How to Remain Healthy at Your Workplace

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A 9-5 job can be very consuming. Additionally, the 8 hours long workday does not begin at 9 and end at 5; it starts from the time you wake up and prepare to go to work until the commute back home. With such a tight schedule it can be easy to prioritize work and chores over health. However, neglecting your diet and physical activity can have deleterious long-term effects. An unhealthy body can further have adverse effects on a person’s mental health as a good diet and regular exercise are essential to maintaining a positive mind. The following tips share how a person can be healthy throughout the day during a workday:

  • Never Skip a Meal: No matter how important a call/task or meeting it, it is crucial to find the time to eat a filling lunch. This will keep you powered up throughout the rest of the day and improve your work performance. Eating out regularly can be unhealthy. Conversely, meal prep in the morning can be time-consuming and you may have to sacrifice some precious sleep to pack your food.  We suggest preparing your meal the night before and refrigerating it. This way you get your daily intake of healthy food and catch some extra minutes of sleep!
  • Physical Exercises: Almost all corporate jobs are desk jobs. Toiling away at your desk all day long promises little productivity. To keep yourself fresh, move around your office every 1-2 hours and get the blood flowing. Furthermore, try to incorporate small exercises (also called deskercises!) while you are sitting at your desk such as shaking your legs and stretching. While the physical effort is minimal, the results can be substantial.
  • Limit Your Caffeine Intake: Caffeine is an essential item in a working adult’s lifestyle. While there is nothing more tempting than chugging cup after cup of coffee or tea, the caffeine can drastically affect sleep and even concentration. Limit your intake to one cup per day. Moreover, avoid coffee after 7 pm so it does not impact your sleep.
  • Make Healthy Choices: Offices often have free food items and snacks lying around in the kitchen. These can be enticing for their easy reach and value for money. But you should keep in mind the nutritional value of each snack. While they may be seemingly harmless, these snacks can pack on calories over-time. Combine this with an inactive work lifestyle and you have a recipe for disaster.

Optimity offers tons of activity packs that employees can make use of to lead a healthier and happier lifestyle. Whether you are a yoga aficionado or a gym beast, we promise we have something right up your alley!

Stress in the Workplace: Signs Your Employees are Burning Out

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Stress is one of the leading causes of death in the world; it fuels heart problems, cancer and much more. Not only does stress lead to physical manifestations of diseases but it can also lead to mental health problems. It is crucial for employers to regulate stress-levels in the workplace by introducing fun activities and promoting a work-life balance. Conversely, employees who are chronically stressed may underperform or even burnout. Some of the signs of burnout that employers should be on the lookout for are as follows:

  • Fatigue- Fatigue is one of the most common and early symptoms of burnout. Employee fatigue can range from decreased socialization to the inability to keep up with the work schedule due to tiredness. Sometimes, people experience both fatigue and insomnia leading to a vicious and perpetual cycle of exhaustion.
  • Difficulty Concentrating– If you find that your employees have a problem concentrating on their work and often forget their tasks, they might be burning out. Despite their best efforts, some employees cannot focus on their job due to feelings of low self-esteem, alienation, and loss of future goals, among others. It is important for the HR official to have an open and empathetic conversation with the employee; merely berating someone for low performance will do little to no good.
  • Mood Swings- If your employee displays patterns of erratic behavior and is constantly shifting between feelings of anger and sadness, they may be physically and/or emotionally exhausted. Sometimes employees find it difficult to have an honest conversation with their higher-ups, due to a fear of being looked upon in an unfavorable light. If employers can spot the danger signs and initiate conversation, it can make the job less intimidating for the workers.
  • Cynicism/ Hostility– When employees are good at hiding their emotions, it may be difficult to spot burnout symptoms. Instead, the company should look at more indirect signs such as pessimism about the future, newly developed hostility towards certain subjects, feelings of hopelessness etc. 

What are some steps that employees can take to prevent burnout?

  • Take regular breaks. It is scientifically impossible for anyone to concentrate for hours at a stretch. Thus, rather than wasting time by trying really hard to concentrate, employees should just take well-deserved breaks. Examples include going out for coffee, chatting with other employees and stretching.
  • Have intense bouts of productivity. While working, employees should aim to concentrate very intently on the work they are doing and not get distracted. This strategy works hand in hand with taking breaks, as having intense bouts of productivity will give employees more chances to take breaks.

What are some steps employers can take to prevent burnout?

  • Provide positive workspaces. Including napping pods, music/disco rooms, reading spaces etc. provides a lot of incentive for employees to work hard. Additionally, painting the workspace in positive bright colors or having a greenroom can be great mental boosters as well.
  • Receptively listen to employees: Employers should openly listen to the concerns of employees. If an employee is worried about their health and wellness, it is imperative that the employer do whatever is needed to make them feel better.
  • Invest in corporate wellness programs. This is where Optimity comes in handy! Optimity aims to foster productivity and reduce burnout in the workplace by promoting health and fitness activities. Workplaces that use this platform have reported an 84 percent increase in health score. The benefits of Optimity transcend the simple prevention of burnout: the company feels well-integrated, employees cultivate great relationships with their colleagues and they get monetary rewards for being healthy!

 

How you can lead a blissful life

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The vast majority of us go on to lead a normal middle-class lifestyle, bogged down on a daily basis with our nine to five office job and family responsibilities. Sure, people can go to nightclubs and other entertainment events to socialize and have fun, but is that really the definition of true happiness?  I’m sure that we’ve all heard of the saying “follow your bliss”, yet we tend to mistakenly brush it off as another one of those “empty” motivational phrases.

Well, you may ask, what could that possibly even mean and why should I do it? First and foremost, bliss can be characterized as that internal, fulfilling drive to satisfy your personal needs. To put it simply, following your bliss is the only pathway to true, long-lasting happiness. Ignoring materialistic needs, individuals on their deathbeds will often take the time to reflect and voice any regrets on certain fundamental life choices they made. Obviously, we’re not saying that you should prepare to meet your demise soon! Instead, making immediate blissful adjustments to your daily lifestyle will allow you to reap priceless benefits and live your best and happiest life possible.

As stated before, achieving an ever-lasting state of happiness requires you to follow your bliss and therefore take the necessary actions. We have listed four of our favourite activities below so you can kickstart your blissful journey on the right foot!

Make amends with hardships in your past

We know that it is never easy to forgive individuals who have hurt you deeply in the past, but keeping that hatred all your life will never make things better. If you carry that love and forgiveness attitude wherever you can expect to break down emotional walls and spread positivity. Never forget, but always forgive!

Treat your body right

You’ve only got one body so make the right choices. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is one of the many institutions bringing light to the link between food and mental health. Make sure you eat a balanced diet that is dominated by fresh, colourful vegetables. Try your best to buy organic and avoid highly-processed foods with ingredients you have never even heard of. The healthier the food, the better you can expect of your mental and physical health. Of course, make sure to indulge in your favourite, unhealthy foods once in a while too! Just make sure you maintain that balance of your body’s wants and needs.

Spend more time with loved ones

This one is hands down the most popular regret among those who are on their deathbeds. This may seem like a no-brainer, but millennials nowadays are so dominated by their jobs and social media that they often forget about their family. Make sure to spend more time with your parents as they get older, and surround yourself with positive friends who will support you all the way, no matter what. By valuing relationships, you will be able to effortlessly expand your social circle while retaining the old ones.

Mind your own business

Especially with the integration of social media into our daily lifestyle, we seem to care more about what our friends are up to rather than ourselves. The truth is that our own lives are so difficult to manage, let alone the weight of keeping up with a loved one. We’re not telling you to only care for yourself and be selfish. Instead, we just want you to put your personal affairs at the top of the priority list. Get rid of any forms of negativity in your life and boost your self-confidence. Eventually, you’ll start to see firsthand the freedom that comes with these boundaries.

Here at Optimity, we recognize that your personal wellness should come before anything else! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, ranging from in-seat stretches to meditation sessions, so you can easily integrate them into your daily schedule! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

The Wonders of Journaling

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Journaling has captivated the health and wellness industry for a variety of reasons, but the topic is often surrounded by these questions that circle around our heads:

  • What’s the point?
  • Why spend hours writing about your life?
  • Does it work?

Journaling is the notion of keeping a diary or journal to record your life. The main idea is to write down your emotions and thoughts, keeping track of your past experiences and gaining wisdom about yourself. Each day is unique and each page is to be filled with data that is unique to you. This is information that you can process and analyze to better understand the limitations, behaviour changes and the environment surrounding your life.

In this day and age, we are constantly looking to evolve concepts to better support our lives and journaling fits right into this adaption. It can be considered to the umbrella concept, as there are many subtopics within the subject. Aside from the traditional method of writing in a journal, it has transitioned into apps that allow you to track your fitness, log your meals and remind you to think.

Stress Management

The awareness that you give yourself allows you to be competent for the success that you value. Our society has witnessed a spike in mental health illnesses and we continue to chase solutions that can provide support. This is where journaling can be more than you might think. Stress, anxiety or depression are all examples of issues that can be addressed through journaling. If we keep track of the barriers that block the road, we can understand why it occurs and what needs to be done to avoid the recurring problem.

In different segments of our lives, this concept can be a game changer and this is exactly what The Research Journal of the National League for Nursing wanted to test.  The research targeted strategies that can be applied to nursing students to decrease stress and anxiety “that may be brought about by the psychiatric mental health clinical experience”. The study consisted of thirty undergraduate students that were given the task of tracking their progress to mitigate their anxiety and the results were evident. The self-reflection tool provided support for these students to reflect on their work and limit their anxiety to develop.

How to Journal

The University of Rochester Medical Center reiterates the benefits attached to this concept and implies the necessary steps to ensure success. Here are a few tips that we think you should do to value journaling to its full potential:

  • Make an effort to write everyday
  • Write whatever comes to your mind even if it’s messy
  • Make it convenient to write anytime, anywhere
  • Use your journal as you see fit

Here at Optimity, we recognize that people who commit to journaling on a daily basis tend to tail off after a couple of weeks. That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, ranging from in-seat stretches to meditation sessions, so you can easily integrate them into your daily schedule! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

 

Steps Towards a Positive Body Image

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As we count down the remaining days until summer officially kicks in, we will surely be seeing more and more commercials showing individuals with the classic “beach body”. Considering the role social media plays in the average millennial’s lifestyle, self-conscious individuals tend to draw negative comparisons between themselves and professional models. Even though these pictures are often intentionally staged and edited, many people are so determined to mirror the look that they knowingly cause physical and mental harm to themselves.

If you happen to be struggling with body image issues, we have four tips that will help you embrace the beauty that is your very own body!

Be active

Yes, we know that you’ve probably heard this one a million times by now but there’s a reason why! That’s because, in order to feel positive about yourself, you need to be in good physical shape. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise not only prevents a number of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity but has also shown to improve mood and anxiety issues. Exercise releases “feel-good” endorphins which provide a similar calming effect to cannabis, and allow you to temporarily take your mind off any worries.

Surround yourself with positivity  

We’ve all had an experience where a certain individual in our group or team was constantly being a negative force and dragging us down. If you are making efforts to improve your body image, it is crucial that you surround yourself with positive influences. Some ideas to get you started include:

  • Hit the gym with a supportive group of friends
  • Strengthen relationships with those close to you
  • Wear your favourite outfit whenever you feel down
  • Compliment others to spread love and positivity  

Lose weight in a healthy way    

If you are trying to lose weight, make sure you are doing it in a way that is healthy and sustainable. Some methods such as skipping meals or cutting out entire food groups can actually backfire and hurt you even more. The key is planning out a detailed and balanced diet plan to ensure you are still getting all the essential nutrients while cutting down on the calories. Be sure to supplement this with adequate exercise and eight glasses of water each day. The whole journey is supposed to be hard but fun at the same time, so you can always sneak in a cheat day every so often!

Never give up

Especially at the start, you may find it difficult adjusting to a new routine – don’t be discouraged! Everyone has a bad day once in a while and it’s ok to cut yourself some slack. The important thing is to recognize the importance of following through on what you started and getting right back into it the next day. Rome was not built in a day, and your body is no different. As we mentioned beforehand, surround yourself with positive influences who will be there every step of the way. If you remain diligent and follow all our steps, you will feel great about how you look in no time and in turn, how you feel every day!

Here at Optimity, we make personal wellness our number one priority! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our app, aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and positive self-perception. To find out more, visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

Canadians & Mental Health (Webinar Recap)

Optimity recently hosted a webinar on May 29 in honour of Mental Health Awareness Month. Our very own, Mira Levine and Brett MacDonald, who serve as Client Success Advisor and Wellness Coordinator respectively, were joined by Katie Worndl from MindBeacon Group to discuss the physical, financial, and economic impact of mental illness on Canada. We have provided the key takeaway points below but if you would like to watch the full webinar, click here.

The Big Picture

Mental health is classified as the psychological and emotional well-being of a person and affects individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and genders. According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, one in five Canadians will experience the disorder in their lifetime, making it the leading form of disability in the country. However, this figure jumps to 80% when accounting for those who are indirectly affected by a loved one with mental illness. To put it simply, mental health affects everyone in some shape or form.

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Factors & Symptoms

Although not everyone will develop mental illness after a traumatic incident, some factors that are known to increase the likelihood of mental illness include physical health status, family breakup/loss, and childhood abuse. Despite the severity of the aforementioned factors, the strength of one’s mental resilience and support group are the two things that for the most part, determine the end result.

Mental illness can be incredibly hard to spot, especially during its early stages. When looking for any possible signs, pay extra attention to any changes in eating and physical activity habits, a substantial change in energy levels, social isolation, delusion, alcohol or drug abuse, or even suicidal remarks.

