Health and Wellbeing when Working

This article will help you to live a healthy life and promote wellbeing for everyone at your workplace, whether you are working onsite, remotely or from home. It explains the key considerations when working from home, how to identify and report risks and hazards when working from home and helps you to maintain productivity, motivation and a positive mindset.

Health and Wellbeing when Working

What you’ll learn

  • Understand health and wellbeing
  • Behaviours for a healthy life
  • Methods for dealing with stress and anxiety
  • Promote health and wellbeing

Content Summary

Definition of health and wellbeing
Why is health and wellbeing important?
Myths surrounding health and wellbeing?
Habits that contribute to good health and wellbeing
Consider the following case study
What is stress, anxiety and depression?
What situations can create stress?
Identify signs of stress and anxiety
How to cope with stress and anxiety?
How to help others cope with stress and anxiety?
Consider the following case study
Your responsibility
Evaluation
Conclusion
Resources

Your health and wellbeing are important factors to the success and happiness that you experience in your life. This article will help you live a healthy life and promote wellbeing for everyone at your workplace, whether you’re working onsite, remotely or from home.

At the end of this article you will be able to:

  • define health and wellbeing
  • identify the importance of health and wellbeing
  • demonstrate behaviours for a healthy life
  • identify methods for dealing with stress and anxiety
  • promote wellbeing for everyone at work

Definition of health and wellbeing

Health is a combination of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease and illness.

Health and wellbeing are strongly linked to happiness and satisfaction and reflects how we feel about ourselves and our life. It impacts the way we behave at home and in the workplace.

Definition of health and wellbeing

Physical wellbeing

Physical health is the condition of your body and considers everything from the absence of disease through to your level of fitness.

Physical health can be influenced by the following factors:

  • Lifestyle: diet, physical activity, and behaviour.
  • Human body: genetics and physiology may make it easier or harder to achieve good physical health.
  • Environment: our physical surroundings at home or in the workplace.
  • Healthcare: healthcare can help prevent and treat illness and make it easier for us to maintain good physical health.

Mental wellbeing

Mental health is a state of wellbeing where you realise your own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, and are able to contribute at work, home and in your community.

Mental health can be influenced by the following factors:

  • Self-esteem: the value we place on ourselves, our positive self-image and sense of self-worth.
  • Awareness: understanding our own and others unique qualities and how we face challenges and opportunities.
  • Conduct: the way we behave in different places and situations.
  • Physical health: your physical health can positively or negatively impact on your mental health.
  • Grief and loss: the way we handle situations when something or someone is taken away from us.
  • Feeling safe: when we feel safe, included and respected by others we are far more likely to feel satisfied.

Social wellbeing

Social wellbeing is the extent to which you feel a sense of belonging and connection with others. It is the feeling of being supported by others at work, home and in your
community.

Social wellbeing can be influenced by the following factors:

  • Lifestyle: the choices we make each day, including what to do and what not to do.
  • Interaction: when we treat others well it has a positive impact on our own and others’ wellbeing.
  • Value systems: honesty, integrity and doing the right thing for the greater good of everyone.
  • Traditions: events, rituals and customs bring people together and creates happiness.
  • Beliefs: alignment of beliefs within a society builds trust, faith and confidence.

Why is health and wellbeing important?

Good health and wellbeing are important for everyone. Health and wellbeing have wide-ranging impacts on individuals, businesses, families and communities.

Individuals

Feelings of wellbeing are fundamental to our health, enabling us to overcome difficulties and achieve what we want in life.

The benefits of good health and wellbeing for an individual includes:

  • increased likelihood to take personal responsibility.
  • better feelings towards self and others.
  • improved handling of risks and opportunities.
  • reduced anxiety and stress.
  • better decision making.
  • increased happiness and satisfaction.

Organizations

A safe, healthy and productive workplace enables people to do their best work.

The benefits of good health and wellbeing for an organisation includes:

  • improved morale.
  • better teamwork and social networks.
  • increased productivity.
  • reduced absenteeism.
  • higher job satisfaction.
  • stronger engagement.

Families and communities

When families and communities are healthier and happier, everyone is enabled to grow better relationships and become more prosperous.

The benefits of good health and wellbeing for families and communities includes:

  • higher feeling of trust and acceptance.
  • stronger network between family, friends and community.
  • less stress and conflict.
  • better emotional support and understanding of others.
  • increased economic wellbeing.
  • ability to build prosperous communities.

Which of the below statements do you consider to be true or false?

  • Health is a combination of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease and illness: True
  • Health and wellbeing are strongly linked to happiness and satisfaction: True
  • Health and wellbeing have wide-ranging impacts on individuals, businesses, families and communities: True
  • Everyone has a duty to take steps towards ensuring their own health and wellbeing and that of others: True

Myths surrounding health and wellbeing?

Before we look at the behaviours for a healthy life let’s deal with some of the myths surround health and wellbeing.

Few people experience serious health issues in their lifetime

This is a myth because:

  • almost everyone experiences poor physical health (e.g. disease, illness or injury) or mental health issues (e.g. anxiety, depression or substance abuse) in their lifetime.
  • the World Health Organisation reports that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental health conditions at some point in their lives.
  • healthcare systems spend billions of dollars every year supporting health and wellbeing conditions, many which could have been prevented by healthier living.

Poor health and wellbeing mainly affect the old and weak

This is a myth because:

  • health and wellbeing do not discriminate based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation.
  • health departments worldwide report mental illness is most prevalent in young adults.
  • suicide, due to mental health issues, is one of the major reasons for deaths amongst teenagers worldwide.

Poor mental health is only experienced by those who are dealing with trauma

This is a myth because whilst many mental health issues are caused by trauma there are many cases of mental health that are caused by anxiety, depression and substance abuse, not related to trauma.

If somebody is experiencing poor health they will ask for help

This is a myth because:

  • many people have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude when it comes to health and wellbeing.
  • most people with a mental illness do not access help due to fear of experiencing a negative reaction from others.
  • women are more likely than men to ask for help and use health and wellbeing support services.

While most people recover from illness and injury, those with mental health issues are doomed

This is a myth because:

  • mental health conditions are not a life sentence.
  • more than 2 in 3 people who suffer mental health conditions recover and make great contributions to their communities.
  • healthcare systems provide an extensive range of support for physical and mental health conditions.

If somebody has a health and wellbeing issue it’s their responsibility to fix it

This is a myth because everyone has a role to play when it comes to promoting health and wellbeing at work, including the individual, work colleagues and the employer.

Habits that contribute to good health and wellbeing

Like most things in life, prevention is better than cure, particularly when it comes to our health and wellbeing.

Exercise and stay healthy

Exercise has been shown to improve your overall health and wellbeing as well as reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. Good physical health is related to better mental health, a healthy diet and good hydration. Limiting your consumption of alcohol or drugs and getting a good night’s sleep are also important factors.

Maintain good relationships

Maintaining good relationships is one of the most important factors to ensuring your health and wellbeing. This includes relationships with family, friends, work colleagues and others in the community. Putting time and energy into your relationships will create happiness and satisfaction for everyone involved.

Understand your strengths and limitations

We all have unique personal qualities that includes things we are good at and things that hold us back. It’s important to understand what we are really good at and recognise where we have limitations. We can then focus on using our strengths to contribute in purposeful ways.

Show concern for others

Being compassionate is about showing sympathy and concern for others. When we attend to the physical, mental or emotional concerns of others we are also contributing to our own health and wellbeing.

Showing compassion to others strengthens our relationships because everyone involved is able to build more trust, gain acceptance and obtain a deeper understanding of each other.

Help others

When we take time to listen, understand and help others, we create happiness and satisfaction for everyone involved. Contributing to others, no matter how small, increases social wellbeing.

Many people feel a sense of contribution through meaningful work, but this could also mean volunteering, helping a friend or performing small acts of kindness. Pleasant events can lead to positive experiences and boost our self-esteem.

Ask for help

If you are feeling unhappy, disconnected with others or struggling to cope with everyday life it’s important that you ask for help.

There are a wide-range of people who you can ask for help, including:

  • work colleagues, a supervisor or a senior manager.
  • human resources or a health and safety representative.
  • family member or a friend.
  • member of a community group.
  • local GP who can refer you to a specialist if required.
  • organisations that provide helplines and advice.

Consider the following case study

Patrick is one of many staff who have been asked to work from home due to a recent outbreak of a virus. Usually Patrick is one of the company’s biggest contributors to workplace culture and interacts with almost everyone at the office each day.

Since working from home, Patrick has been missing the face-to-face interactions and casual conversations that are a big part of his regular day at work. He’s mentioned to a colleague that he’s a little anxious about working from home and that he is already starting to feel lonely.

What should Patrick do to fix the issue he’s experiencing?

A. Remain quiet about the feelings he’s having
B. Let his manager know about his feelings of loneliness.
Correct Answer:
B. Let his manager know about his feelings of loneliness.
Answer Description:
While it’s good that Patrick communicated his feelings to a colleague, he should also alert his manager.

Anxiety and loneliness can lead to more serious issues if ignored. Patrick’s manager may be able to offer some support in how to reduce the feelings he’s experiencing due to the change of work environments.

Patrick should also be mindful of behaviours that can help his physical and mental health whilst undergoing this change as a way to maintain good health and wellbeing.

What is stress, anxiety and depression?

Stress is a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological or social situations) or internal (illness or from a medical procedure).

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress.

Depression refers to feelings of sadness or a low mood that lasts longer than two weeks and starts to get in the way of your everyday life. Keep in mind that depression is a condition that can only be properly diagnosed by a health professional.

What situations can create stress?

Everyone has different triggers for stress and stress is not always a bad thing.

Positive stress, within our coping abilities, can create excitement, improve performance and motivate us.

Negative stress (or distress) is perceived as outside of our coping abilities and can create anxiety, decrease performance and lead to depression and other forms of mental illness.

Work events that can create stress

  • Excessive workloads or unrealistic deadlines.
  • Inadequate skills, training or resources.
  • Poorly specified job role and responsibilities.
  • Unclear performance expectations.
  • Working in dangerous conditions or feeling unsafe.
  • Facing discrimination, harassment or bullying.
  • Lack of support.
  • Changing work environment or job roles.

Life events that can create stress

  • Death of a loved one.
  • Divorce, separation or breakup in a relationship.
  • Financial hardship.
  • Moving to a new home.
  • Chronic illness or injury (yourself or attending to others).
  • Anxiety, depression or substance abuse.
  • Traumatic events such as a natural disaster, violence or theft.

Identify signs of stress and anxiety

It’s important to know how to identify signs of stress and anxiety. This is harder than you think because most people don’t know they’re stressed until they’re reaching breaking point.

Emotional symptoms

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated and moody.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or losing control.
  • Difficulty relaxing or switching off.
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self- esteem).
  • Avoiding others.
  • Refusing reasonable requests.

Physical symptoms

  • Low energy.
  • Headaches, pains, nausea and upset stomach.
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Nervousness and shaking, sweaty hands.
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
  • Muscle tension, clenched jaw and grinding teeth.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Constant worrying.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Forgetfulness and disorganisation.
  • Inability to focus.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side.

How to cope with stress and anxiety?

Stress is a normal daily occurrence. When we are stressed it’s important to consider the impacts it has on our mind and body. We must also learn about the actions we can take to better cope with stressful situations.

Mind

  • Accept that you cannot control everything and that most things appear worse than they actually are.
  • Instead of aiming for perfection, just try to do your best and be proud of your achievements.
  • Maintain a positive attitude which means trying to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Understand the things that trigger your anxiety and make yourself aware of any patterns.

Body

  • Limit alcohol, caffeine and other drugs because they can increase anxiety and cause panic attacks.
  • Maintain a healthy diet, ensure you do not skip meals and always keep healthy snacks on hand.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep because when you are stressed your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Ensure you are getting regular exercise, preferably daily, because it helps you to feel good and maintain your health.

Action

  • Take regular breaks during the day and take deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
  • If you are dealing with a stressful situation, stop and slowly count to 10 or longer if necessary.
  • Take time out to relax and to clear your head using whichever technique works for you (e.g yoga, walking, music).
  • Talk to family and friends and let them know you are feeling overwhelmed and ask them to help you.
  • Seek help from your local GP or health professionals if you are struggling with stress and anxiety in your life.

How to help others cope with stress and anxiety?

If others are struggling with stress and anxiety in their life, you have a responsibility to help.

Don’t ignore it

Dealing with emotional issues is difficult. If you ignore it when someone is struggling with stress and anxiety, you are sending a message that you don’t care.

Be discreet

It’s best to speak to the person experiencing the stress and anxiety in a safe, private space. Keep calm and do your best to make them feel comfortable.

Be present and listen to what they say

Give the person your full attention and do not get distracted by phones, emails or text messages.

Some people may not want to talk much while others will speak openly. Always respect their wishes and resist any temptation to be overly curious about their situation.

Ask questions and practice active listening

Always ask if the person is okay, how they are feeling and what you can do to help. It’s important that the person feels supported and that you are available to help or assist them to get further help with the situation.

The key to good listening is not to pass judgement or to help the person determine what the problem might be. It’s important to fight the urge of offering advice based on your own experience, before fully understanding the unique situation the person is struggling with.

Know your limits as a helper

While helping somebody, you may find that you are unable to provide adequate support or do not feel comfortable trying to help them with their problem. If this is the case, it’s important that you indicate in a gentle and direct manner that other help is available.

You may like to refer to the Resources area of this course for some support services.

Report situations that compromise health and safety

Always have regard for your employer’s health and safety policies and ensure that you report situations where another colleague’s health and wellbeing is at risk. This may include referring the person to their supervisor, a senior manager, or a human resources or health and safety representative.

Consider the following case study

Anika works for a financial services firm. Her office has been shut down due to an outbreak of a virus and everybody is working from home. She’s not had face-to-face contact with any of her work colleagues or clients for several weeks.

Anika’s team mate Roberta, has noticed that Anika has missed calls and is very slow to respond to emails and live chat. There have even been times when Anika has missed important deadlines which is out of character.

In a recent conversation, Anika mentioned to Roberta that she’s struggling with working from home because of the constant demands from her children and elderly parents who live with her. She commented that work used to be an escape from her hectic home life but now it’s all becoming too much.

Anika made some passing comments about not being able to sleep and that she was feeling weak, tired and quite nervous about the whole situation.

How should Roberta approach the situation?

A. Ignore it and hope that it is just a passing phase
B. Ask Anika if she is okay
C. Listen to what Anika has to say
D. Start to tell Anika about all of her worries
E. Advise Anika to inform her manager
F. Let Anika know of other ways she can get help

Answer Description:
Anika has found working at home to be stressful and is showing signs of anxiety.

Roberta should ask Anika if she’s okay and listen carefully to Anika’s response. Roberta should advise Anika to tell her manager and encourage her to seek further help through her employer or other resources available to her.

If Roberta is comfortable, she could check-in with Anika a few days later to see if the situation is improved and if Anika has taken action.

If Roberta deems the situation to be serious then she should also raise her concerns with her manager.

If you are struggling with stress and anxiety at work, what should you do?

A. Choose to ignore it
B. Talk to family, a friend or a work colleague about it
C. Ask for help from your employer

Answer Description:
If you are experiencing stress and anxiety, it’s important to talk to others about your situation including a family member, friends or a work colleague.

You should also ask for help from your employer because they will want to help you with your feelings of stress and anxiety as to help you better cope with work-related tasks that may be contributing to this.

It’s good to let others know so they are aware of your situation and because it gives them a chance to better support you through difficult times.

Your responsibility

A safe, healthy and productive workplace enables people to do their best work.

You have a responsibility to contribute to the collective health and wellbeing of everyone at your workplace and the benefits include:

  • improved morale.
  • better teamwork and social networks.
  • increased productivity.
  • reduced absenteeism.
  • higher job satisfaction.
  • stronger engagement.

If you, or another colleague, are experiencing poor health and wellbeing, or are experiencing situations that are creating stress and anxiety, it’s important that you don’t ignore them, that you communicate with others, ask for help and report incidents to a manager, senior manager or health and safety representative.

We all have a responsibility to ensure a healthy, safe and productive work environment and a person’s health and wellbeing is a big part of this.

Evaluation

Question 1

Health is a combination of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease and illness. It’s strongly linked to happiness and satisfaction.

A. True
B. False
Correct Answer:
A. True
Answer Description:
Health is a combination of physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just the absence of disease and illness. It is strongly linked to happiness and satisfaction.

Question 2

What are some of the habits that contribute to good health and wellbeing?

A. Exercise and staying healthy
B. Maintaining good relationships
C. Understanding your strengths and limitations
D. Helping others
E. Asking for help
F. All of the above
Correct Answer:
F. All of the above
Answer Description:
Habits that contribute to good health and wellbeing
include:

  • exercise and staying healthy.
  • maintaining good relationships.
  • understanding your strengths and limitations.
  • helping others asking for help.
  • asking for help.

Question 3

If you’re experiencing poor health and wellbeing you can ask for help from your employer, a friend or family member, your local GP or organisations that provide helplines and advice.

A. True
B. False

Correct Answer:
A. True
Answer Description:
Asking for help is very important. If you’re experiencing poor health or wellbeing you should ask for help from your employer, a friend or family member, your local GP or organisations that provide helplines and advice.

Question 4

If you’re experiencing stress and anxiety and it’s affecting your health and wellbeing what should you do?

A. just ignore it and hope it goes away
B. Ask for help

Correct Answer:
B. Ask for helpAnswer Description:
Raising your health concerns and allowing other people to help you will ensure you are happier, healthier and able to contribute to your home and workplace more positively. It’s important to ask for help when you need it.

Question 5

If a work colleague is struggling with stress and anxiety what should you do?

A. Ask them if they’re okay
B. Do nothing.

Correct Answer:
A. Ask them if they’re okay
Answer Description:
If you think your colleague is struggling with stress and anxiety you should ask them if they’re okay.

Be prepared to:

  • be discreet.
  • be present.
  • ask questions and don’t rush in to fix it.
  • know your limits as a helper.
  • report situations that compromise health and safety.

Conclusion

You have successfully completed the health and wellbeing article.

You are now able to:

  • define health and wellbeing
  • identify the importance of health and wellbeing
  • demonstrate behaviours for a healthy life
  • identify methods for dealing with stress and anxiety
  • promote wellbeing for everyone at work.

Resources