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Health and Wellness at Work

Are you feeling over-worked, stressed, often ill, and suffering from low energy levels at work? If so you’re not alone – it has become such a problem for employers that the NHS have started up a ‘Health for Work Advice line’ for business. Just look at a couple of stats:

2.2 million people suffered from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work in 2007 – 08.

23% of non-manual workers suffer from psychiatric problems caused by high levels of occupation stress, resulting from demanding work requirements, problems balancing home and work life, bullying and lack of support.

Do you consider yourself to be a part of this statistic? And if so, is it up to your employer to ‘fix it’?

If you’re suffering from stress, illness (mental, emotional or physical) it can be a dangerously slippery slope to depression – leading to a vicious cycle of feeling disempowered and helpless to do anything about it. Symptoms such as tension headaches, disrupted sleeping patterns, mood swings and lethargy, are all signs that it’s vital you take small steps to recover your vitality – without which it’ll be impossible for you to feel good about yourself or your work (and therefore impossible for your employer to see the good stuff about you too!).

Have a look at the checklist below and prioritise the ‘weak’ areas:

– Do you know how much sleep you need a night to function optimally?

– Do you get your ‘optimum’ amount of sleep at least 5 nights a week?

– Do you drink a minimum of 1.5l of water a day?

– Do you exercise a minimum of 4 x 30 minutes, or 3 x 45 minutes a week?

– If you experience pain in your body, do you acknowledge and listen to it, or ignore it and take painkillers?

– Do you occasionally do some form of movement that isn’t necessarily aerobic exercise, in order to connect with your body (e.g. yoga, dance, walking in nature etc)?

– Are you aware of which foods give you energy and vitality as opposed to make you feel lethargic and apathetic?

– Do you ensure that the majority of your diet contains fresh produce?

Now comes the most important part.

Commitment.

Are you willing to commit to making just a few small changes in order to increase your wellness and feel better about yourself and your work?

Start small – make a commitment to just 2 – 3 small changes this week. Identify any obstacles and how you’ll overcome them. If you normally find it hard to fall asleep for example, try having a bath or reading instead of watching TV for an hour before turning off the light – the mind needs time to wind down. Make a shopping list of ‘good’ food to buy as healthy snacks. Look at your schedule and plan ahead of time when you’ll do your exercise. Be realistic and set small goals that you can achieve, rather than high targets that will leave you feeling despondent if you don’t achieve them.

Right now it’s hard in any workplace to cultivate an environment of ‘wellness at work’. But if you take just a few small steps a week, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can feel better as a result. Wellness isn’t just about being healthy – it affects your state of mind and helps you feel more in control of your situation.

And if you think your employer needs to take the problem more seriously, let them know about the NHS advice line – after all, they need to take responsibility too.

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