The office need not be that space that brings you down and causes burnout. Psychiatrist, Dr Renata Schoeman suggests ways that both employers and employees can improve the workspace.
She presented these guidelines - her SEEDS of self care model - at a Corporate Mental Health Awareness Day, presented recently in Durban by the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
FOR THE EMPLOYER:
- Sleep: Look at work-related hours, look at shift work, look at flexitime when it comes to commuting. A lot of people have to commute horribly to work and are sleep deprived because of the commute. Also, don’t set an example where you try to work as late as possible. Executives often think it’s admirable how little they can sleep. It’s nothing to be proud of if you only sleep four hours a night - it’s bad for your brain.
- Exercise: Are there opportunities at work? If you can have a gym at the office, or have a walking group (make it fun, but focusing on wellness), make facilities available if you can, from an employers perspective.
- Education: Are the training programmes or information sessions on wellness?
- Diet: For example, have the option of healthy foods in the cafeteria or make sure that all employees have access to at least a healthy breakfast or a fruit a day. What does it cost to hand out an apple or a banana every day?
- Socialising: Make the time. Part of your wellness programmes should just be socialising. Do something for charity together. That social aspect is very important.
FOR THE EMPLOYEE:
- Make sure you have a good regular sleeping pattern
- Do exercise five times a week, 30 minutes a day - at least.
- Inform yourself - attend courses, attend talks, read.
- Eat healthy: No junk food, not too many substances. Try to avoid alcohol as far as possible. Remember, what you put in is what helps your brain function.
- Socialising: Don’t withdraw from every activity at work that you think will just be a waste of time. Connect with people, have that coffee conversation and connect with your partner.