Skip to main content
Home » Employee Wellbeing » Five tips to keep you and your team happy and healthy

Dr Katherine Tryon

Director of Health Strategy, Vitality

Knowing how to look after yourself is the key to unlocking productivity for you and your business. 

We’re all aware that eating well, not smoking, exercising regularly and not drinking too much help us stay healthy. Something put into a whole new light by the pandemic. But did you know around four in 10 cancers can be prevented through lifestyle changes?1 

Evidence suggests that people are spending longer in ill-health due to unhealthy decisions.2 The UK economy is estimated to lose approximately £92 billion a year to ill-health-related absence or through people turning up when not at their best. Around 40% of this productivity loss – equivalent to £39 billion per annum – is due to staff lifestyle behaviours and poor mental wellbeing.3 

Making just simple and small changes to our lives can make a significant difference, not just to you but also your team. If one of your team is ill and needs time off, business productivity can be significantly impacted. This is especially felt in small businesses where additional capacity is often limited. To keep your business running with minimal disruption, prioritising employee wellbeing is crucial. 

Here are just five things that can be done in our own lives and at work, all of which are connected:

1) Get regular exercise 

Physical activity can help us live a longer, healthier life, as well as reduce our risk of serious and chronic illnesses. Evidence also shows that it can help prevent health conditions. It can also reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration and enhance our overall cognitive function. In other words, it can boost our energy, mood and performance. Just a 10-minute walk can be as effective as a 45-minute workout in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.4 

2) Natural sleep 

Sleep is critical to our health and wellbeing. It affects almost every type of tissue and system in our bodies. Poor sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and can lead to early death.5 There are also close associations between poor sleep and mental health issues.6

Physical activity can help us live a longer, healthier life, as well as reduce our risk of serious and chronic illnesses.

3) Cutting down on alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant and disrupts the chemistry of the brain – the neurotransmitters that influence our mood. Over time, this can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also disrupt our sleep and weaken its quality when we do sleep, which can negatively impact our physical and mental health. 

4) Breathing exercises 

When our stress response is triggered, our autonomic nervous system enters fight or flight mode. Stress hormones are released and these create a set of physical reactions that change our state of mind. However, we can change our breathing in a way that reverts our body to a state known as rest and digest. Engaging in this can also help distract us from troubling or repetitive thoughts – a common cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) technique. 

5) Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of our thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. Through meditation and greater self-awareness, these practices can help us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and body sensations, so that instead of being overwhelmed by them we are more able to manage them. Mindfulness was also found to have the same effect as anti-depressants in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.7

There is lots of advice and support available to help employers look after their employees. However, it is also important to empower individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices themselves. This can not just enrich your life, but your business too. 

Vitality Health Insurance for small businesses

Get fast access to private healthcare that rewards healthy living for you and your team. Find out more and get a quote.

[1] British Journal of Cancer, March 2018
[2] Maximising quality of life: A primer on healthspan and lifespan, Vitality Research Institute, 2021
[3] Britain’s Healthiest Workplace 2019, Vitality and RAND Europe
[4] 4 Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 23 March 2021
[5] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Understanding Sleep, 2019
[6] Sleep Foundation; mental health, 2020
[7] NICE – Depression in adults: treatment and management, May 2018

Next article