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7 down to earth Wellness Building Blocks during isolation

Wait, wait, don’t scroll down, this is not just another COVID-19 blog. This is 7 down to earth Wellness Building Blocks during isolation.

Seriously though, I had the pleasure of hearing Taylor Johnson from Roots Reboot speak yesterday about the 7 Building Blocks to Wellness, and lord knows we need wellness during this COVID-19 crisis. Taylor used the analogy of a house, describing how all 7 elements below are critical for a strong foundation, in our case, wellness.

Rate yourself along with me on Wellness vs COVID-19 isolation, here we go:

  1. Sleep – essential for rest and recovery, mood and attention span, and for our body to reset. Get those sleep habits right, no screens.

    My COVID score: 5/10

    Not good, watching a bit too much Netflix (Michael Jordan story and The Capture on ABC iView), staying up way too late, a little interrupted sleep and sleeping in way too much. Streaming TV – how good! How am I ever going to get up for work again?

    Your score _____?

  2. Nutrition – watch what we eat, don’t binge, hydration, watch the alcohol intake (I am watching the alcohol, but mmm it’s nice) diet smart, more veggies and watch the snacking during the day. I know, I know, but I’m bored, and the fridge is so handy and the chocolate so good with the TV and the red wine.

    My COVID score: 4/10

    I’ve slipped, let myself down. Extra cakes, extra biscuits and a bit of extra red.

    Your score _____?

  3. Exercise – get up early, stretch, walk, roll, run, swim, gym… you know the drill. It lowers stress (you know the benefits on the heart), builds strength, muscles and releases endorphins.

    My COVID score: 5/10.

    I’m sleeping in, whereas I used to be up at 5:45am for gym. I’ve gotten lazy. But I did a big 75 minute walk this morning. I’m back – nearly.

    Your score _____?

  4. Mindset – remaining positive and optimistic, mood, open to new ideas and new learnings, a growth mindset.

    My COVID score: 7/10

    Not bad. OK, whilst in lockdown I’m working, Zooming, taking the glass full approach that one day this will end, won’t it? I’m trying to keep the family up and about.

    Your score _____?

  5. Social – out with people, meeting people, engaging and connecting, talking, relationships, rapport, support network, shaking hands. No, none of that during isolation.

    My COVID score: 1/10

    Distancing and isolation are the enemy of social – I’m just at home with my wife and kids… and they’re over my singing and dancing already! But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is slowly opening social up, stay optimistic.

    Your score _____?

  6. Self-care – looking after yourself from the neck up: kindness, compassion, empathy, mindfulness, meditation, understanding, self-awareness, laughter, hobbies, enjoying something for you, self-love, and self-talk.

    My COVID score: 7/10

    I’m trying hard here to talk to myself and keep an up mood. Not good every day though, I must admit. I have my good and bad days.

    Your score _____?

  7. External environment – cluttered work desk, cluttered house or surroundings, relaxed working environment, making healthy choices.

    My COVID score: 8/10

    I’m lucky I’ve got everything at home I need, but I’m not home schooling the kids! I’m next to a park for a walk when I feel I need it for instance.

    Your score _____?

Well, how did you rate?

My report card: 37/70 (just a pass)

“Laurie is just ok during COVID 19; he needs to get out much more and mix with his friends and socialise!”

Love to hear how you’re coping right now, today – seriously.

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Posted in Consumer, Sport & Entertainment

This will be a thing. Face masks in the workplace.

I had never understood face mask wearing in public. To me, face masks indicated a cultural misunderstanding, a weird convention I couldn’t grasp. Were the wearers suggesting our pollution levels were up there with Shanghai’s, were we particularly foul mouthed, or were they themselves escapees from some infectious sanatorium? 

I’ve now done a backflip on this thinking. The more facts I read about ‘Face Masks’ the more convinced I am that they will be key to us getting back to business as usual. Or at least close to BAU.

