How physical wellbeing improves mental wellbeing

Physical Health and Metal Health hand in hand

A 2018 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) study found employers lost over 30 million working days due to absences from work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2017/18.

With this in mind, more employers are recognising the effects of investing in the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff. As well as recognising the effects, they’re also investing in the wellbeing of their employees.

While a majority of the focus is on their staff’s mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing is just as important.

In this piece, we’ll explore the importance of investing in the physical wellbeing of your employees. We’ll also highlight its connection to mental wellbeing and how the two can work hand-in-hand.

The importance of physical wellbeing

Are your employees sick often? Are there a lot of unexplained absences? When they’re at work are their energy levels low or do they have a short attention span?

If your answer to one or more of these questions is “Yes!”, then you’ll need to promote physical health and wellbeing amongst your employees.

As well as improving productivity, other benefits of promoting physical wellbeing include:

· Reduction in absences due to sickness.

· Boosts in concentration and motivation.

· Increases in energy levels.

· Growth in engagement and overall morale.

The link between physical and mental wellbeing

Just like ill mental health can have adverse effects on the physical wellbeing of an individual, unhealthy physical health can also have detrimental effects on mental health.

Physical injuries can influence how we think, how we feel and what we do. Which means thoughts and feelings can also affect our bodies and how we feel physically. A study by Mentalhealth.org found depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

In some cases, it can even increase the risk of developing a mental health problem.

Tips for promoting physical wellbeing in the workplace

The good thing about investing in the physical health of your staff is that it doesn’t have to break the bank.

There are many cost-effective methods for promoting physical wellbeing. From encouraging employees to step away from their desks regularly to offering fresh fruits—there are many possibilities.

Consider the following tips for encouraging positive changes:

Regular breaks: As well as it being a rest period for the brain, it can also serve as one for the body. Stepping away from the desk gives employees a chance to unwind and reset their bodies. In order to prevent musculoskeletal problems, encourage employees to go on short walks or to have their lunch outside or in other allocated areas.

Snacking: It’s not uncommon for employees to snack. A lot of the time, these are unhealthy and have high levels of sugar and salt. As an alternative, many businesses are investing in healthy snacks and fruit boxes for their workforce. As well as contributing to the overall wellbeing of your staff, it also contributes to an increase in productivity.

Travel to work: As with any business, no doubt your workforce is travelling from various destinations to get to the office. To alleviate the stress of commuting and to encourage physical wellbeing, consider a cycle to work scheme. Cycling is thought of as the least stressful way to commute to work. The government introduced this scheme to inspire environmental friendliness as well as to encourage people to make better health choices. As an added incentive, you can also look to installing bike racks and showers for their comfort.

Work/life balance: Finally, creating a company culture that encourages your workers to have a healthy balance between their work and personal lives goes a long way to improving both physical and mental health. You can ensure your organisation encourages this by educating staff on the importance of a healthy balance between their work and social lives. Employees that know their organisation cares about them are more likely to be loyal and to spend longer in the company.

To wrap up

In conclusion, the undeniable link between mental and physical health is one that requires stimulation on both ends.

While counselling and other stress management efforts are required for the mental wellbeing of your staff, you should also remember their physical health

 

 

This article was written on behalf of Snacks and Co by David Price CEO of Health Assured

 

David Price CEO Health Assured David Price is CEO of Health Assured: the UK’s leading health and wellbeing provider. He advises employers daily on how to encourage and develop a healthy workplace, whilst outlining best practice guidance on how to combat and control workplace stress. David also speaks regularly to the media on mental health issues with his commentary profiled in The Telegraph and The Guardian, he is also a regular contributor to Financial Adviser from the Financial Times.

5 Simple Steps to help you look after you better

5 top tips to look after yourself at work

This is nothing new, but I hope some reminders and easy ideas that can be quickly and easily introduced into your working day that will make you feel better.

