New Year’s Resolutions

The year will soon be drawing to a close, edging closer to that annual ‘New Year’s Resolution’ tradition.

Yet, did you know that out of the millions of New Year’s resolutions made, a massive 80% are broken within a matter of weeks.

The problem? We create unrealistic goals and ultimately set ourselves up for failure.

Here at The Healthy Worker, we like to approach the concept of New Year’s resolutions with positivity, creating ones that are good for our well-being which we can also follow through on.


But, Where to begin?

Start with simple but realistic goals or change one small thing at a time.

Making drastic life changes can be too hard to maintain and ultimately you may not even end up being better off.

It’s also best to plan what resolutions you want to make before the New Year arrives, so you can give yourself some relaxation room during the Christmas break!


Develop a support network

You don’t have to do it alone.

Friends, family and work colleagues can all help you. Take the time to discuss what changes you want to make and tell them how they can help.


Monitor your success throughout the year!

Stay motivated by measuring how far you’ve come each week.

This will help you realise how small changes can make a big difference, plus keep you on top of fulfilling your end goal.

Perhaps keep a diary or ask a friend to help you keep track of the changes you’ve made!


Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up

Learn from any of the setbacks you may make, they are part of the journey!

Perhaps reflect on what situation made you slip and an you avoid those next time?

It’s also important to ensure you don’t let setbacks affect your progress.


Most importantly – reward yourself!

Don’t be bogged down by the efforts of completing your resolutions and ensure you celebrate when you succeed with a treat, which doesn’t necessarily have to be the thing you’re trying to avoid.

Maybe a new top, that piece of cake for lunch or that holiday you’ve always wanted to take.


Making healthy changes to your lifestyle doesn’t have to be a drag, it can be very good for your mindset, diet, or bank account.


Either way, don’t be afraid to take the first few steps as by the time we reach 2020, you may feel better than ever.

Let’s talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

With us now being in thick of Winter, you may find with the office shutdown looming, the dark mornings and nights can become more of a hindrance.

Our to do lists are longer with Christmas deadlines to meet but leaving the office can mean walking into what feels like the dead of night, and that can actually have a serious effect on our mental health.

If you recognise that you’ve been feeling down in the dumps now the days are shorter, or your colleague has started to seem a bit quieter, you or they may be suffering with Season Affective Disorder.


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons.

It typically starts in late Autumn or early Winter and ends during the Spring and Summer months.

Although it can still occur within the Summer months.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The typical signs of SAD mirror typical depression include low energy, sleeping more, craving carbohydrates, overeating resulting in weight gain and withdrawing from social interactions.

Although it’s not actually known what causes SAD, it is thought that the decline in sunlight during winter months disrupts the bodies circadian rhythms.

This is basically your body’s natural internal clock that dictates when you go to sleep and wake up.

It can also be caused by the lack of production of melatonin and serotonin due to the lack of sunlight.

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.

But now you know about it, what can actually be done to help improve your mood?


What can you do to beat SAD?

Without hindering your work life, there are a number of things to try throughout the day to beat the winter blues:

  • Increasing self-care activities: more yoga, meditation, relaxation activities (baths, reading a book, resting).
  • Working out regularly to increase endorphins and energy, which can also mirror as something for you to look forward to in the evenings. Plus, it doesn’t have to be a boring exercise or just joining a gym, there are many sports to choose from!
  • A simple task but if you can, in the office get those curtains/blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible.
  • Have a more controlled approach to your diet and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating more complex carbohydrates, including sweet potatoes and whole grains, with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Getting outside in the sunlight for a brisk walk every day to increase vitamin D and create energy. Perhaps try this before work to try and see the sunlight beforehand.


Bear in mind…

While SAD is still a form of depression, it’s distinguishable from general depression because it has a recurring seasonal pattern.

However, it has been reported that there are many factors that contribute towards developing SAD, including:

  • Being female (women are four times more likely to suffer with SAD)
  • More common in colder climates
  • Already suffering with depression or bipolar disorder
  • A family history of depression
  • Being a young adult

If you or a colleague feel that you could potentially be suffering with SAD, or you have been known to suffer it in the past, you could approach your manager with your concerns.

They may take steps to help beat SAD, with regular breaks or if you would prefer, you could talk to your GP.

Recognising the signs if your colleague is suffering from mental health in the workplace

Everyone can have those down days, especially when there’s a tight deadline or the workload is seemingly larger than usual, colleagues and even managers can feel the strain.

Understandably, tensions can run high in these situations as people handle stressful situations in different ways. Just as it is always important to take care of ourselves, it is also important to keep an eye out for the well-being of our colleagues too.

We’ve discussed what managers or employers should be doing, but how can our fellow colleagues help as well?


Firstly, how do you know if a colleague is struggling?

This can be a difficult question. Everyone is different, and any significant life event can trigger stress, where everyone has their own way of ‘dealing’ with things.

Some colleagues may be excited by challenges and thrive under pressure, which can be great for morale, but for others additional pressure at that time tips the balance from positive pressure into stress and this negatively impacts their productivity and wellbeing.

These are the colleagues you need to help. Just as nobody wants to see anybody else suffering, a colleague signed off with work-related stress can be detrimental for other team members too, by resulting in increased workload.

Getting to know your colleagues makes this situation easier. Over time you’ll learn what’s normal for them in terms of their behaviours and attitudes. Noticing a deviation from this, particularly where this is persistent, will help you recognise when they might need some extra support or care. This may be a subtle noticing, just a ‘gut feeling’ that something is wrong.


What are the mental health warning signs?

The obvious one to start with is changes in behaviour or mood, and how they maybe interacting with you and/or other colleagues.

Or perhaps you’ve noticed change in their work output, motivation and focus. They may have even had a lot of recent short team absences recently which can be associated with stress.

Other signs include struggling to make decisions, get organised or seem very uninterested in the workload, appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and even possible changes in eating habits and appetite.


Now, where do you go from here?

The first thing you can try is finding the space, perhaps on a lunch break or after hours, and genuinely taking the time to ask them about how they are.

Listen without judgement, let your colleague take as much time as is needed to vent their frustrations and offer your emotional support and understanding. Let them know there are others who would want to help too and encourage them to make contact with their GP, your workplace EAP scheme or counselling service or the Samaritans. Samaritans are happy to talk about a lot more than just suicide and can be contacted by telephone or email.

However, if they’re not ready to talk, that’s ok too. Just let them know that when they’re ready, you are always here and perhaps at a later date you could try to approach the subject again.


Final Thoughts?

It’s always better to do something than nothing.

Knowing you took the time to try and support your colleague is much better than hearing the situation got worse and you could have helped to prevent that.

We should ALL encourage an open culture within our workplace, one where ‘it’s OK not to be OK’, this can help shape a positive atmosphere where other colleagues feel they can relax and vent their frustrations when needed. We all have good, bad days, and days where we are struggling to ‘keep it all together’.

Remember that depression is a health condition, not a personal flaw or weakness and that it usually gets better with the right management and support. Look out for your colleagues, and they’ll look out for you.

Mental Health Myths Debunked

We’re sure you’ve heard them all before:

‘People with mental health problems are weak’

‘Only teenage girls self-harm’

‘Mums with postnatal depression don’t love their babies’

These statements are simply not true and can really impact people who are struggling with these conditions. The stigma left by such myths means people find it more difficult to open up, talk about their problems and access appropriate treatment.

The Healthy Worker is going to help debunk the five most common misconceptions of mental health and help remove the stigma once and for all:


You can never recover

Yes, there is no medication which provides instant and lasting effects, as you might with a headache but research shows that anywhere from 25% to 65% of people with a serious mental illness make a recovery.

However most mental health condition are mild to moderate and the vast majority with the more common mental health concerns return to a fully functioning life.

Yes, some people may experience life-lasting conditions, but with the right support and use of health resources, people with mental health conditions can live a fulfilling and happy life.


People with a mental illness can’t work or struggle to hold down a job

If someone does suffer with severe mental health problems, it can affect their ability to work and those with mental health problems have a lower rate of employment than those without. In 2016, the employment rate was 42.9% for those with a mental health condition as their primary long term conditions, compared to 74% for the population overall.

However, many do still work and manage their mental health with supportive management and colleagues. The key is finding a sustainable level of decision making, responsibilities and working hours. This may vary over the years but with good liaison with your employer, making adjustments for long term conditions is often possible. Work in itself can be extremely positive and helpful for those who find that sustainable level.


People with anxiety/depression are weak

Anxiety and depression can stem from feelings of worry, fear or tension but that doesn’t mean to say that mental health sufferers are weak or “feeble”.

Everybody gets anxious – politicians get anxious before a debate, sports people get nervous before a competition, everybody feels these feelings at some point or another, but that doesn’t mean to say that person is weak.

In contrast the reason why these feeling arise can be because you care, and depression as a condition has been known as ‘a curse of the strong’. If someone cares little about what they do and the standards they achieve then nothing bothers them too much. However, for those who care and have invested energy into something they are passionate about, the risks are higher when there are limitations beyond their control.

There are other risk factors for anxiety and depression too but none of these suggest people who experience these problems will always do so, or that they are somehow inherently weak.


Successful people don’t have mental health issues

It’s important to know that mental health can affect anyone, anywhere, given the right circumstances. Yes, that’s includes you!

Being thought of as successful does not make you immune to low self-esteem, anxiety etc. Indeed anxiety can fuel high performance, at least for a while. Equally material possessions don’t make you happy, certainly in the medium to long term. Happiness is not found from external goods. Whether somebody has lots of money or a big house doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to suffer like anybody else.

There are also times when mental health conditions provide something in return. Stephen Fry, for example, has been very open about his mental health issues and how they have provided some of his most creative times. Others with OCD for example can be highly valued for their structures and organisational ability. However, any strength that is over or under done can also become an area for improvement, so it’s back to keeping things on a sustainable basis.


Depression is a personality flaw

If somebody has diabetes or a broken leg, would you judge them negatively? Of course not.

Depression can equally be caused by a chemical imbalance which can impact anybody. There’s isn’t always a cause for depression, although episodes can be triggered by events, they equally can be part of the natural ebbs and flows of life.

Anti-depressants are not necessarily the solution for everyone. They can be helpful often as part of a treatment plan but often talking therapies can provide longer lasting benefits and provide insights which medication alone just can’t achieve!

Interested in finding out about we can help your business? The Healthy Worker is dedicated to developing Wellbeing Champions in the workplace. Have you trained yours? Contact us today for more details on 01684 231461.

We’ve been published in the latest Public Health England [PHE] report!

Exciting news! We have recently been included in the latest Public Health England [PHE] report on identifying promising practices in health and wellbeing for the workplace.


Selected from 117 submissions, The Healthy Worker provided vital research into the importance of helping businesses provide effective health and wellbeing strategies, for the significant reduction of employee absence and sick leave.


The influential report, officially entitled ‘Promising Practices for Health and Wellbeing at Work’, was commissioned by PHE to review the current landscape of health and well-being interventions available to Employers, as it can be difficult to know the impact that workplace wellbeing initiatives are having.


Liz Preece confirmed: “I am delighted that The Healthy Worker has been included in this PHE report, which has taken a robust approach to research evidence, and showcases improved wellbeing for individuals plus the cost benefits of implementing effective wellbeing interventions for employees.”


A comprehensive document, the 100 plus page report highlights the latest evidence that a healthier workforce is a more productive workforce and cites effective interventions from both large-scale providers and SME’s who are able to provide research based evidence of the effectiveness of their interventions.


‘It’s fantastic to see the range of health and well-being organisations nationwide, which are supporting employers provide for improved mental and physical wellbeing for their staff. Avoiding workplace related ill-health and proactively enabling employees to improve their health and wellbeing is the future for successful organisations of all types’ explained Liz. ‘This report highlights those within in the wellbeing sector who have sought ways to evaluate the impact they are having and demonstrates that by focussing on effective wellbeing interventions, businesses can improve their own outcomes whilst also empowering their staff to thrive and grow with them.’


To find out more about the PHE and RAND report, please read here:

Are you taking the time to ask your staff how they’re feeling?

