I’m Not an Anti-Vaxxer, But…

How do you feel about the COVID-19 vaccine? If you’re unsure about its safety, we answer some of your concerns.

It’s brand new, was rapidly developed, and we don’t really know that much about the vaccine, do we?

There have been a number of studies published on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rates around the world. Some countries, like China and Malaysia, have acceptance rates over 90%, while other countries have much lower rates. In the US, the vaccine acceptance rate was found to be 57%, while in Russia and Italy, it’s a little over 50%. Yet more countries, like Australia, hover around the 75% mark.

We don’t have to get the vaccine, but the more of us do, the safer everyone will be - particularly when international travel becomes more in reach for everyone.

Most of the reasons for hesitancy centre around the safety of the vaccine. Here are some of the most common concerns:

Concern: The vaccines have been developed too quickly

The vaccines appear to have been developed quickly. But the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis meant that all available resources and efforts, including some of the best minds in the world, were directed towards finding a vaccine.

Vaccines can be developed faster than in the past, thanks to newer technology that uses the genetic code for the virus to build the vaccine. Researchers were able to start work as soon as the genome for the virus was released in January 2020.

Clinical trials of the vaccine were also able to progress quickly because COVID-19 was widespread in many countries. This meant that differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups could be detected sooner than for a rarer disease.

Concern: There were shortcuts taken so safety was not prioritised

It’s true that COVID-19 vaccine trials were set up quickly, but this doesn’t mean that safety was compromised.

In fact, most of the vaccine trials included tens of thousands of people. This provided a larger amount of data than for many other vaccines we often get. Phase 1 and 2 trials often overlapped because safety had already been established.

In most countries, COVID-19 vaccines must meet the same high standards as any other vaccine. Once a vaccine is being used, experts and regulators continue to monitor its safety.


Concern: There may be long-term side effects

The vaccines have been tested since mid-2020, and millions of doses have now been given with very few reported adverse effects. But they continue to be monitored, with countries sharing their vaccine safety monitoring data via a global database.


For up-to-date information on the vaccines, visit your government health body’s website and look for the COVID-19 updates.

How Screens Can Affect Your Eyes

You may experience it as a headache at the end of the day. Or perhaps your eyes are sore or burning, and your vision is blurred. Theses are all signs of digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

Digital eye strain is more than just a work issue. Even though we can spend most of our working day in front of a screen, we often do the same when we get home. There are increasing numbers of people presenting with eye strain due to overuse of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Why do devices strain our eyes?

  • When reading on a device, we tend to blink less than usual. As blinking is key to moistening the eyes, this can lead to dry, gritty, red eyes.
  • We view digital screens at less than ideal distances or angles – often way too close
  • Devices often have glare or reflection, or poor contrast between the text and the background
  • Other factors that can make symptoms worse include poor posture, incorrect setup of your computer or workstation, incorrect prescription in your glasses, and circulating air from an air conditioner or nearby fan which can further dry your eyes.

What can you do about it?

  • Take breaks. Rest your eyes by looking away from the digital screen.
  • Blink often. Remind yourself to blink regularly when looking at a screen, as this will moisten your eyes.
  • Use artificial tears. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help prevent and relieve dry eyes. Use them even when your eyes feel fine to keep them well-lubricated and prevent a recurrence of symptoms.
  • Check the lighting. Reduce the amount of overhead and surrounding light that is competing with your device’s screen.
  • Get your eyes checked. Make sure you have appropriate vision correction, and consider investing in glasses or contacts designed specifically for computer work. Ask your optometrist about lens coatings and tints that might help too.
  • Adjust your monitor and screen settings. Position your computer screen so it’s one arm’s length in front of your face and enlarge the type for easier reading. Adjust the contrast and brightness to a level that’s comfortable for you.
  • Use a document holder. If you need to refer to print material working at your computer, use a document holder, placed either between the keyboard and monitor or to one side. The goal is to reduce how much your eyes need to readjust and how often you turn your neck and head.

Bipolar Disorder: What It Means and How You Can Help

Someone tells you they have bipolar. You don’t feel you really know what it is, and you definitely don’t feel you know how to help them. Here we cover the foundations of bipolar disorder so you know what to say and how to help.

Kanye West, Winston Churchill, Mariah Carey, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix. They have all been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition which involves alternating periods of intense mania (very high mood and energy) and severe depression.

Bipolar disorder tends to be episodic rather than persistent. This means people with the disorder can often have long periods of feeling fine. Their work and personal life go on as usual.

In fact, people with bipolar disorder are often highly creative, socially sensitive, perceptive, and have a strong drive to make the world better.

Extreme ups and downs

During episodes, people with bipolar disorder have extreme moods. A manic episode can feel like an extremely high mood, or feeling very active or agitated. They can have racing thoughts and rapid speech.

People describe this high as “feeling like your brakes have failed”. They can feel themselves going too far, too fast.

The depressive episode can feel like an extremely low mood with feelings of hopelessness and sadness.

For some people, these episodes can be less extreme than others. There are different types of bipolar disorder, and everyone experiences it differently.


How to support someone with bipolar disorder

  • Talk and listen

Allow and encourage them to talk about how they feel. They more we can talk about mental health at work, the healthier we’ll be.

That said, it’s important to respect their privacy. If they don’t want others to know about their mental health issues, then you mustn’t share with anyone else.

  • Ask them what helps

Your friend has probably lived with this for many years, and they know what helps and what doesn’t, both during and outside of episodes. Ask and respect their response; don’t try to problem-solve for them.

  • Encourage them to keep up with treatment

It can be tempting for people with bipolar to stop medication or stop seeing a therapist when they feel well for a long time. This can be particularly true during episodes of mania, when they feel unstoppable.

With professional treatment, bipolar disorder can be managed well. Treatments usually involve a mix of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.

You can be the firm voice of reason reminding them to keep going with whatever treatment plan they are following.


Watch for symptoms

The up and down episodes are often pre-empted by early symptoms.

The signs of oncoming mania include:

  • Sleeping less
  • Restlessness
  • Speaking rapidly
  • Increase in activity level
  • Irritability or aggression

Depression warning signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping more
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Change in appetite

Think You Are Too Young for A Heart Attack?

Protecting your heart when you’re in your 20s, 30s or 40s is probably the last thing on your mind. But heart attacks can – and do – happen to younger people.

Heart disease has been the world’s most common cause of death for decades. Although we think of it as an older person’s disease because your risk of heart disease increases with age, that’s not the whole story.

Research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation found that heart attacks are increasingly occurring in younger people, especially women. The researchers studied more than 28,000 people hospitalised for heart attacks from 1995 to 2014. They found that the rate of heart attacks in patients aged 35 to 54 had increased from 27 per cent at the start of the study, to 32 per cent by the end.


How to protect your heart – whatever your age

There is no single cause for heart disease, but there are a number of risk factors. It’s never too early to improve your heart health by doing the following:

  • Quit or reduce smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to die of a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Improve your diet. What you eat and drink substantially affects four of the major heart disease risk factors – high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity. A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated fats, salt, added sugar and alcohol and rich in plant foods like fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
  • Get active. Keeping physically active gives you double benefits. It improves blood flow in the vessels around the heart as well as controlling other heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight. Work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

Seek treatment early

Heart disease is an older person’s disease that kills young people. Getting treatment early is vital. Call emergency services if you experience chest discomfort or pain. This can feel like uncomfortable pressure, aching, numbness, squeezing, fullness or pain, which may spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back. Other less obvious symptoms include a burning feeling in your chest and shortness of breath.

How to Cope When You Don’t Love Your Job

Fact: you won’t always love your job.

Fact: every job has parts you won’t love.

Fact: your boss has had jobs they haven’t loved either.

There are a thousand reasons why you might not love your current job.

It may have changed significantly since you took it on.

You may have taken it as a stepping stone to the kind of job you really want.

You may have accepted an opportunity cost – perhaps a less interesting job for more flexibility.

Let’s just say, for whatever reason, you’re not in your dream job right now.

Fact: you can still be happy.

Here are five ways to be happier in a job you don’t love.

  • Re-establish your why

Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking and Help! How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done, says the first step is to be clear on why your job matters to you.

You might enjoy helping your colleagues solve problems, or you’re simply there to support your family. Remind yourself of this greater purpose.

  • Find a skill you can develop

It can feel amazing to find something you’re good at. Even if it’s not your “life’s purpose”, look for a skill you can develop. It could be professional or personal. Want to nail being able to do a presentation in front of a group of people? Maybe there’s a local Toastmasters group you can join, or ask if you can start one at work. Always wished you were a whiz at Excel? Look for chances to put up your hand for opportunities beyond your day-to-day job.

  • Make it bearable for others

Seek out ways to connect with people and brighten their day. It’s scientifically proven that an act of kindness makes you feel better too.

Make it a mini-challenge every day to do something kind for someone, or have an in-depth conversation and really get to know a colleague.

  • Keep a gratitude list

It’s so easy to only focus on the negative. Especially if your colleagues are also unhappy with their job, it can be tempting to wallow in misery.

Start making a list of tiny things you’re grateful for about your day. It could even be how easy the commute was this morning, or the new biscuits in the kitchen.

  • Celebrate small wins

Set yourself a definable goal each day, and congratulate yourself when you do it. No need to wait for your boss or colleagues to give you positive feedback; you can do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. The goal could be doing that project plan, or sending that email you’ve been putting off. No one needs to know – unless you want to encourage others to do the same!