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5 Common Health Problems in the Workplace


Eleen Yaw
Eleen Yaw

Your place of work should be somewhere you're eager to get to, connect with colleagues and demonstrate your unique skills and expertise. Hopefully you can also head home at a reasonable hour, feeling healthy and fulfilled.

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. In Australia absenteeism levels per employee, per year have increased by about 10.5% from 8.6 days to 9.5 days according to DHS' 2016 Absence Management and Wellbeing Survey Report. This works out to roughly $3,608 annually per employee. Thereby costing the Australian economy more than $33 billion in wages and 92 million work days lost per year!

Why are people taking more sick leave?

According to AXA PPP Healthcare, the breakdown of employees' sick leave is as follows:

  • flu (41.6%)
  • back pain (38.5%)
  • injury caused by accident (38.2%)
  • stress (34.5%)
  • depression (34.5%)
  • anxiety (25.4%)
  • common cold (23.8%)
  • and migraine (21.7%).

Working an entire day in a confined space can take its toll on both your body and your mind. Even if you're likely aware of the need to get away from the desk to take breaks, meetings and your demanding workload may often override any desire to do so. Hence, we face the same dilemma; to find a healthy work life balance.

Below are 5 of the most common health problems office workers face coupled with some tips to help minimise them:

Back Pain

This is always at the top of the list when it comes to health problems in the workplace. 38.5% of sick leave is due to muscle pain from sitting at the desk for prolonging periods of time. This puts the body under strain especially from the unintended load on the spine. Our muscles cling to the spine for support and indirectly 'collapse' the spine due to gravity, putting pressure in between each vertebra. No wonder we complain about lower back pain more often, as it sustains a huge amount of weight of the upper body.

Your shoulders and upper back are two other areas of the body that become sore and tight quickly when you work under stress. Quick rounds of gently rotating your shoulders and standing forward bends with feet firmly grounded can help to ease the discomfort.

Stress

Stress can be our friend if we manage it well before it kicks in and creates other problems. My advice is to Observe, Acknowledge and Manage it with kind thoughts. If necessary, remove yourself from the toxic conversation or situation.

If you're in a meeting, be brave to step out for few deep breaths and de- compress. Repeat these often and make it your stress relief snack whenever you need one.

Immune System

Your immune system is your defence mechanism against sickness and illness. When we fall sick often, we need to be alerted that something isn't right. Look for the trigger factors. Don't ignore and dismiss it as being sensitive. Falling ill is an indication you need some good rest. Your body is crying out for help. Listen, be patient and elevate your legs when resting. Doing less isn't being unproductive! When you're unwell, it's the direct opposite - you're investing in your health. We should all pay more attention to self care.

Sleep Deprivation

We experience sleepless nights when we are anxious about the next day's business presentation or business reporting. Sleep is the natural behaviour where the body receives rest, for cells to regenerate for the next day's challenges.

Some signs of sleep deprivation are fatigue, congested mind, clumsiness, weight fluctuation and anxiety.

To assist in aiding a restful night sleep, plan your work schedules and track the progress as you go. Exercise regularly, yoga and walking help promote restful sleep. Practice breath awareness and stay positive. Be mindful with your thinking, e.g. "I'm ready for the excitement!" instead of "I'm worried". Choose your words wisely. Being grateful for what you are capable of as not everybody can do what you do.

Eye Strain

In this modern age, it is hard to avoid screen time. However, you can try to give yourself some off screen moments and just look around. Close your eyes for a quick break by counting your breath backwards from 10 to 1 before you go back to your screen.

Eye strain occurs in 50-90% of people who work with computers, laptops or mobile devices. Poor neck posture is also an accompanying problem. Reduce these problems with better posture, increased font size, minimise glare and harmful blue-violet light by wearing blue light blocking glasses and adjusting the brightness on your screen.

"Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients." - Richard Branson

For more breathing and yoga tips visit our FB page Yin Yoga with Eleen Yaw or contact Eleen @ 0432 298910 to book your 15 mins free consultation call.


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