2-Minute Meditation for a Positive Attitude

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

From cultivating greater awareness of self to relieving stress, meditation has numerous physical and mental health benefits. The practice conjures a sense of something related to spirituality, but is actually an extreme form of concentration that tones and strengthens the mind. It promises to promote inner peace and a positive outlook towards life.

Given the countless problems that work and life hurl at us on a daily basis, and the impact they have on our minds, meditation can be an excellent way to appreciate promote inner peace and living in the moment. Even a few minutes of meditation regularly can be transformative. Here is a 2-minute meditation routine for beginners.

  1. First, find a quiet and peaceful place in your home or outside, where it is easy for you to shift your focus inwards. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine in a straight but relaxed position. When you sit in a peaceful space with good posture, you will be able to enjoy the process more freely and have a deeper sense of calmness and tranquillity.
  2. Concentrate on your breathing. Try to take long and deep breaths while you focus on slowing down your breath. You can also chant an uplifting phrase or word like “relax” while breathing in order to center your attention. Try to block all distracting sounds, paying full attention to your your breathing and the word you are chanting.
  3. Next, try to enter into a quiet state of mind, while remaining relaxed and mindful of your centre of gravity. Observe any feelings, thoughts, or physical vibrations that arise in your consciousness. Eventually, you will be able increase your concentration one session at a time.

There is no set time to meditate, so you can start with 2 minutes daily and progress slowly. Let your comfort level decide what amount of meditation is right for you, but stay persistent in order to witness results.
Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

 

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How Can Holistic Wellness Apps Lead to Habit Changes?

Posted by Jane Wang

We all know that mobile applications (apps) have the potential to help people increase their physical activity, but little is known about the action change techniques marketed in these apps.

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The most common techniques involve providing instruction on how to perform exercises, providing feedback on performance and goal-setting for physical activity. A class analysis revealed the existence of two types of apps, educational and motivational, depending on their habit change techniques.

Mental health and habit change techniques tend not to be widely marketed in physical activity apps. Based on the available descriptions of the observed techniques in health behavioral theories, people may need multiple apps to maintain a healthy habit change.

Mental health and habit change technology have fallen behind and the unique nature of mental health services can make it difficult to develop a technology that successfully intervenes in human behavior. However, with advanced research geared towards habit change and mental health, an increasing number of organizations are innovating in this space.

Many symptoms of poor mental health are generally behavioral, and seeing as though most people now have smart phones at their disposal, access to technology that can monitor habitual patterns seems like an obvious next step. This technology can be used to assess patterns that are typical of a person who may suffer from mental health issues.

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Dr Uri Nivo explains how this new technology could benefit people wanting to change or monitor their behavior.

“Bipolar disorder, for example, starts with a manic episode. A patient who usually makes five or ten calls a day might suddenly start making dozens of calls a day. How much they talk, text, how many places they visit, when they go to bed and for how long — these are all indicators of mental health and provide important insights to clinicians who want to catch a disorder before it is full blown.”

With fitness wearables and other popular smart devices that help people track their physical activity and well-being, it only makes sense that there would be a specialized app to support habit change and mental health.

 

 

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Fundamentals of Wellness Habits

Success of Habits

The importance of establishing healthy and productive habits has always been essential. Whether it be at an individual or organizational level, habits can play a key role in quality of work, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

What is a habit?

A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated and tends to occur subconsciously (Definition of Habit. Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved on August 29, 2008). Developing a good habit and breaking a bad habit can be hard to do, but understanding how habits work, as well as their effects, can make a big impact.

The Habit Loop

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One of the most popular recent mentions of habits and habit training is in the bestselling book, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. The book popularized the applications of habits and how to harness them to your advantage. Duhigg describes the Habit Loop as a three-step process, a uniform formula for any habit:

  1. The Cue
  2. The Routine
  3. The Reward

The first step, the cue, is the trigger that initiates the Habit Loop.

Here’s an example of a Habit Loop. Every time you are bored at work, you walk to the kitchen and grab a cookie. The cue, or trigger, is being bored. The routine is walking to the kitchen and grabbing a cookie. And the reward is a sweet crunchy cookie and more importantly, relief from boredom for a few minutes.

