WORKPLACE WELLNESS: THE STRATEGY THAT WORKS

BY: PRINCESS ABARA

Most adults spend a substantial portion of their waking hours at their place of work. Unfortunately, modern workplaces frequently contribute to ill health: desk jobs lead to physical inactivity, workplace stress can lead to poor sleep and poor dietary choices, cigarette smoking rates remain dangerously high, and a number of other factors can combine to put workers’ health at risk.

The good news is that workplaces also present a valuable opportunity for health promotion: scientific studies show that when done right, workplace health promotion and disease prevention programs can improve the health of employees, reduce healthcare costs, increase productivity, and produce a positive return-on-investment (ROI), resulting in a win-win for employees and employers

BENEFITS OF WORKPLACE WELLNESS

• Improved Productivity

• Lower Healthcare Cost

• Sense of Accomplishment

• Improved Physical Fitness

• Weight Loss

• Stress Reduction

• Healthier Habits

WORKPLACE WELLNESS A WIN-WIN

Implementing a workplace wellness program is a win-win for both employers and employees. Employee health and well- being has a direct impact on the health of the organization, including the bottom line.

It’s been shown that businesses with workplace wellness programs often experience increased employee morale and productivity. Meanwhile absenteeism, and the costs associated with sick and disability leave, decline.

A comprehensive wellness program can also attract, engage and retain top talent to your organization.

A workplace wellness program reflects an organization’s commitment to helping their employees make healthy lifestyle choices and improve their health. This can include providing tools and information about health-related topics as well as establishing company policies that encourage and support healthy choices, such as guidelines for healthy snacks at meetings.

WALKING THE WALK

The most successful workplace wellness programs are those embraced at the highest levels in the organization. When senior management recognize the benefits of a healthy workplace to both the business and the employees they are more likely to get behind the idea with time and resources. By visibly showing their commitment and walking the walk, senior management influence and increase buy-in and participation of employees.

 CREATIVE, NOT COSTLY

Wellness programs don’t need to be expensive.

A little creativity can go a long way.

Inexpensive incentive prizes, like gift cards for friendly wellness-based competition, or even just bragging rights on the company intranet or newsletter can keep employees interested, participating and having fun. 

That same newsletter is the perfect space for some information about healthy eating or other wellness tips. Adding a physical activity or healthy food choice to staff events and social activities is another simple way to enhance a workplace wellness program.

Hypertension: The Silent Killer

Hypertension as a silent killer

He woke up to the sound of his alarm as he does every morning. It was 5am sharp but to his surprise he felt different; he could barely lift his hand. He thought, what could be happening? Did I sleep wrong? He finally made it to the bathroom but almost fell, as he was quite clumsy, something he also noticed that morning but paid no attention to.

Thank God! There was a clinic at his work place, he thought. He drove past his office complex, straight to the staff clinic, and got there at 8:40am after overcoming the Lagos transient ‘morning gridlock’ and poured out his worries on the doctor who listened patiently, asked more questions and examined him. His plan was to get this over with, take a few tablets and get inside his office to begin work at 9am.

Meanwhile, His Blood pressure (BP) was 210/100 mmHg and there was only one possibility- a stroke was imminent and he needed urgent care.

Mr. G was only 42 years old with a great job, a beautiful, charismatic wife and 3 lovely children but he had never felt the need to check his blood pressure and as most of us would think. He said, “What? Haba, doctor! BP high ke, I’m not that old now, don’t you think its typhoid or malaria or that I’m just over stressing myself?”

The Doctor replied, “It isn’t typhoid. We should be happy that you are still walking and breathing. To put it plainly, it’s a miracle that you drove yourself here. You could have died in your sleep, or had a stroke on your way, so, I have to admit you and get those numbers down. “

Mr G’s wife rushed over to the clinic, two hours after he called saying he was admitted for observation. She immediately started praying loudly, saying repeatedly, “Stroke cannot be for my husband”.

Mr G had hypertension and never knew his numbers till danger came knocking on the door. Yes, Mr G got better, God answered the prayers but he learnt the hard way. The doctor made sure his wife didn’t leave without a BP check and quick examination telling her that ‘Prayer without works is dead!’

We all act like Mr G sometimes. We wait for crisis before taking action. He was lucky but someone else may not be, hence, the need for awareness and action

According to the new guidelines by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2017, Hypertension is persistently high blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg and above.

For those of us that remember fraction in primary school, it’s just the way it’s written. The top value is known as your systolic blood pressure – which is the higher limit of pressure reached when your heart contracts, while the denominator is the diastolic blood pressure, the lowest pressure in the between heartbeats.

In simple terms, high blood pressure is raised force of blood pushing against the walls of the vessels. This makes the heart have to pump harder and do more work.  

What makes it more deadly is the fact that it just creeps in on us, with no symptoms initially, until it starts damaging the body organs from brain, to the heart, kidneys, eyes and more, causing stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and in some cases, blurred vision or complete vision loss.

In 2018, PubMed brought to our notice that, of the 160 million people in Nigeria, over 46 million are hypertensive. The story gets even more depressing as some studies reveal that our new adoptions of unhealthy eating and drinking habits and stressful routines as we see in mega cities like Lagos, puts  a lot more at risk. An overwhelming number of Nigerians still wake up to high blood pressure daily.

I agree with you, ‘God forbid’, but the truth is, it may come as a surprise because some never made effort to know their numbers, some cannot even afford to, others don’t even care at all hence many remain in the dark as regards knowing if they are at risk or need to make adjustments to their lifestyle.

What can you do? I know you’re thinking, “What can I do? I’m 30 and rocking life”. Yes, great! But, it is you I’m actually talking to, even if you are just 25 years old. Early detection is good, but prevention is best. We can start by knowing the risk factors. They include;

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5 LIES, 1 FACT || MYTHS ABOUT MENSTRUAL PERIODS

The conversation around menstruation is usually in hushed tones. We usually say ‘I’m on’, ‘The red visitor is here’. While seemingly cute, these expressions often come from a place of misplaced chastity and the thought that periods are somewhat sacred. Menstrual hygiene day was recently commemorated on May 28, as it is annually, with the vision to break the silence, raise awareness and change societal norms surrounding menstrual hygiene management around the world.

These beliefs could be a genuine source of castigation and harm, as in Ghana where girls were banned from crossing a river they needed to cross to get to at the request of the river god and in India where a girl committed suicide due to ‘menstruation shame.’ Hence, it is imperative to clear the air.

Image Credit: Pinterest

As children, certain practices and beliefs about periods were passed down to us- voluntarily or otherwise. Some of them, like the idea that sharks are attracted to women on their periods, are hilarious. However, some, like in Iran where, according to UNICEF, 48% of girls still believe that periods are a disease or in certain parts of Nepal where the chapaudi practice keeps females are literally kept in isolation during menstruation.

Conversations and education centred around this regular physiological process could be the key to eliminating the stigma associated with periods. So, are these myths true or false? Keep reading!

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