Wednesday 23 November 2022

Why Being Counterproductive Can Affect your Health

When someone’s in a job they dislike, if they’re too busy or even not busy enough, it’s common to become distracted with habits or behaviours that are often counterproductive to the task at hand. For instance, you might have a hefty project to complete but rather than focusing on what you should be doing, you distract yourself with irrelevant things that hinder your progress in the long term.

How am I being counterproductive?

Being counterproductive takes on various forms, which can, perhaps surprisingly, affect your mental health in lots of ways. 


One of the most common things that we do when we’re unhappy at work is complain, whether it’s about our work colleagues, management, the work environment or the job itself. And more often than not, they are insignificant things that we complain about, such as a broken coffee machine or if someone’s arrived back late from their lunch break. But constant complaining serves no purpose and instead, it causes you to feel angry or resentful. As well as affecting your own mood with these negative thoughts, it also impacts those around you, and may cause people to avoid you.


Similarly, gossiping is not only pointless and an unattractive personality trait, but it can also create friction between work colleagues. In turn, this might make you unpopular in the workplace, making you feel isolated and unhappy and less motivated to do your job.

Social media 

Many of us are guilty of getting distracted on social media but the time you spend scrolling through posts or messaging friends, could be spent finishing that hefty project that seems to be never ending. Although you might feel like you need some light relief from your work from time to time, using social media as a distraction can be unhelpful. In the long run, it will only cause you more anxiety and stress when you miss that final deadline and maybe even the opportunity of a future promotion.

Excessive overtime 

At the other end of the spectrum are those who constantly work late to complete their work. While you might think it’s going to impress the boss or get you ahead with your workload, what it’s doing in actual fact is leading you to mental burnout and physical exhaustion. While you might believe your job is really important, ultimately, it’s your mental and physical health that matters the most. Research has shown that working excessively long hours can have the following negative effects on your health:

  • Increased chance of cardiovascular disease
  • Increased intake of alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Risk of depression 
  • Higher injury rate
  • Fatigue
  • Stress and symptoms related such as a lack of sleep, raised blood pressure, low mood and poor memory.

Further information

If you feel you are procrastinating and not getting things done, you can download our free booklet "Understanding And Beating Procrastination - A Workbook And Guide' to help you overcome it. 

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Ways to Support Employees with Phobias

According to the NHS, “a phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation feeling, or animal. Phobias are more than pronounced fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.” While phobias can be treated professionally, they can affect a person’s behaviour, and this may become evident at their place of work.

Phobias often cause the person to avoid certain situations and can create intense feelings of anxiety or stress, which might result in nausea, nervous trembling and headaches. It’s important for employers to be aware of any phobias that their employees might have so that they can help them to feel at ease in their job. However, it is advised that the person with a phobia seeks professional treatment if it impacts their day-to-day life or causes them extreme anxiety, distress or fear.

Types of phobias

Phobias fall under five categories, including animals; natural environment; blood, injury or medical issues; situations such as driving, flying and lifts; and others such as drowning, loud noises and choking. 

Along with some of the more common phobias which include agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) VeryWellMind has published a long list of identified phobias.

How to support an employee with a phobia

While there is professional help available for anyone with a phobia, there are certain steps an employer can take to help the employee in the meantime.

  1. Show respect and don’t mock or belittle them
  2. Avoid using phrases such as “get a grip” or “get over it” as this can cause the person even more anxiety.
  3. Be conscious not to put them in a situation that will aggravate or intensify the phobia. For example, don’t force them to take the lift if they have claustrophobia.
  4. Allow them the option of flexible home working if possible where there’s a chance they might suffer from anxiety.
  5. Allow them time off if they are attending a therapy session.
  6. Remove them from a situation if you can see that it’s making them feel anxious. You could also encourage them to do breathing exercises to help calm them down.
  7. Create a safe work environment for them so they aren’t exposed to anything that may cause them anxiety.
  8. Encourage them to seek professional help from a doctor or therapist.

