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Top Ten Tips for Workplace Wellness

The term “workplace wellness” is more than just a buzzword. Good physical health and emotional wellness are essential to a productive and positive workplace. Here are some great ways you can look at improving wellness and morale in your own work environment.

What is Workplace Wellness?

Workplace wellness refers to initiatives and policies aimed at supporting healthy behaviour in the workplace. This could include exercise programmes, healthy eating promotions, or stress management initiatives.

In order to be successful, workplace wellness efforts need support from management and employees alike.

Ten Ideas for Improving Workplace Wellness

  1. Most importantly, take steps to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and look after yourself outside of work. Eat balanced meals, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. This will set you up to tackle the challenges of wellness at work with more energy and enthusiasm.
  2. Invest in a wearable health tracker to help you monitor your daily physical activity and fitness levels during the day. Encourage your colleagues to do the same, or ask management to consider subsidising wearable technology.
  3. Avoid the sugary soda and junk food snacks in the office vending machines. Ask your manager to consider replacing some (or all) of them with healthy, nutritional snacks instead.
  4. Get in touch with a local farmer or small business owner who can deliver healthy home-made sandwiches, salads or fresh produce to the office.
  5. Start publishing a “Workplace Wellness” newsletter. Ask your colleagues to contribute, with their own ideas, healthy recipes or fitness tips.
  6. Create some fun fitness challenges that your whole team can participate in, with an element of friendly competition and small, inexpensive prizes (like a healthy lunch voucher) for those who win.
  7. Make contact with local teachers who can host weekly or monthly wellness workshops in the office, such as yoga, meditation, relaxation and breathing techniques, etc.
  8. Ask management to add plants to the workspace. Research has shown that the right indoor plants will help to purify the air in the office. Plus they look great, and help to calm and uplift the mood of those around them.
  9. Look at ways to make the office workstations healthier. Standing workstations, balance balls and ergonomically designed chairs help to mitigate the effects of sitting at a computer all day.
  10. Make sure your company follows the legal guidelines for employee wellness, and always adhere to the safety precautions recommended (especially if you work in a hazardous environment).

A healthy workplace is a happy workplace. It’s in the best interests of everyone, from top management to the newest employees, to cultivate better workplace wellness.



Management of employee wellness in South Africa: Employer, service provider and union perspectives. Retrieved from:

121 Employee Wellness Program ideas for your office. Retrieved from:

Workplace wellness. Retrieved from:



Healthy Habits to Manage Depression

Depression is a serious condition, and anyone affected by it will know that you can’t simply “snap out of it”. However, if you’re living with depression, you can learn about the best ways to manage it, which will help you to cope with the challenges it presents.

Cultivating healthy daily habits will help to keep your mood and your mental wellbeing in balance. The “Big Three” of these habits are: food, sleep, and exercise.

Feel-Good Foods for a Healthy Mind

There is a powerful link between nutrition and mental health. Low vitamin D levels or B-complex vitamin deficiency can affect your mood and trigger depression.

Some of the best foods for combating depression are:

  • Leafy greens and dark green vegetables (source of iron, calcium and multiple vitamins)
  • Citrus fruits (source of vitamin C)
  • Nuts and seeds (source of protein and vitamin E)
  • Whole grains (source of fibre and complex carbohydrates)
  • Lean meat (source of protein and omega fatty acids)
  • Beans and legumes (source of selenium and protein)

You can also add a multivitamin supplement to your diet, to make sure you’re getting enough of all the nutrients you need. Vitamin D is especially important to supplement, because your body can’t produce it without regular exposure to sunshine, and it can be hard to get enough vitamin D daily.

Reaching for a junk food snack when you’re feeling low is tempting. But these are some of the worst foods for depression, and should be avoided, especially when you’re feeling vulnerable:

  • Refined sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Processed foods
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • High-sodium snacks

Sensible Sleep Habits to Decrease Depression

Getting enough sleep is important for physical and mental health, as it helps your body and brain to recharge. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, to get your body into a rhythm. Put a relaxing bedtime routine in place, to encourage your brain to slow down before sleep. Drinking herbal tea or adding some lavender oil to your bath will relax you and help you fall asleep.

If you struggle with insomnia, look into a natural remedy or even a sleeping pill recommended by your healthcare professional.

Exercise for a Happy Body and Mind

Regular exercise improves the mood, and of course it has great benefits for your physical fitness too. If you struggle to motivate yourself, join a class or appoint a friend as a “fitness buddy” to ensure you’ll be accountable to others as well.

Extra Support from the Professionals

To kick-start your journey out of depression, you may need to seek professional help. This could mean talking to a counsellor or psychologist, or even starting a course of anti-depressant medication prescribed by a GP or psychiatrist.

Don’t feel guilty or ashamed about needing this type of help. Many people who have suffered from depression find that the right medication gave them the energy to start taking the next steps towards wellness (like exercising, sleeping well, and preparing healthy meals).

It’s also important to reach out to the people that love you. Tell them what you’re going through, and lean on their support, even if it’s just for a little while.

Managing depression can be a big challenge, but by seeking help and focusing on healthy habits, you can start the journey towards a happier, healthier frame of mind.



Coping with depression. Retrieved from:

Dimartini, J. Gratitude – the key to loving each day and growing from every experience that occurs. Retrieved from:

Griffin, R.M. Ten natural depression treatments. Retrieved from:

Mhlungu, G. 2016. The arts in a traumatised nation. Retrieved from:



Understanding Mental Health

We’re often so focused on preserving our physical health, we can all too easily forget to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing too. July is Mental Illness Awareness Month, which makes it a good time to reflect on your mental health and its importance.

The term “mental health” describes a state of emotional and mental wellbeing that allows you to cope with everyday situations. Mentally healthy people are comfortable with themselves, and are able to manage their emotions (even the difficult ones) in a constructive way.

How Mentally Healthy are You?

Mentally healthy people typically have the following lifestyle characteristics. Read through these characteristics carefully, and ask yourself which of them apply to you.

Relating to themselves:

  • Generally feel good about themselves
  • Not overwhelmed by emotions like fear, anger, jealousy or guilt
  • Take life’s disappointments in their stride
  • Accept their responsibilities
  • Have a tolerant attitude towards themselves and others
  • Able to laugh at themselves
  • Set realistic goals for themselves
  • Don’t underestimate or overestimate their own abilities
  • Accept their own shortcomings
  • Have self-respect
  • Able to enjoy simple, everyday things
  • Adapt and adjust to new challenges
  • Open to new experiences and ideas

Relating to others:

  • Able to form lasting personal relationships
  • Feel comfortable with other people
  • Respect the differences between themselves and others
  • Do not take advantage of others, or allow others to take advantage of them
  • Like and trust others, and feel that others will like and trust them
  • Feel a sense of responsibility to fellow human beings

If you feel that most of the characteristics listed above describe you, you most likely have good mental health. If you struggle to apply these descriptions to yourself however, your mental health might be compromised in some way (by factors like stress, anxiety, depression, grief, or low self-esteem).

Protecting your Mental Health

The ways you deal with life’s problems, and the relationships you maintain with yourself and others, determine your mental health. If you’re struggling to cope with challenges in your everyday life, it’s important to look at your state of mind, and take steps to promote and protect your mental wellbeing. This might simply mean cultivating healthier daily habits; or it could mean seeking professional help from a counsellor or psychologist.

Your mental health affects not only you, but all those you care about and interact with in your day-to-day life. By taking care of your mental health, you can ensure a happier life for yourself and your loved ones.




Consumer Tip

This healthy lunch hack is perfect for work, especially when you’re on a budget. First, cook a small portion of pasta, and allow it to cool. Next, mix in drained tinned chickpeas, tinned tomatoes, your favourite herbs, and any veggies you might have in the fridge. Seal the mixture in a jar, refrigerate, and enjoy at work the next day. Chickpeas are an affordable, healthy source of protein, so be sure to keep a few cans in your pantry for quick and easy work lunches.


Caring Families

Nelson Mandela is an icon that represents care, grace and goodwill to people across the globe. Mandela Day on 18 July is a great opportunity to honour Madiba, through acts of kindness. Get your family together, and find an activity you can all take part in this Mandela Day. Whether you’re helping people, animals, or the environment, be sure to make this a memorable Mandela Day with those you love most.

Get some ideas here:



1-31 Mental Illness Awareness Month
2-6 Corporate Wellness Week
11 World Population Day
18 Nelson Mandela International Day
28 World Hepatitis Day


Consumer Tip

Water is a priceless resource that is becoming an increasingly scarce. Everyone is looking for ways to save those extra few drops wherever possible. Research shows that toilet is the single biggest user of indoor water, using an average of 11-litres with every flush. This means a family of four will use 176-litres a day, just from four flushes each!

To cut down on water wastage, follow the simple rule ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’, and flush only when necessary. You can also install a water-saving device or retro-fit flushing mechanism in your toilet. This will prevent you from flushing away all that precious water unnecessarily.


Caring Communities

Plastic pollution is a growing environmental problem, with 80-90% of all marine debris being plastic-based. Single-use straws are one of the leading culprits; thousands of them are found at every beach cleanup event. These items are thrown away after being used for just a few minutes, yet they take hundreds of years to start breaking down.

To show your love for the environment, take a stand and say no to plastic straws! You can even invest in your own snazzy reusable straw, made from stainless steel, bamboo wood or glass.


Take a Stand against Global Warming

Earth is the only planet we know of that has the right conditions for human life to thrive. But rapid global warming is having a profound effect on these conditions and on life as we know it.

NASA data showed that 2017 was the second-hottest year ever recorded, as well as being the single-hottest year without an El Niño event. Global average temperatures are steadily rising, and satellite data shows that this warming effect is causing ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic to melt more rapidly.

Global Warming vs Climate Change

We hear a lot of talk about ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ often used interchangeably. The two terms are related, but they do have different meanings:

  • Global warming refers to the rising temperatures across the planet since the early 20th Century. The average surface temperature of the Earth has risen by about 0.8°C since the mid-20th Century.
  • Climate change refers to a wide range of global phenomena like rising sea levels, melting ice sheets, and extreme weather events. These phenomena are largely caused by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere.

What Causes Global Warming?

The biggest causes of global warming (and in turn, climate change) are:

  • Burning fossil fuels (like oil or gas) for energy. These fuels release gases into the Earth’s atmosphere, where they trap heat from the sun and warm the planet. This is called the ‘Greenhouse Effect’.
  • Forests absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They are like the planet’s lungs. As more large forests are being cut down to make way for human developments, carbon dioxide levels rise, and this ‘greenhouse gas’ contributes to global warming.
  • Large-scale farms raising cows for meat or dairy purposes contribute to global warming, with almost 1.5-billion cows releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.

Scientists predict that global warming will only get worse, and this will have far-reaching effects on plants, animals and humans, as our environment undergoes significant changes. Extreme weather like storms, floods and droughts will also become more common.

How to Combat Global Warming

It might be hard to believe that just one person, or one family, can make a difference when it comes to global warming. Truth is, even the smallest changes can have a big effect. You can start by saving electricity, eating less meat, and lowering your carbon footprint one step at a time.

Practise these smart, sustainable habits in your home, to play your role in fighting global warming and climate change:

  • Use energy-efficient LED lightbulbs in all your lights.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Start a tradition of ‘Meat-Free Monday’, to reduce your reliance on farming, and enjoy more healthy vegetarian meals as a family.
  • Turn off your computer or TV when you’re not using it.
  • Unplug chargers when not in use; even chargers on standby use energy.
  • Wait until you have a full load of clothes to wash before using the washing machine.
  • Wash your laundry on a cold cycle.
  • Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth, washing the dishes or your hands.
  • Switch off your geyser before you go out to work, or turn down the temperature of the geyser when it’s not in use.
  • In hot weather, use a fan instead of air conditioning.
  • In cold weather, bundle up and use a hot water bottle, instead of keeping an electric heater on all day.
  • Take shorter showers, to save water and heating energy.
  • Recycle household waste like paper, plastic and glass.
  • Use public transport or a lift club to get to work, to cut down on vehicle pollution (and traffic).

Global warming is a serious problem, but it’s not too great to be overcome. If we all make a conscious effort to live a greener lifestyle, we can better protect the wellbeing of our planet, and give future generations a healthier start.



2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming. Retrieved from:

Things You Can Do to Reduce Global Warming. Retrieved from:

What is Climate Change? Retrieved from:!/register

Meat-Free Mondays. Retrieved from:



Join in World Environment Day 2018

World Environment Day (WED) is an initiative from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was first started in the 1970s, to raise global awareness about environmental challenges, and encourage people around the world to take action.

Every year, World Environment Day focuses on a key environmental issue. The theme for this year (5 June 2018) is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

The Problem with Plastic

Plastic is a very strong, durable substance that doesn’t degrade (break down) easily. One plastic bottle can last for 450 years, slowly degrading into smaller and smaller pieces which leach into the soil and the water. These pieces end up microscopically small, but they never truly ‘disappear’.

Plastic pollution is a huge problem in the marine ecosystem. Litter is left on the beach, or washed through the drains of cities and towns to end up in the ocean. This litter, especially the plastic kind, can harm marine animals, fish and birds that mistake it for food, or become entangled in it. And of course, once ingested plastic works its way into the food chain via ocean fish, it finds its way into our restaurants and kitchens. Yuck!

Fast Facts on Plastic Pollution

Unfortunately, the human race has become very reliant on the convenience of single-use plastic products – like shopping bags, drinking straws, and water bottles. This has brought us to the point where:

  • 500-billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
  • At least 8-million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year.
  • 1-million plastic bottles are purchased worldwide every minute.
  • Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate.
  • 50% of this plastic is ‘disposable’, designed to be used only once.

Scary stuff! No wonder more and more people are turning to reusable alternatives, like stainless steel straws and bottles, or canvas shopping bags.

Help to #BeatPlasticPollution this World Environment Day

This year, UNEP is calling on individuals and companies to organise cleanups in their communities. Get involved with World Environment Day celebrations for 2018, and help to rid the world of plastic pollution. Here’s what you can do:

  • Join the cleanups planned in your city, country and workplace.
  • Spread the word about WED and local events via social media. Use the hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #BeatPlasticPollution.
  • Arrange your own WED cleanup or presentation for your neighbourhood, community, school or workplace.
  • Register your event at:
  • Invest in some plastic-free, reusable products for your family to use instead of disposable plastics.

World Environment Day gives us all a chance to get involved and make a difference. Here’s to a year with less plastic and less pollution!



World environment day. Retrieved from:

Drive against plastic pollution to gain momentum from India – the global host of World Environment Day 2018. Retrieved from:

World Environment Day: 5 June 20187. Retrieved from:



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