Are you stressed at work? Well, you could be dying for that pay cheque. Literally.

This column on workplace wellness was inspired after I spoke on a panel discussing the state of mental health in business and sport. I was among fellow panellists NZ Breakers general manager Dillon Boucher, High Performance Sport CEO Michael Scott and Dimension Data chief executive officer Wayne Yarr. Brooke Howard-Smith was moderator.

The Trans-Tasman Business Circle and Sports Connect held the discussion at Auckland's Eden Park. The aim is to elevate high performance workplaces and sporting codes.

I was on the panel as the director of Inspired Health, which has a mission to inspire Kiwis to be healthier and happier. I'm a wellness expert, yoga teacher and coach. I share science-backed de-stress strategies at health retreats at Rotorua's Polynesian Spa. I've worked with corporates who sometimes rate their stress levels "12/10". While in sport, I guide disabled athletes through marathons to uplift their physical and mental health.


I know the discussion around mental health is hugely important. Depression, anxiety and stress is a burden for many Kiwis. A university professor tells me he projects anxiety and depression will be one of the biggest burdens on our health system by 2020.

At the event, I advised business and sports leaders to be smart managers with high emotional intelligence. They should care about those they lead. Long work-hours, family-life conflict and a toxic environment can harm physical and emotional health.

Research backs that happiness fuels productivity and performance.

Being a good boss is about simply being a decent human being too ... Employees or athletes are someone's precious son or daughter.

I recommend bosses be conscious of the working conditions they set and model themselves. They need to remove the stigma around seeking support.

I recommend they have an authentic wellness programme; People can tell if it's not. It would be wise to have regular check-ins with staff or athletes to truly get where they are at. Please notice others around you. Notice what they say, their tone and if they behave differently. Ask courageous questions. Help people feel supported. A GP can be a great start as a gateway to get further help if required.

Meanwhile, if you are stressed, then find calming strategies. We know how to recharge our phones; We are hopeless at recharging ourselves ...

Do something you love to shed stress. Try yoga, mindfulness, surfing, running, cycling ... If you are chronically stressed, your body will be pumping cortisol. This can harm your health. It can affect weight, sleep, immune function and chronic disease risk. These issues can snowball. You can end up depressed. Stress can end up killing you.


• Rachel Grunwell is a weekly wellness columnist for Indulge. She's a wellness expert, speaker, coach and yoga teacher. She teaches mindfulness to corporates to help them de-stress and improve productivity and creativity in the workplace, giving them a competitive edge. An award-winning writer and keen marathoner, follow her lifestyle blog, Facebook and on Instagram.