If you work with someone who has a phobia, Mind has lots of useful information that offers advice and relevant contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about phobias and how to manage them in our FREE booklet, "Understanding Phobias" Download it here >

Friday 30 September 2022

Why You Should Trust Your Colleagues More

In our personal relationships, trust is usually top of the list of the main qualities we look for in a friend. Without trust, we’re unable to create the bond that makes the relationship so strong. And trust between colleagues in the workplace shouldn’t be any different.

When we work alongside people that we trust, we feel safe and more confident to take risks, speak out and take responsibility. This can also make us feel more motivated and willing to work harder. When a workplace has a culture lacking in trust, this can have a negative impact not only on productivity but also the mental health of some individuals.

You might experience dishonesty, poor cooperation and communication, unhealthy competition and even bullying. Maybe your colleague withholds important information so that their light shines brighter than yours, or perhaps you’ve found yourself being blamed for failures in a group collaboration. However the lack of trust manifests, it can be seriously damaging to your wellbeing.

In a PWC survey, it was reported that 55% of business leaders believed that a lack of trust was a major concern within their company. The report goes on to say “A high level of trust also makes employees more committed to staying with the company, partners are more willing to collaborate and investors more prepared to entrust stewardship of their funding. Consequently, those organisations that can build trust seem to garner significant benefits.”

Reasons why trust is important in the workplace

  • It promotes respect 
  • Employees are more willing to take risks 
  • It provides a feeling of safety 
  • It creates self-confidence
  • It allows colleagues to work collaboratively and productively
  • It generates more creativity and innovation as people are willing to share ideas and make themselves more vulnerable
  • It encourages greater communication

Ways to build trust

1. Inclusivity

By creating an inclusive workplace, employees are less likely to feel 'left out' regardless of their age, gender, religion or ethnicity. When we have a strong sense of belonging, we can be ourselves and perform to the best of our ability without it having a negative effect on our self-esteem.

2. Honesty

Honesty plays a huge role in trustworthiness. When you’re transparent and honest, others not only believe what you say and hold you in higher regard, but it also makes them feel more secure in themselves. Open communication is key to building strong working relationships.

3. Listening and encouragement

When we don’t listen to what others say, it shows a lack of respect for that person and can discourage them to be open about their thoughts and ideas. It’s important to listen to what someone else is saying, as this will give them the confidence to continue putting ideas forward and be more forthcoming with their feelings and emotions.

4. Don’t play the blame game

Nobody is perfect and at some time we all make honest mistakes. By putting the blame onto someone else it can create a toxic environment and instil a sense of fear. It’s much more productive, and far better for someone’s mental wellbeing, to accept the mistake, discuss the problems and find a way to do things better next time.

5. Be understanding

Everyone is different and people work in different ways so by being understanding to your colleague’s character traits, abilities or personal situations, it allows them to feel more accepted and to be more open.

Thursday 8 September 2022

10 Habits of Successful People

Often when we see highly successful people who’ve risen to the top of their game, we assume they work much longer hours than other people, are mentally and physically exhausted, or compromise their personal life for their job. But that isn’t always the case.

If you want to become a high achiever but don’t want to put yourself at risk of too much stress and anxiety, here are a few tips on how to be successful while maintaining a healthy body and mind.

1. Keep fit and healthy

First and foremost, your wellbeing is of primary importance. Success just isn’t worth putting your health on the line. Regular exercise and a healthy diet not only benefit your physical wellbeing but also your mental health. In 2021 a mental health report published by the John W. Brick Foundation found that physical activity was closely linked to better mental health. The top three forms of exercise included general physical activity, yoga and cardiovascular activity. Good physical health and a nutritious diet reduces symptoms of depression and helps fight stress and anxiety, making you more equipped to deal with challenges.

2. Cut out the social media

Unless it’s work related, you won’t find many highly successful people spending hour upon hour scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. If you totalled up all the hours you spend on your phone each day, just think how much extra time you would have on your hands. Whether you use that time to keep on top of your work or complete other activities mentioned in this post, that’s a whole lot of time you can spend on being more productive.

