A brief introduction 

Working from home can be a challenge. It’s uncomfortable and unfamiliar for many of us – especially when we’ve become so accustomed to the structure of working in an office, as well as the added motivation of having hard-working colleagues all around us. While it may be an adjustment, there’s actually a surprising number of unexpected benefits when it comes to working from home. Working in your own workspace means you have absolute freedom. You can choose the perfect setup that will tailor your space to fit your needs, ensure optimal efficiency and help you maintain your physical health.

That’s why having a keen ability to apply office ergonomics at home can help you maximize your workspace. While many of us are not naturally gifted with a built-in knowledge of design and ergonomics, there are some really simple steps that will put you on the right path. Here we’ll give you a good start with our top-of-the-line tips to utilize your workstation in a way that will be best for your productivity and for your health.

What exactly is office ergonomics?

Don’t let the unfamiliar term fool you, it’s actually a very simple concept which can be executed easily. Basically, it’s all about the science of fitting a workplace to a user’s needs while increasing efficiency and productivity, as well as reducing discomfort in a workspace. Think of ergonomics as ‘comfort design’ or arranging a workspace in a specific way for your particular requirements. It’s about making a space as user-friendly as possible and, at home, that user is you.

Your needs

Because it’s your home office, it’s all about your necessities and your requirements. Creating a positive work environment that will cater to your capabilities and daily work tasks is the ultimate goal. You want to feel comfortable, organized and know that it is truly a productive space.

Equipped for ultimate organization 

Different job tasks require different setups. For example, if your work is largely tech-based and involves a lot of graphic design, you may want to opt for a bigger monitor that takes up more desk space so that you can perform tasks with greater ease and speed. If you have a number of different clients, each aligned with a different company and their own varying expectations, you may want to have your calendar and weekly planner front and centre on the desk to refer back to every now and again and make sure you’re up to date with all the different deadlines. 

Think about the materials and kind of storage space you need. If you do a lot of office administration and need more space for filing and document storage, that’s an important thing to consider when using the space to fit your own priorities. It’s also really important to focus on small things like adequate lighting or how close your desk is to power outlets and the printer. These small things will make your life a little bit easier, we guarantee it. Also try to check that you have adequate access to WiFi before you choose your workroom so that you aren’t slowed down by slow-loading internet pages and poor connection – that’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out.


The holy trinity of productivity is simple: privacy, organization and comfort. Without those three things, your focus can easily be inhibited and you’ll find your motivation waning.

1. Privacy 

Above all, it’s important to settle on a place where you can shut out all distractions and focus on the task at hand. Try turning an empty room into a home office. If that’s not an option and you’re going to work in the dining room instead, make sure you inform the rest of the house that this will be your working space for the time being and set personal boundaries during your work hours.

Be sure to identify and cut out all distractions beforehand. Find what derails you and eliminate the causes. For example, if it’s the TV, chores on your to-do list or distractions from your family as they go about their at-home life, understand that this could hinder your work and come up with a solution to minimize the impact.

2. Organization

Create an organizational system. File, colour-code and use sticky notes – whatever works for you. Sometimes, just seeing that things are filed, categorized and in the right place could make you feel less stressed and create a better work environment.

Now that you’ve got your workspace arranged and in order, you can also give these 6 simple office hacks a try in order to increase your productivity and enhance your work drive using these other helpful techniques

3. Comfort 

This is potentially the most important of all three. Not only is comfort essential for your mental function and focus, but also for your physical health. Wherever you set up your home office, try to find a space that offers a comfortable workspace that does not sit your body in an stressful position or one that may be difficult to stay in for a number of hours per day. 

An uncomfortable workplace can place strain on your lower back, neck and shoulders. Below we give you our best tips to reduce strain and daily pain by implementing these handy tweaks to your office setup. This is really where the tools of office ergonomics come in. Physical comfort using design is the goal. This can help you decrease the risk of developing strain injuries or any unwanted discomfort from work-related pain.

Reducing pain using ergonomics 


Height and desk spacing 

Choose a space that has a desk which will be the right height for you and that will allow you to work in a comfortable position. While it may seem super appealing to spend the day in your pajamas working in bed, it’s important to resist that temptation. This can be burdensome on your back and, if you repeatedly maintain the bad posture that comes from working in bed, it can cause prolonged lower back or neck pain. 

Ideally, a home office with a sturdy desk and chair is first prize. You’ll need a desk of the right height or otherwise an adjustable chair so that you are able to rest your arms on the table comfortably. A table that is too high or too low can cause discomfort, so try aiming for one that’s about 70cm to 76cm. If you don’t have a home office, however, the height of a typical kitchen or dining room table is about right and can be used to substitute a desk if you’re happy to set up your home office there.

It may also help to place the monitor or laptop directly in front of you on the desk, roughly an arm’s length away. The screen should be at or slightly below eye level to avoid neck tension from straining to see the monitor. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, remember to adjust your environment to suit your body and never the other way around. 

Your chair and footrest 

According to Mayo Clinic, posture is of primary importance. Be sure to choose a chair that allows you to keep your back in an upright position, supports your spinal curves and allows you to rest your feet flat on the floor. If you need to raise your chair in order to accommodate your desk height, then rest your feet comfortably on a footrest to avoid adopting bad posture. If you’re still feeling any discomfort after following these tips, try getting a foam or blow-up backrest to line your chair. 

Your keyboard, mouse and phone

Place your mouse and keyboard within easy reach to avoid unnecessary stretching. When using your mouse and keyboard, you should be able to keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows. 

Also try to keep key objects such as your phone, calendar and stationery relatively close by to minimize reaching. If you use your phone throughout most of the day to take calls, get yourself a headset or speaker system to avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder and causing neck pain.

Take advantage of your perks

With all the technicalities of creating a perfect, productive workspace, it’s important to still remember to relax and have fun from time to time. While you may miss the comfort and security of an office environment, being at home has its many perks. 

Now you’ve got the freedom to use half an hour for yourself during the day and take a quick break from your work to do something fun like try a new peanut butter and rice crispy treat recipe. Maybe even do a quick, no-equipment exercise session. When you work at an office it feels like there’s never enough time for yourself and sometimes the feeling stays with you, even when you get home. Take advantage of being in your own space and in control of your own time. You deserve it.

Another handy tip

Beware of what some people are now calling ‘work creep’. Maximizing productivity and remaining focused is essential, but it’s necessary to set boundaries too. Moving your career into your home space can be an invasive presence in your everyday at-home life.

It’s easy to answer emails, pick up work calls and try to quickly finish drafting that last bit of a brief when your work is always right in front of you. That’s why you have to be strict with yourself by creating designated work hours and practise sticking to them. A healthy working schedule is a large part of maintaining a healthy mind and healthy relationships. 

WellBe’s word on the subject 

Now that you’ve got your understanding of office ergonomics down, it’s time to get your body and mind functioning at the same optimal level. That means taking a good look at your physical and mental health. At WellBe&Co we want you to have the most focused, motivated outlook possible when it comes to your health – which is why we want to share our 6 steps to establishing a realistic fitness plan. We also break down the key to mental health maintenance by exploring the brain-body connection in this informative blog. 

Not only that, but we also provide handy meal ideas, at-home exercises and daily “think well” tidbits of advice on our Instagram page. You’ll get a different one for each day of the lockdown to keep you on-track and excited about your fitness journey. 

If that’s not enough and you want to get even more involved, contact us here to start the process of developing your own personalised health and wellness program. We truly do want you to be “Happier. Healthier. Wellthier”.


By Andrea Bursey (MSc. Dietetics)

These days a trip to the grocery store can be more confusing than anything – you’re faced with so many different food options with an array of exciting and appealing claims. Welcome to the “free from” era, a time when food products display more claims and callouts about what they don’t contain compared to what they do. Examples of “free from” claims are gluten-free, free from sugar, free from colourants, and the list goes on. It’s so easy to notice these claims and overlook the entire nutritional profile of a snack food or ready meal. 

How to read food labels

Food labels and nutrition tables don’t have to be overwhelming. They can be used as valuable tools to guide us in making the best choice. It’s important to understand how to read and interpret food labels and use them to your benefit. When comparing the nutritional content of food, always look at the nutritional content per 100 g – this helps you compare apples with apples. The serving size is also important to look at as this is the recommended amount that you should have in one sitting.

Health claims like “low in fat” and “fat-free” displayed on packaged foods may lead you to believe that these products are great choices, however, these foods are often loaded with fillers like sugar and carbohydrates to improve taste and texture. The ingredient list displays quantities of ingredients from the highest to the lowest amount. The closer “sugar” is to the top of the ingredient list, the higher the sugar content. Sugar is sometimes listed using other words: cane sugar, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, syrup, honey, galactose, lactose, maltose, maltodextrin, rice syrup, corn sweetener and xylitol.

(Looking for a sweet snack, check out this recipe for dark chocolate peanut butter love bites – high in love and low in sugar).

The consumption of excess salt can negatively affect your health as well as result in water retention and bloating. Look out for other names for high sodium ingredients: celery salt, garlic salt, meat/yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, (MSG), onion salt, rock salt, sea salt, sodium, sodium ascorbate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium nitrate/nitrite, stock cubes, vegetable salt.

Avoid food products that have a very long ingredient list of unfamiliar, processed ingredients. Try to choose products with fresh ingredients and minimal additives and preservatives. A shorter shelf life also shows you that a product is a fresher and healthier option.  


Guideline to understanding food labels

Nutrient (per 100 g) 

Best choice:

Sodium < 400 mg 

Saturated fat < 3 g

Total fat < 10 g

Trans fat Trace/0

Sugar < 10 g

Fibre >3 g

Hygiene during covid 19


A brief overview

These past few weeks have changed life as we know it, and this shift is one we’ve all felt, not just in South Africa, but across the world.

While the reality of this situation has been difficult to confront at times, there’s a light in all of this – the unbelievable way that people have responded to this chaos. There have been some incredible developments as people have surprised one another, made real gains with the lessons they’ve learned and formed habits that will last them a lifetime.

Rather than focusing on the things that are out of our control, it’s essential that we keep in mind the progress we’ve made instead. The power of positive thinking is vital, now more than ever. That’s why we at WellBe take some time to discuss the breakthrough habits people have harnessed during these last few weeks and all the small achievements we’ve seen come to light.

The 5 Most Important Lessons We’ve Gained

Even for the ultimate optimist, this pandemic has really put people to the test. Things such as a sense of security and structure in daily routine have most likely been disrupted and scrambled in several different ways. “Normal” may even seem impossible to return to at this point. 

We know dramatic shifts like this can be strenuous and unsettling, but amidst this mix of emotions and confusion, we hope you see the good that can be found too. 

The lockdown has given everyone an unsuspecting gift in all of this – the gift of time. People have been able to learn lessons that would have otherwise gone unnoticed in the rush of our daily lives. Now, we have no choice but to go back to basics, and to focus on what’s really important – our health, on our healing and our connection to our community and loved ones. Even if that does involve baking banana bread twice a week. 

1. Health and lifestyle changes 

If there’s one thing we tend to neglect when life gets busy, it’s our health. What we’ve continued to regularly and easily neglect has now been brought front and center, with all this newfound time to dedicate towards our wellbeing. There has been a need for a new list of priorities and personal health seems to be right at the top for many people during this pandemic.  

While we never seemed to have a moment to spare before, for better or worse, everything’s changed. And so have people! Amidst all the chaos and distraction, we’ve been given the opportunity to care for our own physical and nutritional health, and we’ve taken that opportunity in stride.

Now, more than ever, people are making the effort to exercise, to try new recipes and to finally sit down and enjoy a hearty meal with their families. Healthy eating has even been shown to improve mood and mental health, which is why it’s a great thing to see during a time like this.

The most challenging part has been the self-discipline that all this requires. Yet people have surprised themselves once again. Throughout the lockdown we’ve seen more dedication than ever before. Everyday people across South Africa get up, get their gym clothes on and commit themselves to a full-blown, at-home exercise routine

Not only have people started taking the time to learn how to look after their bodies and health, but they’ve enjoyed it too. Self-isolation has allowed us to form a strong foundation for our new routines, so that when the lockdown comes to an end, our healthy habits don’t have to. And if you have put on a few pounds during this lockdown period, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones. The important part of all of this is that we are focusing on our health and feeding our bodies with nutritional goodness, in whatever form that might come in. 

2. Mental health and self-love

Self-love is the beginning of every health and fitness journey. 