Over the course of a few months, you may find yourself gaining weight from the frequent cookies. It develops into a bad habit that you’re struggling to break.

So how do we overcome this habit loop? Studies described in The Power of Habit suggest that the easiest way to break a habit is to change the routine. By only replacing a single step of the Habit Loop, it makes changing a bad habit into a good one much easier. Going back to the snacking example:

Previously the Habit Loop was:

  1. Cue: boredom
  2. Routine: getting a cookie
  3. Reward: relief from boredom

But you can change it to:

  1. Cue: boredom
  2. Routine: chatting with a coworker
  3. Reward: relief from boredom

The cue and the reward are the same, making the habit much easier to change. However, the habit routine has now changed from a calorie-intensive one to a social, guilt-free solution.

So why are habits important?

Habits can be incredibly powerful. A single habit’s effect can trickle into every aspect of  your lifestyle—even in ways that you would not expect. These habits are called keystone habits. For example, starting to go for a 20 minute jog every morning can improve job performance and help develop positive relationships. There is no obvious relationship between going for a job and getting a promotion at work. However, keystone habits have a subtle way of impacting a lifestyle change.
When people aim for small and manageable behaviour changes, they can set off a ripple effect and stimulate further changes. Forming one small positive habit can increase self-confidence for working towards other health-promoting habits. In the workplace, habits can affect employee behaviour, productivity, and workplace culture. Making sure that the habits that are formed in the workplace are positive and healthy is vital.

Employee Wellness

Employee wellness has been climbing peoples’ lists of priorities for the past few years. From yoga classes to snack programs and even smoking cessation courses, the variety of wellness initiatives has substantially grown as the positive correlation between employee health and productivity has become irrefutable.

However, such programs have been around for years––they are categorized as Wellness 1.0. These methods are time consuming, often rely on external expertise, and require groups of people to be physically present and the same place and time during a workday. Since then, new data has emerged to develop the modern-day wellness program: Wellness 2.0

What is Wellness 2.0?

Today’s most effective wellness programs use digital tools and artificial intelligence to not only provide employees with holistic health solutions at any place and time, but also a centralized platform to track program data and employee progress. These programs shift employees’ notion of health from something that requires additional time to perform to something that is practiced every day through small habits.

Why does wellness matter for employees?

Let’s talk about why employee wellness is imperative to everyone. Here are the top few reasons employees and employers should care:

Productivity

For businesses to thrive, their employees must perform efficiently with their best capabilities. A survey conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that among employers offering and measuring wellness efforts, over half saw a decrease in absenteeism, while 66% saw increased productivity.

Furthermore, 31% of respondents have rated mental illness as the number one reason for loss of productivity. Holistic health and productivity come hand in hand: Programs that use Wellness 2.0 concepts can effectively improve and maintain employee productivity without excessively cutting into excess work hours. 

Mood

A study from the University of Sheffield found that happier employees are higher performing. Mental health, stress relief, and physical activity are components of a well rounded wellness program that can lead to happier employees, and therefore better employees. 

Healthcare Costs

Did you know that Americans spent an average of $714 on out of pocket healthcare in 2016? With these numbers increasing each year, employers are beginning to spend more money on their employees’ health as well. Wellness programs help cut annual increases in medical care costs. A meta-analysis shows that medical costs fall by $3.27 for ever $1 spent on wellness programs, and absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every $1 spent. The negative correlation between an effective wellness program and medical costs is clear and crucial to address.

Lower Turnover

A study by Leadership IQ showed that almost half of new employees left a company within 18 months, with 89% of these failures resulting from poor culture fit. Implementing an effective wellness program not only helps employees feel happier at work, but also creates a sense of community and care in the workplace.
Employee wellness should be a top priority for everybody. Prioritizing health by implementing Wellness 2.0 strategies in the workplace not only benefits employees, but also the company by decreasing healthcare costs and turnover while increasing productivity. Investing in employee wellness means investing in the future of your company.

