Wellbeing Wednesday 27th April 2022

With Jane on leave this week, I am here, (after a lovely sunny long weekend at Mull Music Festival) to introduce this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday. I hope you have managed to enjoy some of the glorious sunshine we have been enjoying in Argyll and Bute recently. While I was over on Mull, one of my friends, (knowing I have a tendency to burn in the sun), reminded me to apply some sunscreen. This reminder was a small example of the type of things that all of us say, to look out for each other and keep each other safe.

Having a social dialogue about creating a preventative safety and health culture is the focus of the ILO’s Health and Safety at work day, which takes place on 28th April. You can read more about it in this week’s wellbeing Wednesday. Also included this week is a feature on Multiple Sclerosis Awareness and a book review from Seona Laird on joy at work.

Hope you enjoy the read and please remember to get in touch with our wellbeing team if there is anything you would like to see covered in a future Wellbeing Wednesday.



Carolyn McAlpine HR&OD Manager

Health and Safety at Work Day – 28 April

The international Labour Organisation (ILO) marks its World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April each year.  It is an international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work around the globe.  This year it will explore the topic of participation and social dialogue in creating a positive safety and health culture.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a number of interested parties (Management, Government, Trades Unions and Workers) come together to protect our work environments and safeguard the health and safety of everyone.  Most importantly we have looked out for each other during this time!  All our discussions about risk both inside and outside the workplace has helped open dialogue about workplace health and safety into every day conversations, building ownership and commitment to it and each other. 

A wee reminder to sanitise here, open an extra window there, or asking “should we all be in here?” – are all simple things we can do to protect ourselves and each other.  The pandemic has allowed us to feel more comfortable noticing and raising concerns about possible risks and has seen managers work together with us to find solutions. This open communication and dialogue will continue to enhance a strong safety and health culture.

On 28 April 2022 the ILO are holding a virtual discussion which will explore the topic of participation and social dialogue for creating a preventative safety and health culture. 

For more details please see – World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2022: Global dialogue on acting together to build a positive safety and health culture (ilo.org)

There is also wealth of information on specific health and safety topics on the Council’s H&S pages.

Six Important Phrases for a Healthy Work Environment

Here are six phrases by Dominik Spenst, German writer and entrepreneur, that should be part of every healthy work environment.

  1. I don’t know – No one knows it all and no one is ever going to. What is more important is authenticity and honesty and knowing how to ask the right questions of the right people to get an answer.
  2. I’m not feeling so good today – No one’s grin is a mile wide every day. Acknowledge how you are feeling and understand that this is okay.  Your best might look different today as a result.
  3. I see things differently – good leaders encourage employees to make good points and a culture of openness and respect allows you to use those four words without fear.
  4. I made a mistake – mistakes happen to everyone because being human means making mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning and growing.
  5. I’ve got an idea – your input is good and important, even if it is not perfect – sharing ideas shows that you are taking responsibility and thinking ahead.
  6. Thank you – for helping me with my last project, for talking to me so honestly and openly, for explaining this to me in detail, for working so hard. All of us need to be appreciated – never be stingy with a sincere thank you.

I think my favourite is “I see things differently”.  As a person who does their very best to avoid conflict, using the phrase “I see things differently” is a very non-confrontational way of being able to put an alternative view across.  I plan to use it more often!

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness

This week we are also focussing on Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a condition that can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.

Key facts:

  • MS is a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild
  • In many cases, it’s possible to treat symptoms. Average life expectancy is slightly reduced for people with MS
  • It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any age. It’s about two to three times more common in women than men
  • MS is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults.

There are three types of MS.

Relapsing remitting MS:

  • More than 80% of people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting type
  • Someone with relapsing remitting MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as relapses
  • These typically worsen over a few days, last for days to weeks to months, then slowly improve over a similar time period
  • The symptoms of a relapse may disappear altogether, with or without treatment, although some symptoms often persist, with repeated attacks happening over several years

Secondary progressive MS:

  • Many people with relapsing MS go on to have secondary progressive MS. It means they have a build-up of disability, independent of any relapses.
  • Secondary progressive MS can be hard to diagnose. To get this diagnosis you must have had relapses in the past, and now your disability has been getting steadily worse for at least six months. Things getting worse mustn’t be linked to any relapse you’ve had.
  • Secondary progressive MS is different from primary progressive MS, which is progressive from the beginning.

Primary progressive MS:

  • Just over one in ten people with the condition start their MS with a gradual worsening of symptoms
  • In primary progressive MS, symptoms gradually worsen and accumulate over several years, and there are no periods of remission, though people often have periods where their condition appears to stabilise.

What causes MS?

MS is an autoimmune condition. This is when something goes wrong with the immune system and it mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body – in this case, the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system.

Exactly what causes the immune system to act in this way is unclear, but most experts think a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved.

MS symptoms:

The symptoms of MS vary widely from person to person and can affect any part of the body. The main symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Problems with balance and co-ordination
  • Problems with thinking, learning and planning

Depending on the type of MS you have, your symptoms may come and go in phases or get steadily worse over time (progress).

Seeking advice:

Diagnosing multiple sclerosis isn’t easy. It’s a complex condition with many different symptoms. Tests for MS could include blood tests or having a MRI but if you think you might have MS, the first thing to do is talk to your GP.


MS can be a challenging condition to live with, but new treatments over the past 20 years have considerably improved the quality of life of people with the condition. MS itself is rarely fatal, but complications may arise from severe MS, such as chest or bladder infections, or swallowing difficulties. The average life expectancy for people with MS is around five to ten years lower than average, and this gap appears to be getting smaller all the time.

Treatments and advice:

There’s currently no cure for MS, but a number of treatments can help control the condition. The treatment you need will depend on the specific symptoms and difficulties you have. Speak with your GP or take a look at the following support sites:

NHS Living with MS

MS Society care and support

Book Review by Seona Laird

Joy at Work:  Organising your Professional Life” by Marie Kondo and Scott Soneshein

At Christmas time whilst wandering about Waterstones I picked up this book.  You might know Marie Kondo from Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.  I don’t really know why I bought it since I had failed to implement the KonMari method of tidying up after watching the programme but I think I was feeling hopeful about being able to spark some joy into a work place that had mostly just sparked exhaustion before Christmas!

The book is broken down into three bite sized categories – the first is about tips on how to clean up desks overwhelmed with endless piles of papers and other assorted bits of clutter.  To be honest this to me seemed like a lot of common sense and didn’t spark much joy with me.

The next section on organising inboxes, drives, filing and using technology and that made a lot more sense!  I had been on the Working Smarter course at work a while back and it brought back to me a lot of the really good tools and techniques I was taught that could to help organise my work day e.g. time blocking, priority setting, using “tasks” and running efficient meetings. 

The last section, though, was the most enlightening for me where it was asking you to consider “where do you put your time and energy at work?”  Through a series of questions such as:

  • If you were in 100% control of your work day, would it look the way it does now?
  • What would you change and what would you keep the same?
  • Is this task required for my job?

This helps to establish what you currently spend your time and energy on.  You then start to look at ways to take action (declutter) removing interactions, meetings, tasks that are not needed so you can really focus on the things that “bring you joy”.

This made me think about a lot of emails, requests, “wee jobs”, new activities that I just absorb without thought but if I asked the question* “does this really relate to my purpose in this organisation?” before commencing each one of them would the answer be yes or no? (*Note, you are supposed to ask yourself “does this bring you joy?” but that was a wee bit far-fetched for me!).    If the answer is no, I need to consider whether to have a conversation with the person who asked me to do the “wee job”, speak to my line manager or delegate/transfer this to the correct person or alternatively say “No, because if I spend my time on X then I cannot complete task Y and Y is important because…”. 

So I would say this book did not blow me away in terms of new techniques and approaches however, it made me think carefully about where I focus my efforts during my work day and reminded me of those tools and techniques I already knew as it is all too easy to forget the ones we know when we are overwhelmed, busy and focused on ticking off a to do list.

Thanks for reading and, as ever, keep in touch with us at wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk