World Cancer Day: How the alarming rise in cancer impacts South African workplaces

Stock photography - Therapy

Hair coloring - JobThis is according to Siphokazi Parirenyatwa, Disability Claims Manager at Momentum Corporate, who says the figures paint a concerning picture for employers.

“It seems that a big part of the increase can be attributed to claims by women. Claims by women increased from 16% of total claims in 2010 to 24% in 2020. The comparative figures for men were 8% in 2010 and 10% in 2020,” says Parirenyatwa.

She adds that your younger employees, the Millennial and Gen Z generations, are also at risk. “Again women employees appear to be at higher risk than their male counterparts, with 27.5% of women cancer disability claimants under 40. The comparative figure for men is 17.5%” says Parirenyatwa

Also worrying for businesses is that claims by employees in management are higher than for non-management employees when it comes to cancer, with around 18% of the total income disability claims by management due to cancer. “This can have a major impact on the smooth running and productivity of a business”, says Parirenyatwa.

“The sharp rise in cancer claims shows the increasing importance of having the appropriate mix and level of employee benefits to protect employees against potential loss of income, the high cost of treatment which is increasing exponentially and the cost of lifestyle adjustments that can accompany a cancer diagnosis,” says Parirenyatwa.

She adds that partnering with a provider that offers effective rehabilitation services to facilitate a quicker return to work after a cancer-related disability absence can improve productivity drivers.

“In addition, employers should ensure effort is injected into raising employee awareness around the need for regular health screenings for the most common cancers which can lead to early detection, and improves cancer treatment outcomes,” says Parirenyatwa.

 

She points to effective employee engagement/reward programmes as a practical way employers can encourage and reward healthier lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of cancer.

 

Please let us know if you’d like an interview with Siphokazi to unpack the latest cancer statistics in more detail, and what they mean for South African employers.

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STUCK IN A PERPETUAL STATE OF JETLAG? YOU MIGHT BE SUFFERING FROM “PANDEMIC BURNOUT”

Mental Health

Are you feeling exhausted and run down even though the year has just begun? You’re not alone. These could be symptoms of “pandemic fatigue”.

Abdurahman Kenny - Mental Health Portfolio Manager at Pharma Dynamics - says among the primary reasons for feeling mentally drained during the pandemic is being in a constant state of high alert, which takes its toll on our energy levels over a prolonged period.

“Similar to physiological threats, when faced with psychological stressors, it takes up a lot of energy. Anxiety, depression, and stress are exhausting by nature and have a huge impact on our mood, ability to concentrate, and our energy levels. Add ten months of living through a pandemic to the mix and it takes matters to an entirely different level. We’ve been in constant fight or flight mode and many have reached a mental health breaking point.”

He says those who are starting the year off still working or studying remotely, are also feeling the compounded effects of hours of video conferencing, lectures or seminars that have been forced online due to COVID-19. “Many feel they are being pushed to do more than ever before.”

While the use of Zoom, Skype, Teams and Google Meet have now become commonplace, video conferencing can be exhausting. Kenny explains why it is a lot more taxing for our brains than face-to-face engagements.

“When on a video call our brain must work much harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone and pitch of voice and body language. Having to pay more attention to these cues can become tiring. Our minds are together when our bodies are not. That dissonance causes mental confusion and can be exhausting. It’s important to think about ways to optimise video conferencing to reduce fatigue. Do this by setting strict time limits on meetings, taking regular breaks and drawing up an agenda to focus on only pertinent points during the discussion, otherwise, it can drag on for hours.”

“Similarly, the constant bombardment of information around COVID-19 on TV, radio, social media and other forms of media has also contributed to the mental exhaustion experienced by so many. The natural reaction to this is to back away or retreat to a safe space. The brain simply can’t cope with the overload.”

“In some cases, pandemic fatigue could induce reckless behaviour, such as ignoring or abandoning precautionary health measures altogether. This type of conduct can put you, your loved ones and society at risk. No matter how intense your fatigue around the crisis, you should continue to exercise caution for as long as COVID-19 remains a threat,” he encourages.

 

If you’re suffering from pandemic fatigue, try the following coping mechanisms to help you stay the course:

  1. Recognise and deal with signs of COVID-19 fatigue as soon as they arise instead of repressing them. Re-evaluate your situation and behaviour(s) by putting things in perspective. Write down your thoughts or discuss it with someone close to you.
  2. Don’t be a martyr by continuing to self-isolate if you’re not sick. Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you need to isolate yourself completely from others. Humans have an innate need for social connection. Make time to see close friends and family (in person) at least weekly.
  3. Create a healthy routine that will make you and your family thrive in the new normal, such as eating right, drinking enough water, going to bed early, exercising, limiting caffeine or alcohol intake, enjoying meals together etc.
  4. Practice self-care. While it may be difficult with competing work and family demands, it’s important to create time for yourself and to not feel guilty about it. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, reading or getting creative – find something that invigorates your body and mind.
  5. Limit media consumption by following one or two reliable sources of information, which can help you sift through information without feeling overwhelmed.
  6. Plan fun outings and things to look forward to without putting you or your loved ones at risk.
  7. Give yourself a pep talk every morning to stay positive.
  8. Be kind to yourself. If you’re not as productive or motivated as you used to be, it’s okay, we’re all living through a time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty.
  9. Get some sunshine by working in the garden or going for a walk. Sunlight has a direct impact on our mood and general well-being.
  10. If your symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks, it may be more than just pandemic burnout and could have progressed into a mental condition such as depression, a mood, or anxiety disorder. If this is the case, you need to seek professional help. Don’t be embarrassed about it. We all need a little help from time to time and we’re living in extraordinarily challenging times.

“It is important to watch for early warning signs of burnout, such as feeling withdrawn, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, low mood and feelings of helplessness during the pandemic and to put strategies in place to work towards a healthier and balanced lifestyle,” says Kenny.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and don’t know who to turn to, contact Pharma Dynamics’ toll-free helpline on 0800 205 026, which is manned by trained counsellors who are on call from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. For additional support, visit www.letstalkmh.co.za

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From Surviving to Thriving

 

The past couple of months have been stressful for all of us. Not only are we in the middle of a pandemic, but we have also had to manage possible financial loss, homeschooling, and working from home, amongst others. All of this can cause high-stress levels which affect our mental health. Catherine Clark, Owner and Founder of The Harvest Table, says we can shift our mindset by filling our lives with positive habits that will enable us to deal with challenging times.

“When stress affects our lives, we’re required to dig deep. Many of us go into 'survival mode’ — we either attempt to get everything done or completely avoid taking any action. This causes more harm than good. We have to find ways to navigate life in a way that will benefit our mental health and ultimately, our entire lives,” she says.

Catherine offers these five tips to take care of your mental health:

1. Get some sunshine: A study from Central Michigan University found that sunlight exposure was associated with lowered anxiety. So, whether you’re working for home or are back at the office, be sure to take a break every few hours and instead of sitting in the canteen, on the couch or at your desk, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in the sunshine.

2. Focus on what you have: When you focus on all the good things in your life, you begin to realise that you have everything at your disposal to create a life you love. This shifts your attention from what you lack to cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Over time you have more to be grateful for, whether it’s the fact that you woke up, have a roof over your head, or that you are well fed. Shifting your mindset from the negative to the positive ultimately improves your mental health.

3. Control what is controllable: There are many distractions at home and work, and they tend to come with more stress than calm. We become flustered, frustrated, and out of balance, but this usually means we’re trying to control things that are beyond our control. Whether you’re at work or home, there will always be stressors in your life. The trick is to establish which ones you can control so that you create structures that will help you deal with them. Then, you need to make peace with what you can’t control and figure out how you will react the next time they affect you.

4. Rest: We often think rest means sleep. Of course, sleep plays a crucial role in your mental health, but rest also means making room for the things that revitalise us, allow us to relax, and make us feel more like ourselves. Make time for relaxation and the things you enjoy. Whether you’re reading a book, watching your favourite show, or doing an online Pilates or yoga session. Whatever it is, take the time to prioritise rest.

5. Take care of your gut: Around 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. So, when you take care of your digestive health, you support the production of the happy hormone. You can start by including collagen-rich foods like fish, chicken and egg whites in your diet as this will have a positive impact on your digestive system and nourish your body. If you are looking for a more convenient solution, The Harvest Table has a range of collagen products that are beneficial for your gut health (and so much more). When one part of your body is well taken care of, the rest of your body benefits too.

“Make 2021 the year you take charge and prioritise your mental health. Make it the year you thrive and embrace a healthy mental state so that you’re able to experience and appreciate all that life has to offer,” Catherine concludes.

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Managing Debt

 

Everyone has a debt to manage. Sometimes, if you have a large amount of debt you have to put in more effort to manage it all while juggling current payments that have to be met.

 

Here are a few of Ramona’s tips to ensure you can manage your debt of any size.

  1. Keep a track of who and how much you owe

Start with a list of all your debts. Include the creditor name and total amount of the debt. Add a monthly payment and set a due date. Use your credit report to confirm all your debts.

It’s important to make sure you stick to this list. Don’t ignore it. Try to keep it up to date and check on it often.

  1. Make sure to pay your bills on time

 Missing payments will make things more difficult when trying to manage your debt. This will also increase your interest rates, so it’s best to avoid this as much as possible. Create alerts on your mobile phone or whatever application you can use to remind you several days before payments need to be made.

  1. Make a monthly payment calendar

Make use of a payment calendar to help you figure out what bills need to be paid on what day. Having an overview of all your outstanding payment dates will help you place when payments need to be made from the time of your pay check.

  1. Make some payment instead of nothing

If you cannot afford to pay anything, at least make the minimum payment. This won’t help you in the long term of paying it off but it keeps your debts from growing and will also ensure that you have a good reputation with your creditors.

  1. Deciding what debts to pay off first

It’s generally best to practice to pay off credit card debt first due to the higher interest rates than other debts. See which credit card has the highest interest rate and make this a priority.

  1. Pay collections off 

Never sacrifice your positive accounts for those that have already been affected by your credit. Remember you can only pay as much as you can afford. It’s important to note that when you have limited income, you must focus on keeping your accounts in good standing. 

  1. Using an emergency fund as a fallback

If you don’t have access to savings then you will go into more debt to cover an emergency expense. Having a small emergency fund can help cover little expenses that could come up now and again.

Work towards creating an emergency fund and growing it over time with to the point you have a 6-month reserve built up.

  1. Make use of a monthly budget

A monthly budget is what gives you full control over your finances. It can help you track your spending as well as finding problem areas with payments. A monthly budget will even help you fix bad spending habits.

Remember, your budget should be able to cover all your expenses that are needed, then you can cut out the things you’re overspending on.

About Infinite Life

Infinite Life, registered debt counsellors, holds over 30 years of collective experience in the financial services industry. Driven by innovative leaders, we are dedicated to helping our customers get through difficult financial times successfully. We work with experienced individuals who have extensive experience and are trusted by our customers. We are committed to working with customers to establish their financial freedom.

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Miss South Africa raises awareness of food insecurity in Cape Town

Miss South Africa raises awareness of food insecurity in Cape Town

South Africa’s much-loved Shudufhadzo Musida, Miss South Africa 2020, consistently proves that she is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. Last week, she took the opportunity of a free morning to spend it on the road with SA Harvest, South Africa’s fastest-growing food rescue organisation whose mission is to end hunger in South Africa.

SA Harvest

Shudufhadzo was given a whirlwind tour of SA Harvest’s daily operations - rescuing perfectly good food that would have gone to waste and delivering it to beneficiaries that feed hungry people on a daily basis, and creating long-lasting change through advocacy and other systemic initiatives.

She spent time in the Philippi farmlands visiting KT Grows Organics, one of the many farms that donate surplus produce to SA Harvest. The highlight of the morning for Shudufhadzo was a visit to Masijonge Place of Safety in Nyanga, one of more than 20 beneficiaries in Cape Town that receives weekly deliveries from SA Harvest. Last stop on Miss South Africa’s fast-and-furious tour was to the SA Harvest Cape Town warehouse, the base of its operation in that region.

Shudufhadzo shared her experience with her fans on Instagram and Twitter, saying, “Due to COVID-19, there has been a lot of food insecurity in many communities and organisations like Masijonge Children’s Home. It has become more important now than ever to extend a helping hand to those in need. Organisations like @saharvest are doing their bit to fight food insecurity around our country, but together we can do so much more. Thanks to @brandsouthafrica, @saharvest and @gemproject_I got to meet Mama Victoria who started Masijonge Children’s Home in Nyanga, Cape Town to feed children in need in her community. She cooks and feeds them with the help of donations from organisations such as @saharvest and sometimes from her own pocket.”

Shudufhadzo, who received her honours degree in International Relations from the University of Witwatersrand in December, has spoken frequently of her hope to one day use her qualifications to create positive change and have a positive impact by working with the United Nations.

As Shudufhadzo prepares to represent South Africa in the Miss World pageant in the latter part of 2021, she continues to garner the love and admiration of South Africans as the embodiment of beauty-with-a-purpose.

Ali Conn, Regional Manager of SA Harvest in the Western Cape, says, “It was an honour and a privilege to have Miss South Africa join us in highlighting the terrible effect of food waste (10 million tonnes a year goes to waste in South Africa) and in helping to encourage all South Africans to do what they can to end hunger in our country. To blossom as a nation, individuals and communities must have access to enough nutritious food and clean water. This is their basic human right as expressed in the constitution of South Africa. It is humbling to know that Shudu Musida is as passionate about making this a reality as we at SA Harvest.”

To find out more about SA Harvest’s mission to end hunger, go to www.saharvest.org or follow them on @saharvest.

 

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