If staff members are off sick with potential mental health problems, how often do you think employers take time out of their schedules to ask them how they are? The answer is not enough.

If you’re one of those employers, you may notice the difference that simply asking can have on your team members, and their overall attendance and productivity levels.

According to recent reports, unsupportive managers can result in employees taking an extra 4.1 days off a year. Not only that, but people with depression were also found to take more days off if their managers did not seem empathetic. Increasing absence rates affects both the employee and the business, but is a detrimental figure that can easily be avoided.

Mind, the mental health charity, found that 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance.

Well, that’s where we can help.

Although the Healthy Worker arrives equipped with polices and refreshing consultancy services to help management improve well-being in the workplace, there’s nothing that helps more than taking the time to ensure you are caring about your staff and showing them that you’re putting important strategies in place to support mental health.

Why not try out some of these small, but effective changes:


Have an open-door policy

If your staff feel you are more open to having a chat, they won’t be more likely to bottle up any issues they may be having, whether it is work related or not. It can be difficult if you are time restricted or don’t have much face to face time with your employees as you’d like, but making small gestures to let them know you’re there, whether it’s via phone call or a one-on-one chat, can make all the difference in ensuring your staff know you value their feelings.


Dedicate your own ‘well-being champion’

As previously mentioned, sometimes it can be hard as a manager with time-restrictions. But this is where our expert knowledge can help! The Healthy Worker can support your staff to become ‘well-being champions’, a designated representative who will have the know-how to support staff with any issues they may be facing and know how to help or guide them through it.

They can work alongside HR, liaising or signposting staff, and be a direct link between the staff and managers to relay any issues in a secure and professional manner.


Break the taboo that surrounds mental health

If your office knows that you can talk about mental health openly and freely, then there won’t be so much pressure when somebody is dealing with something they perhaps feel awkward about. Break down barriers by implementing structures that allow staff to be open and honest and not feel mental health is such a taboo subject.


Get in contact with us with to update your work place policies

Yes, that’s right, here at The Healthy Worker we can provide a range of courses such as; Managing Sickness Absence Workshop for management, Managing stress in the workplace, personal health and coaching and an overall healthy worker course. We will work together with

you and your business to ensure you are up to date with any mental health work place policies and help motivate your staff by knowing they’re working in a safe and healthy work environment.


If staff attendance levels are a concern, or you want to revamp your businesses mental health policies, get in touch with us on 01684 231461 or email

Are there links between your diet and your state of mind?

Can nutrition really affect your mental health? The answer, in short, is yes.


Mental health awareness has grown tremendously in recent years, with multiple positive campaigns enabling more and more people to speak up and receive the support they need. However, one of the most obvious, yet under-recognised issues associated with mental health is poor diet or lack of nutrition.


Recent studies have shown that almost two thirds of people who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or drink fruit juice every day. In contrast those suffering with mental health problems have reported poor appetite, a habit to skip meals, and a dominant desire for sweet tasting foods.


What to avoid

We don’t need to tell you that sugary foods are one of the worst things for a balanced diet. Not only are they bad for possible weight gain and health problems, but they can also play a huge part in affecting your mental state.

Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which can cause an initial ‘high’ or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving you feeling tired, low and with potential anxiety. Not only that, sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty thinking and fatigue, increasing worry and fear.


So, what should I eat?

The old saying that ‘breakfast is the most important meals of the day’ rings true. Having a good, solid breakfast sets you up for the day and can make you feel more awake and ready to take on the day! Plus, it will keep you full for longer and you won’t be as tempted to snack in between meals.

Omega-3 One of the most important foods to incorporate into your diet is omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in several oily fish. According to research, these fatty acids contribute to our brain tissue and can help lower your risk of depression and low mood. Eating salmon, mackerel and sardines regularly will keep your brain healthy and will improve your mood by keeping your brain cells ‘flexible’.


Fruit and Veg

It may be obvious, but it’s true – high quantities of fruit and veg are a must for mental health. In particular, Lentils and Bananas are a good source of amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate. All of these can help with boosting your mood and can also aid sleep! You can read about the affects of sleep deprivation on your mental health here.


So, where do we go from here?

