Building the healthy daily habits for Wellness Success

In recent years there has been a substantial rise in various online and mobile wellness apps. The main areas of focus being on measuring sleep, promoting meditation, engaging in physical exercises such as steps, running or cycling, mood monitoring, an increased awareness of nutritional intake and measuring the effects of positive psychology on thinking and on mood.

Why is this?

Research now shows that the regular practise of a variety of healthy habits can have a significant impact on increasing physical health and psychological wellbeing. Findings show that one of the keys to this is completing some focused wellbeing actives in a manageable and integrated way. The message here is: Little and often.

Various apps such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer have been created to attend to many of these areas, as has our employee wellbeing tool POWR – Positive Occupational Wellness Resources which has taken it one step further. Not only does POWR measure overall health and wellbeing, but it provides unique personalised health plans to help easily enhance a person’s overall wellbeing and education. Sitting within POWR are over 420 clinical plans designed to help staff engage with their wellbeing, with built in push technology to provide some much-needed encouragement in achieving greater results. POWR plans target the 6 keys areas of wellbeing – mind, life, work, sleep, active and food; with plans added each month, alongside a huge number of new blogs, articles and videos.

How to get the best from a wellness application?

With an app like POWR and others such as Calm, the design taps into several scientific research findings which shows that key areas to invest in and create healthy habits with are:

  • Regular meditation
  • Focused breathing
  • Mild exercise
  • Positive thinking

The analysis of various research shows that regular meditation significantly improves areas such as stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and emotion regulation (mood). Longer term it also improves other areas such as general positivity, self-generated positive emotions and can provide real benefits to close relationships and social outcomes.

Further research shows that regular mild exercise also has a significant effect on psychological wellbeing, while more moderate exercise has a significant effect on depression and anxiety, comparable with usual psychological care. Based on these findings and others, POWR brings this research all together and provides easy access to hundreds of clinical plans in each of the 6 targeted areas, making it accessible, available and easy to log into to work on wellbeing, every single day. With built in meditations, visual and auditory breathing exercises and a positive psychology reinforcing reflection tool, it really supports and promotes the benefits of these finds.

Take the challenge!

POWR is the ideal tool to help employees create healthy habits. To encourage this we have also created the POWR Formula for Success, which includes challenges in the areas of exercise, meditation, positive psychology journalling, wellness and stress relief articles and focused breathing challenges, to complement the 6 pathways in POWR which are always available for users to interact with, complete plans in and grow their wellbeing. This POWR challenge is designed to quickly get staff involved over a two weeks’ timeframe as a company challenge to help them feel healthier, socialise what they are doing, be more active and be more in tune with how they want to be.

Challenging COVID-19 – Eustress

This third article in our series of 6, looks at the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 restrictions. The article will focus on how these challenges are affecting employees physical and psychological health and most importantly how they can lean into difficult times using the Eustress mindset.

As the weeks roll on and restrictions continue in our battle with COVID-19, this is the time that staff will begin feeling some of the negative side effects of spending so much time cooped up at home. They will naturally be getting more frustrated or anxious at the situation and unfortunately more irritated with each other because of what is going on. Their sleep will start to be affected as their routines are shifting, as they are not required to get up at the same time as they used to when they were traveling to work, or school drop off. A new routine will be settling in which requires them to perform a few other extra commitments such as extra child minding, schooling, cooking and cleaning and an extra effort to be committed to exercise.

Our bodies love routine and structure, so the shift in adapting to this new routine will be causing some tension psychologically, emotionally and even physically with tiredness, broken sleep and sometimes skin irritations like eczema flaring up. 

Now is a good time to invest in Eustress!

Eustress stems from the ancient Greek word ‘eu’ meaning well or good stress. Unlike common everyday stress, and unlike distress, Eustress is very good for us. The best way to think of Eustress is to imagine it as the feeling we get when we focus on something we enjoy doing, over an extended period of time. A hobby or project that we invest time and energy into, not for anyone else but because we want to do something for ourselves, something new, where the challenge is reward enough. Eustress actions are personal challenges we set ourselves that are not too easy but are ultimately rewarding.

These activities bring a healthy distraction from what is going on in our world at any time. Allowing us to commit and focus our mind and bodies in a very productive, engaging way which will ultimately provide healthy results.

Examples of Eustress include learning to:

  • Sing, draw or paint
  • Speak another language
  • Author a short story or book
  • Play an instrument
  • Code
  • Create a website or understand graphic design
  • Clothes design and creation
  • Practice calligraphy
  • Understand more about the cosmos
  • Take a course in DIY
  • Complete a professional course of interest

The Eustress mindset is about committing to something that requires an ongoing regular focus, leading to the success of achieving a larger goal. There are many Eustress activities that staff can sign up for and accomplish over the next number of months. One of the keys is for them to find an activity that has structure to it and could lead to a test. For example:

  • Find a competition that they can sign up for in the future e.g. a marathon, performance, test or exam 6 – 9 months away
  • Set a timeframe based on this deadline and work backwards, with weekly or daily sessions
  • Be creative and really commit to a challenge to create some personal pressure

Encourage them to enjoy these focused sessions as a break from the norm, so choosing something they are genuinely interested in is important. By applying their time and energy, employees will begin to feel better over the coming months as they progress their Eustress strategies.