3. Maintain routines

Having a routine on working days can be beneficial in so many ways. Getting into regular sleep patterns, making time for breakfast or committing to set times when you exercise will mentally and physically prepare you for the day ahead. But it’s also important to take a break from routine to recharge your batteries, so make sure you set aside some time each week for doing the things that you love.

4. Multi-task

While not everyone has the ability to successfully multi-task, it’s a great way to squeeze more into your day. Perhaps if you walk to work as part of your exercise routine, make important calls before you reach the workplace, or continue with a piece of work while listening to 'hold' music on a call.

5. Be organised

Two of the best ways to stay organised and keep ahead of the game are by always having an up to date 'to-do' list and making sure you put reminders in your calendar for everything! You’re unlikely to find any really successful person without a calendar and 'to-do' list, but even more importantly, they use them all the time.

6. Take risks

In any aspect of life, not just at work, taking risks is the best way to get ahead. You won’t find many high achievers that haven’t taken a leap of faith or failed at least several times at something before they finally succeeded. Although it appears daunting at first, the more times you take risks and fail, the more chance you’ll have of succeeding in the long term.

7. Become more resilient

It’s likely you’ve seen many quotes related to failure being the key to success. This is because it often takes many attempts at something before you achieve your goal. As long as you bear this in mind whenever you fail at something, you’ll gradually become more resilient and more determined to succeed.

8. Keep a positive attitude

Remaining positive isn’t always easy especially when faced with difficult challenges. But by keeping a positive mental attitude throughout, regardless of the pitfalls, you’ll have greater strength to reach your goals.

9. Network

Although networking is extremely useful in generating business, it’s also important for creating relationships that can strengthen your character. By connecting with other successful people, you can become more confident and increase your self-esteem, which will encourage you to take risks and inspire you to aim higher.

10. Be grateful

Possibly one of the most important tips of all is to be grateful for everything in your life. Gratitude is strongly associated with happiness and creates positive emotions that help deal with stress, improve mental and physical health and help you work towards your goals.

Monday 29 August 2022

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Living in such a fast-paced world where we’re preoccupied with work and online activities, it seems that doing nothing has become a thing of the past. If we’re not trying to keep up with ongoing deadlines at work, it’s likely we’re scrolling through social media or binge-watching the latest series. When was the last time that you were totally free of distractions and actually did nothing at all?

Why is doing nothing important?

We have become so attached to our modern-world habits that we forget to recharge our own batteries as well as our phone’s. Being constantly on the go and not allowing time to clear our minds can negatively impact both our mental and physical wellbeing. A build up of stress, anxiety and overactivity in our brains can lead to exhaustion and burnout.

With so many devices at our fingertips 24/7, we don’t allow ourselves to become bored as we’re constantly searching for something to do or to occupy our minds. Boredom can make us feel agitated and stressed and rather than confront our thoughts or simply unwind, instead we look for distractions. When we’re unable to fully relax and wind down, our sleep can also be affected, and we find ourselves struggling to fall asleep or waking in the middle of the night with thoughts racing around our heads.

When we’re constantly busying ourselves, either mentally or physically, we often miss those subtle internal signs or ignore our emotions that are desperately trying to feed us important information. But by doing nothing we can become more open and aware of our inner voice and gut feelings, which provide us with vital tools for making responsible choices.

Ways to unwind and clear your mind

If you’re not used to relaxing and doing nothing you might struggle at first to let your mind and body switch off, but with a bit of practice and some simple relaxation exercises, you’ll soon get into the swing of it.

1. Meditation and breathing

Meditation and breathing exercises are a great way to ease you into relaxation. Set aside just five or ten minutes during the day or evening to find a quiet space and unwind. By focusing on your breathing, it allows you to identify your thoughts and feelings and become more aware of what your body and mind need. Breathing exercises can also improve blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and improve concentration and focus.

In a study published by Harvard Business Review it was found that the “breath meditation technique will train your nervous system for resilience over the long run. These simple techniques can help you sustain greater wellbeing and lower your stress levels – at work and beyond.”

2. Spend time in nature

Being among nature is an instant stress reliever and it has a great way of turning your thoughts to the more peaceful environment around you. By being mindful of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, it frees up space in your mind for creativity to flow. As you inhale the sights and sounds of nature, you’ll automatically start to relax.

3. Take a long bath

Light some candles, keep your phone in another room, be generous with the bubbles and just sink into a nice warm bath. Try not to feel guilty for spending time alone with your thoughts. This is the perfect opportunity to just lie back and let your thoughts wander in and out. Don’t force anything and simply respond to what your inner voice is telling you.

4. Create a gazing seat

Whether you have the perfect little spot for a window seat, a quiet corner in your garden or a cosy room in your house where you won’t get disturbed, find yourself a space where you can just sit and gaze into the distance. Try sitting still without any distractions, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and let yourself drift into a daydream.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about doing nothing as it’s an important investment into your wellbeing. While you might not feel it’s as productive as getting the household chores done or finishing a work assignment, it’s equally as important.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Benefits of Being Organised at Work

Not everyone has great organisational skills so if you’re a bit of a procrastinator and put off those niggling tasks, things can start to get out of hand. But it’s not just your workspace that suffers, being disorganised can impact many areas of your life. Perhaps you can’t find an important piece of work, which inevitably makes you late for a meeting or you miss a vital deadline. The moment something doesn’t go to plan, everything else can spiral out of control and over time, continuous mishaps can cause stress and anxiety.

The importance of being organised

As well as causing unwanted disruptions, a lack of organisation can play havoc with your mental and physical wellbeing. You may feel like you’re constantly rushing around which can increase your blood pressure, or maybe it’s creating tension among work colleagues which is affecting your sleep. There are many benefits of being organised:

  • Increased productivity as you spend less time searching for things.
  • Better communication and work relationships.
  • Reduced stress levels and anxiety.
  • Improved punctuality.
  • You don’t miss deadlines.

Ways to become more organised

If you’re not sure where to start, there are a few simple steps you can take to being more organised:

1. De-clutter your workspace

An untidy workspace can cause frustration and stress, especially when time is of the essence and you’re unable to find what you’re looking for. Start by clearing out any paper, documents or to-do lists that you no longer need. Remove any waste or dirty cups and dishes and give the area a good clean. When you’re working in a tidy and clean space, you’ll feel some of that stress start to wash away. In a study published by Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, it was also found that the chaos of clutter prevents you from focusing, meaning you’re less able to process information properly.

2. Organise online files

If you work with computers, it’s easy for unnecessary files and emails to build up. Not only will this slow down your computer, but it also means you’ll spend more time trying to locate a specific document. When your files are organised, you will find what you need more quickly, saving you time and stress.

3. Create shared drives

When working with colleagues or management who need to regularly access files that you’re working on, creating a shared drive reduces the time it takes to send emails back and forth. It also means that everyone can work more autonomously with fewer distractions.

4. Update your calendar

When we’re busy or stressed, it’s all to easy to forget or miss important meetings. Although you might feel as though you don’t have time to keep adding things to your calendar, in the long run it can save you a lot of stress as you’re less likely to be late or completely forget an appointment. And don’t forget to set automatic reminders just in case you forget to check your calendar!

6. Sync your devices

It’s not uncommon for people these days to use many different devices at work and home, but by making sure they’re all synced together, you’re more likely to keep on top of emails and appointments.

Further information

Thursday 14 July 2022

The power of loving your job

As we spend the majority of our week at work, it’s hugely important that we love what we do as well as the environment we work in. It goes without saying that we’ll have the occasional bad day at work but when the occasional bad days become more frequent, it can have negative implications. The awful Sunday anxiety, lack of motivation and stressful workloads will eventually take an emotional toll on your wellbeing. When employees are unhappy at work it can also have a knock-on effect on colleagues and management, creating a toxic environment and relationships.

