting into a routine that works best for you and stick to it. A well-rested person is usually more equipped to handle whatever the day brings!

Here’s to an energetic day – the entire day – for all of us!