To find out more about what is available check out the Wrkit learning section for ideas and courses staff can sign up for. POWR also provides hundreds of plans, articles, blogs and daily, weekly and monthly goal setting measures, including workplace challenges.

Coping with BIG Changes

Recent international events have brought home to everyone how much of a global village we really are. This can be feel a little scary at times, but thankfully just about all countries are now responding to the challenges that COVID-19 is producing.

The Coronavirus is something that we can all individually tackle with some simple measures such as washing our hands routinely and keeping an adequate distance from one another. However, these and more extreme changes like imposed travel restrictions will impact us psychologically and emotionally over time. In response to these significant challenges, the team at Wrkit will be posting a set of 6 blogs to help you deal with the psychological changes that will occur in the coming weeks and months.

Our first post from our series of 6 is on the topic of Change and the common effects big change can have on our lives and while we know a lot more about how naturally occurring events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and pandemics can impact us, we still go through a common psychological process when confronted by these events.

Having previously lived in Wellington New Zealand for many years and having experienced hundreds of earthquakes, when the big ones hit and movement was restricted it was always very disconcerting and concern about ourselves, our friends, our family and the future quickly set in.

For starters, initially there is usually a shocked response related to what is happening to us and this can become a re-occurring experience as more events unfold, a little like a series of aftershocks. With this shock we can also experience denial and disbelief. This can often present as a lack of interest towards the situation or a downgrading of its importance in our life, kind of a ‘don’t care so much’ reaction. This is very common and a natural early response, which will gradually give way to a fuller understanding of the situation. Feelings of powerlessness and a sense of injustice or unfairness are also common, especially if our regular routines are affected as we gradually work to assimilate and understand what has happened.

A desire for control can play out then, and frustration or worry overtime can build into anger and fear/panic unless we are able to work these emotions through. It is simply our body trying to exert control over what is happening (motivation), not realising that what is happening is much bigger than ourselves, with way too many things out of our control. Our body can then react by making us feel low – sad, upset and down (demotivation), as it tries to slow us down, urging us to think clearly and not just react.  Action rather than just reaction is important, and the good news is that there are lots of actions we can take mentally to help us overcome changes whether they are big, small or even global.

Over the next number of weeks, we will be looking at ‘Mental Skills for Mental health’ and covering psychological techniques such as Goal Setting, Eustress, Reframing, Perspective Thinking, Self-Talk, and of course Resilience. For now, let’s look at some simple ways to help ourselves to process through some of what is going on around us at this early stage.

Each day take some time to write out answers to the below questions:

  • How am I feeling today?
  • How intense are these feelings – from 1 to 50 – (50 being extremely intense)?
  • What can I do to influence these feeling today?
  • How will I factor this into my plan for the day/ week/ month?

Remember that whatever you are feeling is ok, all feelings are ok – it is what we do with them that is important, as some behaviours are not ok! If for example you are angry or afraid the best ways to tackle these feelings is to channel this energy and take back some power. As a first step take this action:

  • Take a moment to breath in and out a number of times
  • Slow your breathing to slow your heartrate
  • Clear your head by focusing on your breathe  
  • Slowly count to 10 in your head as take longer breaths in and out

Plan a helpful healthy physical outlet such as running, cycling, HIIT challenges; be physical in some goal-oriented way to focus your energy.

At home set goals such as spring cleaning, gardening, DIY projects which are all great for some physical output and to have a distracting challenge.

Make a daily action plan. What will you do today that will help you to accomplish your goals? Create some deadlines and achieve some results. Create some small to medium goals to get some wins on the board which will make you feel better and more in control of what is going on and within your influence.

A Great Lifestyle Savings Inclusion Worth Communicating

For many people their role, salary and company culture are not the only factors to think about when considering a job or career move, the benefits package and additional so called ‘perks’ that come with the job are becoming as important. Candidates more and more are tending to favour the employer that provide great and relevant employee benefits.
The benefits package can therefore set your company apart when it comes to attracting top talent and retaining the best staff. This is supported by recent research commissioned by VideoDoc, the leading online doctor, where it was revealed that 65% of those surveyed said that if offered free online GP cover, it would influence their decision to work with one company over another.
If you want your company to retain and attract that talent, and the aim is to achieve a more engaged, healthier, happier workforce, they need to know about the benefits that are available. Therefore finding the most effective channels within your organisation to communicate this is as important as offering the benefits package in the first place. So how do you achieve this?
Firstly, because people respond differently to various communication styles, it is sensible to gain insight into the people in your own organisation and how they best engage with company information.
Start by creating a written strategy for employee benefits communications including objectives, goals and employee needs by audience group.

Once this is written, you will need to look at established communications channels within your organisation and compare which one meets the different audience groups requirements.

