Real Money: Is your workplace affecting your health?

Just because you love your job, doesn't mean there aren't some small downsides to being there. For one, your workplace may be affecting your health.

No, really, this isn't like those annoying "It's Monday" memes that populate your timeline. Maybe it's certain times of the year when you're approaching deadlines. Or the noise levels get to you. Even the lights above your head can have an effect on your health.

Before freaking out, let's break down how some of these can affect your health and what you can do about it.

Fluorescent lights

Yes, the buzzing and occasional flickering of fluorescent light can be annoying, but it can have other negative impacts. For one, prolonged exposure to this type of lighting can interfere with our sleep patterns. That's because fluorescent bulbs produce blue light can which can suppress the creation of melatonin in your body.

This is the hormone that helps you sleep, so less production means you may be able to sleep well. And a continual lack of sleep has a whole host of other health effects.

Furthermore, fluorescent lights can cause eyestrain or headaches. These types of light emit rapid pulses of light, which explains the flickering and buzzing. If you're extra sensitive, you may even get migraines. (Trust us, those FSA-eligible pain relief eye masks are fantastic for helping to get some pain relief.)

There's not much you can do to get rid of these lights, but you can help mitigate the effects by taking breaks (go outside if you have to), creating a simple nighttime routine to trigger sleep and not stare at the computer screen all the time.

Lack of breaks

Speaking of breaks, are you taking any? It can be hard to get away from work, especially when there are deadlines looming and you're being called into multiple meetings in a day. Some days, it feels like all you can do is take a few minutes to eat lunch at your desk.

If this is the case, you need a break more than ever. Constantly thinking about work can seriously stress you out. Even a quick 10-minute walk outside (you know, by actually taking advantage of that lunch break) can do wonders for your mental health.

Your boss will understand that you need time to step away from your desk. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee.


No matter where you work, there will be times when you'll run into a coworker you don't prefer spending time with. And conflicts can happen even if you try to actively avoid it.

Sure, it's tempting to ignore everyone you don't like, but what if you're forced to work with that person? Or if you have a conflict over a project you're working on with some you do like?

You can't avoid negative situations at work, so the best we can do is to try and work through them. If there is a conflict, the mature thing to do is to speak directly to the people involved. If need by, get a mediator. Or if you're really stressed out, your employer may offer counseling programs specifically to help with managing work.

(And not for anything, but those eye masks are good for these moments, too…)

At the end of the day, your health is irreplaceable. Don't let any situation, even if it seems impossible to get out of, jeopardize your wellness.


Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your health and flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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