Most of us spend a large portion of our days at work. Our work can provide us with a valuable sense of purpose, as well as the practicalities of earning money to provide for ourselves, and in some cases our families, and live our lives outside of the workplace.
None of us go to work to get injured or ill!
While our employers have a legal duty to provide us with a safe and healthy workplace, as employees, we also have a duty under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 to take reasonable care for your own psychological and physical health and safety at work. On top of this, it’s in our best interest to do so, because an injury or illness caused in the workplace doesn’t stay in the workplace, it affects all aspects of our lives.
Looking after your mental health
Being healthy and safe at work doesn’t just mean being free from physical injury and illness, it includes your mental health and wellbeing as well. Most people are likely to experience some level of stress at work, and in short bursts, it can be useful to help keep you motivated and performing at your best. However, frequent or prolonged stress can lead to serious psychological and physical health complications.
There are many factors in the work environment that can negatively impact on our mental health, and while we cannot control all of them, there are some strategies we can take to enhance our capacity to cope with the daily demands placed upon us.
Tips for looking after your mental health and wellbeing include:
Make time to relax and recharge – taking time out for yourself is essential for preventing and managing stress.
Take your holiday leave - make sure that you have a complete break away from work.
Set boundaries – Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. Continually taking on more work than you can handle, and/or regularly working overtime, can result in chronic stress and lead to burn out.
Seek support – if you are feeling stressed, talking to people that you trust, such as friends, family or your work mates, can be a great help. You could also chat with a health professional such as your GP or, if they offer it, make use of your workplaces EAP service.
Enjoy regular exercise – exercise is one of the best things that you can do for both your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Aim to get in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
Get enough sleep – Unfortunately, stress can affect your sleep, and in turn, lack of sleep can negatively affect your mental health. Make sleep a priority and aim to get around 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night.
Eat well - When you eat right, you feel right. Whole, nutritious foods provide your body and brain with the essential nutrients they need to function optimally. This improves your mental state and makes you happier and healthier.
Looking after your physical health
Physical health and safety in the workplace is something that we should all be familiar with these days, and most workers will know what is expected of them. Your obligations might include things like:
participating in safety training,
wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE),
reporting hazards or work practices you think may be unsafe, and
complying and co-operating with any reasonable policies, procedures and instructions you are given.
On top of your legal responsibilities as a worker, there are some other simple lifestyle changes that you can make to significantly lower your risk of getting an injury or illness at work.
Tips for looking after your physical health and wellbeing include:
Improve your sleep – in addition to protecting your mental health, sleep is fundamental for your physical health too. Lack of sleep impairs your ability to concentrate, reduces your reaction times and impairs your cognitive ability, leading to an increase in errors and a heightened injury risk. If you have trouble getting quality sleep, then improving your sleep hygiene is a good place to start.
Change positions regularly - Even if you exercise regularly, sitting or standing in the same position for prolonged periods, especially with poor posture, can lead to serious complications such as musculoskeletal disorders, heart disease and diabetes. Take regular breaks from sitting or standing and move about.
Maintain a healthy weight – in addition to warding off many chronic diseases, maintain a healthy weight can also decrease your risk of injury. Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury from slips, trips and fall, as well as sleep apnoea, which can increase the risk of injury from fatigue. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is the key to maintaining a healthy body weight.
Look after your mental health – Just as poor physical health can lead to poor mental health, so too can poor mental health lead to poor physical health. Being exposed to prolonged stress can lead to many long-term physical health problems including autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, sleeping disorders and musculoskeletal disorders. Follow the tips above to take care of your mental health and wellbeing at work.
Our health and wellbeing is central to all areas of our lives and we all want to be in good health. Unfortunately, the demands of work and life can get in the way of this and impact on our ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
At Healthy Business, we have an expert team of allied health professionals who are passionate about helping people to improve their health and wellbeing, leading them to a happier, more fulfilled life, both at work and at home.
We provide people with the tools that they need to make sustainable improvements to their physical and mental health and wellbeing. This in turn has positive outcomes for the business, beyond a happy healthy workforce, improving performance, productivity, and engagement.
To find out how we can support your organisation and the health and wellbeing of its most valuable assets (its people), get in touch with us today.