  • Several approaches that reinforce each other is most likely to get results.
  • Create a special section on the company’s internal website for HR related matters, that perhaps provides information about bank holiday days, entitlements and leave request forms all with the aim to drive traffic to the page. Here you can also promote and highlight different benefits the company offers.
  • Include information on the benefit scheme on the internal newsletter or e-zine with a link taking the employee directly to the information or sign-up page.
  • Adding incentives to the communication and call to action can be effective and increase the open rates of company update emails and newsletters.
  • Think about the content that is important or interesting to the workforce and tailor the topics to this. People are busy, but they have time for something interesting or relevant.

Wrkit clients and their employees have access to a number of superb employee benefits and wellbeing resources. We are always available to support your internal messaging and to ensure all our clients have an engaged and motivated workforce. For more information please email us at info@wrkit.com

Wrkit clients have free access to see a GP online with VideoDoc, this can be found within the Wrkit Lifestyle Savings module.

Author: Nicki Labram, Head of Communications, VideoDoc

There’s No Better Benefit Than Health

The way in which we receive healthcare hasn’t changed significantly over the past 100 years. With the average waiting time for patients to see a GP on the rise, and with our increasingly “on-demand” society, it is little wonder that patients and employers are turning to online doctor alternatives.

New research commissioned by VideoDoc, revealed that almost 45% of employees said they do not receive any healthcare benefits from their employer. Of those who do, as many as 43% state this is insufficient to cover the cost of their private health insurance.  Furthermore, over half (52%) of people questioned had delayed seeking medical advice as they were worried about taking time off work. The research also found that more than a quarter of people (27%) admitted that the most likely reason for having to take a day off work would be for a GP appointment – with one in five going on to say they had actually used a full day of annual leave in order to see their GP.

Where there was a fear of having to admit the need to see a GP during ‘office hours’, the national poll showed that excuses started to creep into the workplace with ‘lies about train delays’ or ‘having to work from home to look after a sick child’. The NHS themselves say that 60% of everything during an in-surgery visit in general practice can be dealt with over the telephone and this is before you add the benefit of a secure video consultation platform and specially trained doctors.

Online doctor services such as VideoDoc are bringing the doctor’s house call into the 21st century, offering timely, safe and effective online healthcare services. There are huge advantages for people who work within conventional office hours in a location that is often some distance from home. This smart solution means people will no longer have to take time off for GP appointments. They can access the service 8am – 10pm, 7 days a week.

So-called “sick days” are resulting in millions of lost working days each year, costing the UK economy £100billion a year (CIPD) and the Irish economy €1.5billion a year (IBEC). On average, employees are absent for six-and-a-half days every year with the main cause of a sick day being ‘minor’ illness. Providing on-demand access to an online GP for immediate diagnosis, and swift prescribing of necessary medication could play an important and innovative role in bringing these figures down.

For Wrkit clients and their employees this on-demand service is readily available. Within the Wrkit Lifestyle Savings module employees can avail of VideoDoc services for up to six months free of charge.

“This is a great service for us to be providing within the platform and we are delighted to be working with VideoDoc. The service compliments our other wellbeing resources, helping our clients nurture a healthier and more engaged workforce.” – Peter Jenkinson, Business Development Director, Wrkit 

For more information about Wrkit and VideoDoc get in touch at info@wrkit.com

Author: Nicki Labram, Head of Communications, VideoDoc

 

How NEAT is your workforce?

As obesity and related disease increases globally, so too do the associated costs incurred by employers and governments. When it comes to exercise and activity the Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. For many employees however, it is difficult to meet this recommendation.

Increasingly employer organisations are implementing wellness initiatives designed to help tackle the obesity epidemic which allow employees to incorporate exercise into their working day – reduced gym membership, complimentary exercise classes, corporate exercise challenges etc. There are big business benefits associated with having a fit workforce but what about a NEAT workforce?

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than those done with the specific intention of developing or maintain fitness. Movement of some level is a necessity for everyone, however a sedentary lifestyle mean adults of similar sizes can have markedly variable NEAT levels – up to 2,000 calories per day.

Simply moving more and sitting less can boost a person’s health whether they are a couch potato or leading a more active life. There are easy ways to incorporate NEAT activities at work and behaviours which should be encouraged. Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Make company-wide ‘appointments to move’ – Sitting for extended periods of time can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Encourage on the hour ‘walk abouts’.
  2. Invest in company pedometers – a lot of your team might already have these built into their mobile phones but providing company sponsored pedometers means you can set team targets and daily goals.
  3. Use the stairs – use posters and other communication channels to get people choosing the stairs.
  4. Meetings on foot – walking and standing meetings are becoming increasingly common. If there is an option to get people moving in their own meetings encourage that behaviour.
  5. Make sitting a strength – invest in some stability balls, these are great to help build core strength and burn calories.
  6. Offer standing desks – a few standing hot desks dotted throughout the office space will give people the option for a real change of scenery and will help improve their NEAT.

Author: Sara Glynn –Wrkit Marketing Executive