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Did you know that 50% of people in the UK struggle to sleep and more than 74% have less than seven hours a night? Health Shield want to look at how getting enough sleep will benefit your employees in the workplace.

Everyone knows that we are subject to work-place stress these days, but now scientists are finding evidence that how our bodies respond to stress is tied in with our sleeping patterns.

However, stress and a lack of sleep are a Catch-22 situation, so dealing with them in the right way is important. Not getting enough sleep can exacerbate any stress employees are experiencing, and being under stress can cause difficulty sleeping. The key for your employees is to put themselves in a routine that will allow them to relax at home and in turn provide the downtime their body and mind needs to enable them to better handle stressors. Our country is becoming so sleep-focused it’s even now becoming common to wear pyjamas in public!

Encourage your employees to find activities that help them relax and wind down before they begin a bedtime routine. By doing this you will see the differences in their production levels at work.

Starting a night-time routine will have benefits in their daily lives and potentially see them climb career ladders and boost their confidence, which can only have positive effects on your team and business.

Heading to bed with “To Do” lists going around your mind and thinking over the day’s thoughts and worries is a recipe for disaster where sleep is concerned. Broken sleep can be as bad as not sleeping at all, and commonly it can be the thoughts going around in your head or just constantly waking up to check the time that may be the problem. It’s hard to relax and actually enjoy a long stint of sleep when you’re worried about how much sleep you are getting. Just a third of British people say that they are able to fall asleep easily and stay asleep.

Encourage some office activities to help your employees feel more relaxed at home and, in turn, in the office. Perhaps start a book club — reading is a calming activity — or maybe head to a yoga class after work? It might be worth creating a challenge with wearable technology — keeping them fit but also allowing them to monitor their sleeping patterns.

Technology plays havoc with people’s home life. Not only can they find it a struggle to switch off from work, but they also lose the simple art of conversation and having an evening chat with a loved one in the evening is a relaxing activity in itself.

How can sleep help your employees’ productivity?

Falling asleep during meetings, yawning around the office, a lack of sleep has a negative effect on work quality and productivity. It’s generally accepted that adults should have at least seven hours sleep a night, but 4 in 10 people are actually failing to achieve this.

Going without sleep for one night causes the same changes in the brain as a knock to the head — emphasising how important it really is. Without sleep, the ability to make decisions, focus on tasks and alertness levels are all affected. Studies find that six hours sleep a night for more than two weeks can have a positive effect on an employee’s cognitive performance and more sleep means more career progression.

You can improve your employees’ productivity and boost their chances of success by encouraging them to:

  • Get into a routine of sleeping for seven to nine hours each night
  • Turn off technology and screens before bed
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening — these stimulants increase how many times they wake up during the night
  • Exercise regularly – they’ll feel great and it’ll help them sleep (just try not to do it before bed!)

Sources:

http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/social-and-lifestyle/the-wide-awake-club-half-of-brits-struggle-to-sleep

https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/jul/25/more-sleep-good-career-focus

https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/sleep-affect-productivity/

http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/how-sleep-helps-us-deal-with-stress

https://www.howsleepworks.com/sleep-hygiene-reduce-stress-level

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/good-nights-sleep-helps-job-performance/page/0/1

http://www.hult.edu/news/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-work-and-performance/

https://sleep.org/articles/sleep-and-productivity-at-work/

The post Dreaming A Way to Success appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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Absenteeism is a big subject. It covers such a wide area of the employee spectrum that approaching it as an employer is difficult. Knowing where the right starting block is for you in looking for help to improve your employee’s health and wellbeing can be challenging. Health Shield offers you a range of solutions.

Although nearly 9 in 10 organisations recognise that absence negatively affects their business, 30% of respondents do not measure their level of sickness absence.

It costs your business money, there is no disputing that. Our research tells us it’s more than £12.8 billion per annum in wages alone, and many more HR departments are now being tasked with engaging with employees and keeping their absence rates as low as possible. However, it’s not all down to you – that’s one thing you will need to accept; as a business you can’t control everything that impacts your employees’ health and wellbeing. What you can do is guide them in a positive direction with opportunities. It’s starting to catch on too – 4 in 10 people have looked for a product that supports them with their wellbeing within the last 12 months.

Wellness strategies are a great place to start. This is where you can influence your employees to have a healthier lifestyle. A wellness strategy is highly linked with productivity. This can extend to mindfulness sessions and even simple workplace health tests. Having something in place before you try experimenting with different methods of wellness saves your company money in the long run.

Having an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place is an ideal way to engage employees with talking about their health and managing the issues they face. Reasons for employee absence and productivity range between everything from personal problems, family, relationship and work related issues. An EAP offers them a service to get confidential advice on these issues and assist them with coping and even eradicating the problem. After all, some feel pressured to return to work too soon so helping them in the right way might relieve this pressure.

As an employer it is your responsibility to act on any problems that occur as a result of work whether that’s related to day to day tasks, physical injuries, work-life balance, stress, work environment or any consequences of these issues. Health Shield offer a bespoke service to identify your employee’s needs. Via Health Shield’s Occupational Health Programme you get access to a range of health checks and services to help employers comply with health and safety legislation by providing a safe and healthy working environment. This product will help you fulfil your duty of care and have a positive impact on your absence levels.

This health programme is complimented by an Occupational Health Management Referral Service should an employee need further support. The tests provided by these programmes can review their risk of musculoskeletal problems, the most common reason for staff absence. By having your employee workplace assessed you can help prevent any musculoskeletal problems arising.

However, it’s not all about helping your employees remain in work, what if they are already off and need support in returning to work? It can be a difficult time, so ensure you are creating a stress free, calm environment where they feel comfortable. You’ll assist your employees returning to work, those struggling to and those who just need to know they have the option to step back. You might want to provide ‘free time areas’ where they can spend 5 minutes away from their desks, or take part in mindfulness sessions.

You will need to learn what your company wants to provide, and what means the most to your employees – you’ll need their buy in to make it work and see the effects on your absenteeism rates. Keep them motivated and engaged and see results.

Absenteeism is largely dependent on how you work with your employees, and the relationship you build with them. And whilst it carries a heavy cost if it goes against you, when you work with it can be highly beneficial.

Sources:

YouGov; February 2017

https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/issues/june-online-2017/54-put-pressure-return-work-fully-recovered-illness-injury/

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241989

https://thethrivingsmallbusiness.com/4-ways-to-reduce-employee-absenteeism/

http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2015/07/09/how-to-reduce-employee-absenteeism/

Health Shield, Exploring Wellbeing Needs in the Workplace; 2017

MIND Workplace Wellbeing Index

Employee Benefits Healthcare Research in association with Health Shield; September 2017

Health Shield Insights, Employee Wellbeing Tools Research, Conducted by REBA, 2017

The post Tackling absenteeism appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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We all feel the pinch after Christmas (and not just from our favourite pair of jeans following a month of gorging on mince pies!) and it’s common for people to cast the net to find out where else they could go with their careers. While throwing money at staff will undoubtedly raise a few spirits, the reasons behind having a disengaged team often run deeper than pay scale gripes and it’s essential to retain talented staff in whom you’ve invested time and budget training.

So, it’s important to consider what you, as an employer, can do to keep morale and dedication high.

Fuelling the brain

Our brains are like an engine and they need fuelling properly if they are to perform to the best of their ability. A quick scan of your employees’ lunchtime choices will highlight a whole host of both taste buds and nutritional differences. For instance, there’ll be those who stick to a diet of lettuce leaves and not much else, while others will religiously go for a sandwich-and-crisp meal deal — and it’s likely that most will dine ‘al desko’.

Consider how you can give staff a gentle nudge towards shaking up their diet — whether it’s healthy snacks such as fruit and seeds to stop people reaching for a mid-afternoon sugar pick-me-up, or creating a mini canteen to encourage people to eat away from their screens. Little changes have the potential to make a big difference and giving employees tips on how to keep hunger pangs at bay can go a long way.