Why it’s important to love your job

Not only will a happy work life reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace, but it will also mean a happier personal life. When you love your job, you’ll approach work with a positive mindset that will help you achieve your goals and become more successful. You’ll also be better equipped to overcome any challenges along the way. Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, believes that when you enjoy your job, you’ll have better focus and more creative ideas. Your passion and focus provide you with the fuel needed to succeed. When you do find a job that you love, you will benefit in many ways:

  • Increased productivity and motivation
  • Better mental and physical wellbeing
  • Improved quality of work
  • Stronger working and personal relationships
  • Happier home life
  • Increased self-confidence
  • More energy 

And, of course, the company you work for will also reap benefits such as:

  • Higher retention rates
  • Increased productivity
  • Happier work environment
  • Better communication between colleagues and managers

How to fall in love with your job again

If you’ve been working within the same company for a long time, it’s likely you’ve lost your passion for what you once loved doing. But there are steps you can take to fall in love with your job all over again.

  • Break up more monotonous tasks with the ones that you enjoy doing.
  • Take regular breaks and drink plenty of water to help you feel motivated and energised.
  • Reward yourself when you’ve accomplished something you’re proud of or do something to celebrate.
  • Take up relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness that can reduce stress and help you to stay calm.
  • Speak to your manager if you need support and ask if you can do any other tasks that you prefer.
  • Set goals that will inspire you and make a list of things that you’d like to improve.
  • Create a positive workspace whether that’s bringing in a plant, putting your favourite photos on your desk or listening to uplifting music.
  • Remind yourself of what you used to love about your job and make a list of all the benefits. When you start to focus on the more positive aspects, perhaps you’ll realise how much you do enjoy it after all.

Friday 1 July 2022

Ways to Reduce Absenteeism at Work

In any company, a certain amount of absenteeism is to be expected, owing to illness and occasional unforeseen events and emergencies. However, when staff aren’t turning up for work on a more regular basis, it can become a cause for concern, not only for the company but also for other employees. According to the World Health Organisation, the average number of sick days per employee, per year in the UK is 4.4 days.

What are the main causes of absenteeism?

There’s a whole host of reasons why employees might fail to show up for work, from illness to family matters. Some of the main causes of absenteeism are:

  • Minor illness
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression
  • Family issues or a bereavement
  • Paternity/maternity leave
  • Workplace bullying or issues with work colleagues
  • Serious illness or long-term illness
  • Unforeseen travel incidents such as traffic delays, bad weather or road accidents

As well as financially impacting the company, absenteeism can also have a negative effect on productivity, motivation levels and the overall culture of the business, as colleagues may need to take on extra workloads.

How to reduce absenteeism

In many cases it’s difficult to control the causes of absenteeism but there are some instances where management can help to reduce the number of absences by taking the following actions:

Improve employee engagement and motivation

By introducing wellbeing programmes into the business for personal development, organising social events inside and outside of the workplace, and ensuring the working environment is positive and inspiring, businesses can increase morale and staff engagement, which can lead to fewer sick days and a happier and healthier workforce.

Offer more flexibility

Flexible working hours and home-working opportunities can be of great benefit to parents with young children or employees who are caring for a relative, meaning they can enjoy a better work-life balance that will reduce any additional stress or anxiety.

Show concern for employees

It might seem like a trivial action but by reaching out to employees who are struggling with their mental or physical health or other personal issues, you can really make a difference. It’s important to talk regularly on a one-to-one basis to understand how the company can support them and make their role easier and more manageable.

Reward attendance

When employees are recognised and rewarded for good attendance, it not only keeps them motivated but it also incentivises others with a high level of absenteeism to improve their attendance. Perhaps organise an annual bonus, allow staff to finish work early for a day or present them with a gift.

Have procedures in place

It is common practice for management to conduct a return-to-work interview once an employee starts back at work after being absent. This is a great opportunity to discuss any significant issues with an employee and to also create a strategy for improving their attendance.

Friday 10 June 2022

Why Employers Should Take a Holistic Approach to Wellbeing

Following the unprecedented effects of the pandemic, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to support employee wellbeing in the workplace. By taking a holistic approach to wellbeing, employers can help prevent absenteeism due to stress, anxiety and depression. And promoting good mental and physical health can also create a more positive work environment and better employee engagement. A study published by The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health found that “the average employee takes seven days off sick each year of which 40 per cent are for mental health problems. This adds up to 70 million lost working days a year, including one in seven directly caused by a person’s work or working conditions.”

