Archive for the ‘Health at Work’ Category

Holidays: New study shows Australians are not taking them

January 10, 2009

A new study by Tourism Australia has shown that people are not taking their annual leave, but working instead.Close to 60% of full-time workers did not use their 4 weeks holiday, citing “workplace issues” and “personal issues” as reasons why. 

Stockpiling annual leave has an effect on people’s performance and workplace happiness as well as the company bottom line. The study is aimed at turning this missing leave into Australian holidays to boost the tourism industry, which should have a positive effect for everyone. 

“In the interests of workplace productivity as well as individuals’ mental refreshment and general health, it is important that annual leave be taken seriously by business.  During this time of skill shortages, employers who want to retain their talented workers increasingly need to be seen as employers of choice.

 “Employers who impose a culture of ‘work first at all costs’ are not investing in their people and will lose them to competitors who have a culture of looking after their human capital,” Jo Mithen, AHRI executive director said in the report.

Thinking uses more calories than doing nothing?

September 7, 2008
Thinking uses more calories?

Thinking uses more calories?

Why is it that we feel so exhausted at the end of a day sitting down at the computer thinking?
Surely it means our brain is using up all those calories to do mental acrobatics and we can justify the extra sugar because we need the energy?

Unfortunately this is not true. A recent study published in Psychosomatic Medicine shows that mental work uses only 3 more calories than sitting around doing nothing (per 45 minute stint).

The people in the study were then given access to an eat all you like buffet. After doing “mental work”, people ate over 200 calories more than when they sat doing nothing.

So we must perceive we are using more energy and therefore feel the need to eat more.

Or, we feel we have done some work, so we need to reward ourselves for being good.
Both of these would ring true for me during the working day.

The main author of the study noted “Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries”.

Translated this means that office work and little exercise is making us fat!
Not a surprise to most of us.

Here’s some tips on trying to stay slim at work:
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Bad day at work? 15 ways to switch your mood

July 4, 2008
  1. Get some exercise, even if it is just a walk. You may feel like slumping in front of the TV, but the best
    Green and Blacks yummy choc

    Green and Blacks yummy choc

    thing to do is get moving. Exercise will release endorphins and make you feel better.

  2. Go to bed early. Sometimes it’s just better to finish the day early and get some sleep. Have a warm drink, snuggle up and make sure it’s very dark. Tomorrow will be a better day.
  3. Get hugged. Whether it is your partner or a friend, get some physical contact. A hug will always help. If there are no people around, love your pet. I’ll bet they will love you back.
  4. Buy some expensive, high quality, yummy food and eat it with relish (and no guilt!). If you buy a small amount of luxury, it will make you feel good – as opposed to truckloads of cheap, sugar-loaded food. I am a fan of Green & Black’s organic Darker then Milk chocolate which you can buy in 30g bars.
  5. Have a bath (if you live somewhere with no water restrictions!). Fill it with bubble bath or aromatic oil and relax.
  6. Get a massage. Pay for a professional and you won’t regret it. During the massage, concentrate only on the physical sensations and forget all the troubles of the day
  7. Talk yourself up. We all have inner self-talk and a lot of it is negative and can bring us down. Notice what you say to yourself, and be kinder. Write down some positive affirmations and carry them with you. Look at them when you feel down.
  8. Go dancing, either with friends or go along to a club. There are all kinds of dancing classes available now and you will find you relax more and can groove your cares away.
  9. Sing. It helps – really! Karaoke is a fantastic way to feel better. Belt out some early Madonna, or thrash your head to some rock. You may need a drink to loosen the vocal cords first.
  10. Laugh. See the dance class above. You can’t help but smile when attempting to salsa! Get a funny movie out.
  11. Phone a friend and catch up. Don’t moan and don’t focus on the bad things. Just catch up and be grateful for the friendship.
  12. Plan your next holiday. Dream it and Google all the things you would do with unlimited money.
  13. Breathe deeply. Sometimes your stress will be so high, you forget to breathe which holds in all the tension. Let it out with long, slow breaths.
  14. Thrash a punch-bag at a boxing class. If you can exhaust your body and get all your frustrations out on the bag, you will feel a whole lot better!
  15. Listen to happy music. Make a song list on your ipod for when you really feel down. Make it happy and uplifting, positive music. Cheesy is sometimes best in these situations. Some of my favourites: Christina Aguilera – Soar, Wilson Phillips – Hold On, Survivor – Eye of the Tiger, Chumbawumba – I get knocked down

If this day keeps repeating itself, ask yourself why and write down 5 things you can change so you are not still repeating this day in 6 months time.
Take massive action and make sure this situation changes.

