Our health and wellbeing have a significant impact on our daily lives. As a result, it is essential that we take steps to promote our health and wellbeing.
In this article, we will explore what health and wellbeing are, and outline some of the main issues that can affect our health and wellbeing.
The terms health, wellbeing, and wellness, while closely connected and often used interchangeably, differ in several ways:
Health is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In other words, “health” is holistic and involves not just your physical state, but also how you are feeling socially, spiritually, financially, mentally, and emotionally.
Wellbeing relates to how you experience your health and perceive your life to be. This can be affected by a range of things, not just how physically and mentally well you feel. For example, you may be in the peak of physical health, but may also be going through a relationship breakdown or feel totally unfulfilled at work, both of which will negatively affect your wellbeing.
Wellness differs from health and wellbeing in that it is action oriented. It is an active process in which you consciously practice healthy habits and make positive changes in your life with the aim of improving your wellbeing and health.
Wellness is an active process that affects how a person feels, while health and wellbeing are descriptive and reflect how they feel. Let’s look at how this works:
In the workplace, good health and wellbeing can help you to feel confident and productive. They can also help you to feel strong and energetic, and protect you from physical harm and illness.
The benefits of good health and wellbeing are not limited to work, as they can also help you to develop better relationships with friends and family and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
To maintain good health and wellbeing, you must look after the three aspects shown below:
The tasks that people carry out at work often have the potential to cause injury or make existing medical conditions worse, negatively affecting their physical wellbeing. This happens regularly, with the Health and Safety Executive stating that around 700,000 UK workers sustained a non-fatal injury at work in 2019/20.
There are a wide range of physical wellbeing issues that a person can experience, the most common of which are explored below:
Musculoskeletal disorders are conditions that affect the joints, bones, and muscles, and are the most commonly reported form of physical ill-health. They are usually caused by manual handling tasks (lifting, pulling, and pushing objects), repetitive actions (such as using a keyboard), working in awkward positions, or remaining in the same position for too long.
Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of injury sustained at work and are usually the result of poor housekeeping or a lack of awareness.
Many lung conditions are caused or made worse by exposure to certain materials/chemicals at work. Some long-term conditions develop soon after exposure, such as work-related asthma and legionella, while others develop many years later, such as lung cancer and asbestosis.
Workers may be exposed to hand-arm vibration (caused by the use of hand-held power tools) and/or whole-body vibration (caused by driving mobile machines or other work vehicles over rough and uneven surfaces) as part of their role. This can cause long-term damage to certain parts of the body, leading to numerous ailments including hand-arm vibration syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and severe back pain.
Exposure to loud noise at work can lead to hearing issues such as partial or total hearing loss and tinnitus. Click here to find out more about noise and hearing loss.
Certain hazardous substances used at work can damage the skin upon contact, leading to conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
Contagious illnesses can spread easily in a workplace, especially in retail or hospitality environments in which employees have significant contact with the public.
Many jobs involve spending significant periods of time in a seated position, be it at a desk or while operating a vehicle. This is known as inactivity, and it can lead to a number of issues, including tiredness, restlessness, musculoskeletal disorders, and heart disease.
This is an overall feeling of tiredness or low energy that is caused by several factors, including, but not limited to, working long hours, completing monotonous tasks, and managing heavy workloads. Fatigue causes lapses in concentration, which reduces productivity and can lead to accidents.
Your mental health affects how you think, feel and behave. Good mental health allows you to think positively and manage how you feel, while bad mental health can leave you feeling down and unable to manage or cope with your thoughts and feelings.
Everyone has days where they feel good and others where they do not, but those with mental health issues can feel down more often than not, and can find it harder to cope with the basic necessities of day-to-day living.
There are a number of mental health issues that people experience, the most common of which are shown below. For more information on other mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder and dissociation, click here to visit the relevant section of the Mind website.
Stress is something that everyone feels when placed under pressure. When managed correctly, it can be motivating and help a person to focus and be more productive. However, experiencing too much stress can make a person feel irritable and worried. If this continues over a long period of time, it can lead to 'burnout', a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.
Anxiety is a sense of unease or worry that everyone feels, to varying degrees, but especially when faced with stress-inducing events or changes. It is a natural human response that usually passes once the situation is over or a problem has been resolved. For some people, anxiety disorders can make them feel regularly overwhelmed and interfere with their everyday lives, especially when there are no obvious triggers.
Depression is when a person experiences a low mood that lasts for a long time, happens for no obvious reason and affects their everyday life. It can affect people in different ways, including causing them to become quiet and withdrawn and, in serious cases, harbour suicidal thoughts.
Mental health conditions have a number of different signs that vary depending on the person experiencing them and their individual situation. Some common signs are shown below, but be aware that this list is by no means exhaustive:
Poor mental health and mental health problems have a wide range of causes and, for many people, are caused by a combination of them. Some factors that could lead to poor mental health include:
Your social wellbeing concerns how you interact with other people and the wider world, and can affect how secure and content you feel, especially at work.
At Commodious, we offer two health and wellbeing training courses designed for workers and managers. They explore how we can support our health and wellbeing, and that of those around us. To find out more about these courses, use the links below: