By Tony Glass
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot”
With this song, many of us bid goodbye to the old and welcome in the New Year. A new year that is filed with hope, promise, expectation and a large degree of apprehension. No matter how or where you celebrated the dawn of 2017 – watching the ball drop or asleep in bed – the reality is that in a day or two you will find yourself returning to work after some extended time off, a kilogram or two or eight heavier, and struggling to resume your regular routine.
Now that 2017 stretches ahead like an artist’s blank canvas, the question is what to do first? Do you sit or stand at your desk and plot out the next 12 months? A quick search for holiday specials? Join the local gym and vow to stay away alcohol and chocolate forever? All the above?
It can get a bit overwhelming. Experience tells us that there is an exceptionally high failure rate for all those sincere New Year resolutions; that by lunchtime on the first day back the salad from home will end up in the bin, that you will beat the January blues by going for a quick drink—just one though—and by February the gym visits will come to an abrupt halt.
Everyone from Buzzfeed to Facebook to your actual friends is offering the hottest tips regarding how best to detox, diet, exercise and organise your takeover of the universe before the year is out. The Everest of emails that awaits you is littered with recommendations of how a new and by default, improved you, is just a few quick easy steps away.
The pressure escalates and suddenly it is all too much. Something isn’t right.
And then your work suffers. Data from Rightsteps, an organisation dedicated to providing UK businesses access to a range of employee wellbeing services, shows that stress-related illness accounts for the largest category of employee sickness: 20% of long term absence is caused by stress-related mental health. On the other hand, a study in Ireland found that four out of five employees point to a positive link between their health and wellbeing and their company‘s productivity.
Absence costs UK business in the region of £1,000 per employee per annum according to Rightsteps. Such a figure suggests that employers and employees need to pay attention to their wellbeing, making it the theme for this year’s canvas.
How do we that?
By starting with the simple truth that wellbeing must be given time to develop. Understand that wellbeing encompasses everything from your mental and physical health to the overall state of your being. It is not something that you address once and it’s done; maintaining wellbeing is a lifelong pursuit and as such requires consistent and regular attention.
Developing a positive state of wellbeing means taking care of yourself, and you can start with these easy steps:
- If staying hydrated beats the 3 o’clock slump – drink more water.
- Eating or drinking your weight in chocolate and alcohol isn’t healthy; practice moderation, abstinence at a push.
- Sitting all day on the gluteus maximus – whether on our commute, at the office or in front of the TV or computer – is easy, but not good for our bodies. Go for a walk at lunch, take the stairs or get off your bus/train a stop earlier.
Being well is not limited to physical health. Mental health is equally important. And while the mental component of health is garnering more attention and focus than ever before, we still have a long way to go. But awareness—especially self-awareness—of our mental state is crucial if we are to enjoy a sense of wellbeing.
Not too sure how to promote wellbeing at work?
The European Network for Workplace Health and Promotion website is a great place to start. The ENWHP was established in 1996 and offers advice, tools and guidance to help organisations improve workplace health and well-being and reduce the impact of work-related ill health on the European workforce.
Many of the great artists, the old masters, had patrons, people who believed in them and who provided incentives for the artist to complete a canvas. Skillsoft is offering just such an incentive –a complimentary 7 day trial of all books in our wellbeing collection for UK readers. Register today and you’ll automatically be entered into a prize draw to win your chance to de-stress at a luxurious spa day.* But hurry, this offer closes on 25th January.
*Terms and conditions apply. The promotion is open to all UK residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees of Skillsoft or SumTotal.
Tony Glass is General Manager, EMEA, at Skillsoft.