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Elias Hämäläinen

Vintermörker kan vara din vän

Vintermörker kan vara din vän

”Man klarar inte av november i norden utan att flyga någonstans” hörs det talas under den mörka vintertiden. Sociala medier fylls med ångest över mörker. Ljuset är grått. Solen går ner redan på eftermiddagen.

Ungefär 30% av oss blir mera nedslagna då hösten börjar närma sin slut och dagsljuset blir mindre och mindre. Egentliga årstidsbunden depression berör bara ungefär 5% av folket, men mest av oss känner sig mera nedslagen och sötsugen. Vi blir trötta och kan behöva betydligt mera sömn än under sommarmånaderna, och vi vill så gärna äta bakelser och godis.

Det är ändå onödigt att bli helt hopplös, fast solen syns mindre än under sommaren. (Norr om norra polcirkeln ser man solen inte alls under vintermånaderna.)

Det finns sätt som bevisligen underlättar livet under vintermörker. Dom är till exempel att vara ute under dagsljuset, motion och att sköta om sociala förhållanden, fast det ända som lockar är att ligga på soffan under ett tjockt täcke. Vissa får hjälp från ljusterapilampor.

Undersökningar visar att upp till fyra av fem personer mår bättre med hjälp av ljusterapi under de mörkaste vintermånaderna. Ljusterapi fungerar som bäst då man spenderar från en halv timme till en timme i ljuset dagligen, och helst så tidigt på morgonen som möjligt.

Det kan också vara bra att försöka acceptera mörkret. Kanske behöver man inte försöka vara lika effektiv och resultatorienterad under de mörkaste månaderna. Det är helt okej att sova lite längre och ta de lugnt för en stund.

För att må bättre, prova åtminstone de här tipsen:

  1. Ljusterapi

Det är bevisat att ljusterapi är det mest effektiva och snabbaste sättet att underlätta symtom orsakas av vintermörker. Det är ljuset som man ser genom ögonen som hjälper. Man behöver ändå inte stirra direkt på lampan, utan det räcker att ha frukost eller att läsa en bok i närheten av lampan.

  1. Gå ut

Det finns inte många timmar av dagsljus men det är bra att gå ut då det är ljust. Prova ett gående möte på jobbet eller välj ett lunchställe lite länge bort och gå dit. Använda en del av din paus för att gå ut. De effektivaste timmar att njuta dagsljuset är morgontimmarna.

  1. Bli inte en ensamvarg

Det kan kännas som en bra ide att ligga på soffan då man känner sig riktigt trött, men kom ihåg att spendera tid med dina nära och kära också. Välmående sociala förhållanden hjälper till med allmänna välmående också, speciellt under de mörkaste tider.

Teksti: Laura Rantanen

Stressed Out?

Stressed Out?

For as long as there is life, there will be stress. Stress cannot be avoided altogether. Stress is not always harmful though. People generally endure short-term stress rather well, whereas prolonged stress can lead to a complete burnout.

A stressed out body produces hydrocortisone, which is needed to give us enough energy to survive a challenging situation. Nevertheless, if the situation continues for a long period of time, different symptoms of stress start to emerge.

Long-term stress strains the body in many ways. Common symptoms of stress include stomach problems, headache, rashes, back pain, recurring colds, anxiety, irritability, depression, problems with sleep or memory, and weakened decision-making abilities.

Our culture often glorifies people who make it all alone, without the help of others. “He left with his boots on” is a common salute to someone who – although died suddenly and perhaps before their time – was a heck of a worker!

Still, accepting the fact that we need each other might be better for our wellbeing. Most studies on happiness agree on at least one thing: co-operation with others makes us feel better.

Stress can be prevented and treated for example by learning to manage time. Work or studies should not take up all our waking hours. There should be enough time for relaxing, resting, and spending time with friends and family. Most adults sleep far too little, and stress can make falling asleep even harder.

Excessive consumption of coffee or alcohol can put a strain on the body, while there is no doubt about the benefits of exercise in stress control. It’s always a good idea to spend time outdoors. Fifteen minutes spent in the open lowers your blood pressure and makes you calmer. The affect on blood pressure can be reached merely by sitting at a park bench or in a forest, while exercising in the open helps improve your immunity – which stress tends to weaken.

One of the most important changes to make when aiming at better stress control is surprisingly simple: let yourself believe you are in control of your feelings. The way you experience stress and how you learn to live with it has an effect on how well you cope with it. Do you see more threats than opportunities around you? To control your stress, learn to focus on the opportunities instead.

We can all learn to clear our minds and slow down when things start spinning out of control. Different mindfulness-exercises help to relax and calm down, and to focus on the moment. It’s very important to learn lower your demands on yourself as well. You should not spread your energy too thin.

Sometimes stress can make us dream of work that is easy and doesn’t require thinking but in fact, a job that is too unvaried and boring can also cause stress. Stress can also be caused by “work underload”.

