The idea of this article is to get you thinking of ways to combat stress and enhance your mental wellbeing

Beautiful young woman in Paris, near the Eiffel tower on a nice and sunny spring day, reading on the bench outdoors

Having grown up in South Africa there was a time when sitting around the dinner table sharing stories of how violence had influenced our lives was an accepted common day occurrence. Stories of hijacking, township violence and murder – all stories that didn’t raise an eyebrow because they had become the norm. This article is not to talk about the past negative woes of what for me is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Rather, I see a correlation with mental health. Sitting around a dinner table today, the likelihood is there wouldn’t be many of us unaffected by some kind of mental health issue. If not yourself, stress, anxiety or depression will have affected a friend, colleague or family member. These tales have become common day occurrence and affect us all.

The work related statistics surrounding stress include:

  • Total number of cases of work related stress, depression and anxiety in 2014/15 was 440 000 cases
  • The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2014/15 was 9.9 million days
  • 2014/15 saw stress and anxiety accounting for 35% of all work related ill health cases


So what do we do about this epidemic? In anticipation of Mental Health Awareness week on the 16th of May, we would like to share some insights in promoting healthy choices.

Work Wise promote that organisations prioritising wellbeing end up with a happy, healthy, engaged workforce. Wellbeing means proactively engaging in activity to promote emotional, mental and physical wellness. Companies that do this will attract like-minded people to their team and create a strong productive culture.

The wellbeing responsibility can be shared between organisation and the individual.

Organisations: Consider an employee wellbeing assessment. This will give you insight into your employee wellbeing on an emotional, mental and physical level. Feel free to get in touch

Individuals: Think about your last holiday and how you felt on returning? For most of us it is an excellent way to combat stress and we return feeling re-energised with bolstered resilience. Many of us engage in weekly activities after work that have a similar effect to a holiday. Think of what you do to relax – exercise, sleep, hobbies … the list goes on.

Now we’d like you to think of ways you can replenish resilience levels during your workday. Some ideas include: walking in your lunch hour, a healthy snack, water intake, a mindful moment; prioritizing. By punctuating your workday with simple interventions is a small simple step in counteracting stress and improving your mental wellbeing.

In leading up to the Mental Health Awareness week we’d like to challenge you to think about the What; How and Why on your daily Wellbeing list? So for me

What: a 30 minute walk

How: Fitted in either on my way to work or in my lunch hour

Why: Have a change of scenery; breathe; refocus

Now to keep myself accountable!

We hope this has got you thinking. Feel free to share your ideas on twitter @workwisely

Keep a look out for our June Employee Handbook offering: “All the positives in your Wellbeing strategy”

Be well,

Leigh McKay