  1.  Drink more water
    How many cups of tea or coffee do you have a day?
    Could you trade 1 or 2 of those cups for a glass of water?
    Water in the human body is like oil in a car, it keeps everything moving.
    The human body is made up of 60% water, but the brain its self is actually made up of about 73% water, so staying hydrated is key to helping think clearly and ensure the brain can function to the maximum capacity.
    Don’t like water? Add fruit to help flavour the water or use a water infuser bottle; try summer berries, lemon, orange or mint and strawberry.
    It’s about making a conscious effort to start with to then make it become a habit.
  2.  Leave your desk
    Who leaves their desk at lunchtime?
    3 in 5 employees eat dinner at their desk and many employees only taking 15 minutes out of their entitled break. Take a break, by sitting at your desk to eat it only encourages you to continue working ‘I’ll just finish this’ or ‘I’ll just quickly look at that’. Give yourself a break, no more al-desko it’s time for al-fresco!
  3.  Get some fresh air and/or sunshine
    A lot of workplaces and offices can be stuffy or have air conditioning which can be dry and dehydrated; try getting out to for 5 minutes fresh air, it can feel amazing even when it is wet and cold.
    Also getting out for a short 20-minute walk can help release endorphins the happy, feel-good hormone. That’s 10 minutes there and 10 minutes back from your desk or office, when you think of it like that it’s not far but it could make you feel a whole lot better.
    Also when getting out and some fresh air it gets us into the sunshine/daylight, where it allows our bodies to absorb Vitamin D which helps strengthen bones, teeth and muscles, but it is also linked to topping up our immune system.
  4. Breakfast
    The word breakfast spells out its own meaning, Break Fast to break the fasting of overnight, the first meal of the day.
    We always hear ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, but it really is.
    Earlier we mentioned about water being the oil of the body well now let’s add some fuel. Food is what gives your body the power to function and it is key to do this first thing in the morning, get your body powered up for the rest of the day.
    Do you ever notice if you skip breakfast your body starts craving sugar later in the day? It’s looking for fuel to sustain your energy.
  5.  Try to eat smarter
    Your body needs all sorts of nutrients to keep it functioning and the best way to do this is yet another cliché…Eat the Rainbow!
    By eating lots of different coloured foods it means you are getting different nutrients in your diet, therefore feeding your body lots of vitamins and minerals it needs to help it function to best of its ability.
    Also since we ‘eat with our eyes’ having colourful food on a plate makes it more attractive to eat, so try to get creative and colourful with your lunch.

4 of these tips could possibly be achieved in your lunch break; instead of eating at your desk why not go for a walk to a local shop (2 & 3), grab yourself something colourful to eat (5) and some water to drink (1). I wonder how you would feel if you start to make this your new lunchtime routine rather then staying at your desk?

Lettuce Be Happy – A positive link between mental well being and the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and Vegetables linked to mental well being

New Research by Leeds and York Universities shows the positive effect of eating fruit and vegetables on mental well being!

Between 2010 and 2017 a research project (Lettuce Be Happy) has been underway looking at the relationship of eating more fruit and vegetables and the effect on mental well being. It’s well documented of the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables on physical health but more and more research is being done on the effects of diet on mental health. Recent studies have shown that eating even just one more portion of fruit or vegetables a day can have a positive impact on mental well being. More detailed studies need to be done to find out exactly why but preliminary research is linked to the vitamins and minerals within this food category. With many people not eating the recommended 5-a-day portions, this could be leaving them malnourished in key vitamins and minerals and therefore affecting the way the body functions both physically and mentally.

Link to study report –
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953618306907?via%3Dihub

20 Gadgets to Boost Productivity!

Solar charger

Stuck for what to get someone for Christmas? The helpful people at Red Bull have come up with a great list of interesting gadgets to help boost productivity.

Personally, I think the noise cancelling headphones would be the best gadget to help with my productivity, as I really struggle in noisy/busy offices to concentrate and write. I find my thoughts being interrupted and I loose where I am rereading things dozens of times. I also like the solar phone charger but I have no external windows! ☹

I also find it interesting that a few of these gadgets are about posture, hydration and stress management.

https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/workplace-office-gadgets-boost-productivity

Prevention is better than cure!

Secretary of State Matt Hancock

On November 5th the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock released a document called “Prevention is better than cure; our vision to help you live well for longer” the document covers many areas, one being The Workplace.

