Mental Health in South Africa

The role of the Work Environment plays in your mental health

October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa. This is not to be taken lightly, as South Africa is in a mental health crisis. Without even including statistics on those living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder among others, the prevalence of anxiety, depression and substance use challenges in the South African context is sitting at one in six according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). 40% of people living with HIV in South Africa have a diagnosable mental disorder. Dr Eugene Ellers a South African Psychiatrist believes that up to 6 million South Africans live with post-traumatic stress disorder. This research speaks to statistics in South Africa prior to the lockdown and pandemic.

We are a country plagued by generational trauma from a violent and oppressive political regime in our past, poverty, unemployment, inequality, racism, economic woes, lack of service delivery, load shedding, crime, gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, and xenophobia in our present. Consensus is that Covid-19, lockdowns and the pandemic have had profound effects on the mental illness faced by people in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation has determined that South Africans have had a 36.4% increase in anxiety disorder as well as a 38.7% increase in major depressive disorders since the pandemic. As mental health goes into decline and mental illness becomes a crisis, so does the prevalence of suicide increase and become a growing reality as a last resort for those who have nowhere else to turn. Suicide is the fourth most common cause of death among young people worldwide. Companies like Instagram try to hide the increase in suicide among young people, as a result of, using their platform. We need awareness about this reality, as the more we deny the problem, the less we talk about it. The less we talk about it, the greater the stigma. This will take a greater toll on people’s lives, deepening the crisis we will have on our hands. 

Men in South Africa are four times as likely as women to commit suicide, however more women are diagnosed with depression than men and that is not to say that women are more depressed, just that women are seeking help more than men, according to SADAG. South Africa has 23 suicides every day and 20 attempted suicides. That is one per hour. We have the third-highest suicide rate in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. Suicide is the leading cause of death in young South Africans aged 15 to 29. It has been found that 70 percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness. 75% of people globally will not seek help for their mental illness. The South African Medical Research Council has examined the statistics on suicide from a demographic perspective finding that white men are most likely to commit suicide followed by African men, Indian men and Coloured men. In terms of women it is White females, followed by Indian females, Coloured women and then Black females with the lowest rates.  

These are staggering figures pointing to a mental health crisis in South Africa. Although we have touched on the contributing factors such as unemployment to the mental health crisis, there are other citizens in the population who are actively employed. These people are just as likely to be suffering from mental illness due to many of the factors plaguing the South African psyche, however one differentiating factor is their ability to work and earn a living. Is the workplace a salve for mental illness, or is it yet another factor dragging us down?

The workplace can be a double-edged sword – contributing potentially to both mental wellness and mental ill health. Let’s look at the factors contributing to each side of the coin.

When work helps us thrive:

Being employed, doing work and earning a living can be a circumstance under which people will thrive. It is a resource financially and socially, our work feeds our identity, it boosts our self-esteem, self-efficacy and gives us a sense of purpose. 

When work has a dark side:

On the other hand, the workplace, the work we do, and the benefits associated may be found lacking and contribute to mental illness in the population. This could be through poor working conditions, toxic workplace cultures, remuneration and benefits that are found wanting and over identification with work – making work the central organising factor in our lives leaving no space for any other areas of our lives to thrive. 

We spend 80% of our lives working. This is why organisations, workplaces, and roles need to be better equipped to provide the kinds of environments that lead to thriving and deriving healthy benefits from work. Organisations that are not paying attention to mental health are failing to see the changes and disruptions brought on by Covid requiring more attention to mental health, the clear need for mental health interventions, and are waiting in vain for the world to return to normal. These organisations will get left behind. They are failing to change and attend to the real and pressing societal focus on mental health (Ratangee, 2021). 

The workplace, due to the amount of time we spend there and its nature, exposes us to stress. When we are exposed to stress, we can develop mental illness and that in turn breeds more stress which impacts further the intensity of our mental illness, and on it goes in a cycle. It is critical that as individuals we manage our resilience and stress and also that organisations and workplaces put steps in place to mitigate the stress impact, paying real attention to mental health. Organisations must deliver resources to employees that deal with stress management and employee mental health and wellbeing. This is non-negotiable. 

Reach out to Wellbe and Company today to put these steps in place that your employees critically need. 

We are here to re-imagine wellness in the workplace. We are a corporate wellness consultancy that uses workplace initiatives to improve employee health, organisational well-being and overall corporate culture. We’re on a mission to inspire change and instil a culture of health and wellness in daily corporate life, while improving team productivity and business performance along the way.  

We are here to partner with you to address the critical need of fostering resilience in your workforce to mitigate the effects of the mental health crisis in the workplace. Our services to address this includes: stress management and mental health interventions, wellness days, employee counselling and support, and executive wellness amongst others. 

Contact us today to ensure you have the resources in place that your employees want and need.

 

Spring Cleaning: It’s time to clean up your digital clutter.

September means spring is here! Spring brings in the possibility of new beginnings and of course, spring cleaning. Now, we’re not here to tell you to clean your cupboards or disinfect your fridge. We’re focusing on spring cleaning your digital clutter. 

Digital clutter? Yup, you read that right. Many people don’t realise how messy and overwhelming their digital space is. 

Just like in your home, things in your digital space pile up, become out of date, get lost, are no longer needed or need some TLC.

Let’s dive right into how you can give your digital clutter a spring clean. 

Related: How to build better habits (That will actually stick)

Top tips for decluttering your digital space

From your laptop to your phone, you spend the majority of your day on some type of mobile device. Even though you’re using these devices multiple times a day, you might not realise how cluttered they’ve become. Here’s how you can fix that. 

Maintenance 

    1. Delete unused apps 

You may have downloaded an app that you used once and never touched again. Go through your phone and laptop to see if you have any apps that you don’t use. Delete all the apps you haven’t visited in the last month. 

Trust us, you don’t need them. 

2. Update your devices

Now that you’ve gotten rid of all unnecessary apps, update your devices. Make sure you update the operating system as well as the apps you use. 

3. Remove unnecessary information

If you have saved credit cards or old documents in your storage that you no longer use – remove them. Take a look at your saved passwords and remove the ones you no longer use. 

Lastly, clean out your old emails, files and downloads. And remember to empty your trash when you’re done. 

4.Back up your files

When you’re spring cleaning, it’s important to make sure that you’ve backed up the files of everything you want to keep. It can be easy to accidentally delete something you never intended to.

Use a cloud storage site or an external hard drive to safely store all your important goodies. 

Read: Things we’re going to START and STOP

Refresh

    1. Mailing lists 

Have a look at the emails you’re subscribed to and unsubscribe from everything that no longer serves you. 

2. Delete, delete, delete 

Remove old photos, videos and even contacts that you no longer need. Are we the only ones with hundreds of screenshots of things we thought we’d need? 

3. Decide what no longer serves you 

As you’re spring cleaning your digital space, make conscious decisions about what you really need and don’t need. 

If you’re removing apps that are no longer valuable to you, are there apps you need that would serve you more? For example, is it time to remove the many games you have on your phone and perhaps get a time management tool if that’s something you’re struggling with. 

4. Update your security software 

This is mostly for your laptop but it is one of the most vital steps. Do you have antivirus and security software on your device? If you don’t, make sure you get one. And if you do, make sure it’s still running optimally and be sure to set up automatic checks and updates. 

Viruses and malware can destroy all the information on your digital devices so it’s better to be safe!

5.Make a change

While you’re at it why not give your devices a new look and feel? Update your wallpapers and screensavers. Go from light mode to dark. Recatagorise your apps into helpful folders. 

Find ways to make your digital space more inviting, calmer and a soothing place to be. 

Explore: Everyday hacks to keep you calm and focused for a busy day

Social media 

In a realm of its own, we decided to leave social media until last. Social media platforms are where most of us spend our time so it’s important that we clean them up every now and then. 

    • Take the opportunity to refresh your presence: Change up your bio, get a new profile picture, or archive some of your posts that you no longer like.
    • Review your privacy and security settings: Accounts are constantly getting hacked. Make sure your accounts are properly protected with a password you remember. 
    • Unfollow accounts that no longer serve you: Go through your “following” list and unfollow the accounts that offer you no value or people who make you feel bad about your life. Social media shouldn’t be a place that is overwhelming and hurtful. The great thing is that you have COMPLETE control over your own social media. 
    • Ask yourself the following: Do my social media accounts reflect who I am? Do they add value? Are they negatively impacting my life? These are important questions to ask to figure out whether you should maybe relook at your entire online presence, or perhaps take a break from the social media space.

We spend so much of our time on our devices and online, make sure you’re spending just as much time making them a safe, stress-free space!

Habits

How to build better habits (That will actually stick)

Have you ever tried to build a new habit but by week 2, you’ve almost forgotten this habit existed? You’re not alone. We’ve got some impressive tips on how you can build better habits that you’ll actually stick to. 

Building habits is sometimes akin to your “New Year’s Resolutions”. It sounds good in theory but in the back of your mind, you already know that these new habits probably won’t last. 

It doesn’t have to be that way though. We’ve used some of the principles from Atomic Habits by James Clear to identify the best possible strategy for building better habits. 

Why building healthy habits is important 

Good habits are essential to a healthy life. They can make it easier for you to achieve and maintain a great and healthy lifestyle. 

Habits are often confused with goals or even a routine. Goals are aspirations you have that you’d like to achieve in a certain amount of time. Habits are things you do every day that contribute to the life you want to live. 

The difference between a habit and a routine is your awareness. Habits and routines are both repeated actions but habits run on autopilot while routines are intentional. 

Routines need active practice or they’ll eventually die out but habits occur with very little thought. 

Think about it like this, if you want to start journaling every morning, you have to intentionally make the effort to do it but if you have started the habit of smoking, lighting a cigarette first thing in the morning is done on autopilot. 

A habit then becomes a routine that is done frequently and automatically. Small changes make a massive difference over some time. 

This is why you need to create good habits rather than fall into the ease of unhealthy habits.  

6 valuable principles from Atomic Habits 

Atomic Habits shares some invaluable tips on how to create habits that are sustainable and that will serve you best in the long run. We picked out 5 of the top principles from this book. 

1. Don’t focus on goals, focus on systems of change

Rather than solely focusing on the goals you want to achieve, think about HOW you’re going to achieve them. 

Think about it, many successful people have the same goals. Olympic runners all want to win the same race but only one can actually win. And it’s about what that one runner had to do before that moment to have the ability to win. 

The same can be applied to your life. Think about the goals you have but focus on what you’re going to do every single day to reach those goals. If you don’t have the correct systems in place, you will never achieve what you set out to.  

2. Motivation is overrated. Environment often matters more

You aren’t always going to be motivated to do a particular thing. But if you create an environment that encourages productivity and has visual cues that trigger healthy habits, you’re more likely to be successful. 

You should also do your best to avoid negative temptations within your space and create specific areas for specific purposes so that you’re able to get the most out of your habits. 

3. Join a group 

We are a specifies that loves to feel connected and seek approval from like-minded individuals. 

A great thing you can do is join a group that exhibits the same traits that you want to emulate. People do well when surrounded by successful individuals that we wish to be like. 

Pro tip: Habit tracking (you can use a calendar or a journal) and accountability partners are wonderful ways to create good habits or stop unhealthy ones.

4. Focus on repetitions

To master something, you simply need to START. 

Aiming for perfection right out the gate almost always leads to failure. Rather focus on repetitive behaviours. You’ll notice that the more you do something, the better you become. 

Focus on making your habits quick and easy in the beginning. Don’t do it for longer than 2 minutes. Once you have gotten into the habit (see what we did there?) of doing the action, you can then focus on optimising it or increasing the time you spend on it. 

5. Make good choices automatic and unhealthy choices difficult

The best way to create healthy habits is to make them as simple and easy as possible so that you don’t even have to think about it. 

So for example, buy a large water bottle and set reminders to drink water every few hours. Remove the TV from your bedroom so you don’t stay up all night watching your favourite series. 

Setting reminders and making healthy things easy for you is the best way to form habits. Making unhealthy things difficult for you to do is the best way to break bad habits.   

6. Embrace feeling bored 

Habits that become everyday routines can start to feel mundane and boring. Don’t fall into the trap of changing things up! 

Welcome the feelings of boredom and stick to something even when you’re not in the mood to do it. The greatest threat to success is often thought to be failure but it’s actually boredom. 

Go back to number 1 and remember that it is the journey and not the destination that you need to focus on!

Remember that a habit is created over a period of time and your main focus should be never giving up!

Benefits of office culture

How to positively lead change in the workplace

Change is a constant in today’s work place but that doesn’t make it any easier for us humans to deal with. When facing change employees look to their leaders to see them through, and as leaders we have the opportunity to make change positive for our people. Workers may be loathed to leave the familiarity of their daily routine and comfort zone, and be hesitant or fearful that they will not be able to cope. It is with a positive attitude that leaders will persuade staff to embrace change and gain much.

“A LEADER IS ONE WHO KNOWS THE WAY, GOES THE WAY AND SHOWS THE WAY”-LAOTZU.

Change is complex and challenging but a work place that does not evolve cannot be competitive, successful or thrive. Change under the correct leadership can be the catalyst to innovation, improved organizational functionality, increased competitiveness, higher financial performance and greater customer satisfaction. For employees change under correct leadership can enhance skills development, performance and personal growth. Positive, innovative and visionary leadership result in sustainable change.

The role of leadership in organizational change

“OUR CHIEF WANT IS SOMEONE WHO WILL INSPIRE US TO BE WHAT WE KNOW WE COULD BE”-RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

More than ever, the role of leadership is of tantamount importance. Organizational leadership plays the   key role in the evolution and growth of a business. A good leader helps employees face and embrace the challenges of change, while working towards organizational goals in a worthy way.  The strategic role of a leader in change can include: allocation of resources; alignment; vision; deciding on the future focus of the business; gaining commitment and motivation from the team; and achieving sustainable growth. Successful change is reliant on effective and intelligent leadership. A leader’s foot prints should be everywhere.

Since 2019, COVID changed the way we live and work. Even without a global pandemic other organizational changes could be things such as different reporting lines, restructuring and changes in the number of employees. Many structural changes are being implemented as companies adopt a hybrid workplace where employees rotate in and out. This has, and will, transform a company’s culture, engagement and the way business gets done. Demographics have also changed with innovations in health care resulting in an increased multigenerational workforce. It is essential to adapt and be innovative in creating productive and united teams. There is also a focus and prioritization on diversity and inclusion in the workplace to combat discrimination and cultural bias.

Technological advances, changes in legislation, shifts in customer expectations and service, business decisions and diversification, all bring change that need to be responded to by leaders and their strategic initiatives. A “positive change strategy” results in rewards being reaped despite organizations being in uncharted waters.

Positive benefits of change in the workplace.

With change, you must anticipate that people are going to resist. As humans, we are wired to resist change, preferring the status quo, routine and a sense of security. A change results in psychological and physiological reactions in people. The unknown is uncomfortable, and our brains will tend to seek familiarity. If employees are not supported in change it can lead to demotivation, resistance, resentment, loss of talent, job insecurity and poor performance.

 It is the leader’s role to make, implement and drive successful change. Change can have a positive impact by adding value or transforming situations and people. Research indicates that an adaptable individual can flex their personality to continue to perform in a changing context. Adaptable employees can tap into the behaviours and mindsets needed to be both disciplined and creative, thoughtful and expressive, spontaneous and logical. These characteristics of being agile, flexible or versatile bring benefits not only to themselves, but also to the whole team. Critically studies show that adaptability is something that we can learn, develop and grow.

So what can you as a leader do to make your people, teams and business adaptable and flexible? Some key behaviours to implement successful change for leaders should be:

  • Have a vision and innovative approach

Having a clear vision of where the organization is heading, aligning the team and clearly mapping the destination clearly gives direction and motivation to your people to face and conquer the challenges of change.

  • Effective communication:

Communication is always key. Without clear communication and repetition of core messages, many will struggle to positively involve themselves in change. Communication elicits better employee engagement and relations. You need to communicate the WHAT and the WHY of the change.

  • Lead authentically:

To be truly authentic is to behave in a way so that needs are met. It’s a dance between staying true to values while being flexible and malleable. By leading with clarity and authenticity you can build a strong work culture and climate.

  • Celebrate small wins:

 Leaders who celebrate and appreciate goals achieved by their employees and subordinates motivate their teams. Frequently give recognition and rewards, to maintain enthusiasm and boost confidence.  

  • Be proactive about change: 

As a leader you have to always be fit for the future, the onus is on you to be a forward thinker. Develop a futuristic mindset that scans the horizon for change. One needs to be proactive and preempt the changes before they occur. Looking back and applying past experiences and predicting the future shifts will put you on the front foot. Keep current, fail fast when appropriate and recover quickly.  

  • Collaborate and include employees in change:

As a leader you need employees to trust and respect you so you can inspire and motivate. Scout out the innovative thinkers in the organization and collaborate with them including them in change plans. Empower the employees to act consistently with the new vision and help sustain commitment to it. Encourage them and adapt your strategy to suit your employee’s needs.

  • Find change agents and champions: 

Change agents can be internal such as managers or employees. It is the individual or group who takes the task of initiating and managing change in an organization. As a leader you need to identify change agents as they are vital to successful transformation. The following traits are desirable in change agents: experience, expertise, access, flexibility, representative characteristics, enthusiasm, organizational knowledge and influence

  • Foster psychological safety:

Leader-Member relationships are key to the success. Trust is earned and as leader you need to attract employees and subordinates. A supportive management style, not a dictative style, would give the desired result. Grow your empathy by putting yourself into other’s shoes. People working in psychological safe environments feel: included, accepted and respected. When people are respected they give more than their hands or the day to day grind, they are invested and give their minds and heads as well.

  • Create mechanisms for support and feedback:

Throughout change make employees feel supported. Make time for open discussion of problem areas, things that are going well and honest questions. Offer formal coaching and access to counseling. Informal support may involve a cup of coffee, regular check ins, practice active listening and have an open door policy. Be available, be approachable. Effective feedback is critical and helps people grow, adapt, and become better versions of themselves within change.

  • Reinforce job security:

When things change people feel insecure, leaders must reassure them that their jobs are not under threat. Job security is knowing that your job is safe and having the assurance that you will be able to work in your current employment for the for seeable future. As an employer you can increase job security for employees. Encourage learning and development, upskilling, lead with pragmatism and resilience. 

Conclusion

If you are a leader that understands the need for and benefit of change and the value of your people, you will be the organization that stands above competition and you will succeed in the ever changing environment of business. Take bold steps and foster your ability to be an agent of change. This is an ever green skill you can develop for yourself and your organisation. 

Work Balance

Balance, Routine and You in 2022

Our tips to creating a sustainable work life balance and routine.

Work life balance is not just a nice to have, it is essential if you want a productive and happy life. And it is becoming even more important with the shift in work situations, the blurring of work and home boundaries, new expectations, always on culture, and increasing work pressure. Part of creating a balance for yourself and those you work with is knowing why work life balance is important, what it is and what is it not. 

Often times people think work life balance is simply time management, but time really is not the issue. Creating a balanced lifestyle is actually about feeling content in your work, decisions, priorities and life choices. At the heart of it, a work life balance requires you to be clear on your priorities, take control of your career and simplifying the rest. It truly is not something you find but rather create through consistent choices.

It is important to remember that work life balance really is different for everyone. Research suggests there are generational differences in what we see as balance, it is not something as simple as the hours spent in the office. Both men and women value work life balance, they just use different language to describe their ideal. When asked what balance would mean for them, women focus on words like balance and meaning, men will use words like priorities and impact. From an organizational perspective being an employer of choice would mean creating a culture that promotes sustainable work practices and demands, while encouraging a healthy and well life. Your talent is more likely to remain at work, be productive and engaged if they feel their company and the leaders support their needs for a meaningful, impactful and fulfilled life.

The importance of finding balance and joy at work

Finding a healthy balance between work and your personal life has a number of implications for an individual, team and organization’s wellbeing. A healthy work life balance will not only affect health but also relationships, team dynamics, productivity and performance. On an individual level, when a healthy balance is created, employees are less likely to suffer from burnout, chronic stress, poor mental health, physiological health issues like heart disease, hypertension or body pain, taking sick leave, fatigue and poor productivity. On an organizational and team level lacking a balance in your workplace culture could result in high rates of absenteeism, high staff turnover, presentism, disengagement, poor quality work and a lack of creativity.

The Psychology of Routine and Balance

When we think of routines, we often revert to thoughts of monotony and boredom, the same thing every day with the same people in the same place. A routine could mean doing a different job every day, travelling to a different country or meeting new people. It’s not about what your routine consists of, but a sequence of actions that you follow regularly with expected outcomes. Because as humans we are wired to see uncertainty as a risk, having a routine allows us to find flow, be more productive and effective. Routine almost acts as a protective factor in our day to day, allowing us to rather focus on what is important. That is why a routine is a good factor to include when you are striving to create balance, having a set of behaviors that supersede circumstances allows us to pool all our cognitive and emotional strength towards what is demanding in the moment, to use all our excess energy to balance our life demands.

Tips to cultivating a balance in your organization

As a leader in an organization it is important to ensure you support work life balance and a happy work environment through identifying what it means to your employees and incorporating this into your ways of work. Some tips for you as an organization and leader could be:

  • Set a good example and live the balance you want to instill
  • Flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work and give their best at work around the demands they may have at home
  • Letting staff work from home when it suits their role and requirements
  • Bringing balance into the office whether it be opportunities for exercise or healthy food choices
  • Creating a comfortable work environment where employees want to be
  • Encourage breaks in the work day 
  • Create a culture of switching off, leaving work at work
  • Speak about and educate your employees about the importance of their wellbeing

Tips to Create your Own Work Life Balance

Accept that it is a balance, not perfection

It is not about finding the perfect routine or schedule, but rather striving for a realistic balance. Some days might require you to be more focused on work, others on your personal commitments. Remember it is a balance you create over time, keep the bigger picture in mind. 

Plan and take control of your career

Working in a draining job or toxic environment will take a toll on your, no matter how hard you try to create a balance. You do not need to, and in fact it is probably impossible, to love every aspect of your jo but on the whole you should find some sort of reward in what you do.

Clarify your priorities

At some point you will need to realize you cannot be everything to everyone. If you find yourself in a cycle of burnout, over extending yourself and just never creating a balance – maybe it is time to simplify and figure out what it is that is important to you. Once you know what those few things are that give you meaning and impact in life you can distill your choices down to support them. 

Make your health your focus

Your physical, emotional and mental health are so important, in fact without your health it is impossible to experience any type of quality of life. Make sure that you include managing your health as part of your choices and routine in creating balance.

Don’t be afraid to unplug

Switching off and creating some distance from all the noise around us can allow us to hit refresh from time to time, we all need to decompress and give ourselves some down time. There is no nobility in being always on. 

