WELLBEING IS a term which we hear a lot these days. But how do you define it? Is it just a lack of illness, lack of pain, lack of headaches? Maybe, if you have suffered a lifetime of chronic ill-health, such a definition is more than enough for you. Being free of poor health is certainly a welcome relief. However, we can aim for so much more than that.
Wellbeing relates to all aspects of our health, from emotional and mental health, to our nutritional status and activity levels. By building on one, you automatically enhance the other. For example, someone may be advised to take up walking to lose some weight or help their heart condition. But a pleasant side-effect may be that they are sleeping better as a result, or thinking more clearly. Or their moods feel more stable. Likewise, someone may make some changes to their diet as a step towards better health, without having clearly-defined goals. But, a short while into making those simple changes, such as eating more vegetables, staying hydrated, having more oily fish, they may notice their stiff joints starts to improve. That nagging ache in their tummy begins to calm down as they decide to ditch gluten, and so on.
If we can relate the change we are trying to make to an improved quality of life, the logic of prioritising that change becomes a lot clearer. Many of us then, have never truly had first-hand experience of optimum wellbeing. Think of the types of things which might stop us getting there:
An auto-immune condition like arthritis or lupus
Poor sleep quality
Chronic low-grade anxiety
Lack of informatioon about food choices
How many of these aspects can you identify with? Combine a couple of these factors, which is the case for most people and it really compouns the problem. Sorting out those health issues is always in the back of your mind. Then, by the time you have done everything you need to do during your day, the last thing you want to think about when you get home from work is preparing a meal from scratch or going for a run.
Well, it might be easier to make some changes if your workplace became part of that change. Workplace Wellbeing Day falls on the 31st March this year, so there is still plenty time for employers and staff, to get their thinking caps on and see what steps would be most beneficial in their workplace. Does it relate to being more physically active? Should it revolve around stress management? Does the food culture in your workplace need an overhaul? By looking at the area which seems to be the top priority in your company, you can act accordingly. Have someone talk to staff about managing their time and stress. Perhaps bring in a Pilates instructor to give a demo class to staff, which could lead to regular classes, as a result. Encourage people to leave their desks to eat lunch. Is smoking still prevalent in your workplace? What steps can you take to support staff who are trying to quit?
It doesn’t matter how small your company is, you can still sign up to take part. Absenteeism in smaller companies in Ireland amounts to over 4million days, which adds up to massive expenses for small businesses. Prevention is certainly better than cure and teaching people the skills to make wellbeing an integral part of their life will have a huge benefit to the company itself. The employee who feels their health and wellbeing is as consideration for the company will enjoy a better work environment, which evidence shows means they generally stay in that job longer. A happy workforce is a more productive workforce, so taking part makes sense
For some companies, this may be their first year to take part. For others, they may decide to build on something they started last year. Nutrition and physical wellbeing are the priority areas of the campaign this year, but any steps you can take to show you are actively prioritising wellbeing in the workplace will generate benefits. It also creates an environment where people can perhaps feel more comfortable expressing their health concerns, if that proves helpful for them. A work environment which insists on working outrageously long hours, exposing staff to high stress, skimping on meals and allowing no time for rest and relaxation is increasingly seen as detrimental to the health of the company, the indivudal working in it and of corse, their customers. Alas, our health care system in this country often falls into this category, needing very practical, grass-roots changes to make it a safer environment for those working in it.
To sign up to the campaign and gain ideas on what your business can do, check out www.fooddrinkireland.ie/wellbeing .