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WORKPLACES AND EMPLOYEE WELLNESS

People no longer wait to get sick before seeking wellness and are constantly looking for ways to stay well and get healthier.

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As an entrepreneur, a question I keep asking myself is, ‘What do people need? What could make them happier and more fulfilled?’ The most obvious way to answer that question is, of course, to ask them, but it is also interesting and useful to look at trends and see how we can proactively make things better before people ask. A trend that is seen across many demographics is the trend towards preventive healthcare and wellness. People no longer wait to get sick before seeking wellness and are constantly looking for ways to stay well and get healthier.

The global wellness market is currently valued at $1.5 trillion, according to a recent McKinsey report, with an annual growth rate of 5-10 percent. For most people, wellness includes several parameters:

Mindfulness,

Better sleep,

Better fitness,

Better nutrition,

Better appearance and

Better overall health (including mental health)

How are these trends unfolding, and how can we as employers take steps to help our people reach their own personal goals?

MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness, simply put, is the act of being fully present in the moment or while performing an activity. Anything done mindfully, whether it is mindful eating or mindful working, is said to be more impactful or meaningful for the person doing it. In the therapeutic space, mindfulness involves acknowledging one’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions without being overwhelmed. Meditation and mindfulness are often linked. Music helps build mindfulness by creating an atmosphere where one can focus and block out external distractions. Creating a work atmosphere that is conducive to mindfulness using music and scheduled uninterrupted work time can be very beneficial 

BETTER SLEEP

We are, to quote sleep expert Mathew Walker, people continuously building sleep debt. Most of us are sleep poor, both in terms of quantity and quality.  In addition to setting aside enough time to sleep, Walker prescribes sleep hygiene or sleep routines, which include eating light at night, setting aside devices, listening to soft music and creating an environment conducive to sleeping in your bedroom. These are ways to train your brain and body to relax, unwind and prepare for a restful night of sleep. Discourage the use of email and messaging after hours unless it’s essential.

BETTER FITNESS

Better fitness is at the centre of health and well-being. Whether it is exercising at home, training for a 10K, going to the gym, joining a group fitness class or taking up a team sport, more working professionals are making time to exercise. Not only does this burn calories and increase metabolism, but it has the added benefit of improving mood and mental health and is often a good way to socialize. Wherever possible, offering group fitness plans to employees, or starting clubs could be helpful. Studies have shown that listening to music can make workouts more effective in multiple ways. 

BETTER NUTRITION

Dieting has often been seen as an important part of good health, but people are moving away from the concept of ‘dieting’ towards ‘mindful eating’ and ‘fueling’.  Rather than promoting deprivation, new trends are towards more healthy, unprocessed food and eating well.  In addition to tracking calories, people also track macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fibre). In offices, if there are canteens, consider making healthy food available, and food that caters to specific diets, such as gluten free, keto, or vegan.  

BETTER APPEARANCE

Most of us are concerned about our appearance, and often, in workplaces, there is an emphasis placed on being well turned out. This includes not only dressing well, but makeup, supplements, special clothing and cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic procedures are on the rise, especially among young people. This is often attributed to social media, or two years of zoom calls during the pandemic.  Lasik, Liposuction, botox and plastic surgery all have more and more takers.  As employers, we should do our best to promote health while supporting the individuality of our team.  Some ways to do this could be to offer counselling, advice against clinics that may not be well qualified and offering medical leave to team members recovering from procedures. 

BETTER OVERALL HEALTH

All of these parameters lead to better overall health, or holistic health, which includes mental health. A record number of individuals are reporting mental health struggles, and therapy is becoming more mainstream than it was previously. Music has been known to influence mood and is a tool that can be used. There is an increased use of technology, whether in the case of fitness trackers, digital wearables or with complete health platforms and remote monitoring and telemedicine. Companies like Ultrahuman and Cult are at the forefront of this in India, where the emphasis is on using technology to become the best version of yourself. As organisations, we should see how these fit into our value system, and what facilities, including therapy and counselling, can be made available to our teams, online and offline.

When working out of the office, consider events that could create and sustain engagement. Host workshops and concerts. Have music playing in work and recreational areas. Connect with your teams and see what they value. 

As we move forward in the time of the great resignation, we must acknowledge that we need to adapt and be sensitive to the needs of our team.  Many of us identify as purpose-driven companies, and it’s not difficult to understand that individual employees also have their own sense of purpose and there needs to be alignment between their careers and the rest of their lives.  Most people value autonomy, flexibility, and remote working, but as organizations, we must still try to build a connected culture. 

Bindu Subramanian is the CEO and Co-founder of Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts.

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

Author Valentine Low has written a book about the staff who work for the royal families called ‘Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown’. In the book, she quoted many staff who worked for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their term as senior royals in the UK.
According to the New York Post, the book details the alleged bad behaviour by Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, towards their staff. In the book, the author even quoted a royal staffer calling Meghan, a “narcissistic sociopath”
Staff members coined the epithet for the Duchess of Sussex, according to a report in The Sun citing excerpts from the explosive tome, according to the New York Post.
According to Page Six, “There were a lot of broken people,” an insider claimed to author Valentine Low.
“Young women were broken by their behaviour,” the palace source added.
Valentine Low cites one alleged occasion in her book in which Markle scolded a young female coworker in front of other co-workers.
“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle allegedly told the staffer, with whom she had been working to execute a plan of sorts.

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Celebration of 75 years of Independence with commemorative coins in Kolkata

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celebratION OF 75 years of Independence with commemorative coins in kolkata

As the most awaited festival of Durga Puja is around the corner, preparations for the festival are in full swing in Kolkata, which is known for the yearly event. The Durga Puja of Kolkata is world famous and it was also included in UNESCO’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2021.
Every year, Kolkata brings a new theme to Durga Puja pandals, which are unique and innovative in their own way. From pandals to the Durga idol, devotees get to see various themed Durga puja in Kolkata.
In keeping with the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Babubagan Sarbojanin Durgotsav Puja pandal at the Dhakuria in South Kolkata has come up with a unique pandal, which is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence.
The Babubagan Sarbajanin Durgotsav Samiti Durga Puja Pandal, made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. The theme of this year’s Durga Puja pandal is “Maa Tujhe Salaam”. This time, Babubagan Sarbajanin Durga Puja is being celebrated for the 61st year.
Realising the artistic vision of Sujata Gupta and welcoming Maa Durga in an atmosphere of remembrance of 75 years of the country’s independence, tributes have been paid to the great freedom fighters of the country.
The theme of this puja pandal depicts the freedom fighters and great personalities through Maa Tujhe Salaam.
Upon entering, one can feel the presence of prominent figures of India, who were directly involved in India’s freedom struggle and who shaped our modern India and various Indian independence movements.
The park will also have landmarks of various pillars of our country that have helped them stand on their feet.
Prof Sujata Gupta, Concept Maker and Puja Committee Treasurer, said, “Maa Tujhe Salaam is the theme of the pandal. Maa means ‘Durga Maa’ and it also means ‘Bharat Mata’. We are celebrating 75 years of India’s independence. The pandal is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence. From 1947 till date, a number of commemorative coins have been released on important occasions. We have collected such coins and adorned the pandal with them. While some of the coins are original, the rest are replicas. “ The idol will be placed in a coin museum.
“There will be a coin museum. The idols of Durga Maa are replicated on the coins. Also, we have placed replicas of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda, and others on coins,” said Gupta.
She further said that around 150 coins have been used in the pandal.
“It is my hobby to collect coins and this is my concept. My husband also used to collect coins. We had all these old coins that are not in use today. So we thought of giving a message to the next generation with this pandal. Senior citizens will feel nostalgic as they are not able to see old coins. This will work as a feel-good factor,” she said.

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Viruses may have ‘eyes and ears’ on us

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Viruses may have ‘eyes and ears’ on us

New research suggests that viruses are using information from their environment to ‘decide’ when to sit tight inside their hosts and when to multiply and burst out, killing the host cell. Right now, viruses are exploiting the ability to monitor their environment to their benefit. But in the future, “we could exploit it to their detriment,” said one of the authors.
A virus’s ability to sense its environment, including elements produced by its host, adds “another layer of complexity to the viral-host interaction,” says Ivan Erill, professor of biological sciences and senior author of the new paper.
Right now, viruses are exploiting that ability to their benefit. But in the future, he says, “we could exploit it to their detriment.”
The new study focused on bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria, often referred to simply as “phages.”
The phages in the study can only infect their hosts when the bacterial cells have special appendages, called pili and flagella, that help the bacteria move and mate.
The bacteria produce a protein called CtrA that controls when they generate these appendages.
The new paper shows that many appendage-dependent phages have patterns in their DNA where the CtrA protein can attach, called binding sites.
Erill says that a phage having a binding site for a protein produced by its host is unusual.
Even more surprising, Erill and the paper’s first author, Elia Mascolo, a Ph.D. student in Erill’s lab, found through detailed genomic analysis that these binding sites were not unique to a single phage, or even a single group of phages.
Many different types of phages had CtrA binding sites, but they all required their hosts to have pili and/or flagella to infect them. It couldn’t be a coincidence, they decided.