Reward and recognise

Around one in five employees say their manager doesn’t provide feedback or any form of recognition, according to a survey by the CIPD. Regardless of our ranking or level of seniority, we all appreciate — and need — a pat on the back from time to time, as recognition from peers can boost our confidence and make us feel valued.

Consider how you can introduce simple, easy-to-implement schemes, such as incentives to finish early on a Friday or perhaps a shopping voucher for going above and beyond usual daily duties.

Highlighting health

It’s fair to say that our fast-paced modern lives can mean our health and general wellbeing are pushed down our list of priorities, with just one in twelve people taking a strict approach to being healthy, according to research from Mintel.

Providing access to a regular health screen can not only help put employees’ minds at rest, but will also highlight that you’re a company that views its staff as people, not numbers. Health screens can take just half an hour out of the working day and are delivered by medical experts on site in the workplace, meaning employees can get a quick check and ask about any health concerns that may have been niggling away — without taking up too much time.

Get them moving!

It’s no secret that the benefits of exercise are endless, but squeezing it in to our daily lives can be tricky when trying to juggle work and family responsibilities. So, as an employer, think about ways you can make it easier for people to stay active: encourage people to get out of the office at lunchtime for a walk around the block, or book a team yoga session, activities like this can help staff get into a habit of exercising. This will naturally have a positive impact on their sleep patterns, mood and general fitness.

Turn off tech

Stepping away from our emails can be difficult as we’ve become a society that is ‘always on’ — after all, what’s the harm in a quick inbox check after dinner or taking a report home to finish off in front of the television? Unsurprisingly, two fifths of employees say they check their emails or work mobile outside of office hours, according to the CIPD.

Encourage employees to switch off and avoid emailing them outside of their usual working hours so that they’re not tempted to reply. Of course, there will always be exceptions when urgent actions are required, but by creating a culture in which staff can relax during their own time will result in them being more efficient and, hopefully, productive when they’re physically at work.

Want to chat more about health in the workplace? Get in touch to one of our experts about we could help recharge your workforce for 2018.

The post Recharging Your Team’s Health For 2018 appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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More than 9 in 10 organisations in the UK recognise that a work-life balance can affect their workforce and there are an increasing range of strategies to support employee wellbeing. However, the line between work-life and home-life appears to be blurring and ‘always on’ technology means it is often hard to escape. In this blog we look into the scale of the problem and some of the solutions that may help you switch off from work, remain productive and live a healthier lifestyle.

The scale of the problem

People will often categorise themselves as work to live rather than live to work but with advances in technology it’s all too easy to check an email or go that extra mile to finish a piece of work when you could be spending time with friends and family. The issue goes beyond working in the evenings though with a significant number also working whilst on annual leave.

Research by YouGov suggests that younger generations are increasingly likely to have a poor work-life balance, this is potentially influenced by the increasing use of laptops and mobile devices in the modern working environment. The under 35 age bracket can also be a prime time for many milestones such as investing in property, marriage and starting a family.

The impact on your work and your life

The drawbacks of having a poor work-life balance may appear obvious; interruption to spending time with your friends or family, partaking in leisure activities or even just relaxing in front of the television. With significant numbers of people feeling stressed at work, what impact does taking this work and stress in to your home have?

The body reacts to stress with physical, mental and emotional responses. Issues such as becoming bad tempered, more anxious or having trouble sleeping can be quite immediate and increase significantly during stressful times. Carl Laidler, Director of screening programmes, also finds long term impacts related to being stressed. “Those with high levels of stress are much more likely to have poor levels of exercise, often caused by not feeling they have the time. This in turn can lead to deterioration of their physical health and wellbeing. There are also negative coping strategies with people often likely to turn to comfort food or alcohol to help cope with stress”.

This would suggest that whilst you think that ‘going the extra mile’ when taking work home or just answering a quick email is productive and positive, in the long term it could have a negative impact. As well as work affecting your home life, the actions that you take can actually lead to a poorer performance at work.

How to keep that work-life balance Switch off!

We would all like to think that we could get everything done on time but on occasions we might need to do more. An extra half hour at work may be more productive than working at home, be prepared to have nights off and weekends where you are not tempted to check an email.

Prepare some mindfulness techniques

If times are stressful, look for positive things that make you relax such as music, exercise, reading or some quiet time. Try to avoid ‘naughty’ treats so that you don’t become reliant upon them.

Are you working smart?

We can often feel like we are working hard but getting nowhere, have long conversations about something that could be resolved quickly or taking on other people’s responsibilities. Try and establish what is expected of you and plan to deliver it.

Take up a hobby

Partaking in a hobby will often involve a regular time that you are able to focus and separate from work. It will also give you something to look forward to and a sense of reward.

Communicate!

Talking with family and friends can help relieve stress, put things into context and become a social activity in itself. Also, don’t be afraid to communicate to your employer if you feel under pressure and are working excessive hours; they may be unaware that this is happening and provide the support that you need.

Looking after your work-life balance has the potential to make you happier and healthier in all aspects of life and improve your productivity at work!

Sources:

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/engagement/employee-outlook-reports

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/03/17/those-aged-25-34-are-unhappiest-worklife-balance/

https://www.healthinsurancedaily.com/health-insurance/product-area/income-protection/article484549.ece

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/nov/07/ten-tips-for-a-better-work-life-balance

https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/how-to-achieve-a-worklife-balance/

http://store.mintel.com/managing-a-healthy-lifestyle-uk-november-2017

Health Shield Insights

The post Keeping a Work-life Balance appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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It’s a hard job to keep your employees happy. There’s no avoiding that. However, there are some easy ways to boost morale and keep employees working their best.

By allowing your employees to know that their efforts in the workplace are appreciated, they will be happier and ultimately more productive. This is what it comes down to. CIPD studies suggest that only 41% of employees receive feedback or recognition on their performance at work, even if it’s only once or twice a year. This doesn’t do any favours for companies striving to achieve their strategic objectives and improve their retention rates.

The smallest of gestures can go such a long way. It’s a shock to learn that that as many as 1 in 5 people say their manager does not provide feedback or recognition at all — especially when you consider that something as simple as a team lunch can inspire your employees and help them to feel respected and valued, which in turn will increase their productivity and develop company loyalty.

Many organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to ensure that their employees are happy in the workplace. Holding regular employee reviews will provide you with the opportunity to communicate positive feedback to your employees. Holding quarterly or annual team days or implementing a successful benefits system including products such as a Health Cash Plan allow you to give something back and demonstrate that your employees are appreciated. Your employees’ health and wellbeing can be continually monitored and improved in a variety of ways.

In order to be successful with your recognition programme, it is important to note that it’s more than just performance that needs to be rewarded. Take a step back and find out what simple things might make your employees smile. Sometimes just acknowledging that it’s their birthday, that they’re getting married or having a baby or that they’ve reached some other lifestyle milestone can brighten their day. Maybe they haven’t had a sick day all year or they’ve continually strived to achieve their goals, both in or out of work — whatever it is you think motivates your team — that is what you need to focus on. Remember it can be spontaneous rather than an expected monthly reward. Providing unplanned rewards can be just as beneficial as when an employee starts to expect one.

CIPD state that the main reasons people want to move jobs are pay and benefits. By adding in a reward strategy you’ll improve retention rates, increase job satisfaction and help to keep employee stress levels down. Everyone knows that a happy employee means positive things for your company. CIPD also state that more than half of the country’s workforce would recommend their employer to someone looking for a new job and this is the category you want to fit into. It also means that your employees spend more time focusing on their job and can keep your attendance rates where you want them.

This initiative needs to start from the top of the company and work down through all areas, from management and team leaders right down to new starters and temporary staff. Company objectives are what you strive for and when employees at all levels know you care about them — they’ll reward you with respect and engagement to meet those objectives.

A little appreciation can go a long way, even the simple things. Fundamentally people need this to develop, improve and to continue to produce the work they do.

In addition to creating a greater sense of solidarity between your employees and the company, it’ll also improve the relationship between managers and their teams. After all, this relationship is part of the battle towards job satisfaction.

When you consider the costs of putting a recognition strategy in place, they are actually minimal in comparison to the benefits you and your employees will gain in the long term.

Outlining the core benefits:

  • Increased productivity
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Improved performance
  • Greater loyalty
  • Better team relationships
  • Higher retention rates

Health Shield will be holding a roundtable event at the Employee Benefits Connect exhibition this month, discussing how employee wellbeing drives engagement and performance. If you are a HR professional come along and visit us on stand A12 too, our staff will be more than happy to discuss your wellbeing requirements with you.

Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/75340

https://cuttingedgepr.com/free-articles/employee-recognition/employee-recognition-important/

CIPD Employee Outlook Spring 2017

 

 

The post Why Your Employees Need Reward and Recognition appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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Happy employees mean productivity and engagement but encouraging happiness amongst your employees is not always an easy task. One of the most important things as an employer you need to monitor is the health and wellbeing of your employees.

With a calm and concentrated mind your employees can achieve so much more. Brilliant things can happen when employees are satisfied in their job and dealing with stressors successfully. By supporting your employees, you will notice a difference in their productivity, their resilience and their creativity. Not to mention your absenteeism rates.

The question on many employer’s minds though is ‘how do I do that?’. It’s a hot topic at the moment, and there are a lot of theories, including the use of mindfulness.

There is no better time than now to start reaching out to your employees before any disrupted feelings escalate – help them to stay motivated and engaged with their job, whilst taking care of their mental health as well. Many will be feeling anxious about returning to work following Christmas and may find this means they are struggling to sleep. Anxiety affects more than 7 million people and it’s been proven that meditation and mindfulness help improve this. Provide them with the opportunity to take time away from their desks and encourage them to take a break, perhaps to practice their own mindfulness.

Many employees in a digital age can find themselves working more than 50 hours a week and this greatly effects their stress levels, sleep levels, ability to focus and chance of making mistakes. Inspire them with your own actions, talk to them about switching off when they get home and taking some time for themselves. Set an example with your own work life balance. Checking emails whilst out with family, or walking the dog, is still working. Your workforce needs to be encouraged to set boundaries and know when they need to switch off. The more your employees look after themselves the fewer working days your company will lose.

Some top tips to help you engage with your employees:

  • Start with the small things and work up – something as simple as providing a healthy breakfast before the working day can make a big difference and you’ll soon see that by giving your employees a little bit of help and guidance will result in improvements in the workplace.
  • Reward and recognise your employee’s achievements – this will positively impact their mental health and mood in the workplace. Only 41% of workers say they are currently receiving feedback on their performance up to twice a year, engaging more means improved productivity and reduced absenteeism.
  • Providing the option for a health screen can put people’s minds at rest if they are worried about their health or a niggling problem. These can now be completed with Health Shield in as little as 30 minutes and within the workplace. They will also aid your absenteeism rates.
  • Exercise is another opportunity for you to improve your employee’s wellness. Providing them with the opportunity to partake in exercise around their working hours will help your employee’s with their sleep pattern, concentration and motivation. Regular release of endorphins and serotonin – the happy hormones, will bring down your employee’s stress levels and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
  • Steady the mind – in stressful times it bounces all over the place. Help them keep focused on their task at hand.
  • Be compassionate. It is good to have a friendship with your employees, but remember that you still need to keep a distance that allows you to help them in all areas they require.

Health Shield will be holding a roundtable event on The Value of Health. How Employee Wellbeing drives engagement and performance now at the Employee Benefits Connect Event in London on 28th February. We will also be exhibiting at the event if you are attending be sure to come and speak to our team.

Sources:

www.headspace.com

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/9945-mindfulness-5-secrets-to-making-your-mind-happy?utm_source=Arianna&utm_medium=LinkedIn&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_feed%3BrfTL9g8OT%2B%2Be3A9t2jWvjg%3D%3D

The post How to Keep Your Employees Happy appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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As we head into the new year season we inevitably start to look forward to what the year ahead holds. Typically, we will make New Year resolutions to identify the things that we want to change about ourselves or our lives, but more often than not the resolutions are forgotten and previous behaviour is resumed within a couple of weeks. Resolutions are an acceptance that we are not perfect and we would like to improve ourselves or our circumstance but they frequently don’t work because they are not specific and there is often no way of measuring success.

‘This year I’m finally going to get fit’ will be vehemently announced by the masses but it has no meaning without context and if it can’t be measured how will you know when you’ve got there?

INSTEAD OF RESOLUTIONS SET GOALS AND TARGETS FOR 2018

Goal setting is the process of identifying and describing your objectives whilst targets are the milestones along the way that help you to achieve your goals. To illustrate the importance of goal setting there is a remarkable study involving Harvard graduates. The students were asked if they have set clear, written goals for their futures, as well as if they have made specific plans to transform their fantasies into realities.

The result of the study was that only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13 percent had goals in their minds but haven’t written them anywhere and 84 percent had no goals at all.

After 10 years, the same group of students were interviewed again and the results were mind-blowing.

The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals.

The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined.

GOALS SHOULD BE SPECIFIC, MEASUREABLE, REALISTIC AND HAVE A DEADLINE. AND YOU MUST WRITE THEM DOWN!

So rather than simply saying you want to get fit, your goal might be ‘To compete in the Delamere 10km run on the 30th April 2018 and complete the race inside 60 minutes’ — now you have an exciting challenge that you can plan to execute.

REVERSE ENGINEER YOUR GOAL

Now you have defined your goal you need to figure out how you can achieve it. By working backwards from the end goal you can be precise about the details….here’s our example again:

In order to run 10km in less than 60 minutes the runners speed must average 10km/h or more throughout the race. You can now break this down into time-framed targets that when completed will move you closer to your ultimate goal e.g 7.5km in less than 45 mins by March 30th, 5km in less than 30 mins by Feb 28th etc

HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS

Now you have clarified exactly what your goal is you need to figure out how to get the task done:

  • Recruit an expert – this could be a personal trainer, a running coach or a nutritionist — someone who is a proven expert in the area related to your goal
  • Find a role model or mentor – find someone who has done what you are wanting to accomplish and spend time with them to see how they operate and to identify the habits that have made them successful
  • Do the thing! – research is good but you’ve got to get out from behind the book and practise the task
  • Prepare to fail – accept that failure is part of the journey and use the experiences of failure to make you stronger
  • Create a support network – share your goals with the positive people in your life who will be there for you when you need encouragement and motivation to continue
  • Training buddy – find someone who has similar goals who can share the journey and hold you accountable
  • Become part of a tribe – join a community of like-minded people who will inspire you and bring the best out of you such as a running club
  • Attach emotion to the goal – go through the mental process of imagining how good it will feel to accomplish your goal and also how bad it will feel if you quit and don’t give it your best
  • Identify roadblocks and deal with them – what are the obstacles you face that could jeopardise your chances of success? Identify them first and then plan how to get around them. Heavy work commitments and holidays are typical roadblocks but they can be navigated around if they are identified in advance and a plan of action is predetermined

Dare to Dream BIG

The challenge of a powerful goal will change both body and mind — when you are creating your goals for the year ahead think of something that will not only excite you but will also create apprehension. When we are taken out of our comfort zone we are forced to adapt and create change which will help us continue to grow and evolve.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Hellen Keller

Make sure 2018 is the year you make things happen!

The post A Plan for Change appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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More than one in ten people say they have trouble controlling their anger. There are a number of key triggers, and identifying these is the first stage to overcoming them.

Too many people allow anger and stress to get the better of them, but there is always a solution to a problem. It’s natural to have these feelings in certain situations, but it’s when they get more frequent and out of control that it gets worrying. Not just to yourself but to those around you.

Every day pressures can lead to stress, which can lead to anger and people can often have very different ways of dealing with that anger.

Stress management is similar to that of anger management and it is important to focus on the positives – having emotional strength, emotional support, control and a positive outlook.