The document explains “The way jobs are designed makes an important difference. The features of good work include good relationships with colleagues, healthy physical conditions, job security and adequate pay, and skills training with potential for progression. This affects both our physical health (including the time spent sitting down) and our mental health (our sense of control, and levels of stress and anxiety). Advice on debt and benefits is also critical given the important link between income and health.”

With a significant amount of our week being spent at work the document also states that “The workplace is also a great setting for reaching people with messages promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyles – including on smoking, eating healthily and staying active. Many businesses are already taking action in this space, and see the benefits of higher staff morale, and lower rates of sickness absence. In the end, a healthy workforce is a more productive one. More employers should follow suit to help improve the health of their staff and of the nation.”

Labour’s shadow children’s minister Tracy Brabin speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, said: “It’s about pay and conditions and wellbeing in the workplace. If you don’t know if you’re going to work tomorrow, an apple’s not going to do it.” also saying “it failed to address bigger issues in the employment sector.”

I agree an apple isn’t going to make someone want to go to work, but as part of a bigger picture an apple could make a big difference. It’s about creating a good workplace culture; making the working environment a positive place and supporting employees mentally and physically. It’s lots of small preventative changes that need to happen; eventually leading to big change that can be sustained.

Business leaders: who’s looking after YOU?

Business leaders: who's looking after you

Wow, I didn’t think I would need to write this blog myself, but apparently, I do as I couldn’t find any relevant blogs to link to.

As leaders of a business or a team, you can easily be forgotten by your employees/team members and by yourself. We can focus so much on looking after our employees, team members, suppliers, and customers that we forget about ourselves. But where would your customers and employees be if you aren’t there to steer the ship? Where would the business you’re working so hard to nurture be if you aren’t there? Yes, an organisation can survive in the very short term without its leaders, but ultimately every business needs effective senior management in order to thrive.

There is a lot of focus on workplace wellbeing and looking after employees, but we should not overlook the leaders when implementing these programmes. The wellbeing program should be led from the front; look after number one and lead by example (I love that phrase ‘Lead by Example’; I think it is very powerful and can achieve so much). For example, ensuring everyone else takes their holiday entitlement is great – it’s important that employees relax and recharge – but leaders also need that; sacrificing yourself once in a while is ok but continually sacrificing yourself for your team becomes damaging and unproductive. You can’t be an effective leader and decision maker if you are tired and stressed.

People talk about pressure from above, but pressure also comes from below and from within. Leaders have a whole team of people looking to them for direction and a pathway to achieve; it is the leader who is at the front carving those ways, constantly working away for others to follow. Leaders bear a heavy burden of responsibility, as they know that if they fail, the people below them will also fail.

Pressure and constantly putting others first can wear any leader down, and can lead to depression and ill health. So although taking time for yourself might seem selfish, it is actually vital for the health of your business. Ultimately it’s all about balance!

So exactly how does exercise help with depression, anxiety, and stress?

How exercise helps with depression, anxiety and stress

Did you know exercise can help with depression, anxiety and stress?

As we all know mental health is a big focal point in the news at the moment and encouraging exercise can be a big key player in helping many mental health issues.

Depression
New research from the Department of Health revealed that 12% of depression cases could be prevented by 1 hour of exercise a week and you could reduce the risk of depression by 30% if you exercised 3 times a week.

Stress
Research by neurologists at Stanford Medical School showed a link between exercise and grey matter within the brain which controls stress; those who exercised more had more grey matter, therefore were able to control stress easier.

Anxiety
Exercise allows you to focus and break the cycle of thoughts spinning around in your head, it allows you to clear your mind and focus on your body.

Even simple exercises such as walking and some simple stretches can help relieve tension in the body and start the release of endorphins (natural pain reliever/happy hormone).

So next time you are feeling stressed or anxious at work why not try taking a few minutes and going for a walk or doing a few stretches to relieve some tension? Sometimes just taking a few minutes to yourself can break the cycle and bring you back to being focused.
Give it a go and let us know how you get on!

To learn more follow the link below:

https://www.thebodycoach.com/blog/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise-143.html

11 easy ways to get exercise during your working day

Get fit in your lunch break

Exercise is not just good for the body it’s good for the mind as well!

