Wellbeing Wednesday Monthly Edition

Fruit and vegetable arranged in shape of a heart

Wednesday 8th February 2023

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services

Hello and welcome to this month’s Wellbeing Wednesday! We have lots of topics for you, starting with a Valentine themed National Heart Month, which is all about the positive things we can each do to keep our hearts healthy. How about getting creative on Valentine’s Day with some heart shaped healthy foods? And have a look at our info below on how Food affects our Mood.

We know that many people are still finding things hard with the cost of living increases, so we’ve got some practical information to help if you or someone you know needs a bit extra advice or support.

And finally don’t forget the services we provide as your employer – keep checking our Health Assured website and App for wellbeing info and tips – and also have a look at our Physiotherapy pilot that we explain below.

Right – I am off for a quick walk to see if I can see any snowdrops popping up anywhere – I love them, but haven’t managed to grow them successfully in the garden yet. Fingers crossed this year! See you next month.

National Heart Month

February is not just about Valentine’s Day, it is also National Heart Month which aims to raise awareness about heart diseases and encourages people to think about the choices they are making within their lifestyle to keep their heart healthy. National Heart Month aims to help people understand what good mental and physical health means for the heart, and how to stay informed about the risks of heart-related conditions.

Making good lifestyle choices is the best way to improve your heart’s health and to keep it strong. To reduce the risk of developing heart-related problems, here are some simple things you can consider to maintain a healthy heart

  • exercise regularly;
  • eat a balanced, varied diet;
  • monitor your blood pressure;
  • maintain a healthy weight;
  • consider how you manage stress;
  • control the amount of cholesterol you intake;
  • get regular health checks by a professional if you have any concerns

Free online CPR training

Many of us will witness a cardiac arrest during our lifetime.  The British Heart Foundation are running RevivR, which is a free, interactive, online CPR training course.  In just 15 minutes, you can learn how to save a life and receive your very own CPR certificate. All you need is your mobile phone or tablet and a cushion to practise on.

This is a brilliant way to support National Heart Month, so start the training now, or save it for later and get it sent straight to your inbox so it is ready when you are and learn how you can save a life.

Learn CPR in 15 minutes | RevivR | BHF – BHF

Financial Wellbeing - Help and Support is Available

We have covered money worries in previous issues but are very aware that is in an ongoing concern for many people.  Financial wellbeing is about feeling secure and in control of your finances, knowing you can pay the bills and hopefully being able to deal with unexpected expenses where necessary.

Given the current financial crisis, financial wellbeing can be difficult to achieve and/or sustain. The Money Charity has the following advice which may help with budgeting:

Top 10 Budgeting Tips

  1. 1. Be Honest. Don’t try to skip certain items or underestimate your spending.
  2. Be Consistent. Keep track of your daily spending. The little things that you buy can soon add up, which means you are probably spending more than you think. Keep track of all spending with the free Budget Builder.
  3. Keep Motivated. Regularly remind yourself of the things the budget enables you to do.
  4. Plan for Occasional Expenses. Make sure you budget for expenses that only happen a few times a year like gifts, car insurance and trips to the dentist.
  5. Plan for both Fixed and Variable Expenses. Fixed expenses are things like rent and council tax, and variable expenses are things like utilities, groceries and travel.
  6. Assess the ‘Extra Spending’ in Your Budget. If your budget still doesn’t balance, it’s time to cut back on non-essential spending. Could you cut back on subscriptions, or may be take sandwiches in to work?
  7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up.Everyone will go off their budget occasionally, no matter how much money is available to you. If you end up going out for dinner with your friends, instead of a quick drink after work, don’t get disheartened, simply revise your budget and see where you can recoup the money moving forward.
  8. Don’t Try to Deprive Yourself Too Much.Just like a diet, if you do, you will find it muchharder to stick to in the long-term. Find a balance between saving and the occasional treat such as that bottle of wine or something nice for the house.
  9. Review Your Budget Every Month. This will help you keep on track.
  10. Have Fun! Enjoy spending your hard-earned money as long as you’ve made provision in your budget!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

If you’re still struggling to balance your budget after cutting back on spending and are concerned about the amount of money you owe, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Spending more than you earn each month isn’t sustainable in the long-term, and will push you further and further into debt. For free debt advice, speak to StepChange.   (Source: Living On A Budget – The Money Charity)

Other support and advice available:

Money advice (argyll-bute.gov.uk)

Argyll and Bute Worrying About Money Poster.pdf

The Money and Pensions Service | Building financial wellbeing

Cost of living crisis – Cost of Living Support Scotland (campaign.gov.scot)

Child Poverty Action Plan – Plan on a Page

The review of the Argyll and Bute Child Poverty Action Plan has recently been published and a child friendly version of the plan has been produced in the form of a one page child-friendly graphic with the input of children and young people themselves.   This includes a QR code which links to the Child Poverty page which has lots of advice and information on it and links to resources and further help.

Child poverty action plan infographic

Health Assured Webinars

This month’s bite size wellbeing webinars from our Employee Assistance Programme provider are:

  • Eating Disorders
  • Financial Wellbeing


You can access via: Webinars | Health Assured (healthassuredeap.co.uk)

Health Assured also provide a free and confidential helpline which is available 24/7 – Tel: 0800 028 0199 or you can download the Health Assured App via Apple Store or Play Store for Android devices.

Food and Mood

Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.

Improving your diet may help to:

  • improve your mood
  • give you more energy
  • help you think more clearly.

How to manage your mood with food

Tips to help you explore the relationship between what you eat and how you feel. 

Eating regularly: If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels steady.

Slow-release energy foods include: pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.

Try to eat breakfast – it sets you up for the day.

Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.

Staying hydrated

If you don’t drink enough fluid, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated (which puts no one in a good mood).

It’s recommended that you drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid a day, and water is the best and cheapest option!  Tea, coffee, juices and smoothies all count towards your intake (but be aware that these may also contain caffeine or sugar).

Getting your 5 a day

Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy.  Eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients.

Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced (one glass) fruits and vegetables all count towards your 5 a day.  As a general rule, one portion is about a handful, small bowl or a small glass.

Looking after your gut

Sometimes your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you’re stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up. For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly.

Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics.

Getting enough protein

Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds.

Managing caffeine

Caffeine is in: tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and other manufactured energy drinks.

If you drink tea, coffee or cola, try switching to decaffeinated versions.

Eating the right fats

 Your brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.

Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.

Try to avoid anything which lists ‘trans fats’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ in the list of ingredients (such as some shop-bought cakes and biscuits). They can be tempting when you’re feeling low, but this kind of fat isn’t good for your mood or your physical health in the long run.

(Source: About food and mood – Mind)

For more information on healthy eating visit: Eat well – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Online Physio Pilot – now available

Our new online physio pilot is now up and running and will enable those currently absent due to a musculoskeletal issue or related condition to have the option to be referred to a physiotherapist online via our Occupational Health provider. The physio can advise on appropriate interventions and/or provide advice or a rehabilitation plan, or signpost to other services where required. 

If this would be of interest to you personally or if you are manager of someone affected by a musculoskeletal issue please get in touch to see if the service would of benefit.  Contact Julie Hallett, HR Adviser or email wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk

As always, please 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 wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk