Did you know that South Africa is the world’s second-most stressed country? This is according to a study by Bloomberg.
Workplace stress and burnout not only harms our health, it can be detrimental to our careers too, not to mention the economy. Absenteeism costs the South African economy between R12 billion and R16 billion a year, according to Statistics South Africa.
Since February is Healthy Lifestyle Awareness month, it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock of our high-stress environment and the impact it is having on our lives.
“If we often find ourselves in a stressful environment, we are bound to be affected and the effect can be both mental and physical, robbing us of so much,” says Sibongile Mamafha, Principal Executive of Thebemed. “While the dynamics of mental health are complex, there are some simple actions we can take to give us the best chance of living the best life possible.”
5 Stress-busting tips
Mamafha offers the following five steps to better mental health:
1. Eat well
You are what you eat. Understand the food groups and how to combine them properly. Your body and mind are closely linked.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise keeps the body limber, but it also helps to promote wellbeing and reduce stress. It doesn’t have to mean joining an expensive gym, either – a brisk 30-minute walk five times a week will get the blood flowing and clear the mind.
3. Get enough sleep
The more stressed we are, the more sleep we need – and don’t get.
“Stress and the always-on digital lifestyle overstimulate us, making it hard to sleep, but seven to eight hours is necessary,” says Mamafha. “There are certain techniques to promote sleep, and your medical aid can help you find them out.”
4. Prioritise “me time”
A low self-esteem and job insecurity can mean that people take on too much at work or home. It’s important to set some time aside to do things that you enjoy, and just to be quiet and connect with yourself.
Holidays are also important for mental health, however, a study by Ipsos Global and Reuters found that more than half (53 percent) of the South African working population does not take its annual leave. Take your leave and enjoy it.
5. Ask for help if necessary
If you do feel you are not coping, talk with a trusted friend, colleague or family member about how you are feeling.
“Remember, too, that employers and medical aids are very aware of the problem, and will have programmes on offer to help – use them,” says Mamafha. “They are totally confidential, so you won’t run the risk of your boss finding out!”
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.