While a mask won’t necessarily save the wearer if exposed, it lessens the likelihood of infection. How it really helps is in protecting ‘the other’ from the ‘wearer’. That insight flipped my judgement of public mask wearing from ‘negative and weird’ to ‘positive and respectful’. 

Supporting evidence is mounting by the countries ‘beating’ COVID-19:

  • Taiwan – Masks are mandated in many public areas such as public transport
  • China – Any region or city where there is the slightest trace of the virus, the wearing of masks is mandated by law
  • South Korea – The Government has sent face masks to every house
  • Singapore and Hong Kong – Have urged all citizen to wear masks all the time, as a sign of respect to others and a small amount of self-protection
  • Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Israel – mandated public mask wearing

Results are showing improved reductions in new case rates when mask wearing is combined with various stages of lock downs.

A bandanna, an old school cotton handkerchief or a pharmacy bought face mask will help us all, and maybe get us back to work, and on with life, as we knew it.  If we all get on board, it will normalise the previously abnormal.

What do you think about face masks in your world @work?

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Posted in The world @work

How the wrong job can affect your mental health – 7 signs to look out for

As the tally of seemingly meaningless statistics scrolled above my head, the reason we were all there became less clear, yet somehow it all made sense to someone crunching the numbers for management.

If you’ve ever worked in a call centre, you’d understand that call times, uptimes, downtimes, pretty much anytime you spend on or off the phone – even going to the toilet – is all logged and scrutinised. At the end of each pod of desks there’ll be an authoritarian figure (hello, team leader) shouting out the numbers like a charioteer whose task is to ensure we’re galloping along on course with the regional average, a flotilla of headset wearing warriors charged with keep our customers happy.

Completing call centre boot camp – a two week training course prior to our actual start date – those numbers were embedded into each individual customer advisor’s head. If we couldn’t reach the targets, there’d be someone to remind us that sometimes quantity is more important than quality. I felt like I was lost in a sea of numbers – that I myself was just a number.

Here are 7 signs to look out for that indicate you might be struggling:

  • Loss of energy or motivation – not being able to self-motivate or lack of determination to reach your goals
  • Irritability or aggression that is abnormal
  • Lack of sleep
  • Changing in eating habits
  • Strain on relationships in and outside of work
  • A lack of self-confidence that occurred in the timeframe you’ve been employed
  • Increase in sensitivity, and a worry that you’re constantly unfulfilling the needs of your manager

After what seemed like an infinity, I decided I’d had enough and I would change this myself, intrinsically thinking of the end goal in all of this – my happiness! My focus then began to steer towards the customer experience, and how having more of an interpersonal approach would benefit the person on both sides of the headset. I exercised the points listed within this article over the course of a few weeks, and found that in within the first few days my stress began to ease and I was able to really get behind what mattered – my work.

When we look back on our careers, there’s often that one job we can pinpoint, which still to this day makes us shudder. One where we felt overlooked, underappreciated or overworked. Maybe you didn’t get along with a particular colleague or manager, or your values weren’t aligned with the culture of the company. Sometimes in the short-term you just have to get on with the job, but grinning and bearing it shouldn’t be at the determent of your longer-term mental health.

Most of us in professional roles can think of times when we felt worn out and just needed to take a break, but did you know that according to the Australian Human Rights Commission around 25% of workers have taken off days due to stress? Studies show that job pressures can play out in various mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression. The sad reality is many people who experience this feel trapped or unable to leave due to financial circumstances, which can lead to a feeling of further isolation.

Here’s what can you do to help yourself.

Set realistic boundaries – Reasonable KPIs help us to benchmark our performance, but don’t let them consume you to the point where you are at panic stations the entire day. Speak to your manager or a respected colleague about how you can meet your targets.

Ensure you take your full lunch break – You’ll have enough time to read a book, eat proper food and leave your office or desk. You might even consider reducing your screen time (taking a break from your smartphone) to wind down and regenerate for the afternoon.