As research has shown, we cannot ignore the massive links between our nutritional and mental health. Eating good food promotes overall health and well-being, but what you eat can hugely impact how you feel. Why not try it yourself for one week and let us know if you felt a difference by getting in touch with us here at The Healthy Worker? We’d love to hear from you.


If you would like to know more about the services we provide here at The Healthy Worker, please feel free to get in touch on 01684 231461 or email

Come along to our new well-being forum!

We’re excited to announce the launch of our NEW well-being forum, dedicated to helping Worcestershire Employers improve health and well-being in the workplace.


With the first event to be held at The Three Pears on the 4th July 2018, the Well-Being Forum is free to attend and will provide a friendly platform to support businesses in improving well-being in the workplace; enabling participants to ask questions, share experiences and offer support for one another.


Liz Preece, Founder and Managing Director of The Healthy Worker, explained: “Businesses lose over 15 million working days to stress, anxiety or depression each year, therefore it comes as no surprise that over 50% of Senior Managers now place improved employee wellbeing high on the agenda, according to the latest results from the CIPD Health and Wellbeing Survey.”


“These figures alone magnify the importance of putting strategic steps in place to ensure staff are working in a healthy, supported environment. By creating something like the Well-Being Forum, Employers can start to explore their own well-being strategy, guided by the Healthy Worker team and other industry professionals. It will also provide an excellent opportunity for networking with like-minded local professionals.”


To gain primary research, Liz conducted a survey to gain insight into the wellbeing needs of local businesses and their priority areas for action moving forward. With the aim of then engaging relevant local stakeholders who can join together to help provide a boost for Workplace Wellbeing within Worcestershire and the surrounding areas.


“This survey provided me with the best possible primary research, ensuring I can tailor the forum to the current needs and wants of local employers.” explains Liz. “The first meeting will be held at The Three Pears on the 4th July from 9am, and I’m delighted to welcome Rachel Vann, of Malvern Hills’ District Council, who will host a talk on improving well-being in the workplace, following their success in winning the Chamber of Commerce ‘Health and Well-Being in the Workplace Award.”


For more information and to keep up to date with more news on the Well-being forum, please visit contact or get in touch on 01684 231461.

How do businesses benefit from employing a dedicated Wellbeing Champion?

In the last five years, we have seen a positive rise in the number of employers shining a light on wellbeing in the workplace, including mental wellbeing.


More organisations are sitting up and taking notice, recognising the direct link between employee health, happiness and levels of productivity.


One way that companies, such as Virgin, have shown commitment to this is through the recruitment of Wellbeing Champions.


So, what is the role of a Wellbeing Champion?

Wellbeing Champions are members of staff who have the aptitude and training to serve as an inspirational voice to promote the wellness of every person within an organisation.


Their work is often alongside HR colleagues, with Wellbeing Champions contributing to the development and implementation of a health and wellbeing strategy, instilling wellbeing into company culture and engaging with employees to promote healthy lifestyles and positive mental health both inside and outside of the work place.


Why is this a vital role?

Every year in the UK alone, a staggering 70 million working days are lost due to mental health problems, costing employers over £2 billion.


Research by Time to Change revealed that one in ten people have resigned from a job due to stress and that a further one in four had thought about it.


A national survey carried out by the charity Mind also found that 90% of working people who suffered from a mental health problem told their employer they were suffering from a physical illness instead and research suggests that only 50% of GP ‘sick’ notes for those with mental health reasons for absence actually reflect this.


By developing Wellbeing Champions, businesses can demonstrate that staff are a top priority. It provides a safe place for staff to say “I’m struggling” or “I need support” and encourages people to speak openly about their mental health without fear of judgement.


Organisations can also benefit in other ways, such as improving employee engagement as well as the recruitment and retention of staff.


As more and more companies invest in the health of their team, it highlights that workplace wellbeing is no longer a nice benefit- it’s a vital part of working life. All measures which help with reducing stigma and take us closer to ending mental health discrimination are valuable.


Interested in finding out more? The Healthy Worker is hosting a series of workshops including one dedicated to developing Wellbeing Champions in the workplace. Contact us today for more details.