If you have days when you are feeling particularly stressed and angry – take it out at the gym. Exercise is a great stress buster. It reduces some of the emotional anxiety and helps to clear your thoughts and deal with your problems better. Exercise is also known for releasing endorphins into your body that interact with the receptors in your brain, reducing your perceptions of pain and triggering a positive feeling in the body.

The UK has the longest working hours in Europe, so it is easy to forget to give yourself some ‘me time’.  Those are the days we need to spend doing things we really enjoy and ultimately keeping stress and anger at bay. Remind yourself who you are, what you like to do and what makes you smile.

Taking some simple steps to improve your wellbeing can have an overall affect in how you deal with pressure and anger and allows you to bounce back. For example, you could:

  • Have a break – whether that’s day away, or a weekend, allow time to wind down
  • Make some small lifestyle changes
  • Use your support network whether that is family or friends

Finding balance in your life is key to assisting in your stress and anger issues. Perhaps you spend too much time working whether that’s at home or in the office, maybe you have children that take up all your energy. Focus some of those efforts on yourself – a hobby, family or friends. It can be difficult but it will help to spread the pressures of your life.

Your GP is also a good point of help and support. They will offer you a helpful support structure and offer advice. One good starting point is to practice deep, slow breathing – something your GP may even recommend – it normally happens automatically when you’re angry, but it’s really good for helping stress too. It allows you to focus on positive outcomes.

Passive aggression, inward aggression and violence might be normal responses for some, but it is a very unhelpful behaviour. Although it is not seen as a mental health issue, aggression can have a negative effect on your mental health. Aggression can make any issues you have appear worse and contribute to additional problems like depression or self-harm. Try some useful techniques to stay calm and let go of any unwelcome feelings. Buy yourself some time to think and figure out the best distraction techniques that work for you.

Supporting family and friends

Reflection and listening are the practical things you can do to offer your support. There may be times you can see they are reaching their tipping point before they even notice themselves. Being there for them and helping them through the situation can be a bigger help than you may initially think.

Be gentle but remind them that what they are going through is temporary and things will get better, at times conversations like this can increase the anger, but in turn it can help them assess the situation. It will also be useful to help them identify what is causing the issues in the first place and give them space to deal with them.

Set boundaries – ensure you let them know what is and isn’t acceptable and when they have crossed the line, but you must also remember to look after your wellbeing. You must remember you are not to blame for any anger problems someone you know is suffering with.

A number of those who suffer with anger will admit that the worst thing someone can do for them is to say they need to calm down – listening is a much better response to anger even if you don’t agree with why they are angry.

Anger does need to be controlled, especially those who suffer with extensive anger issues, but being able to focus on the positives of coming out on the other side and getting yourself through the phase will get easier the more the techniques are practised. Particularly when you are able to identify the triggers. Controlling the situation is not something you can get a grip of – your reaction is.

Take time to think about what’s actually made you angry and use our simple steps to help yourself calm down and assess the situation.

Sources:

https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/controlling-anger.aspx

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anger/#.WedWrWhSyUk

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/anger-management.htm

https://www.angermanage.co.uk/anger-statistics/

The post Seeing Positivity During Anger appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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It is the time of year where all men are called upon to show their support for Decembeard in a very hairy way.

Decembeard is very much focused around bowel cancer and raising awareness and much needed funds.

There are tireless campaigns throughout the year that aim to raise public awareness of the illness but few that involve as much public participation as Decembeard.

Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK – someone is diagnosed every 15 minutes, and yet if diagnosed early enough more than 90% of cases can be successfully treated-enhancing the importance of knowing the symptoms and recognising them early.

What is Decembeard about?

Decembeard is a way of every man showing his support for male cancer awareness. It’s simple – just grow your facial hair from 1st-31st December collecting sponsors for your chosen bowel Charity as you go. As a little extra fun for Christmas why not go glittery? Show your creativity!

Bowel cancer – the facts

  • Bowel cancer claims a life every 30 minutes
  • 95% of cases are diagnosed in those aged 50 or over
  • 54% of bowel cancer cases are avoidable
  • 13% of bowel cancer cases are related to excess weight

What symptoms should I look for?

