Feel the burnout

Health Beauty | Ivy Ong-Wood 11 Jun 2019

Feeling stressed all the time? Anxious, unable sleep, always feeling like you can't switch off? Suddenly find it hard to shake off a simple cold or breaking out in hives or rashes?

You could be suffering from burnout - and this is a legitimate health concern.

For the first time, the World Health Organization has identified burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis and added it to the International Classification of Diseases, the handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases.

Burnout is defined in the handbook as "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

"It is characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job, and reduced professional efficacy."

Benita Perch, managing director and naturopathic physician at Integrated Medicine Institute, said: "I often treat professionals experiencing autoimmune conditions, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalances, infertility, gut issues, anxiety and depression as a consequence of burnout. The kind of lifestyle that many professionals have in Hong Kong puts them at risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer."

She added: "Hong Kong's frenetic work culture - longer workdays, constant multi-tasking, sedentary lifestyles and poor diets - are all taking a toll on employees' health, morale and productivity."

As low morale and productivity impact the companies too, businesses have an incentive to ensure their employees are happy and healthy. "Corporate wellness is a solution that will promote wellness at work and benefit organizations' productivity and profitability too," said Perch. "It's a win-win situation."

Recently, IMI has rolled out a series of corporate wellness programs to address nine critical areas: mindfulness, stress, sleep, diet, detox, physically active working, healthy gut healthy brain, mental health, and the Superwoman Syndrome.

Firms can select topics to match their needs in formats that include presentations, workshops, or urban wellness retreats.

"Employers have a huge role to play in supporting employees' wellbeing," Perch pointed out. "They can ensure the workload is not too burdensome. A gym would be great to promote physical fitness, especially given the health issues related to a sedentary lifestyle.

"Allowing people to take 1 hours for lunch would mean they can fit fitness into their day. Providing higher quality food in the canteen will help them eat healthier. Insurance policies can cover psychology services to support mental health, and businesses can encourage team mindfulness and meditation."

Employees can also take measures to strengthen their bodies and ability to cope with stress.

Perch recommended taking multivitamins that have adequate Bs, Cs and Ds. "Adrenal support - herbs that help the body adapt and cope with stress better - and homeopathy are also advisable," she added.

"Homeopathy is like the right key for the lock. Sometimes you can't change your circumstances so you have to shift your view of the circumstances, and in this way limit your stress."

A healthy diet is also key. "Eliminate sugar and refined whites from your diet, add protein to every meal, drink more water, and consume seven vegetables and two fruit a day," she said.

Physical activity is a must but strive to "exercise in a yin and yang way" said Perch.

"People are doing yang exercise such as running and weightlifting but not enough restorative yin exercise such as yoga, tai chi, and stretching."

And finally, aim for eight hours of sleep a night. "Prioritize sleep over TV, phones and computers, which are known to increase cortisol levels," she said.

Website: www.imi.com/corporate-wellness


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