Canadians & Mental Health

A form of mental illness or disorder exists throughout Canadians and its recognition has gained valuable traction. For the majority of the patients, mental illness affects relatively young individuals as research has shown that one in two Canadians will experience the disease before turning 40. Currently, 63% of the millennial population is deemed at “high risk” for mental health issues, a 10% increase from last year. For older generations who may be affected by mental health, the stigmatization that surrounds this topic may be a blocker for expression of their issues. The most alarming statistic states that two out of three Canadians suffering from mental health concerns do not seek treatment. This sufferance in silence has resulted in 4000 Canadians committing suicide, equivalent to 11 deaths per day.

Amongst the homeless, mental health has had a tremendous impact. In Canadian cities, 23-67% of the homeless population suffers from a mental illness. The inaccessibility to support is an example of a factor that amplifies this negative impact.

Financial & Physical Burden

The financial impact of mental illness on the economy is estimated at an astounding $51 billion. This translates to 500,000 employed Canadians having to take time off each week, which not only causes a loss in productivity but is also very expensive to treat. Treating a mental health condition is around 30% more expensive than other disorders.

Mental health is not only a problem that is evident in developed countries. The World Health Organization estimates that one in four people in the world will suffer from the disorder, but over 66% of countries currently spend less than 1% of their GDP on mental illness treatment. These countries still rely on large mental institutions which have been proven to be extremely ineffective. The poor in particular are at the greatest risk of developing mental illness, and in these cases, have no choice but to attend these institutions.

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Mental Health in the Workplace

In the workplace, mental health plays a vital role. The state of mind of a person will determine their productivity and their overall behaviour to be content in the workplace. Absenteeism and presenteeism are the ideal examples of this topic. In many situations, these two terms can apply to those that suffer from a mental health illness and they both directly result in $6.3 billion in lost productivity per year. Another common factor that affects mental health in the workplace is the competition and monthly benchmarks. The build-up of high anxiety and stress from the requirement to complete work can have a negative pressure on anyone. In turn, Canadian businesses are realizing that 30% of disability claims are due to mental health problems & 70% of disability costs are attributed to mental health issues.

As an economy as a whole, research by the conference board of Canada found that improved treatment for depression could boost the economy by $32.3 billion a year, as well as an increase to $17.3 billion a year for improved anxiety treatment.

Solutions

Improving mental health is never a sprint, it should be approached like a marathon. For improvements to be made, a person should take everything one step at a time. There is no perfect answer to resolve it directly, but there are a few ways to ensure that there are positive changes being made.

  • Seek help – are you trying to find support?
  • Nutrition – are you eating properly?
  • Exercise – are you staying active?
  • Workplace Strategies – 13 PSRs
  • Digital solution – Optimity & Beacon

Beacon provides digital therapy for guidance in overcoming mental health-related issues. This platform specializes in iCBT or internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to digitally provide access to a skills-building approach to therapy. Similar to CBT, you are able to grasp new skills to better manage your mental health concerns through modules, exercises and activities.   

Here at Optimity, we focus on prevention and early detection of mental health issues. We recognize that improving mental health is never a sprint, but a marathon. Getting rid of bad habits and replacing them with positive ones from your daily lifestyle is never an easy task. That is why our wellness platform is focused on making the whole process fun and rewarding! Our library is filled with thousands of micro-activities, ranging from mindful breathing to stretching exercises, that aim to increase self-esteem and overall mental health.

Does mental health have symptoms?

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Mental health is recognized as a fundamental factor in our overall health – since it’s clear that it has a great influence both physically and mentally. As human beings, we want to understand the problem at hand and the precautions needed to reduce the problems it could cause. There is no guarantee that mental health disorders can be avoided – disorders that affect the mind, mood and behaviour, different beings react differently in life. However, several questions come attached to this topic when trying to attempt a solution.

How would you know if you have a mental health illness? Is there a guide book that allows you to check off each symptom? Most importantly, what are the symptoms, if any?

The cause of any mental health disorder or illness can vary on several factors, but when assessing the state of mind of a being – here are a few signs and symptoms:

  • Major changes in eating / physical activity habits
  • Substantial alteration in energy/productivity
  • Withdrawal from social life (friends & family)
  • Detachment from reality
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts

Mental Health Symptoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When any of these symptoms above occur, finding support will resort to great value. Whether it is professional medical care or referring to a friend/family member, the help that you seek can allow you to control the situation and positively adapt. In most cases, many of the mental health illnesses do not cure by themselves – so this is where the ones around you can boost you up before you even fall.

Each symptom attached to the person or mental illness can react accordingly to the environment or condition of the person. The first step is always to understand that there is an issue, and this would be followed by creating a plan that is ideal for the situation. There can be several risk factors and complications that can alter a lifestyle, so understanding when and how to react can have a crucial impact.