If you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s hard to feel good about the healthy habits that you’re forming – and even harder to make them stick. Luckily, there have been more and more people trying to use these last few weeks to self-reflect, relax and discover the ins-and-outs of maintaining mental health.

Despite the pressure of feeling closed-in and stuck in one space, we’ve seen people adapt remarkably and turn the situation around, instead using this time to care for their own mental health and their own healing. 

There have been countless people who have taken to meditation, yoga and practicing healthy sleeping habits in order to rediscover the lessons of self-love that may have been lacking in their daily lives before. After all, number six on the self-care 101 guideline is meditation. The importance of small, daily activities like this is unexpectedly helpful in guiding us on our path to self-improvement. 

Sometimes, we tend to see self-care as being selfish, and not as a top priority in our full-of-stress lives – but it’s actually the opposite. It may have taken a pandemic but, finally, we’ve seen people stop, catch their breath and focus on self reflection, mental health and healing.

3. Hygienic habits

It’s taken until now, but we’re finally seeing people become aware and intentional when it comes to personal hygiene. The changes are amazing and daily behaviour has slowly shifted towards enforcing these healthy habits. 

People are taking care to sanitize their hands, cough into their elbows and wash their hands properly – something that has been surprisingly lacking before. Hopefully, when all of this is over, some of the hygiene habits we’ve picked up in order to protect ourselves during the pandemic will stay with us. 

Hygiene during covid 19

4. Transforming technology and working from home

Zoom. Netflix Party. Touchless payment systems. The sky’s the limit. Companies and small businesses across the globe have adapted to this new way of functioning, and the developments in every-day technology have showcased some unexpected examples of great innovation

Who would have predicted that a ten-person video chat with coworkers would become the daily norm? As people have started adjusting to working from home, they’ve become more willing and able to try out different methods of communication and have adapted to new forms of technology. Even some of the elderly folks and grandparents have started to discover the joys of using Facetime (here’s looking at you, gran gran). Universities and schools have made the big leap and committed to transforming their teaching to make lessons available online. 

We’ll find ourselves returning to a world more open to alternative approaches to work, learning and communication – and hopefully a bit more tech-savvy too.

5. Connection and community

Throughout South Africa people seem to be focusing on the same fundamental things in their lives – health, family and connection to community. 

We’re learning how to stay in touch with their friends and families, no matter what the distance in between us may be. Support networks and connections are becoming more important than they’ve ever been and people are working to help one another through this difficult time like never before. 

There’s been an outbreak of support and love. We’ve seen communities come together to help the elderly, kindness shown to the poor and homeless, and our healthcare professionals band together and take this challenge on, despite the risks. 

There’s a greater sense of solidarity, community, compassion and kindness – more than we ever stopped to show in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives before.

WellBe’s Two Cents

Here at WellBe&Co we want to keep you connected and in the loop. With regular blog posts and social media updates, we’ll share our top tips for health, wellness and mind-and-body management. 

Follow our daily Instagram updates for recipes, daily exercise routines and our “think well” tidbits of advice. We’ve also made this handy coronavirus survival kit with life-saving meals and at-home exercise guides. 

Want to get more involved? Contact us here for your own personalised health and wellness program. 


By Sarah Braithwaite, Neuroscience-based Life and Integrative Health Coach of MindSight.

An introduction to the article

A holistic perspective on mental health explores the neuroscience of the brain body connection and practical tools to both manage and prevent mental illness. This article discusses the role of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in the body, and how tools such as mindfulness, human connection, purposeful living, and nutrition influence one’s state of being. Mental health, is a topic that is finally being deconstructed of its identity around stigmatization, and entering a new paradigm of understanding where people are no longer victims of a diagnosis but instead have tools to proactively manage their environment and alleviate symptoms. 

The brain body connection

Recent neuroscientific evidence has made abundantly clear that our previously distorted view that the brain and body are separate entities, is in fact false. According to Dr Tara Swart, Neuroscientist and Coach, the brain and body operate within one system where neurology and physiology are both intrinsically linked. The notion that mental health is only symptomatic of what is happening in the brain, is incorrect, especially since serotonin, a very vital mood stabilizing neurotransmitter, is in fact mostly produced in one’s gut, not one’s brain. Yes, you read correctly – up to as much as 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin generates a sense of wellbeing which is essential to human functionality and can be boosted naturally by the consumption of fruits.