Positive stress helps us achieve things, but it is important to consider ways to prevent work overload at work places. Ways to manage time and taking care of yourself during hectic times can be discussed in the working community. Teams should consist of people with different strengths, so they can compensate each other and help each other get through busy times.

Your employees’ well-being is like money in the bank

Your employees’ well-being is like money in the bank

We’ve all heard that investments in well-being prevent bigger problems. Still, taking care of well-being at work is often considered done by giving our employees free access to the gym or occasionally performing other tricks unrelated to every day life at work. Holistic well-being is much more than that.

The aim to increase well-being should be visible in the company strategy as clear statements; as investments to supporting managers and their leadership skills; as monitoring and measuring the employees well-being; and in supporting the whole workforce to take care of themselves and their own well-being.

Well-being is not something that happens automatically: it needs to be put into practice and developed systematically. Companies can for example provide their employees with height adjustable desks so they can work standing up; it is known that reducing sitting as little as 20 minutes per day has a positive effect on your muscles. Too much standing is not good for you either; the important thing is to vary your position during the day.

The Finnish society loses at least 25 billion euros per year because of insufficient well-being at the work place. That’s a lot of money. Many studies show that investing in well-being decreases healthcare costs and increases productivity at the work place.

In Finland, approximately 20 000 people are pensioned prematurely every year. From the year 2000 to the present, the working life in Finland has lost at least 14 billion euros due to invalidity pensions.

That is not a small sum either, especially since some of these human and economic losses could have been prevented. We tend to think savings are made by cutting costs, but a modern leader knows that the companies that make good investments make the best profit as well.

Finland is the world’s leading country in sick leaves caused by pain, but only a fraction of sick leaves and invalidity pensions is caused by physical symptoms. Many of us carry too much of a mental load at work.

Psychosocial burden at work is often caused by problems in leadership, scarce interaction, bad atmosphere at the workplace, or bullying. There are many ways to promote well-being at the workplace.

Are all employees aware of the common goals? Does everyone know their own role in reaching them? Does the workplace enable healthy eating? Can some of the meetings be arranged outdoors as walking meetings? How does the company take into account the differences between workers? Is everyone’s ideas about their own work listened to?

There’s never only one way to do things right, but one of the most important things that further well-being at work is the management’s commitment. It’s important that well-being is considered throughout the organization, and that the whole personnel is invited to join the effort of improving it – together. Whether the company provides healthcare in-house or at a private healthcare station is, in the end, not of big relevance to the workers. Well-being is something built in every day life.

Four tips for better sleep

Four tips for better sleep

Every day, three out of four people in Finland are drunk at work. Or at least their work efficiency is the equivalent of someone with 0.05% blood alcohol level. As a nation, we do not get enough sleep. More than half of Finnish people of working age feel tired every day. Young adults are the most tired of us all.

A researcher specialized in the human brain told one of Odum’s reporters a story that makes you think. She meets a lot of top leaders and politicians through work, and often hears them brag about how they make do with just a few hours of sleep per night.

– You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve wanted to say “I can tell! Imagine how much better decisions you could make, if only you slept enough!” For now, I’ve been able to control myself, she continued.

We’re not all responsible for nation wide decision-making, but sleep deprivation takes its toll on us too. When we’re tired we eat junk food, skip exercise and any other tasks that feel too strenuous, snap at our families and start looking like languished eels.

Denying ourselves the needed sleep makes us susceptible to burnout. In the worst case we start medicating our exhaustion with alcohol or other substances, and thus create a vicious circle.

Sleep does not make the stressful things in our lives disappear, but it’s easier to think of solutions and possibilities when you’re not tired.

Neither will you be able to snap your fingers and get rid of all your harmful habits, but you can try these useful ones for a start:

1. Put down your cellphone, and other devices that expose you to blue light, in time before you go to sleep. Read a book or a magazine instead.

2. Light exercise and fresh air (both, preferably!) a few hours before it’s time for bed make you sleep better.

3. Do not drink caffeinated drinks late in the day!

4. Write down the things you worry about before you go to sleep. You can pick up on your worries in the morning, after a good night’s sleep.

Sauna is good for your heart

Sauna is good for your heart

Sometimes stress and being under pressure feel like someone is squeezing your heart tightly. You feel anxious. These symptoms are often harmless, but that is not always the case. 20 144 people died of cardiovascular diseases in Finland in 2008, and many more have symptoms leading to sick leaves and medical treatment. This is a problem that almost all Western countries have in common. When it comes to heart based problems, the social and economic effects of precautionary acts are considerable.

Cardiologist Jari Laukkanen and his research group have been looking for ways to prevent heart problems in their study at the University of Eastern Finland. What was the medicine they suspected could prevent illnesses and deaths linked to cardiovascular problems?

It has something to do with hot rocks, steam, and heat.

Yes, the answer is sauna. A monitoring study extending over about twenty years revealed that a sudden death caused by a heart attack was up to 63% smaller in men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week, compared to those who only used the sauna once a week.

