6th-10th September, we are celebrating all women, using this as an excuse to put yourself and your health first!
The Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week is a campaign of events and online activities – all centred on improving women’s health and helping you make healthier choices. Everyone has access to quizzes, podcasts, interviews, competitions to win and free webinars to utilise during next week – https://www.womenshealthweek.com.au/
‘Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer to affect women in Australia, with 1 in 78 women being diagnosed at some point in their life.’ – Health Direct (2020).
Considering Victoria’s current lockdown restrictions, Women’s Health Week is holding an array of online events https://www.womenshealthweek.com.au/get-involved/attend-an-event/ Better yet, your workplace can hold an online event.
Additional online reputable information for women can be obtained from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/womens-health
‘Overweight and obesity are increasing for all women, and particularly in younger generations.’ – Jean Hailes for Women’s Health (2018).
In normal non-restricted times, Workplace Health & Safety would be visiting workplaces to conduct health assessments (screening for heart health, diabetes, cholesterol, body composition and more), or exciting presentations to your workplace filled with lots of statistics and tips on living your healthiest life! We are still here for your workplaces – via zoom or over the phone advice.
Every day in Australia, around 115 people die from cardiovascular disease – The Heart Foundation (2021).
The biggest contributors to the burden of heart and the blood vessel disease are:
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet
- High cholesterol
For many of us, heart disease risk factors can be addressed with small lifestyle changes:
- Eat a healthy diet – “Eating a poor diet is the largest contributor to the burden of cardiovascular disease.”;
- Quit smoking and e-cigarettes – “Smokers have more heart attacks, strokes and angina (chest pain or discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood) than non-smokers. They also experience these impacts at a much younger age.”;
- Get plenty of exercise:
– Be active on most, preferably all, days of the week
– Get between150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week
– Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week
The Heart Foundation (2021) suggests incorporating into your diet to look after your heart:
- plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and wholegrains;
- minimal processed foods;
- a variety of protein-rich foods, including fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans, lentils and chickpeas), nuts and seeds, eggs and chicken, unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese;
- healthy fats and oils, including olive, canola, sunflower, peanut and soybean oil. You can also choose foods that contain heart-healthy fats, such as avocados, olives, unsalted nuts and seeds;
- herbs and spices for bursts of flavour;
To donate to The Heart Foundation, click here – https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/
‘Work-related stress is a growing problem around the world that affects not only the health and well-being of employees, but also the productivity of organisations.’ Better health (2020).
Work-related stress arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person’s capacity and capability to cope. Work-related stress is the second most common compensated illness/injury in Australia, after musculoskeletal disorders.
Common causes of work-related stress include:
- Long hours;
- Heavy workload;
- Tight deadlines;
- Insufficient skills for the job;
- Lack of resources;
- Few promotional opportunities;
- Job insecurity;
- Conflicts with co-workers or bosses;
Signs and Symptoms of workplace stress:
- Muscular tension;
- Heart palpitations;
- Sleeping difficulties;
- Gastrointestinal upsets;
- Dermatological disorders;
- Feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope;
- Cognitive difficulties – reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions;
- Increased sick days and absenteeism;
- Diminished creativity and initiative;
- Decrease in work performance;
- Problems with interpersonal relationships;
- Mood swings and irritability;
How can you cope with work stress?
- Pay attention to your work-life balance. Burnout can occur if a person focuses their energy on one area of life while neglecting everything else.
- Relaxation strategies: We love ‘Insight Timer’ with mindfulness starting at 5 minutes, making it easy to complete a session at work.
- Problem solving: this is an active coping strategy that teaches people to take specific steps when approaching a challenge.
- Think about the changes you need to make at work in order to reduce your stress levels and then take action.
- Talk over your concerns with your employer or human resources manager.
- Make sure you are well organised. List your tasks in order of priority. Schedule the most difficult tasks of each day for times when you are fresh, such as first thing in the morning.
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Don’t take out your stress on loved ones. Instead, tell them about your work problems and ask for their support and suggestions.
- Drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, won’t alleviate stress and can cause additional health problems. Avoid excessive drinking and smoking.
- Seek professional counselling from a psychologist.
- If work-related stress continues to be a problem, despite your efforts, you may need to consider another job or a career change. Seek advice from a career counsellor or psychologist.
Benefits to employers helping to prevent stress in the workplace:
- Reduced presentation of poor mental and physical health
- Fewer injuries, less illness and lost time
- Reduced sick leave usage, absences and staff turnover
- Increased productivity
- Greater job satisfaction
- Increased work engagement
- Reduced costs to the employer
- Improved employee health and community wellbeing.
How to help reduce stress, as the employer:
- Ensure a safe working environment.
- Make sure that everyone is properly trained for their job.
- De-stigmatise work-related stress by openly recognising it as a genuine problem.
- Discuss issues and grievances with employees, and take appropriate action when possible.
- Devise a stress management policy in consultation with the employees.
- Encourage an environment where employees have more say over their duties, promotional prospects and safety.
- Organise to have a human resources manager.
- Cut down on the need for overtime by reorganising duties or employing extra staff.
- Take into account the personal lives of employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes clash with the demands of work.
- Seek advice from health professionals, if necessary.
Sources: helpguide.org (2020). Harvard (2019). Better Health (2020).
Tuesday 21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia. Dementia is a broader term for conditions caused by brain injuries or diseases that negatively affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. – dementia.org.au (2021).
World Alzheimer’s Day highlights the importance of talking about alzheimers, raising awareness of how it impacts the daily lives of people affected by the condition and challenge the stigma that surrounds it.
In the early stages the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very subtle. However, it often begins with lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects.
Other symptoms may include:
- Memory loss affecting daily activities, such as an ability to keep appointments
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
- Trouble with familiar tasks, such as using a microwave
- Difficulties with problem-solving
- Trouble with speech or writing
- Becoming disoriented about times or places
- Decreased personal hygiene
- Mood and personality changes
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
Diagnosis, cure and causes:
Diagnosis is made by a doctor and currently there is no cure, however there are treatments that can slow progression and help manage symptoms.
Alzheimer’s may be brought on due to a family history/genetics and age.
How to support somebody with dementia in the workplace:
Some effects on work somebody with dementia may experience include:
- difficulty communicating their thoughts to colleagues or clients
- trouble concentrating
- forgetting important meetings or appointments
- difficulty managing several tasks at one time
- having problems with larger groups and possibly preferring to work alone
- losing confidence in their work abilities
- feeling uncertain about making important decisions
You can support somebody in the workplace with dementia by having these simple conversation starters:
- What checkpoints can we put in place to help you stay on track?
- What should we be looking for that would indicate you are struggling?
- How do you want us to respond when there are performance problems so that you know we are being supportive?
- What would you think would be the signs that working is no longer an option for you?
- What kind of errors might you be concerned about making and how can we help manage these?
- What are the things that most stress or overwhelm you right now?
- Let’s check in every ___ days. What time works for you?
Sources: Healthline (2018). Alzheimers Society (2021). Dementia Australia (2021). Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (2021).
Monday 20th – Friday 24th September is Headache Awareness Week.
It’s estimated that 7 in 10 people have at least one headache each year. – Healthline (2017).
What is a headache?
A headache is a very common condition that causes pain and discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Headaches can sometimes be mild, but in many cases, they can cause severe pain that makes it difficult to concentrate at work and perform other daily activities.
There are many types of headaches, including:
- Tension Headaches: Which occur most frequently in women over age 20. These headaches are often described as feeling like a tight band around the head. They are caused by a tightening of the muscles in the neck and scalp. Poor posture and stress are contributing factors.
- Cluster headaches: are non-throbbing headaches that cause excruciating, burning pain on one side of the head or behind the eye.
- Migraine headaches: Migraine headaches are severe headaches that can cause throbbing, pounding pain, usually on one side of the head.
- Rebound headaches: Rebound headaches are those that occur after a person stops taking medications they used regularly to treat headaches.
- Thunderclap headaches: Thunderclap headaches are abrupt, severe headaches that often come on very quickly. They will usually appear without warning and last up to five minutes.
- Diet: insufficient food, missing meals, delayed meals, eating too little and dehydration;
- Specific foods: including chocolate, citrus fruits, dairy products and pork products;
- Environmental triggers: bright lights, computer overuse, loud sounds, pollution, strong smells (eg. perfume, smoke-filled rooms);
- Hormonal (women): menstruation, ovulation, pregnancy, menopause;
- Some medications;
- Physical and emotional: lack of sleep, stiff and painful muscles, eye or dental problems, blows to the head, arguments, excitement stress or muscle tension;
How to deal with a headache in the workplace:
Usually a headache does not require time off work. Headache sufferers can help themselves by practicing the following:
- Regular breaks especially if work repetitive or using computers
- Relaxation techniques to rid the body of tension and stress
- Making their work environment as comfortable as possible
- Varying position to avoid stiffness and tension
- Communicating and keeping work informed so a colleague could stand in the event of a headache
- Explaining their headaches to colleagues so they understand the necessity of time off from work
If you are experiencing persistent headaches or finding it hard to relieve your headaches, visit your GP to discuss.
Sources: Headache Australia (2021) and Healthline (2017).