 

Preventive Medicine

“Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.” – Bill Gates

What is preventive medicine?

Preventive medicine’s goal is to protect and promote health to people before they become sick. It’s about preventing disease and illness rather than treating it after people get sick.

Why is preventive medicine important?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans use half of the preventive services offered to them by employers.

Preventive medicine is critical to human health. In and out of the workplace, preventive medicine has been transforming healthcare. The first and most obvious reason is that employees deserve to maintain their health and be healthy. They are the most important resource of a company, and human capital can make or break an organization.

The second is that from an organizational perspective, it makes fiscal sense to invest in preventive medicine. By taking the necessary steps to prevent illness, this translates to reduced absenteeism, reduced health care costs, and increased productivity. A survey reported that employer health care costs have increased 36% in the last five years. Now is the time to invest in preventive healthcare for employees.

Effective and meaningful investments in health and wellness can be done through investigating health risk factors, including disease, disorders, and chronic pains associated with a group of employees.

Furthermore, preventive health also applies to leadership. A study shows that when leadership within an organization is participating and engaged, it gets the best engagement and returns with preventive health within the other employee groups (Goetzel et al, 2010).

Sometimes a certain subgroup of employees can be at high risk for certain diseases, including but not limited to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Using personalized and customizable preventive wellness programs can target and provide the appropriate programs for those subgroups. Common risk factors associated with chronic disease are: tobacco use, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and unhealthy eating. Read Optimity’s blog for an example of focusing on a subgroup: https://blog.myoptimity.com/2018/02/20/how-to-promote-healthy-heart-lifestyle-choices-at-your-company-webinar-recap/.

Healthy Habits in Group Settings

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Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and development coach, said that any person is the average of the five people they spend the most time with. Our thinking process, self esteem, and decision-making are all affected by our close peers. Most importantly, those around us influence our habits, which are the regular tendencies that we perform as directed by the subconscious mind.

How does this rule apply in the context of workplace wellness?

We tend to adopt the characteristics of groups that we are part of, associating ourselves with the group and its characteristics. Promoting a culture of wellness and implementing health initiatives will directly impact many employees, leading them to make lifestyle changes and increase productivity. However, these employees will also positively influence others, creating an environmental norm of healthy habits. Spending time with people who value and model healthy lifestyles changes a person’s definition of “normal”, leading to cognitive and behavioural shifts.

How can I use my wellness programming to optimize this rule?

To truly benefit from this rule of averages in the workplace, employers must establish above-average habits in their employees. Wellness is no longer simply fostered through lunch-and-learns or healthy snack programs; it is a continuous, social aspect of the workplace that should be as habitual as other regular work duties. Today’s digital wellness platforms provide accessible, enjoyable health solutions that are easily integrated into anyone’s life. Employees see their coworkers immerse in community-oriented programs and look to do the same, leading to higher engagement, better health, and increased productivity.

 

Habits and Employee Engagement

Employee performance is often related to employee health, happiness, and financial security. With high employee engagement, employers can channel the positive attitudes so that employees are more loyal, productive, and healthy. Employee engagement is important because when employees are engaged, they are more efficient, creative, and motivated to produce good work.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is about getting employees excited, loyal, and motivated. The two-way commitment between the organization and its employees is vital to the culture and livelihood of the organizational community. Employee engagement is about “how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.” 

How do habits affect engagement?

Developing positive workplace habits can build up on employee engagement. Some examples of good company habits are daily huddles, weekly messages, forums, and holistic training. At an individual level, effective workplace habits include looking for leadership opportunities, being punctual, and listening to feedback. These measures are great for individual and company success, but there are habits that are even more important than these.

Possibly the most important habits in the workplace are habits related to health and wellness. When employees are healthy—physically, mentally, and financially––they perform better. They also have the energy and ability to perform other positive workplace habits.

Habit development is gradual and sustainable. This means that when organizations invest in habit training, the results are long-term. Using habit-science, we can identify keystone habits that correlate to other good habits. Furthermore, by focusing on the process of habit training, we can improve engagement and create consistency. Continuous improvement of workplace habits can lead to breakthroughs in engagement and productivity.

