You spend a majority of your waking hours at work—which means you spend a majority of your waking hours with your coworkers. It should come as no surprise, then, that all those hours together can impact your health.
The relationships you have at work can really improve your health. On the other hand, they can also really harm your health. Both are true in lots of different ways.
Your coworkers can cause you stress. Whether they’re easy or difficult to work with, the things they do in the office can increase your stress levels. Most of the time it’s not intentional. They’re simply doing their jobs. But you reap what they sow in the form of increased stress.
If you focus on developing your work relationships, though, your coworkers can also serve as stress relievers. Maybe you get to know them, and learn to trust them so projects aren’t so difficult. Perhaps they act as a listening ear when work gets frustrating. Or maybe they are the perfectly timed afternoon coffee chat to give you the little break you need.
When it comes to your coworkers, you’re all in the same boat. You’re working in the same atmosphere for a common goal. Yes, there will be stress. But you can also work on those relationships to help relieve that stress.
In a traditional sense, peer pressure has a negative connotation. Which can definitely be true in the workplace. Your coworkers could pressure you to hit happy hour instead of the gym, go out to lunch instead of eating the lunch you packed, or vent and complain instead of solving problems. Those are all unhealthy habits to form, and they can be magnified by people you spend time with.
In some situations, peer pressure can be a positive thing. If you surround yourself with healthy coworkers, you’ll start to feel the pressure to adopt their healthy habits. Your office neighbor is headed out for a walk at lunch? Might as well join them. Your friend from accounting packed his lunch and is eating in the breakroom? Sounds like a great idea.
Surrounding yourself with people who make choices you want to make is an excellent first step towards developing healthy habits. Use your work relationships as positive peer pressure.
We’ve all been there. There is that one coworker who is so much fun—but also super distracting. You can spend hours laughing with them and getting no work done. That can cause your productivity to take a huge hit.
Seek out work relationships that help you to be more productive. Find a team you can work with, or trusted coworkers to delegate to. On individual projects, bounce your ideas off your work friends. Create relationships at work that empower you to not only get work done, but to do your work well.
Happiness can be a hugely overlooked aspect of your health—and relationships play an obvious role. The people you spend time with have the power to make you miserable in a lot of different capacities. In unhealthy work relationships, you can get caught in a battle of comparison, an unhealthy level of competition or even simply annoyance.
The opposite is also true, though! The people you spend time with have the power to bring you so much joy. If you surround yourself with people you genuinely enjoy—people who make you laugh and support you—you’re on the road to happiness.
It might sound cheesy, but those people definitely exist in your workplace. Seek them out, get to know them and watch those happy relationships improve your health and well-being.
Relationships can be hard. Obviously, it’s not as simple as just recognizing the relationships you want to develop with your coworkers. The first step? Be that healthy influence for others. Empower your coworkers to live positive, healthy lifestyles so they can take on that same role for you.
How do you see your work relationships impacting your health? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!