Brain researcher Minna Huotilainen was a special guest at Kiilto’s workplace well-being day in Stockholm.
Kiilto has long held workplace well-being issues in the heart of its operations. Kiilto’s well-being program focuses on exercise and workplace safety issues, as well as leadership and management development and updating of work-related skills of its employees.
Now the program expands to cover employees outside Finland, and the first ones out were the employees at Kiilto AB in Stockholm. The one-day workshop covered mostly issues that had to do with Kiilto’s corporate culture, but a special guest, brain researcher Minna Huotilainen from the University of Helsinki, also delivered a presentation on how to take care of the brain and how to better cope at work.
Antti Uski, Kiilto’s HR director, opened the day with a short recap of Kiilto Family’s cultural foundation, which includes experimentation, lifelong learning, entrepreneurial spirit, putting the customer first, and the idea that – as Uski put it – “people can use their own brain.”
Naturally then, a brain researcher was the next one behind the lectern.
“Our workplace is currently dominated by a culture of interruptions, and we try to do too many things at once. On the other hand, many of our tools, especially office programs, are ill suited for our brain,” said Huotilainen, whose book “Tunne aivosi” (“Know your brain”), co -authored with Leeni Peltonen, came out last year.
“Exercise, eating well, and sleep. That’s what’s most important for your brain,” she said.
Sleep is important for our brains because during sleep, the brain tackles emotional information and transfers things we have learned to the long-term memory. Exercise expands the memory regions of the brain, and an employee who exercises feels good and has less stress. When you don’t sleep or exercise enough, things get dire.
“If you’ve slept poorly and spent an entire day indoors without exercise, your body gets a signal to increase its calorie intake. Which leads to your eating poorly as well,” she added.
Employee who exercises feels good and has less stress. However, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, she said.
“What’s important is that you find something that you find interesting to do. It can be picking berries and mushrooms, or taking the dog for a walk. That’s good for your brain as well,” Huotilainen said.
Another way to improve brain capacity and stop the brain’s aging process is music. While it may be difficult to sing or play the guitar at work, it doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your brain during the office hours. One way is to take a short, 7-10-minute nap says Huotilainen.
She suggested that we all try to find ways to make our workdays better for our brains. Maybe there’s a way to walk at least a part of the commute to work? Maybe a ping-pong table would get people moving during the day?
Also, think about how your tasks are organized.
“Nobody else knows your work as well as you do. Question your current methods, and make changes if needed, and possible. Talk to your colleagues and see how they have solved similar challenges.
“And finally, don’t be afraid to challenge your boss,” Huotilainen concluded with a smile.