Microlearning

Microlearning: Another temporary health trend? Just bite-sized training?

Employers may be hesitant to shift from traditional training methods to microlearning; however, using this convenient, focused, and adaptable form of learning can be beneficial for various functions within the workplace.

So, what exactly is Microlearning?

Microlearning is a focused form of training that provides information in the appropriate amount at the appropriate amount to help a learner achieve specific business outcomes. It easily fits into the natural flow of a workday and is based on voluntary participation, thereby giving employees freedom to learn when it is convenient, rather than at a set period in the day such as with seminars. Furthermore, content must be science-based to be considered as microlearning. For example, nutrition facts are based on scientific data rather than the latest celebrity trends. Additionally, microlearning is continually adapted to drive behaviours for specific business results. An organization’s goals are constantly changing with its environment and target market’s needs. With microlearning, employees can be taught new functions and habits that are required to meet these needs without investing in a full-blown training intervention.

How can I create a microlearning strategy?

There are four general steps to creating an effective microlearning strategy. Each strategy will be different depending on your business and goals; however, these steps are a great place to start.

1. Identify End Goals

What is the problem you are solving? How will you measure success? These are questions that you and your peers will have to answer as quantitatively and specifically as possible. Target the aspects of the business or past incidents that led to these conversations and needs.

2. Required Behaviours

What steps are required by employees to solve this problem? Again, the more specifically these steps are broken down, the more efficient the process will be. Avoiding ambiguity is key to any microlearning strategy.

3. Separate Foundational Knowledge

It is crucial to distinguish knowledge that is necessary for the behaviours and knowledge that is simply nice to know. Microlearning should focus on the crucial information required to execute the behaviours, while knowledge that is nice to know can always be added on-demand. For example, to execute a manufacturing step, it is crucial to understand how to use a particular machine and safety precautions in performing the step.

4. Build Content

With all these steps above in place, you and the key stakeholders in the organization can consider what kind of content to implement. Short videos? Reminders? Reinforcement questions? There is a large variety of content type; however, it is important that the content is suited to both your organization and its needs.

 

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Health does not simply come in the form of a lunch-and-learn or an hour-long workout session; it is a lifestyle consisting of habits that address health from a holistic perspective. These habits are trained through practicing a routine that is started by a cue and leads to a reward. Such habits are gradual and long-term, leading organizations to healthier employees, higher engagement, and more efficient operations. Furthermore, habit training does not require a comprehensive training intervention. Rather, organizations can incorporate micro-learning so that employees are constantly adapting their habits as the organization’s goals evolve. Healthy employees not only improve a company’s bottom line, but also help individuals lead a more fulfilled life in and out of the workplace.

Optimity can help make the wellness needs for your employees easier to manage. Optimity’s platform is scientifically supported to provide health content and micro activities that are 30 seconds to 2 minute long in order to prevent chronic health outcomes. The proactive approach will produce better workers, who are more healthier, happier and more productive, while bringing down health care costs for the employer. If you want to learn more about how Optimity can help your employees and your organization, reach out to engage@myoptimity.com to get started.

 

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Employee Engagement: Are Your Benefits Addressing the Main Issue?

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

We had a great webinar in June to talk about employee engagement. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk through how to engage employees in the workplace. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar.

What do your benefits look like? If it’s like most traditional benefits programs, it probably includes the usual retirement or pension plan, some health care coverage and paid time off. These are great, but it’s really only useful when you’re trying to attract employees to your organization and less so when it comes to retaining employees. In a study conducted by Mercer, “Inside Employee’s Mind,” survey results from over 4000 employees identified key aspects of a company that are valued by employees from the following choices: pay, benefits, careers, engagement, leadership, performance, and culture. The results showed that over 40% of employees are currently thinking about leaving their jobs, even though they offer benefits. What does that tell us? Well it just means that benefits packages aren’t strong enough to keep employees from leaving their jobs. Oddly enough, there are no real concrete studies that can testify that traditional benefits alone can retain and engage employees with their work. However, there is an abundance of evidence that support the value of workplace wellness programs. To be clear, benefits and wellness programs aren’t interchangeable as they provide two different purposes; however, you can easily incorporate wellness programs with your benefit programs.