  • Bleeding in bowel movements
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness – a lack of iron causing anaemia
  • Pains or lumps in the stomach or bottom

How do I join in and show support?

Just log on to www.decembeard.org or www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk for all the information and show your hairy support for bowel cancer.

Health Shield Health Cash Plans now offer a cancer screening service for some of the most common cancers in the UK, so login to your Members’ Area today to check your Health Cash Plan benefits and see if you are covered.

Sources:

https://www.decembeard.org/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/bowel-cancer

https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/about-bowel-cancer/symptoms/

The post Hairy Support for Bowel Cancer appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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It’s national Self Care Week and Health Shield wants to help by providing you with some more information on what self-care is and how it can benefit you.

Self Care Week happens annually and aims to help put a focus on getting support to everyone across all communities and generations.  Being self-aware is about being able to identify what you and your body needs and taking steps to meet those needs. Looking after yourself is one of the most important things you can do, but it’s also easily forgotten about, especially if you are a full-time carer for a friend or family member. Anyone can be a carer, whether you are a 40-year-old caring for your partner or a child that takes care of a parent. There are more than 6.5 million people in the UK that are carers — that’s a lot of people who might be forgetting to take care of themselves!

Self-care can be simple, and the effects can be seen in the short term as well as the long term —  something to remember as the population’s life expectancy continues to increase. Life expectancy is now expected to rise by one year every five years for women, and every 3.5 years for men. This can take its toll in later life. Not only will you be living longer, but so will your parents and if you are a full-time carer, the impact on your life will only increase. Self-care is about looking after your health and that of your family and it is often practiced alongside mindfulness.

The Self Care Forum has some key messages to help everyone understand the benefits and how best to look after themselves:

  • Your self-care goes from head to toe every day. This includes taking time to unwind and eating healthily
  • Be mindful of yourself, health and happiness — do things that make you happy whether that is reading a book or exercise
  • Eat well and stay active to keep yourself healthy in your body and mind — try to complete 30 minutes of exercise each day or even go for a walk to help de-stress and clear your mind

Having a good self-care routine means that your overall health will improve. You will be better at fighting off those common colds as you’ll see an improvement in your immune system and you’ll also see an improvement in how you handle stress as self-care brings positive thinking. If you feel happy and well cared for in yourself, it reflects in your mood and brings further feelings of calm and relaxation.

How can you take part in vital self-care?

  • Talk to people — friends, relatives or local support groups
  • Sit outside where it’s quiet and just listen to the natural sounds — the birds, the wind, the sea if you live close to a beach
  • Ensure you get enough sleep — people often forget the effects that lack of sleep can have on your mood and energy levels
  • Take regular warm and relaxing baths — warm water is known to be soothing and relaxing and works wonders for any tense muscles and the mind
  • Read a book or watch a film you enjoy or listen to your favourite music to help you switch off and unwind
  • Movement is good — when you’re enjoying yourself and moving around you produce happy hormones that help you feel good and better about yourself

The key is to do whatever suits you best — do whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed. Everyone is different, so even if it seems unusual to some, if it works for you — do it! Self-care gives you the feeling of control. It allows you to change your habits to better your life and change your perspective on the day.  It is also known to assist with diabetes, hypertension and back pain.  Self-care for those with these health problems can see their symptoms improve and help them to live a more productive and fuller day.

Always remember, you are an important person, you are valuable and deserving and you need to look after yourself.

Health Shield members have access to mywellness which has a range of information and resources to help improve your everyday health and wellbeing.

Sources:

http://www.fgwrc.ca/uploads/ck/files/Resources/Factsheets/FactSheetSelfCare.pdf

http://www.selfcareforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Why-self-care-is-good-for-people.pdf

https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/self-care-good-for-both-body-and-mind/

http://dev.selfcareforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/comms_info_2017.pdf

https://stresslessandlivebetter.blog/2011/07/18/the-benefits-of-self-care/

https://carers.org/what-carer

https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/press-releases/facts-and-figures

https://jdmdonline.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2251-6581-12-14

The post Looking After Your Self appeared first on Health Cash Plans from Health Shield.

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