Mental health awareness week is fast approaching, beginning on the 18th May 2020. It’s at this time of year that we normally share our top tips on how you as an employer can help the mental wellbeing of your employers, where we offer our range of on-site services such as massage, yoga and wellbeing workshops. Activities all designed with the wellbeing of your staff in mind.
But, not to state the obvious, current events have made these face-to-face interactions sadly impossible. However, while we aren’t able to meet in person to deliver these services, the need for them not only remains but has greatly increased in these unprecedented times (sorry so wanted to avoid that currently overused word).
I could write a seemingly endless list of the ways in which lockdown can and is impacting your employees. I know in the past few weeks I’ve struggled with looking after my children while also running a business, not to mention the challenge of homeschooling, concerns about financial wellbeing, the lack of social interaction or the ability to see and lean on my normal support network of friends and family. And I am just one person. These thoughts and feelings will be echoed and amplified across the country.
It’s also not just those that are working, any members of staff that have been furloughed will still be facing many of the same challenges, plus others unique to their situation. The additional worry about what happens to their job when this is over, the potential financial worry about surviving on a reduced salary and for some the lack of routine or anything to occupy their time will be negatively affecting them.
As a wellbeing provider, it’s something that we couldn’t ignore, our clients and their employees need our services more than ever. To support you all during this challenging time we’ve created a range of online wellbeing services, from yoga, pilates and fitness classes to more tailored wellbeing workshops covering positive thinking, nutrition, financial wellbeing and resilience.
These are all available online and can be delivered in small or large groups. Whether you want to offer a financial wellbeing talk to your furloughed staff, a positive thinking session to a specific department or some laughter yoga to help relieve stress, these initiatives will all help your employees’ wellbeing.
If you would like to discuss how we can help please do get in touch. It is easy to become isolated in our own houses and lose the connection to the outside world, bringing your staff together will help them to reconnect with each other, maintain relationships and hopefully help to alleviate their worries and concerns.
The stress response is a naturally occurring, protective mechanism that evolved to prepare our bodies for “fight or flight” during emergency situations. This defence system in the body is both healthy and adaptive when activated sparingly. However, in modern life and particularly during challenging times, our bodies’ natural defences are over-activated repeatedly. This frequent activation of the stress response can be damaging to our health, and for this reason, it is important to incorporate helpful practices to de-stress regularly on a daily basis.
Fortunately, the body is profoundly intelligent and naturally geared towards harmony and balance. It possesses an antidote to stress in the form of relaxation, also known as the “rest and digest” response. Relaxation is immensely healing for both the body and mind and can be triggered daily to improve our mood and overall physical wellbeing.
A daily mindfulness practice will switch on this beneficial relaxation response, helping to maintain mental calm and peace despite any external stressors that may arise. With a mindfulness practice, our focus is directed into the present moment without any judgement. By practising mindfulness, we can switch off excessive worry about the future and can cultivate a present and positive state of mind.
Here are some simple and effective ways to be mindful regularly throughout each day:
Take a walk in nature and actively notice the sounds, colours, scents, and textures that surround you. Notice the feel of the ground underneath your feet as you walk, and listen to the sound of your footsteps as you take each step.
Eat slowly and mindfully to aid digestion. Take small bites of food, notice the scent and texture of what you are eating, register the taste of your food, chew slowly, and savour each bite.
Close your eyes and focus on the physical sensation of your breath against your nose as you breathe in and out. Notice the coolness of each inhale and the warmth of each exhale. Follow the physical sensation of each breath with your focused awareness. If your mind wanders, gently guide your focus back to your breathing. Just 5 minutes of mindful breathing will markedly improve your mood and will immediately invite in a sense of mental calm.
Mindful Awareness of Thoughts
Simply notice your thoughts as they come and go without judgement. If you experience any stressful or worrisome thoughts, close your eyes and imagine your thoughts floating by on clouds and drifting away; or imagine your thoughts entering into a room through one door and leaving through another. By detaching from your thoughts and seeing your thoughts as separate from you, you can train your mind to remain unaffected by stressful thoughts and to more easily let them go.
Additionally one of the healthiest things you can do to lower overall stress levels is to get adequate, good quality sleep. Proper sleep is an excellent stress-buster, and good sleep hygiene practices include the following recommendations:
- Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and free of digital devices
- Avoid intense physical exercise or stressful conversations directly before bed
- Avoid caffeine, sugar, or heavy meals before bed
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, in order to train your body into a regular pattern of sleep
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night
- If you are having trouble falling asleep, after 20-30 minutes get out of bed, do something relaxing, and return to bed once you feel tired
Incorporating healthy habits during challenging times empowers us to remain more relaxed and positive and to find greater acceptance in each day. A mindfulness practice and good quality sleep both strengthen the body’s ability to cope with stress and noticeably improve overall wellbeing. Use the inherent healing capabilities that the body possesses to your advantage, enhancing your own ability to cultivate balance within and enjoying lower stress levels and greater calm as a result.
World sleep Day – now that is a day I can get behind. 13th March 2020, is a day to celebrate sleep and its importance. As a parent of two young children, sleep is a very precious commodity in our household. While I focus on making sure the children get enough sleep, and more importantly enough good sleep so they have the energy to face the next day and give their bodies and brains time to rest, recover and grow. However, I can’t say I give much thought to the sleep I get, or in my case, often don’t get.
