Throw an Office Party, Live Longer

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Most of us spend the largest chunk of our day in a work setting. So its great to know that having a good relationship with co-workers can help us to live longer.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel found that a good relationship with co-workers reduced mortality risk for adults of all ages and was most pronounced between the ages of 38 and 43.

The research team studied the medical records of more than 800 workers who had been followed for 20 years, from 1988 to 2008, and questionnaires that measured job demands, control at work and peer and supervisor support. One-third of people in the study were women and the average workday was 8.8 hours.

The researchers controlled for other risk factors that could impact mortality such as a cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking, drinking and anxiety. It was interesting to note that having a supportive boss did not impact mortality but having supportive co workers certainly did.

I share an office with my co worker Marie who is a pleasure to have around. During a recent manager training, we determined that we have many opposite personality traits. She is detail oriented, I am focused on the big picture. She likes to process information methodically, I like to charge forward and process as I go. Yet, we laugh a lot and support each other both personally and professionally.

The research does show that having support for our healthy behaviors means that we are more likely to sustain them in the long term. With all the time we spend at work, it is so valuable to have support for our healthy behaviors in that setting too.

So I thought it would be fun to share some ideas on how to connect with co-workers in a healthful and supportive way. I’ll share some of what happens in my office and I would love to hear your tips too.

  • Marie and I keep sneakers under our desks. As soon as weather and time allows, we head out for a brisk walk. And when weather does not allow, we do laps around our floor instead.
  • We keep healthy snacks like string cheese and fruit in our refrigerator to share. We keep some dark chocolate available too!
  • Some people actually alternate bringing lunch with their co workers. So five people get together and each of them brings lunch for everyone one day a week. So you get a healthy lunch five days a week but only have to cook once.
  • A common question in our office is “do you need any help with that?” Jumping in to help a co worker when needed builds trust and creates a collaborative work environment.
  • Laughter works wonders on stressful days – or on any day for that matter.
  • Celebrate whenever possible – did you get a big contract? Is it a coworker’s birthday? Even something as simple as a note or card brightens up the day.
  • Show appreciation. We sometimes take our coworkers for granted and forget to thank them for their consideration or their support.

Here’s to supportive co workers and longer, healthier lives!