Set clear boundaries

It can be important to clarify and reinforce your boundaries. When are you going to work? What hours are work calls and emails priority? When do you need to focus on the other parts of your life? Remaining consistent with your boundaries not only allows you to find a balance but also sets expectations and creates clarity for others. Consistency helpful for both you and those you work with.

Well Work

Thrive at work with a well work environment

Our tips and insights into creating a work environment that boosts your work life and wellbeing.

Let’s face it, as humans we are very much impacted by our environment. A majestic view can ignite creativity, a lush garden or water feature can make us feel calm, and a comfortable home means we feel more content. Employees spend a lot of time at work, where the physical environment influences well-being, performance and productivity. With work taking up a good portion of our lives it is important that we have a work environment, whether in the office or at home, that helps us achieve our goals. Increased work life integration and work demands means we need to consciously manage our wellness in all aspects, including our environment. Environmental wellness means your surroundings are pleasant, stimulating and support your well-being. Ideally that should promote interaction with nature and create an enjoyable atmosphere for you at work. Remember a positive work environment will drive positive change.

We have put together some simple tips to help you create a work environment that boosts your wellbeing. Why not reset your workspace and try implement one or two of these this month?

What is the impact of your environment?

Studies have shown that our work environment impacts all aspects of us as people, our cognition, emotions, concentration, behaviors, actions and abilities. In the absence of an ideal work environment, employees feel burdened, unheard, disengaged, and unhappy. The phyiscal work environment is critical to performance, satisfaction and wellbeing. In fact, it is one of the most important factors in whether we are satisfied and put in discretionary effort with our work. Employees who have a well place to work are less likely to miss work, and absenteeism is a large hurdle to productivity for individuals, teams and organisations.

  • Ideally work places should meet the health and safety requirements laid out by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA 85 of 1993).
  • A healthy and safe workplace enhances employees physical and mental capabilities at work, as well as improves wellbeing.
  • A considered work place can further positive work outcomes, enhance leadership and drive strategy.

Tips for a Well Work Environment

Here are our top suggestions to consider and bring into the work place to enhance your work environment and wellness.

Consider legislative requirements

Ensure that your workplace is aligned to and compliant with all the relevant and mandatory Occupational Health and Safety requirements. These can be industry specific and are usually clearly laid out in the relevant Act.

Ensure ergonomics

An important part of doing your work is how and where you do it. Make your work station ergonomically sound using a supportive chair, sitting correctly, having your screen at the right height for your eye level and trying out a standing desk.

Check your lighting

Focus on natural, bright light where possible. Try light your work space from overhead. Manage the blue light from your screens can be managed through IT settings and cellphone settings. Remember to take screen breaks to give those eyes a rest.

Create a sense of flow

A big part of a positive work experience is getting into a flow state, this requires you to have a comfortable temperature to work in, manage noise and be comfortable.  Imagine looking forward to sitting at your work space because it is inviting and the best place to get things done. Some tips include working in a 22-degree Celsius room, try playing white, pink or brown noise that helps your focus, and make sure you find it comfortable to work where you set up. It is also important to remember air quality, your brain needs that delicious oxygen.

Get tech savvy

With many of us our jobs a strongly dependent on technology, make sure you have the most appropriate equipment to execute your tasks. Invest in the programmes and hardware you need to get things done professionally and efficiently.

Reduce waste

Streamline and consider all your resources you use when working, try not to print unnecessarily, reuse paper, recycle and keep your waste levels down – that way you can feel good about your resources you use to get the job done.

Make it welcoming

You can’t achieve the environmental wellness you want unless you clean up, declutter and refresh your space. Try clean up daily and refreshing your workspace on a Friday afternoon. Why not bring some plants into your work area or brighten the space with a mirror or art you enjoy? After all you spend most of your week here so you might as well ensure you like it.

Consider colour

Colour has an impact on the human brain and body, with colour impacting our wellness and productivity. One colour cannot be said to impact all people alike or to be best suited to all types of work because of culture, gender and varying work requirements. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider what the colour precipitates in you and your team and the type of work to be done and decorate or paint accordingly.

 

 

Goals for 2022

Things we’re going to START and STOP in 2022

2022 is the year to say goodbye to New Year’s Resolutions and say hello to Start and Stop Lists. We’ve identified a way for you to achieve your goals and make this year the best one yet!

A start and stop list is very similar to your run of the mill new year’s resolutions and they both have the same strategy in mind – to help you achieve your goals. January is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the year that just passed. Think about the highs and the lows and take note of exactly what you want to change to have a better new year. 

What is a stop and start list? 

It’s as simple as it sounds. A stop and start list is all the things you’re going to stop doing or accepting in 2022 and all the things you’re going to start doing to have a better year. 

Before creating this list, take a moment to sit back and reflect on everything that happened in 2021 – the good, the bad and everything in between. 

Think about the things you’d like to stop doing going forward, some things you’d like to begin doing and what you’d like to continue to do. 

Then create your list of everything you’d to;

START:  What will you START doing to be more effective and accomplish your goals?

STOP:  What will you STOP doing to free up time, resources and create greater focus? What will you stop letting affect you or keep you from achieving your goals? 

CONTINUE: What will you CONTINUE doing that’s working well and serving you and the life you’re creating?

New Goals

Some things to stop and start in 2022 

What to stop 

Procrastinating – It’s so much easier to put things off and get to it later but procrastinating only leads to more stress and is a hindrance to you achieving your goals. 

Comparing yourself to others – Social media has given us a snapshot into everyone’s seemingly perfect and fun lives. Remember this is a heavily filtered peak into a very small portion of someone’s true reality.

Putting off trying new things – Ever wanted to try yoga or start a journal or go mountain biking but talked yourself out of it? 2022 is the year to do at least one new thing and stick to it! 

Regularly binge-watching tv series – Honestly, this is more of a note to self but it’s a good thing for all of us to stop doing. Netflix has given us all the opportunity to binge-watch multiple series on end but this year, try to restrict how much tv you’re watching and still your time with some more productive or meaningful.

Filling all your free time with social media – If you really think about how much time you waste mindlessly scrolling through TikTok or Instagram, it’s actually quite scary. Maybe think of setting a limit on when or how often you can go on any form of social media in a day. You’ll probably find that you have a lot more time in your day.

What to start 

Looking after yourself and putting yourself first – Self-care is your top priority in 2022 because if you aren’t properly taking care of yourself, you can’t help those around you and you’ll struggle to achieve your goals. 

Making a list of goals and sticking to themNow, this isn’t a new year’s resolution like “I will start going to the gym”. These are specific things you want to achieve that will help you become a better you and get you to where you want to be in life. Thus your fitness goal would be something more specific like; “I will go to the gym 3 times a week before work”. 

Prioristing your health – If you don’t live a very active life, find some form of physical activity you love doing and make it a habit. Think about the nutrients you’re consuming and how you can eat better for your body. Consider eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking and ordering too much takeout. 

A new hobby – Make it a fun mission to do something new this year whether it’s painting, running or journaling. There are so many new things to try out there and it’s a great way to fall in love with this year. 

Planning for the future – When you’re thinking of the goals you’d like to achieve this year, start thinking about how these goals will help you get to where you want to be in the future. Work towards that promotion you’ve been thinking about, plan a budget that will help you save as much as possible for a future trip or to buy a house.  

 

Explore: 5 simple habits to improve your health and investments

Things to continue 

Taking care of yourself – You deserve to be loved by yourself first. Spend time with yourself and spoil yourself! 

Working towards your dream job – Don’t just talk about the dream job you want, continue working at making that dream a reality. 

Loving the people around you – The people in your life have helped you get to where you are, continue to show them the love and appreciation you have for them. 

Being kind to yourself – The year is going to have its ups and downs. It’s important for you to give yourself a break when things get tough. You’re doing the best you can. 

 

Just saying “2022 is going to be my year” won’t make it so. You have to actively work at making this the best year for you. There are some things you need to leave behind in 2021 and some things you have to push yourself to start doing this year. These are only a few of our suggestions, make your stop and start list personal to you and your goals. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve in 2022.

Focused

Everyday hacks to keep you calm and focused for a busy day

Busy days are pretty unavoidable, especially as we near the end of the year. This time of the year is filled with last-minute deadlines and cramming everything in before going on leave. It’s pretty easy to begin to feel overwhelmed, not to mention exhausted. But we’ve got some amazing hacks to prepare you for an upcoming busy day.

Waking up in the morning knowing you’re about to be snowed under by all the tasks you need to complete with very little time to even breathe is horrible. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. But there are ways of mastering your feelings and tasks without feeling like you’re drowning. 

The ability to stay calm, present and productive is valuable on any given day but it’s the tough days where you need these traits the most. 

Take it from someone that used to be a Master Procrastinator, there are a few skills I have mastered to keep me calm and focused on my busiest days. 

 

Explore: Mental Health Check-In Tips And When To See A Specialist

The importance of staying calm

As mentioned above, busy days are unavoidable and there’s almost no way of getting around the hustle and bustle of the year-end madness. If you approach these overwhelming days stressed and with a negative mindset though, you really aren’t doing yourself any favours. 

And yes, that’s definitely easier said than done but you have a very slim chance of being 100% productive when you’re frantic and the chances of making mistakes increases tremendously. 

It’s vital to find things that work for you that keep you in a positive and level-headed mindset so that you can completely dominate the day ahead. 

 

Related: Set yourself up for a positive day, everyday

Hacks to stay calm and focused 

Get enough sleep

When we’re busy, often our sleep patterns are the first to take a hit. Whether you’re staying up very late to get things finished or struggling to sleep because you’re overly anxious. The best thing you can do for yourself is to prioritise your sleep.

Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling lethargic the next day or cause you to make silly mistakes that will take even more of the time you don’t have to fix them. 

Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep and if you’re struggling to sleep, find ways to calm your mind by reading before bed, drinking soothing tea or meditating.

 

Find out: How to beat afternoon fatigue

Have a plan 

If you know you have a busy day or a busy few days ahead, plan your day the evening before. Have a to-do list of the tasks you need to get done or even create a little schedule of how and when you’ll get everything done. 

This way you know exactly what to expect and you have an increased chance of having a productive day because you know exactly what you need to do. 

Compartmentalise

More often than not, busy days are just filled with far too many tasks and you simply don’t have enough hours. Or you’ve planned out your day but people around keep asking for help or you’re given a new task that you did not see coming. 

The best way to handle this is to look at the tasks as a whole and identify which ones are the most urgent. Categorise your tasks from most to least important and begin getting each task done in order of importance.

Focused

Discover: Setting boundaries at work for your mental health

Be patient with yourself

As much as we’d love to think it, we aren’t superheroes and sometimes you just can’t get absolutely every single thing done. The most important thing for you to remember is that it’s okay to not get it all done. 

As long as you’re doing the best that you possibly can, it’s enough. Don’t be hard on yourself. Make sure to plan your days and get as much done as possible but take each task and each day as it comes. 

Move your body 

Doing some form of physical activity each day will do wonders for your mental state. Being stressed and overwhelmed has a massive impact on your mental health. By moving your body in any way, you will alleviate some of the stress and get your endorphins flowing. 

Exercise also gives you a boost of energy if you’re feeling particularly run down. Now we know you’re pressed for time so we suggest going for an afternoon walk or taking a 30-minute break during the day and finding a way to move your body, even a quick dance break is highly recommended. 

Reward yourself 

You’re doing the best you can and rather than be hard on yourself, reward yourself. At the end of a hard day, sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and take a few deep breaths. Tomorrow is another day. Remind yourself that there still is time and you have the strength to get through it all. 

Busy days can be daunting but instead of just diving in, take a step back. Look at the situation as a whole and break it into bite-sized chunks. By planning your day and reminding yourself to take it as it comes, the day won’t seem so overwhelming. 

You’ve made it through busy days before, you’ll thrive through the next one!

Career growth

How to Bloom Where You Are & Succeed

By Jessica Brownlee

Even if you feel your life circumstances are less than desirable right now, you can choose to bloom anyway!

It can easily feel like life is throwing you some pretty nasty surprises, or just keeps dealing you a rotten hand of cards. While you can’t change certain things and just need to play the cards you are dealt, you can in the midst of less than ideal situations choose to make the best of your circumstances and bloom anyway.

With spring in the air a popular mexican proverb comes to mind, “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds”. You may have had a particularly difficult past few months, I think most of South Africa and the Global population has faced some sort of challenges, and naturally on some days it feels like we are a little seed buried deep in the dark soil. One thing we don’t want is for you to be all cavalier and ooze toxic positivity about your challenges, because they do matter. What you feel and what you’ve been through matter. But with Spring upon us we want to encourage you and help you find ways to leverage your enduring human spirit, boost your mood and bloom in the midst of it. 

Just like a wildflower blooming in the spring, you too will go through stages. Getting to a place of happiness, satisfaction and genuine optimism is a process. As Wellbe, we want to share some tools and tips with you to help you bloom and attract what you desire in life. Just like that wildflower you walked past in the park or the one growing in the cracks of the paving outside your office, it all starts with a little seed. Here are some practical little seeds for you to plant to allow yourself to bloom:

Bloom where you are

Shift your mindset

Too often we think that happiness or fulfillment will be attained if we can just get there or do this or be more like that. We want to challenge you to acknowledge that you already have everything you need to be happier, more content and to fulfill your potential. Perhaps this spring you need a mindset shift, from scarcity to abundance. A scarcity mindset is rooted in the belief that there is not enough. For example, you may believe you do not have enough time, money, resources, work and opportunities to achieve your goals or be more content. But the truth is that your inability to see the abundance around you is what is limiting you. You need to try shift to an abundance mindset, one which focuses on surplus rather than limits. By focusing on abundance, or what you have enough of, you will feel calmer, be more resilient and set yourself up to bloom. Next time you find yourself dwelling on what you do not have enough of, shift to focusing on what you do in fact have plenty of and see how your life changes.

Tune in to your physical health

It is almost impossible to live your best life if you are feeling under the weather and lacking vitality. You can truly thrive by tuning into your physical health and your physical needs, as much as you do your emotional or social needs. Remember managing your physical health may look very different to your friends. Try new things and focus on what works for you, if it’s a daily walk over HITT or eating more carbs than fats, do that. Get back to basics focusing on balancing blood sugar, moving and sleeping. Our bodies are all unique and it is never a one size fits all.

Be Proactive about your goals

All too often we get caught up in the here and now and we neglect to take actionable steps towards our future desires. An important part of feeling content, and blooming where you are, is deliberately working towards something meaningful for you. In fact, psychologists call this the happiness of excellence, it is kind of happiness that comes from the pursuit of something great. Find something that you want to work towards whether it is a fitness journey, a personal growth goal, redecorating your patio or replanting your garden or a new skill for your career and take proactive and measured actions towards it.

Build your social connections

Joy is increased when it is shared. You cannot bloom, grow and thrive without healthy and fulfilling social connections. By genuinely bonding and connecting with others you are meeting many important basic human needs. Take time this spring to spend some quality time with one or two people who build you up. Do something nice for someone else and enjoy their feelings of joy and gratitude. When life is challenging it is easy to focus inwards, but by focusing outwards you are allowing yourself better perspective on your challenges and sharing the load.

Take time to do the work and get to know yourself

Often we are motivated and content when we are doing things in alignment to our core values and interests. Take some time this spring, before genuine silly season sets in, to explore your strengths, values and what makes you truly happy. You could spend time doing a journal, a vision board, speak to a trusted advisor or just set time aside to reflect on who you are and why you value yourself. Getting in touch with yourself can be immensely rewarding, build your self-esteem and enhance every area of your life, as you genuinely come to know what you want.

Perhaps when working through these tips and tools you can identify a few more little seeds that you can plant or habits you can water that will bring you more contentment, joy and thriving, right where you are. Spring has sprung, take the new season and the warmer weather as inspiration to start fresh and live a more fulfilled life. 

 

 


 

About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org

Boost your career

How to be professionally successful and feel it

By Jessica Brownlee

What is professional success, how can you get it and how to boost your feelings of accomplishment?

We all have goals and desires, things we want to achieve, work towards and aspire to. For many, being successful in their profession means reaching a goal, accomplishing something, achieving a level of status or expertise in their profession or just feeling good at what they do. The thing about being successful is not only about the things you measure and see but how you feel about those things. 

Success is a very personal thing, and sometimes despite what it looks like to others we just don’t feel successful. And how you define and see your success is important. It influences your drive, motivation, your choices, priorities and ultimately what you pursue. So it kind of makes sense that to be successful and feel successful, you need to first know what success is to you.

Another secret of professional success is that success generally begets successes. When you feel like you have achieved something noteworthy, your reward center in your brain is activated, releasing all those feel good hormones, which in turn re-energizes, motivates and inspires you towards more success seeking behavior. 

Clarifying your perception on professional success

Professional success really is personal, relative and contextual. Often the problem with our current mindsets and definitions of success is that we are subconsciously influenced by society and adopt external perspectives on what we define as our professional success. In fact, it is naïve to believe you have reached your current perception of success objectively and independently. For example, the unrealistic comparisons we make with others’ career posts on linkedin or any social media platforms makes us feel that perhaps we are not achieving at the level of others. Sometimes these unrealistic comparisons mean we see our peer group as earning more, achieving more and getting more status than us on a frequent basis, eroding our feelings of success.

Your current physical and mental state can also make you feel unsuccessful. Our body’s energy levels impact our decision making. Numerous studies have shown that your physical body shapes your mind. A hungry, tired or depleted person is more likely to come to a negative assessment of their professional success than someone who is rested and experiencing balanced blood sugar. Similarly, someone who is pessimistic or in a negative frame of mind, perhaps from sustained stress at work or the pandemic, is more likely to not feel successful than a person who is in mentally healthy space.  

Another thing to consider is how you are measuring your success, you may use measures of success which are stacked against you, making you feel like a failure again and again. What do we mean by this? A great example is you might be measuring your success purely on your annual income instead of your work life balance. So you earn less than your friend in their job but they work at least 60 hours a week compared to your 40. Similarly, research by Lean In shows women are less likely to receive a promotion to manager than men, which implies if you are a woman measuring your success by an increase in seniority of position instead of an increase in your expertise or achievements, you will feel unsuccessful despite the odds being stacked against you and your professional performance. 

So an important starting point to boost your professional success and feel fulfilled is to clarify your perception. Awareness is key to achieving your success. A great way to do that is to reflect and build your understanding, try working through these example questions to craft a professional success vision for yourself:

  • What do I value about my work?
  • What do I value about myself at work?
  • What are my unique strengths I bring to the table?
  • What are deal breakers and dealmakers for me in my profession?
  • What am I proud of and why?

Boosting your professional success 

Now that you have insights into your perception of success, let us look at ways you can really be and feel successful. Maybe you find you’re doing everything you can to be professionally successful but you just do not feel successful. While some small mindset shifts and focus areas will ensure you’re more successful, half the reason you are pursuing professional success is to feel good about your work, yourself and what you can accomplish. Here are our top eight suggestions to boost your success, letting you really feel and live the successes you envision:

  1. Be aware of your strengths:

Being aware of your unique talents and strengths definitely allows you to seek out and identify opportunities where you can leverage these. You can also make sure you develop the areas of yourself to compliment your strengths and grow your success.

  1. Assume responsibility:

A major difference between mediocre and successful people is assuming responsibility. It is not about taking things personally but rather taking responsibility for the part you play, in both positive and negative happenings and assuming responsibility for all your actions.

  1. Set stretching goals and standards:

That is the thing about being successful, it requires you to reach a little higher and try a little harder. You need to take time every now and then, perhaps quarterly, to assess how far you’ve come and what you could do to raise your standards. As we always say, there is no learning without a little stretch, just like you cannot build fitness without effort.

  1. Know your personal brand:

You will need to know your personal brand. Just like companies are spending time and money on differentiating themselves with their brand, so too do you need to brand yourself as a professional. Your work and professionalism is your brand and you need to ensure it is desirable, consistent and aligned to your professional goals.

  1. Build networks and relationships:

Just as important to what you know is who you know. Not only can networks and connections open doors for you, you will also need human to human support in your professional sphere. Think collaboration, brainstorming or just some positive affirmations from those you work with.

  1. Be curious and learning obsessed

You’ve heard it a million times, but that doesn’t make it old hat – change is the only constant. You cannot stay on top of your game and be successful unless you constantly unlearn, relearn and innovate. Seek new skills, experiences and opportunities in everything.

  1. Be aware of imposter syndrome

According to Harvard, Imposter syndrome affects high achievers more. It is the feelings of self-doubt you get around your abilities and feeling like a fraud at work, like you do not deserve to be there and despite evidence to the contrary that you are not competent. Knowing when imposter syndrome is creeping in can help you keep it in check.

  1. Be Well

As we mentioned, your success is contextual and affected by your environment. Make sure you look after yourself both physically and mentally to give yourself the best shot at being successful.

Boost your career

Boosting that successful feeling

We all know that feeling of achieving something we have been striving towards. While you are pursuing this super successful profession and achieving goals left, right and center, it is important to make sure your success is sustainable. Sure success, like anything, happens in peaks and valleys. There will be times when all the hard work you’ve put in will culminate in a successful project or some noteworthy accomplishment and recognition. And in other instances you might feel like you are stagnant without progress. It is important to boost your successful feelings and remain motivated and engaged in your pursuit, after all good things take time and effort.

Specific brain chemicals are responsible for some of those positive, good vibes we feel when we achieve something. Dopamine, which makes us feel really good, is highest when we are about to achieve a goal rather than when we actually achieve it. The expectation of success triggers a good feeling, releasing energy and renewed attention as well as the tendency to seek things out. You can encourage this feel good moment even more so by stopping once in a while and reflecting on the progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come. Savor that moment just before you knock the ball out of the park. 

Spend time reflecting and taking stock of your successes. In society today we are so wired to look towards the next big thing, we often forget to pause and notice what we have just accomplished. Make a habit of consciously pausing on the high points of your professional journey and remembering them often. If this feels too prideful for you why not try it as a gratitude journal. 

Finally, and we cannot stress this enough, celebrate the small and big wins. Just like running a few seconds faster per kilometer is you moving towards your next pb so is your boss asking you to take the lead on a meeting or trusting you with a decision. It is easy to only focus on the big things, and forget the incremental small wins which are additive to and crucial in our successes. Celebrate these small wins with a personal reward, a humble brag to a close friend or just mentally appreciating them. After all, you need to be your biggest supporter.

A word from Wellbe and Jessica 

Through sharing knowledge and experience, we want to help you become your most successful self. In your professional success we believe you can help us build more successful communities, organizations and people. Because when we are the optimal version of ourselves, both physically, emotionally and mentally, then we all thrive.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.

The WellBe Team


 

About Jessica Brownlee

Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).

Instagram: @thehumblehumanologist

Facebook: Psychology360

Website: www.psychology360.org