The reasons why sauna is good for your heart are not yet fully understood. It is thought that the heat of the sauna lowers the blood pressure and maintains flexibility in the veins. Cardiovascular health affects the functioning of the brain, but feelings of relaxation and calmness the sauna provides can also play a role.

Sauna alone does not keep a person healthy. It is important to exercise and to maintain a healthy way of life in general as well. Nevertheless, it is clear that the sauna protects the heart, and it may also prevent the risk of dementia. The study shows that those who use the sauna four to seven times a week are 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those using the sauna once a week.

Remember this: to maximize the benefits of sauna, you should enjoy its heat for at least 15 minutes at a time. It is not advised to eat a heavy meal just before the sauna, or to consume large amounts of alcohol. The heat of the sauna should feel pleasant, not burning hot. It is important to stay hydrated by drinking water before, during and after the sauna.

There’s more to life than work

There’s more to life than work

“I want to live more!” my friend said at a lunch restaurant, scrolling though her work calendar with an agonized look on her face. Work filled her days, making all the fun disappear.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Even Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining, one of the scariest movies of all time, knew it. Don’t let yourself end up like Jack – make the decision to give yourself enough rest. Remember to write down free time in your calendar before you start filling it with your responsibilities.

To some of us, our smartphone has become the most important tool at work, causing pressure to be available at any hour. The most stressed out workers are the ones with the highest and the most undefined goals. It can be a challenge to take your mind off work.

Smart employees can be motivated with reasonable working hours. If an employer wants to take full advantage of their worker’s brain capacity they don’t arrange late meetings or send work related messages to their employees at night.

Stretched out workdays do not correspond to better results for the employee or the organization they work for. A sleep-deprived brain is not the best at coming up with new ideas. Creativity needs space. To demonstrate, you can try to remember a time when you overworked yourself.

At some point you lost your playfulness, you didn’t laugh as often. One day you suddenly remembered the saying about beating a dead horse. Your dream vacation consisted of uninterrupted rest. At your worst moments you fantasized about accidents that took you to the hospital for weeks, and kind nurses who would bring you food and change the sheets in your bed.

The only cure for feeling like this is to take control. If your boss does not set you boundaries, you need to take leadership of your own use of time. While learning to manage your time in a new way, you might feel guilty for having empty spaces in your calendar.

Taking on a new perspective might help. Getting enough rest makes you a better and more productive employee, and you’ll also be more fun to work with! Who doesn’t want to work with a positive person who has more to life than work?

Does your back hurt?

Does your back hurt?

Have you seen the doctor or taken time off from work because of back pain? Are you wondering if a good massage might help you get through the days?

You are not the only one.

One in eight people in Finland suffer from back pain every day. One in three adults reports experiencing back pain during the past month.

There are many possible causes to back pain. As much as 90% of cases remain undefined, meaning the doctors have not been able to define a specific reason for the pain suffered. As little as 5-10% of back pain is caused by a specific illness or a problem in nerve roots.

It is known that obesity, stress, smoking and insufficient exercise are best friends with back pain, but it can also be connected to discontent at the workplace. It is also a common reason for sick leave.

It used to be thought a person suffering from back pain should lay down and rest as much as possible, but today we know immobility can make the symptoms worse. A back that hurts is not a useless back.

When suffering from back pain it is recommended you return to your daily tasks as soon as possible. Exercise has been proven to speed up recovery, and thus the treatment for back pain is no longer based on medication.

It is recommended to take up light exercise, such as walking, as soon as your condition allows it, even during your sick leave. The point is not to exercise heavily when undergoing acute back pain, but every day motion such as taking the stairs and walking the dog can promote recovery.

Although in some cases back pain requires further examination and medical care, getting better fast is likely for most patients. Approximately 80% of patients have been able to return to work within a month after their first severe symptoms.

After the acute phase of back pain is over, the important part is to make sure it does not come back. The best way to prevent and manage symptoms is to stay in shape.

Fit to work?

Fit to work?

Have you tried out Odum’s application for wellbeing yet? With the help of our AlvinOne-application you can become aware of what’s challenging your wellbeing before things get out of hand with minimal effort and time.

AlvinOne guides you on how to increase your wellbeing as well as provides information on the likely causes of reduced wellbeing. Maintaining wellbeing and the ability to work cannot be taken for granted, but there are things we can take charge of both at home and at the workplace.

Missed workdays cost the Finnish companies approximately 4,3 billion euros per year, and 1 billion to the cities. Avoiding a sick leave gives us financial profit, and helps us achieve better results at our work. And let’s not forget the obvious: we enjoy life more when we’re healthy!

The smartest companies have succeeded in reducing the costs created by disability to work. It is not something that happens on its own, but requires a conscious decision from the management: Employees are valued, and their wellbeing is important.

The best bosses understand that managing situations considering the wellbeing of their employees is an essential part of leadership. Most sick leaves can be avoided by making employee wellbeing a priority, and taking action when needed.

If you decided on trying the AlvinOne application because your employer suggested it, you can congratulate yourself on choosing a great place to work! You are welcome to join us for our news related on wellbeing; we hope they help you so you’re fit for work!