Ensuring that employees are happy at work also has a knock-on effect on their wellbeing in their personal lives. Having an effective wellbeing programme in place is mutually beneficial to both businesses and their staff and encourages everyone to thrive within their individual roles.

Benefits of taking a holistic approach

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Reduced absences
  • Higher engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Better resilience to stress
  • Positive working relationships
  • Happier personal lives

To see greater benefits of holistic programmes, it’s important that they are embedded in the workplace culture and company management.

Ways to take a holistic approach to wellbeing

  1. The first step any organisation should take is to create a strategy that incorporates how they aim to support employee wellbeing and what they want to achieve through taking a holistic approach. There are many ways that a holistic framework can be integrated into the workplace such as:
  2. Offer support or counselling services for physical and mental health.
  3. Encourage healthy day-to-day routines that include diet, sleep and regular breaks. Perhaps ditch the vending machine and opt for fruit and water instead, encourage breaks outside and limit the number of hours employees can spend at work at one time.
  4. Undertake regular one-to-one meetings with employees to discuss their workload and wellbeing.
  5. Consider introducing some flexible conditions for parents or carers, such as remote working or flexible hours.
  6. Create an inspiring environment by introducing plants or flowers into the workspace, providing additional facilities for breaks, or having fresh interior design. All of these small adjustments are conducive to better wellbeing and productivity.
  7. Make sure all employees are provided with all the resources they need to carry out their job successfully, whether that’s an up-to-date computer, comfortable desk and chair or specialist equipment relating to their role.
  8. Encourage physical wellness by offering cycle to work initiatives, discounts for sport and leisure activities, or optional after-work classes such as yoga or Tai Chi.
  9. Provide clear pathways for career progression and salary increases.

For more about employee wellbeing solutions, visit our website:

Friday 6 May 2022

The benefits of pets in the workplace

Over the years there have been many studies about how owning a pet can affect mental wellbeing. As well as the more obvious benefits such as companionship and the physical exercise we gain from walking our pets, it has been proven that they can help with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Caring for an animal is a great way to distract us from our daily stresses, and by taking responsibility for our pet’s health we’re also improving our own health as it encourages us to take regular exercise, even when we might not be feeling up to it. Just a short walk outside can boost our mood by lowering our blood pressure, increasing our oxygen levels and producing endorphins.

Take your dog to work day

In 1999, the “Take your dog to work day” was first launched and it had such a positive impact on the working environment that companies around the world continue to encourage bringing dogs into the workplace. It is now widely recognised that the presence of pets at work can increase motivation and promote a happier, friendlier atmosphere. 

This year, National Take Your Dog To Work Day is on 24 June so there's still time to convince your employer. 

How can pets benefit the workplace?

Whatever the animal, pets can provide unconditional love and companionship. Many animals are also extremely intuitive and are sensitive to our moods, so they know when to give us some much-needed attention. When we’re feeling isolated, lonely or misunderstood, our pets can offer us company and make us feel appreciated and loved when no-one else does. Even when it is someone else’s pet that visits the workplace, it’s not uncommon for colleagues to form an emotional bond with them.

  1. Pets can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Even the act of stroking a pet can help us to feel calmer and happier.
  2. They can improve relationships as it’s a great way to get talking to people. In a study published by habri central, Resources for the Study of the Human-animal Bond, research suggests that “animals can be a catalyst for several dimensions of human social relationships in neighborhood settings, ranging from incidental social interaction and getting to know people, through to formation of new friendships”.
  3. They encourage us to get outside more during our breaks for exercise and fresh air.
  4. They can increase attendance at work. Perhaps you don’t have a pet of your own, but you love spending time with animals. Also, if you own a pet, you will worry less if they can come to work with you. 
  5. They create a friendly environment for colleagues, customers or visitors. Even when we are under pressure at work, people tend to always be friendly and caring towards pets which can encourage us to act the same way with each other.
  6. They provide more flexibility in the workplace as pet owners don’t need to rush home at break times or leave early to take care of them.