With the recent trends, an increasing number of companies are working with digital wellness programs to maximize the money employers are investing into the health and wellness of their employees. To put it blankly, benefits are essential for attracting but do little for retaining –wellness programs are where the real benefits comes from!

Champion Employee Success

So now you may be wondering: If benefits aren’t enough, what should I be doing to keep my employees healthy, happy and engaged with their work? You simply need to provide an effective workplace wellness program that engages your employees. When your employees are engaged, they have a strong sense of pride in their work and an innate desire to go beyond their regular duties and do more for the organization. Unfortunately, only 29% of employees are engaged in their work, 45% are not engaged, and the remaining 26% are actively disengaged. The following are 3 tips on getting the rest of your employees more engaged in their work.

1. Health and Wellness


Encourage your employees to live a healthy lifestyle, which means that employees are getting the recommended amounts of exercise, sleep and nutrition in their life. A healthy employee is more productive, energetic, resilient, and less stressed. Wellness is not longer simply about the employees physical health. Help your employees build a habit of practicing holistic health topics they care about such as financial wellness and community involvement.

2. Learning and Development


Give your employees the opportunity to learn and develop new skills that are outside of their typical job function. Only 24% of employees feel that they have access to the learning and development skills that they need. Providing employees with the opportunity to learn and grow will help retain talent because you’ve engaged your employees by providing them with the ability to build their muscle for learning.

3. Empower your Employees


The best way to empower your employees is by providing leadership opportunities. This allow them to explore their capabilities without micromanagement, which often leads to employees disengaging due to a lack of trust and value their ability to make independent decisions. So as an employer it’s about time you give your employees roles that let them them have more responsibility and influence in their organization.

Employee engagement is a crucial pain point for many organizations, so you are not alone on this mission. However, we’ve seen many organization successfully increase their employee engagement levels by turning to technology. With a digital wellness program, scheduling time for in-person events and neglecting your shift workers or remote workers are no longer problems. Participation with traditional in person events is significantly lower, and tracking your initiatives become tedious. However, with a digital approach, employees are provided with a personalized coaching tool that allows them choose which aspects of their health they want to focus on and when they want to do so. You get to include all segments of your population and increase social communication between coworkers. Technology allows for the gamification of wellness habits as well as simple tracking of progress and participation.

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With technology, you make the wellness experience smoother for both the employees and employers! Want to learn more on how to implement a successful wellness program that engages all your employees? Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com if you want to bring your average 30% engagement levels to over 70%.

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Train At Home With World Cup Athletes!

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

With the world cup upon us, it is very easy to slip into unhealthy habits with eating, drinking, and physical inactivity as you watch the game.

Soccer players are actually some of the fittest athletes, running over 7 miles in a game while using extremely intricate footwork. Even if you don’t have the time to train like a soccer player, these simple workouts can help you stay fit while watching the game!

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Soccer workouts consists of heavy cardiovascular and strength training. Here are some activities you can easily emulate without any equipment:

Pre-game Warmup

As the soccer players make their way onto the field and the anthem is playing, take this time to warm up. Warming up helps get the blood flowing and your joints moving. You can do some simple exercises such as rotating your ankles, hips, and arms in circular motions or slowly jog in place to loosen up.

Strengthening Training

In the first half  of the game, use this time to get some strength training in. Do the following sequence of exercises for 15 reps each, followed by a 5 minute jog in your spot. That’s 1 cycle! Repeat for up to 4-5 times.

Squats

  • Start with your feet a little wider than hip width and your toes pointed straight ahead.
  • Push your hips back into a “seated” position (90 degrees) as you keep your knees wide and your chest up.
  • Press into your feet and return to the standing upright position, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Lunges

  • Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor.
  • Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.

Step up

  • To start, place your entire right foot onto a bench or chair. Press through your right heel as you step onto the bench, bringing your left foot to meet your left so you are standing on the bench.
  • Return to the starting position by stepping down with the right foot, then the left so both feet are on the floor.

Bridges

  • Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet flat on the floor.
  • Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles and raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  • Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
  • Lower yourself back to the floor and repeat.

 

Cardiovascular Training

Soccer players have to do a lot of running and jogging on the field, which is key if you want to outrun the other team and make goals. For both soccer players and non-athletes, cardiovascular training is great for preventing chronic illnesses such heart diseases, diabetes, as well as boosting your mental health. During the second half of the game, use this time to get your heart rate up by jogging around your house, skipping, doing squat jumps, and any other exercise that’ll help with bringing your heart rate up.

Post-Game Cool Down

In the last ten minutes of the game, take this time to relax and stretch. Stretching will help prevent injury, muscle tension, and will ease any potential soreness you may feel after the workout. Here are a few stretches you can try after your workout:

Reclining Twist

  • Lie on your back and draw your left leg into your chest and keep your right leg straight.
  • Exhale and twist the bent knee across the center of the body. Then press the opposite hand onto the bent knee and extend the other arm.
  • Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Quad Stretch

  • Standing, bend one leg and hold on to your ankle to get a stretch through your quadriceps.
  • Hold for 30 seconds on each side.Repeat on the other leg.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Stretch out one leg in front of you, with your other leg bent and the foot close to your groin. Bend forward over your outstretched leg, reaching for your toes.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

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Your workout is complete and so is the game! Feel rewarded for getting a workout in, while still enjoying the game. Let us know down below who you’re rooting for this world cup! If you want to learn more about building stronger healthy micro habits, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com to learn more.

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Mental Health in the Workplace

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

“Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘We’, illness becomes wellness.” – Shannon L. Alder

We had a great webinar in May for mental health awareness week. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to discuss mental health in the workplace and how to foster a positive work environment.  You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:  
Over recent years we’ve taken great leaps with mental health as it slowly becomes destigmatized. However, this is not the case for many working professionals, as it is estimated that over 1.3 million workers suffer from mental health conditions. That’s one too many! Like most chronic illness, there is much that can be done to prevent mental health.
Before diving in deeper into preventative steps for mental health, let talk about the basics. Quite frequently, the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” are used interchangeably. What is mental health? Well, mental health is our mental well-being, emotions, thoughts and feelings. It determines our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, how we perceive our social connections and the world around us. However, mental illness is is an illness that affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others. There are many different mental illnesses that show different symptom, impacting peoples’ lives in different ways.

Although you may not face any mental illnesses, you may struggle with mental health issues, just as you struggle with your physical well-being from time to time. It’s important to remember: “There is no health without mental health.”

It is important to address mental health, especially in the workplace. As an employer it is your duty to foster a health and positive environment. In turn, your employees work productivity will increase and not only create a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment, but also help the company’s profitability.

As a whole, mental illness can have a significant impact on employers in the form of loss of productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, disability and medical costs. The numbers are staggering: Mental health issues cost employers an estimated $50 billion a year. Half a million employees miss work because of mental health each week and one in three workplace disability claims  are related to mental health.

 

Despite the increase in mental health awareness and popular movements like Bell Let’s Talk, there are still many people suffering in silence in the workplace. As employers, when you contextualize these numbers and the potential impact it can have on your business, you will realize that some serious action needs to be taken to keep these costs at bay.

As we all know the benefits of promoting physical health in the workplace, offering support for mental health is just as important. Imagine the outcomes it can have on your employees but also the employers! It will enhance any existing organization culture you’ve created in the organization and increase a deeper understanding of mental health issues into the workplace.

Mental health is a crucial concern for workplace health promotion. At Optimity, we have helped many organizations tune into the importance of mental health and make adjustments to their workplace wellness approach, executing initiatives that will help support their employees.

The following are our top 3 tips on helping your employees cope and prevent mental health in the workplace:

 

Positive Thinking

Positive thinking doesn’t mean being happy about every situation that happens. It is unrealistic to constantly view unfavourable events such as the loss of a loved one or an argument in a positive light. When someone says to have a positive mindset, they are in reality suggesting healthy thinking: Viewing the world around you in a balanced manner and not with coloured lenses.

Why is positive, or “healthy” thinking so important for your mental health? Your interpretation of a situation can be distorted as you focus solely on the negative aspects of a situation, which ends up making you feel worse. This unbalanced thinking is known as “thinking traps”.

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What are common thinking traps?

Everyone falls into unbalanced thinking traps from time to time. You’re most likely to distort your interpretation of things when you feel sad, angry, anxious, depressed or stressed. You’re also more vulnerable to thinking traps when you’re not taking good care of yourself, like when you’re not eating or sleeping well. See if you can recognize your own thinking traps in the list below:

Overgeneralizing:

Thinking that a negative situation is part of a constant cycle of bad things that happen. People who overgeneralize often use words like “always” or “never.”

So for example, Saying “I wanted to go for a hike, but now it’s raining. This always happens to me! I never get to do fun things!”

Fortune Telling:

Predicting that something bad will happen, without any evidence.

“I worked hard on this project but I know my boss will just hate it.”

Black and White Thinking:

Seeing things as only right or wrong, good or bad, perfect or terrible.

Those who look at situations as blacker white will always see minor issues as a huge failure.

I wanted to eat healthier, but I just had a piece of cake. I’m such a failure, I might as well eat the whole cake now.

A strategy to help separate your thoughts from the actual events is asking yourself questions when faced with a difficult situation.

  • What is the situation?
  • What are my thoughts?
  • What are my emotions?
  • What are my behaviours?

The best way to break a thinking trap is to look at your thoughts like a scientist and consider the hard facts. Use the evidence you’ve collected to challenge your thinking traps. Here is one example:

Examine the evidence: Try to find evidence against the thought. If you make a mistake at work, you might automatically think, “I can’t do anything right! I must be a terrible employee!” When this thought comes up, you might challenge it by asking, “Is there any evidence to support this though? Is there any evidence to disprove this thought?” You might quickly realize that your boss has complimented your work recently, which doesn’t support the idea that you’re a bad employee.

Double-standards: Ask yourself, “Would I judge other people if they did the same thing? Am I being harder on myself than I am on other people?” This is a great method for challenging thinking traps that involve harsh self-criticism.

Social Support

Social support play a strong role in mental health. Those with a weaker social support system tend to report higher levels of depression. The lack of support can make an individual more vulnerable to the onset of mental health issues.

It is best to maintain positive relationships with those around you, like your family, friends, and especially your colleagues. Avoid being alone if you are experiencing a difficult situation such as bereavement or a job loss. Ask for support, as colleagues can be great pillars of support, especially when you spend over 40 hours at work with these same people. Other ways of maintaining your social circle is to engage in leisure activities that you can enjoy and find time to indulge in them. We all need people we can depend on during both the good times and the bad. Maintaining a healthy social support network is hard work and something that requires ongoing effort over time.
Physical Health

Research has pointed to the importance of physical health for maintaining positive mental health. Engaging in a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate sleep is essential for optimal health, including mental health.

Exercise

Exercise helps release endorphins, which is the “feel good” hormone. Even something as simple as a brisk 5 minute walk to climbing the stairs at work will help increase mental alertness and improve mood.

Diet

A nutritious diet is crucial to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. What does a healthy diet look like? It is one that includes the right amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet is a great way to maintain your mental health.

Sleep

Sleep more, yes that’s right, sleep! Lack of sleep impacts both your physical and mental health. A lack of sleep can make it difficult to regulate emotions. One strategy to increasing sleep time is to get into bed at least 10 minutes early, and gradually work your way up until you can reach an optimal amount of sleep.

Mental health is one of the fastest growing issues in workplace health promotion. This year we saw more organizations consistently making adjustments to their thinking and execution in supporting their employees. If you want to learn more about implementing a successful wellness program that supports your employees mental wellbeing, be sure to check out the full webinar where we go into full depth on the importance of mental health in the workplace.
If you want to learn more about implementing a comprehensive wellness program that benefits your employees mental health, making them healthier and happy, leading to better gains for your organization, please reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Top 3 Health Issues Facing Employees Working with Heavy Machines

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

With the annual CMPX expo that happened down the street from us this year, it came to a reminder that a lot of employees whose job requirements entails a lot of heavy lifting, and transporting of heavy equipments to new locations, are an overlooked population.  