What impact does poor sleep have on our bodies and minds? We all know and hear a lot about the importance of exercise and nutrition to our overall wellbeing. But sleep also plays a vital part.
What is the impact of poor or lack of sleep?
1. Increased body weight
There is a very strong correlation between quality of sleep and weight. While following a healthy diet and exercise will obviously all impact your weight. Those that don’t get enough sleep, tend to weigh significantly more than those that do. Quality sleep is crucial if you’re trying to lose weight.
2. Consume more calories
Sleep deprivation disrupts your appetite hormones, leading to higher food consumption. This is one I can really relate to. I am often woken by the children and regularly have disturbed nights sleep. The day following a bad night, I find myself snacking more, feeling hungrier and eat more than I normally would.
3. Lack of concentration and productivity
Sleep is your brains chance to rest, if it doesn’t get enough, then it won’t perform to the best of its ability. We all know that groggy feeling you get when tired like your head is full of cotton wool. A study of medical interns found that those with extended work hours made 36% per serious medical errors than those on a schedule that slowed more sleep. (source)
4. Health issues
Reduced sleep has been linked to a number of health issues. Heart disease and strokes are more prevalent in those that sleep less than 7-8 hours and night, type 2 diabetes is also linked to poor sleep.
5. Mental health
It’s been estimated that 90% of those suffering from depression complain about sleep quality. Lack of sleep also affects how you interact socially, impacting your ability to read emotions and facial expressions.
But it’s not just parents that suffer from lack of sleep, depression, illness, stress are all causes for sleepless nights. We often forget that sleep is essential to a healthy mind and body. It is certainly something that I now cherish and can really feel the impact lack of sleep has on me. As an employer what can you do to help your staff achieve a good night’s sleep? We run a workshop dedicated to sleep, that teaches people techniques to help them get the best night’s sleep and reclaim energy and balance to their daily lives.
For more information on our sleep workshops please get in touch and see how we can help your staff improve their sleep.
It seems strange to be focussing on the importance of listening when discussing ‘Time to talk’ day, February 6th 2020, however, while it’s important to get people talking about mental health issues, to help break down the stigma. People also need to listen.
Listening, and by that, we mean really listening and paying attention, is something that we often struggle to do. Think of the conversations you have during the day, how many of those do you give your full undivided attention. Ones where you aren’t mentally going through your to-do list in your head, half watching TV or listening to the radio, or where you’re waiting for the person to finish talking so you can then give your point of view/opinion on the matter. I can imagine it’s not many.
“All of us want to be listened to, all of us want to really be heard. When someone senses you are really listening to what they have to say amazing things can happen. Solutions can be found that were never imagined. Understanding can be reached that had seemed impossible. Old angers and resentments can be overcome. Frustrations can simply fall away.”https://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2011/10/25/how-important-is-listening-really/
If we want people to open up about mental health issues, then there need to be willing and attentive listeners available. I’ve been reading a number of articles written by those suffering from mental health about the importance of listening. They all agree that talking about issues is a very cathartic experience, but that it’s very clear to them, whether people are actively listening or just being polite. This quote sums it up perfectly.
“Before you ask somebody (who you know struggles with depression) how they are — make sure you really want to know the answer and really want to know how they are because you genuinely care. I believe there is nothing worse than telling somebody how you feel with total honesty (which takes a lot of courage in the first place), only to be met with an inactive listener whose body language and verbal actions are completely incoherent.”https://themighty.com/2017/06/good-listening-important-mental-illness-suport/
What can you do to make yourself a better listener?
Listen to learn and not to be polite
As was mentioned above. Listen because you’re interested in the answer and want to learn something, not just because you feel you have to.
Give them your full attention, don’t be writing your shopping list in your head, looking at your phone. Stop what you are doing, move away from any distractions if needs be. Give them your time and full attention.
If listening is learning, the best way to learn more is to ask questions.
Pay attention to how much you’re talking
If you want someone to open up and talk about any problems or issues they may be having. Make sure you’re letting them speak, they should be the one talking, not you. Try not to dominate the conversation, don’t be afraid of silences. These are pauses for thought, not gaps that need to be filled with noise.
It is easy to misunderstand or misinterpret what somebody is saying. By repeating back when you’ve understood helps to reduce any ambiguity. They’ll either agree that, yes, that is what they intended to say. If not, then they’ll need to find a different way of explaining.
Wait for somebody to finish talking before you even start thinking about your reply. If you begin concocting it in your head when they’re only halfway through their sentence. You’re going to miss half of what is said. As I said in point 4, a little silence or gap in conversation isn’t a bad thing. It gives everyone time to think and digest what has been said.
If you would like to make mental health in the workplace a topic of conversation, there are many ways you can help promote the ideas covered in the Time to Talk campaign. There is a wealth of resources and ideas on how you, as an employer, can implement it into your organisation. These can be downloaded here.
For us, we’re going to do the very English thing of putting the kettle on, sitting down and having a chat about what is bothering us and where we need help. It doesn’t need to be complicated, sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference.
- August 2020
- May 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
- November 2019
- October 2019
- September 2019
- July 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- November 2018
- September 2018
- August 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- March 2018
- January 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- October 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- January 2017
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016