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NAVRATRI 2022: All about the 9-day Auspicious festival

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NAVRATRI 2022: aLL about the 9-day AUSPICIOUS festival

The 9-day-long festival of Shardiya Navratri, dedicated to Maa Durga and her nine avatars, began on Monday, marking the first day of the festivity (Kalash or Ghatsthapna). The festival is celebrated with great fervour all across the country by Hindus.
It is intended for the worship of Maa Durga and her nine avatars, known as Navdurga. Navratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit. Hindus observe a total of four Navratris throughout the year. Only two of them, Chaitra Navaratri and Shardiya Navaratri, saw widespread celebrations, as they coincided with the beginnings of the seasons.
From Ashwin Shukla Paksha’s Navami until the Pratipada, Shardiya Navratri is observed. While the holiday is celebrated with great fanfare across the nation, distinct traditions are more commonly practised in different states.

Timeline
This year, Navratri will last nine days, starting on 26 September and concluding on 5 October.

History:
The festival of Navratri honours the defeat of the demonic Mahishasura and the triumph of good over evil. Because of Mahishasura’s unwavering devotion to him, Lord Brahma bestows the gift of immortality upon him at the beginning of the narrative.
The blessing did, however, come with one stipulation: only a woman would be able to overcome him. The demon began terrorising people on Earth because he didn’t think any woman would be strong enough to overcome him. The gods were unable to halt him.
Since Mahishasura was to be demolished, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva pooled their efforts to create the goddess Durga. They gave her a number of weapons. Ten days passed during Maa Durga and Mahishasura’s conflict. However, Maa Durga was able to overcome him when he at last transformed into a buffalo.

Significance
During the nine-day Navratri festival, devotees worship Maa Durga’s nine incarnations in order to obtain her blessings. There is a goddess manifestation linked with each day of Navratri. During these nine days, people maintain ritualistic fasts, recite shlokas dedicated to each goddess, wear new clothing, offer bhog, and clean their homes. In their prayers, they ask the goddess for her favour in order to have prosperous, joyous, and fulfilled lives.
Ramlila is organised extensively during Navratri in North India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. During the Ramlila, the tale of Lord Ram’s triumph over Ravana is acted out. The effigies of King Ravana are burned on Dussehra to commemorate the triumph of good over evil.
In fact, on the tenth day of Navratri, also known as Vijayadashami, a large procession is organised during which clay figurines of Maa Durga are ceremoniously submerged in a river, sea, or ocean. Popular places to do this practice include West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Bihar. The most significant day for Maa Durga’s worship is thought to be the day of Durga Visarjan.

Celebrations
Numerous dances, including Garba and Dandiya Raas, are performed during the nine-day festival. While Dandiya Raas involves dancing with dandiya sticks to the beat of the music, Garba is a traditional dance in which participants clap their hands and move in a circle while making rhythmic gestures.
In India, Navratri is celebrated in a wide range of ways. Ramlila, a celebration in which scenes from the Ramayana are performed, is organised in North India, mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. The burning of King Ravana’s effigies marks the conclusion of the story on Vijaya dashami. 

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After shooting at Russian school, six people, gunman dead

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A shooter killed six people and injured 20 others in a school in the central Russian city of Izhevsk on Monday morning.

According to the Udmurtia branch of the interior ministry, the shooter killed himself. According to the Russian official, the school has been closed and the surrounding area has been fenced off.

Alexander Brechalov, the governor of the Udmurtia region, of which Izhevsk is the capital, stated in a video message that the as-yet unidentified shooter entered the school and killed a guard and some of the students present. Children among the victims and wounded, according to Brechalov.

(More details are awaited.)

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Malayalam filmmaker Ashokan dies at 60

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Raman Ashok Kumar, also known as Malayalam filmmaker Ashokan died on Sunday (Sep 25). He was 60. Recently returned from Singapore, he passed away while receiving medical care in Kochi, Kerala, at a private hospital.

Ashokan, a Varkala native, began his career in film as filmmaker Sasi Kumar’s assistant. After roughly 25 years of working as an assistant director, Ashokan released his first picture, “Varnam,” in 1989. The ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed movie “Varnam” included Jayaram, Suresh Gopi, Ranjini, Thilakan, Meena, Jagathy Sreekumar, Parvathy, and Mukesh. He collaborated with director Thaha to co-direct the Suresh Gopi and Parvathy-starring film “Saandaram” a year later, in 1990.

He teamed up once more with Thaha in 1991 to co-direct the slapstick comedy “Mookkilla Rajyathu,” which starred Mukesh, Thilakan, Jagathy Sreekumar, Siddique, and Vinaya Prasad. The movie “Mookkilla Rajyathu” earned positive reviews and became hit. After that, Ashokan directed “Aacharyan” in 1993, starring Thilakan, Suresh Gopi, and Sreenivasan, and the movie also succeeded in attracting viewers. After that, according to reports, Ashokan relocated to Singapore and concentrated on business, but he never lost his love for movies. The telefilm he later directed, “Kaanappurangal,” earned him the Kerala State Award for best telefilm.

The filmmaker’s funeral will take place on Tuesday at his Varkala home. Ashokan is survived by his wife Seetha and their daughter Abhirami.

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