Get fit – If you’re going to improve your mental health, you’ll need the energy to do it. Go for walk or a jog in the fresh air at lunchtime, before or after work. Participating in sport and fitness activities as a hobby can be a fun way to end the day on a high.

Maintain a positive image of yourself – If you’re good at identifying the negatives, be better at listing the positives! Maybe you have great conversational skills for network, you’re savvy with technology and computer systems or simply always on time. Everyone has good (and bad) qualities – focusing on your strengths will improve your confidence.

Understand that you’re not on your own – This brings me back to the importance of conversation. Talk to your colleagues, your friends outside of work or family, do not suffer in silence. An HR or recruitment consultant can also offer guidance to help you find work that is a good fit with your knowledge, experience and personal interests.

In my experience it’s been little wins each day that have helped me grow by building my self-confidence. Of course I always knew I was more than a number (more easily realised without those numbers literally hovering above head), so if you’ve had similar thoughts reading this, I would love to hear what tips you might have for better mental health.  

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Posted in Interchange Bench

The agony and the ecstasy

It’s the last week in September – one of the most eagerly awaited weeks in the Australian sports calendar… AFL finals fever is palpable! Recently Slade Group and the Interchange Bench were fortunate enough to get our own Aussie Rules footy fix, hosting well-known football journalist Caroline Wilson, CEO of Geelong Football Club, Brian Cook and Marc Murphy, Captain of Carlton FC at our annual Footy Lunch.

Our panel (with me as MC) rapidly covered off: Who can beat Richmond this year? (Collingwood); Can the West Coast Eagles win at the MCG? (I think so); How long will it take Carlton FC to make the final eight? (About 3-4 years!); And why are players leaving the Suns? (Global warming??)

Seriously though, what was most interesting about our panel discussion was Marc Murphy’s take on the current state of player welfare.

Back in the 80s, when I was playing, the big question was how do we get into Chasers nightclub and the Underground (without queuing, and a drink card would be nice too, thanks)? Innocent times in comparison.

Seriously though, Marc got everyone’s attention when he identified health and wellbeing as the top issue facing current AFL players. As someone who works in the people capital business, I was really interested.  Let’s talk about them here:

Mental Health

This is a massive issue, so much so that the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) has established a specialised in house Mental Health and Wellbeing team to provide counselling to current and past players. Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveal that up to one in five Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime – AFL players are no different.

Stress

All of us have work pressures – present stressors that can lead to mental health issues. However as AFLPA Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing Brent Hedley wrote, the current stressors for players include: performance anxiety, public scrutiny, media attention, injury and being away from the family. The public spotlight simply magnifies these stressors.

General Health and Wellbeing

Other common health issues amongst AFL players may include: depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol problems, eating disorders and gambling, side effects from injuries such as concussion, not to mention a whole range of other physical injuries related to contact sport. They may appear to be super human on the field, but often spend more time off field recovering.

Social Media

Social media can be a frenemy, especially for high profile footballers. Hedley’s advice is “Social media can be a confronting environment for players and cause significant stress, but it can also be one that gives players a chance to express themselves and show their human side.” This highlights the importance for players in having a strong network away from their sporting identities, which can support them when football is causing them stress.

Our Footy Lunch was a great event – we even picked a winner for Saturday (that’s right, your tip’s the one)! Yet Marc’s comments really hit a nerve with me. Footy players are like you and me (well, perhaps a bit more like me)… They win, they lose, they struggle, they laugh and they cry. The major difference is for a sports star, it’s all played out on an open stage for everyone to see. Players need help in the workplace from time to time, just like us. I think it’s great to see through the AFLPA that they’re getting it.

How do you manage stress and other pressures in your workplace? What are some of the strategies you have used to help improve the health and wellbeing of others @work?

 

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Posted in Consumer, Sport & Entertainment, The world @work