Wednesday 30 March 2022

The importance of movement on mental health

Over the years, there has been ongoing research into mental health and how it is positively affected by movement and exercise. Studies have shown that not only can movement aid mental clarity, memory and concentration, but it can also help our cognitive abilities. In an article published by BMC Medicine, it also shows that reducing sedentary behaviour is possible through increasing activity, which itself is associated with a lower incidence of depression and anxiety disorders and can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms in those with a disorder.

Benefits of movement on mental health

  • Improved clarity, concentration and memory
  • Improved mood
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression
  • Promotes better sleep

Given the amount of time many of us spend sitting at a desk all day or absorbing ourselves in technology such as electronic games, television and social media, generations have unsurprisingly become less active. So, to ensure we keep our minds and bodies in optimum health, it’s important to step up the pace and increase the amount of exercise we undertake on a regular basis.

Tips for staying active at work

If you work in a sedentary job, there are ways that you can increase your daily movement.

  • Ride or walk to work
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Instead of emailing or calling a colleague in the same building, walk over to them 
  • Suggest walking meetings outside if possible
  • Make the most of your lunch break by going for a walk, bike ride or gym session
  • Maximise shorter breaks to do the drinks’ run or walk on the spot while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil!
  • Invest in a portable pedal exerciser that lets you keep your legs moving even when you’re sat at your desk.

Ways to stay motivated

If you don’t do regular exercise, it can often be difficult to get started, especially when it's cold outside. But there are ways that can help you become more motivated and form a healthy routine.

  1. Many people find it easier to exercise with someone else so try and find yourself an exercise buddy who’ll go to the gym, swimming or take long walks with you. You’ll probably find it much more fun being with a friend and you can also encourage each other. 
  2. Join a fitness class or take part in a group sport. A bit of healthy competition can be a great motivator to get yourself into shape and push yourself when you’re not feeling up to it.
  3. Walking is a great way to keep moving without too much effort, and by paying close attention to the sights, sounds and scents of nature, you’re giving your mind a double workout.
  4. Set yourself a goal or challenge and raise money for a charity at the same time. Once you’ve committed to the challenge and announced it to friends and family, it will make you more determined to stick to your goals.
  5. Bundle a new active behaviour with something that you already enjoy doing, so for example, take a lunchtime walk while listening to your favourite blogger, audiobook, etc.

Monday 21 March 2022

The Pros and Cons of Workplace Competition

Whether it’s to gain recognition, promotion, pay rise or work-related bonuses, competition in the workplace is almost inevitable. While for some, competition may arouse excitement, for others it can be a source of stress and anxiety. Depending on the individual, this can cause people to act in different ways. In an article published by Harvard Business Review, the research says that “when employees feel excited, they’re more likely to come up with creative solutions. When they feel anxious, they’re more likely to cut corners or sabotage one another.”

The Pros

Competition in the workplace can provide many material benefits to employees as well as having a positive impact on mental wellbeing. However, this is dependent on how the individual feels about it – do they see this as additional pressure or an opportunity to prove themselves in their role? For those who feel excited about the challenge, they may benefit from the following:

  • Sense of achievement
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Pay increases and performance-related bonuses
  • Promotion
  • Respect from colleagues and management
  • Increased motivation
  • Improved mood
  • Increased creativity

The Cons

Not all employees are going to thrive on being competitive and it could have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. These are some of the disadvantages that certain individuals might experience:

  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Unhealthy relationships with colleagues 
  • Fear of failure 

10 ways to create healthy competition

To ensure that all employees can take part in healthy workplace competition without it having a negative effect on their wellbeing it’s important to do the following:

  1. Make sure that employees understand what healthy competition means by offering reassurance that they will be given help to succeed and not threatened by ridicule or, even worse, job losses. 
  2. Ask employees what would motivate them and offer rewards that are meaningful to them.
  3. Put competition rules in place that prevent any negative behaviour such as ridicule, underhand tactics, or workplace bullying.
  4. Employ management that can lead by example and demonstrate principles that promote healthy competition.
  5. Recognise employees’ efforts as well as achievements as this will help maintain motivation.
  6. Involve employees when setting personal achievements and agree beforehand what they should be.
  7. Practice clear communication at all times and offer help when it’s needed. 
  8. Hold regular performance reviews with constructive feedback as this will maintain motivation levels and promote trust.
  9.  Run team building activities inside and outside of the workplace. This will strengthen bonds between employees and help prevent any animosity.
  10. Encourage open discussions where employees can air their thoughts in a non-threatening environment. In a study by Gallop, it revealed that open discussions are the best way to resolve any conflicts and reduce stress and anxiety about the competition. According to the study, when employees believe that their opinion matters, it increases productivity and decreases turnover rates.