When you exercise the body releases chemicals called endorphins; endorphins trigger positive feelings within the body and leave us feeling more energised. Why not try adding one of these easy 11 ways to exercise into your working day and get those endorphins working for you.

1. Cycle or walk part – if not all – of your journey to work. Read more about cycling for beginners.
2. Get off a bus or tube stop before your destination.
3. If you need to drive, try to park further away from your office and walk the rest of the way.
4. Discuss project ideas with a colleague while taking a walk.
5. Stand while talking on the telephone.
6. Walk over to someone’s desk at work rather than calling them on the phone or sending an email.
7. Take the stairs instead of the lift, or get out of the lift a few floors early and use the stairs.
8. Walk up escalators or travelators rather than standing still.
9. Go for a walk during your lunch break – use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take.
10. Try to find different walks and alternate between them during the week. You could also try using the free Active 10 app to help you increase your walking activity.
11. Exercise before or after work, or during your lunch break. Your office may have a gym, or you may have access to a nearby swimming pool or squash courts.

For more information head over to NHS Live Well.

Does mental health really affect businesses?

Heads Together campaign

Did you know not talking about ‘it’ is more damaging and then talking about ‘it’…

…and what is ‘it’? Mental Health!

I don’t think there are many people who wake up in the morning and think “Today I’m going to ruin someone’s day” but many employers, managers, and work colleges do this unintentionally on a daily basis. One small comment – or even saying nothing at all – to someone who is struggling with their mental health could really make or break someone’s day. Many employees are too worried to talk about any mental health problems as they fear they may be shamed or even worse lose their job, but not talking about ‘it’ usually makes mental health worse.

1 in 6 British workers are affected by mental health issues.

The term Mental Health covers a very broad range of illnesses including depression, anxiety, and stress. 95% of employees who ring in sick when suffering from a mental health issue will give a different reason to cover the truth. Simply having someone to talk to without being judged can be enough to relieve a little pressure off those who are suffering.

Mental ill-health costs UK businesses nearly £26 billion each year and is the leading cause of absence from the workplace.

Approaching mental health issues at work benefits not only the employees but also the business, potentially saving the average employer thousands of pounds per year in sick days and lost productivity. In the last few years various initiatives have been launched to raise awareness of mental health, including Time to Change, #LetsTalkMentalHealth, the Health & Safety Executive’s Go Home Healthy campaign, and the Heads Together initiative spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Prince William recently attended the Workplace Wellbeing Conference with senior business leaders to highlight how important it is for business leaders to ensure that workers get the support they need.

Healthy staff makes a healthy business!

Here are a few great websites to help support you and your employees make a change and bring mental health out into the open in the workplace instead of pushing ‘it’ away.

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/get-your-workplace-involved/employer-pledge

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gohomehealthy/stress.htm

The Duke of Cambridge introduced Heads Together & Mind’s new workplace mental health initiative.

How to Balance Your Mood with Food

Scarrenshot - food and mood tips

Food and water are the body’s fuel, to keep going and working correctly; we all know what we should eat and when we should eat, but sometimes (or a lot if the time) we don’t do what we know we should do. Like a car if you don’t fill it up with the right fuel, oil, and water, eventually parts will slowly stop working or work intermittently till the car eventually stops working altogether.

Nearly 30% of the UK population skips breakfast, meaning the body is not given fuel to even get up and go in the morning. Studies show that those who skip meals throughout the day will reach for processed high sugar snacks later in the day – this is because the body is craving fuel and the quickest fuel to process is sugar. The problem with eating processed high sugar foods is they are great to give a quick energy hit, but the energy level drops off as quick as it rises, causing very rapid highs and lows. This can also effect people’s moods and productivity as these are both affected by energy levels; at the height of the hit people can be too energised to concentrate properly and during the lows they do not have enough energy to function and think clearly (and can be come very irritable!).

Ensuring you eat a balanced diet is the best way to make sure your body is fuelled with the everything it needs to function to the best of its ability.

For more information on how different food can affect people’s moods follow this link to the charity Mind UK website:

www.mind.org.uk/about-food-and-mood