(Check out this blog on effective ways to improve your gut health).

Fascinating research by American stem cell Biologist Dr Bruce Lipton, further endorses the mind-body relationship. His medical research shows that our emotions and thoughts are altering our gene expression within our DNA sequence. New ways of thinking suggest that chronic suffers or borderline persons with depression or anxiety in addition to prescribed medical treatment, should prioritise nutrition, exercise, human connection, mindfulness, and meaning/purpose within their lives. With our perception of stress becoming increasingly challenging to manage, it is imperative for individuals to take ownership of emotional management and mental health before the arrival of a diagnosis. 

(Read: 4 simple ways to manage anxiety in the workplace)

The happy hormones and their role in mental health

Let us consider the most imperative mental health game players amongst the neurotransmitters, namely serotonin already mentioned, and dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine relates to the reward centre of the brain as we produce it when something ‘feels good’. Functional, healthy human beings rely on a constant stream of dopamine production. To obtain it sustainably one should be engaging in genuine meaningful and purposeful life activities. 

Think about your career, family life, hobbies, passions – do any of these generate a sense of valuable contribution to the world, hold real significance, or feel meaningful to you? For one this may be a high-powered job, and for another a love of gardening. When we are unfulfilled with authentic meaning and purpose, our brain will search for more dopamine in unhealthy ways, which manifests as addiction and/or mental illness. 

Research shows that depression is evident in retired business men and women, who’s career-less identity prompts a loss of purpose in the world. Fast ‘dopamine kicks’ are very evident in social media where a single ‘like’ of a picture can cause a cascade of dopamine rushes, however, this is short lived and dangerous to some. Sustainable engagement in meaningful activities is essential to mental health and wellbeing, and because the bulk of one’s time is spent at work or with family, these two areas should be the driving sources.

Oxytocin, is the other important neurotransmitter, produced abundantly during connections – and no, not technology connections, but real human to human connection. This neurotransmitter allows us to trust one another, which is the basis of healthy relationships. Science has shown that for optimal mental health, one should have at least two meaningful connections a day, such as a coffee catch up, a walk and talk with a friend, or a positive conversation with a coworker. As humans we are wired for connection and cannot survive without it. With technology ‘connecting’ us more than ever globally, ironically loneliness is on the rise as becoming one of the biggest contributors to mental and physical health. 

Tools such as mindfulness practice, stress management, nutrition, maintaining healthy connections, and meaningful activities, are all imperative in their role of influencing neurotransmitters and biochemistry in the body. How we think, behave, manage emotions, eat, and move all have a huge impact on our production of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, and because of the research of epigenetics (mentioned above) we cannot solely blame our genetic history on unwanted outcomes. 

Mindfulness for mental health

Mindfulness is a scientifically validated, non-associative religious practice that has transformative effects not only on mental wellbeing, but on immune system regulation and functioning of the brain. Mindfulness can reduce anxiety, and in recent studies demonstrated the successful decline in recurrent depressive episodes of diagnosed patients. 

Mindfulness practice brings the central nervous system into homeostasis, improving emotional regulation, and minimizes the prominence of the fear centre of the brain known as the amygdala. Fear, anxiety and stress connected to the amygdala are influential in the delicate balance of ‘threat’ and ‘reward’ in the brain which in turn affects one’s dopamine levels and overall mental state. 

Nutritional quality is vitally important to mental health in that the mind gut communication occurs via the vagus nerve, and both overall gut health and the microbiome determine factors that influence mental health outcomes. 

Equally important is stress management and exercise in reducing the stress hormone cortisol, and maintaining healthy levels of dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. 


Reference List:

Chopra, D., M.D, Tanzi, R. PH.D. (2015). Super Genes: The hidden keys to total well-being. Penguin Random House UK.

Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, K., & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation: Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 564–570.

Lipton, B. H. (2005). The biology of belief: Unleashing the power of consciousness, matter and miracles. Mountain of Love/Elite Books.

Swart, T., Chisholm, K., & Brown, P. (2015). Neuroscience for leadership: Harnessing the brain gain advantage