Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Service
Hello all and happy Wednesday. I know that there may be fewer of you reading WBW this week than usual because we are now in the October Holidays. Strangely enough, I’m really pleased about that – because it means if you are not reading this on 13 October you are taking a well-deserved break from work! This week is all about Work Life Balance and how important it is to make positive choices about your work life balance and also about how you make the transition from healthy, summer foods to winter warmers that still provide all the nutrients we need (even more) over the winter months.
Today is a good time to let you know about our Council’s approach to flexible and agile and working as we enter national Work Life Balance Week. We know getting a work life balance that meets both your needs and the requirements of your job and career is a challenge that affects a large part of our lives. As your employer, we aim to provide the opportunities to help you to create that balance. We know that the demands of your life outside work change over time and that it is important for us to support you to achieve work life balance, so that when you are at work, you can fully focus on doing your best work, delivering the vital services our communities rely on. You will find information below about the support and options that we provide to you, as well as some great examples about how to manage attitudes to work – we are so much better when we switch off work on time!! There is a reason that Denmark is one of the ‘happiest countries in the world’….
There are also some great ideas for tasty and healthy winter warmer food – enjoy!
National Work Life Balance Week 11 – 15 October
National Work Life Week is an annual campaign to get people talking about wellbeing at work and work-life balance. The last eighteen months, readjusting our working patterns time and again, have been tough for everyone. Whether it’s parents and carers who’ve had to juggle delivering against deadlines with caring for little ones or older family members, or line managers who’ve had to support teams while managing their own workload and home commitments.
It’s been challenging and as we attempt to stabilise our work and home patterns amidst uncertainty about what the future will bring it’s more vital than ever to put wellbeing at the heart of how we choose to navigate our lives.
National Work Life Week, run by national charity Working Families is a great opportunity to make some time with your colleagues and teams to talk about wellbeing, good work life balance, and how to create a workplace that allows everyone to thrive both at work and at home. Here are some suggestions on how you can approach this:
We all know how hard it is (despite all the good intentions) to find time to focus on wellbeing and self-care. Discipline is needed to truly switch off from work and have some quiet time. Use this week as a chance to block out some time (even just an hour) away from your usual workload for some quiet thinking or planning time. In your hour you could consider the following:
- A guided meditation session
- Team time together (online or in person) with a tea or coffee
- Going for a walk
- Watching a TED Talk or listening to a podcast
Consider how any existing policies or employee benefits could help you
The council has a number of polices to support employees covering flexible and alternative ways of working, special leave and attendance and wellbeing. You can access the Employee Assistance Programme to provide you and your family with advice and support on work or home life matters and also the Employee Benefits programme. Use this week as an excuse to familiarise yourself with these and how they might be of use to you.
You can find further information in the following places and also by contacting the Wellbeing Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop work on time!
Make an effort this week to make sure that you are working the hours you should be and that you finish up work ready to make the most of the rest of your day. Particularly with autumn now fully underway and daylight hours reducing. If you can, encourage your team and colleagues to do the same. Productivity doesn’t decrease when people finish on time; it often increases! Not convinced? Here are a couple of interesting reads:
Eating Well in the Colder Months
Sometimes we can all find it difficult to stay energised throughout the day, particularly during the colder and darker months. But did you know that there are things that you can do, and avoid, to keep your energy levels up?
Eating a healthy and balanced diet, including lots of fruit and vegetables can provide us with the necessary vitamins and minerals we need to support our immune system. These include vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as minerals zinc, iron and selenium. We must also reduce the amounts of those that may negatively impact our immune system such as alcohol.
With less sunlight hitting our skin over the autumn and winter months it can be harder for us to get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a role in serotonin production, with low levels of serotonin being associated to low mood. Eating plenty of carbohydrates can help to increase our serotonin levels – opt for more complex carbohydrates such as whole grain foods and sweet potatoes. These are kinder on our waistline and deliver important vitamins, minerals, fibre and releases energy over a longer period.
Vitamin D not only supports our immune system and mood but is also crucial to our bone health. This is because vitamin D needs to be present for our bodies to effectively absorb calcium. Eating enough calcium rich foods and getting enough vitamin D through sunlight or fortified foods is a great way to protect our bones.
Energy Boosting Food
During the colder months we may be tempted by eating comfort food. Whilst this can give us an initial boost in energy, we may have a ‘crash’ when our sugar levels drop. Eating whole grain foods can keep our sugar levels constant over a longer period and also provides us with B vitamins. B vitamins help us use our food for energy so if we aren’t getting enough of these it can leave us feeling tired and even irritable. Soups and stews are a great way to keep us warm but also provide us with energy compared to sweet treats.
You can find out more about eating well in the colder months, including recipes, at the British Heart Foundation website.
To get you started why don’t you try this hearty stew recipe – it is a vegan recipe but can be easily adapted for meat eaters and you can change the ingredients to suit your tastes and what you have available, hope you enjoy!
Meat or Vegan Spicy Sausage Stew
Preparation time: less than 30 minutes,
Cooking time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
- 2 tbsp oil
- 8 vegan or lean meat sausages
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 red, yellow or orange peppers, chopped
- 1-2 tbsp chipotle paste or harissa paste
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 400g/14oz tin tomatoes or passata (or use a mix of tinned and fresh tomatoes)
- 300ml/10½fl oz vegetable stock
- 1 tsp dried oregano or basil
- 400g/14oz can of cooked beans or pulses, such as chickpeas, butter beans, black beans, kidney beans, cannellini, pinto and baked beans
- handful fresh parsley, chopped, to serve
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- rice and salad to serve
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Add the sausages and brown all over for about 5 minutes, then remove to a plate.
- Heat the remaining oil in the casserole and fry the onion, celery, garlic and peppers for 5–8 minutes, or until softened.
- Stir in the chipotle or harissa paste and tomato purée, alongside the tomatoes (or passata), stock and oregano. Bring to a simmer and add the browned sausages. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 15–20 minutes more, or until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce thickened.
- Add the mixed beans and stir well, then cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning, then sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve with rice and salad.
Please also let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.
The Wellbeing Team: email@example.com