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Multitasking: Essential…or Not?

June 24, 2008

Are you a multi-tasker?

I am – and I can’t see myself being any other way as I enjoy the stimulation. But my partner is single-minded and highly focussed on one thing at a time, and this works for him.

I don’t think this is a gender thing – it is based on the way an individual’s mind works.


Multi-tasking is considered a positive attribute in the workplace. In fact, it is demanded of the modern office worker.

You will be interrupted every few minutes by new emails, phone calls, meetings, demands on your time. On top of this, you actually need to perform your job.

Many of my colleagues have two screens at their desk, so they can simultaneously monitor email and work.

If you are not a natural multi-tasker, how do you cope with all these demands on your attention?


A number of books extol the virtues of slowing down, of focussing on quality tasks instead of the constant stream of interruption.

Studies have shown that multi-tasking can be dangerous. If we can’t drive and speak on the phone, how can we email and do the same thing?

If we are constantly moving on from a task, how can we accomplish anything at all?


Should companies encourage multi-tasking or is there a different way?


An alternative would be to have focussed periods of time without interruption that would enable periods of constructive work.


Some suggestions would be:

          Only enable the email servers between 8 – 10am and 3-5pm so people have specific periods of time to respond to email

          Turn on the mobile phone jammer during specific periods so that people are not distracted

          Schedule meetings only in the mornings when people have the most energy

          Have focus rooms where people can go and not be disturbed. Ensure that people get access to these several times a week.


Even these simple ideas are blasphemous in today’s corporate society, but perhaps more “work” would get done this way?


This is a great article on multi-tasking that goes into greater detail on this topic:

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Losing weight if you are at a desk all day

June 19, 2008

Vertical deskThursday is safety cake day. We have a meeting about health and safety and then we get cake. I can resist if it is the orange one, or even the carrot cake – but the chocolate one is too much. So I go to a spinning class beforehand (45 minutes of extreme stationary cycling) to assuage my guilt.

On this topic, it might be a while until we get the vertical desk – so here are some ways to lose weight at work.

·         Wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day.

·         Use any opportunity to get moving. Walk over to co-workers for a brief chat at their desks rather than messaging them via your computer.

·         Log your food intake – studies show that you lose more weight if you monitor what you eat

·         Stop drinking soda and fizzy drinks – they are packed with sugar

·         Stop having sugar in tea and coffee

·         Leave your shoes at work and wear trainers to encourage walking

·         Walk at lunchtime

·         Start an exercise group for support.

·         Have a health and fitness competition at work with some decent prizes

·         Find a local gym and go before or after work

·         Be encouraging, support others and they will support you

·         Take your own lunch and healthy snacks

·         Drink more water so you don’t confuse hunger with thirst

·         Campaign to get fresh fruit in the office instead of a chocolate machine (or safety cake!)

·         Use chewing gum to get you through the difficult moments

None of this is rocket science, but it is hard to do. I know as I have been avoiding these things for years! I am a member of the 3.30pm sugar high club! I am now tackling this with a Chupa Chup or chewing gum. That little bit of sugar is just enough and keeps me away from the chocolate machine (unless it’s Thursday). You can do it too!

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New study shows office workers are getting fatter

May 25, 2008

A new study by shows that office workers are getting fatter.

34% of IT workers have gained more than 10lbs in their current jobs, and 17% have gained twice that.

53% of financial services and 52% of government workers have also put on weight.

Eating out , lack of portion control, sedentary jobs and the need for reward all add to the difficulty of staying slim at work. Here are 5 ways you can eat more healthily at the office.



a.      Have nutritious snacks around so that when you make a grab for a snack you reach a healthy one. Some great snacks to have around the office include fresh fruit, nuts, whole wheat biscuits or crackers, low-fat energy bars, and hummus with pita bread.

b.      Keep your own set of snacks nearby or in a locked drawer so when the hunger pangs strike you don’t start running to the vending machine! The key is to be prepared so that you don’t give in to impulse eating—something you are likely to do when the work pressure is on and there isn’t any time to think or prepare food.

c.       Choose low-fat versions, diet versions, and sugar-less versions of things you consume such as yoghurt, ice cream, soda, milk and various snacks.

d.      Screen for trans-fats in popular items such as popcorn and chips. Try to avoid them completely and substitute with healthier options such as cottage cheese, crackers, granola bars, etc.

e.      Have a drink of icy cold water both before and after meals. The drink before the meal will mean reduced appetite for food and the drink after the meal will help you to burn more calories while digesting the food.