Because they’re not the average 9-5 office worker, there isn’t much focus surrounding their health and wellness needs. Companies focus a lot of attention on workplace safety and how to prevent physical injuries on the job, but there isn’t a huge focus on these employees other wellness needs.

Employees who work for companies that require them to work around big and heavy machines, face many health outcomes that could have been easily prevented had there been more of a focus on a proactive wellness approach targeted for their needs. The following are the top 3 health issues these employees face who tend to be on the go, working around heavy equipment:

 

Musculoskeletal

Musculoskeletal-Disorders-in-the-Workplace

Musculoskeletal disorder, or MSD for short, is a condition that affects the human body’s movements, so that includes, but not limited to the following parts: muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and more. MSD is the leading cause of pain, and disability in all workplaces, especially amongst employees who have to transport heavy equipment. In North America, MSD’s direct cost is estimated to be $20 billion, and their overall indirect cost are to be between $45-54 billion. These are unnecessary cost, associated to an issue that can be easily prevented had employers implemented a wellness initiatives that focused on these needs. Heavy loads require higher muscular force, and this constant repetitive impact can lead to or promote the development of degenerative disorders. To learn more about posture and movement, check out this webinar, co-hosted with Dr. Kleinberg.

A tip to decrease the likelihood of developing a musculoskeletal disorder is through stretching. Stretching helps improve an individual’s flexibility, essentially the range of movement around a skeletal joint. It allows for that muscle to grow, strengthen and lengthen, leading to its ability to better adapt to the amount of force put upon that muscle. Meaning it’s ability to stretch becomes stronger and longer, which decreases the chances of the muscle tearing, because it will now need a lot more force for it to tear. These small changes, of implementing stretching into your daily routine will decrease the chances of one acquiring a musculoskeletal injury.

Occupational Safety

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When it comes to working with big and heavy machinery, injuries are bound to happen, often even leading to disabilities. the biggest concern for employers of this industry is injury prevention. If the organization’s culture values the importance of injury prevention, and provides wellness initiatives for this, then fewer injuries are less likely to occur. There needs to be thorough training occuring in order to keep information up to date and relevant for employee. In addition to these extensive training, providing constant tips and reminders to employees is an effective thing to do.


Mental Health

mental-health-construction

Occupational safety and mental health, work hand in hand. When under stress you put yourself at risk of getting injured. Working around big and heavy machines can become a stressful environment for workers who have to work around them daily. When it comes to handling machines, it requires a lot more work and attention in order for the task to get completed without any injury. These responsibilities and workload can become stressful, and as we all know constant stress can lead to unfavourable health conditions. The best way to minimize these outcomes is by providing early intervention. Employers need to implement a wellness initiative that fosters  proactive approach to mental health. Be sure to join us for our stress management webinar where we’ll go into more depth on the topic of stress management: what it is, and how to prevent it.

 

With a digital wellness platform it can make make getting wellness to all employees easier. The Optimity app is loaded with hundreds of health topics, some of them even relating to occupational safety and injury prevention. Having access to a coaching tool that have activities and information related specifically to occupational safety is important to have. This eliminates the concern that employers have about employees neglecting the importance of occupational safety. With more emphasis put onto this, employee’s overall health is bound to increase, with injuries decreasing, resulting in more productivity and lower injury related cost for employers.

Optimity

We can help make the wellness needs for your employees easier to manage. Optimity’s platform is scientifically supported to provide health content and micro activities that are 30 seconds to 2 minute long in order to prevent chronic health outcomes. The proactive approach will produce better workers, who are more healthier, happier and more productive, while bringing down health care costs for the employer. If you want to learn more about how Optimity can help your employees and your organization, reach out to engage@myoptimity.com and request a demo.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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