“There is no health without mental health.” – Dr. David Satcher
‘Mental health’, a term often confused with ‘mental illness’, but simply put it’s our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Everybody has mental health, but one in four of us will struggle with mental health issues at some point in our lives.
One of the biggest challenges with mental health is that we don’t talk about it enough. If you sprain your ankle at the weekend it’s pretty likely that you will tell everyone in the office about it on Monday morning. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed by stress or suffering with anxiety, there are not many of us who will feel comfortable opening up about it to our colleagues – let alone our boss.
For HR managers and business owners this presents a big challenge.
I believe that there are three areas that affect mental health; movement (especially physical exercise), nutrition and mindfulness (a very simple form of meditation that focuses on the present moment). So during National Mental Health Awareness Week, what better time to invest in the health and wellbeing of your team by getting them moving and meditating?
5 small things you can do to improve wellness at work
- Encourage lunchtime exercise – give your employees a little extra time at lunch so that they can book a class at the gym, go for a run or take a long walk to get moving during the day.
- Set a goal – why not enter a running or obstacle race as a team this year? Training for and taking part in a fitness challenge will not only be fun but you could also raise money for a charity along the way.
- Promote healthy eating with fruit baskets – these go down a treat in our office! Twice a week we have a couple of baskets delivered that are full of delicious, fresh, seasonal fruit and it’s much healthier than supplying cookies and chocolate every day.
- Let staff switch off – a big part of mindfulness involves paying more attention to what you do in your daily life. Set a company rule to not disturb anyone who is making a drink or having their lunch, with any work related issues. Allowing people to clear their mind for a few minutes will also help boost productivity.
- Make time for relaxation – let staff take a short break once or twice a week to de-stress. You could set up a quiet break out zone for this and schedule morning or after work meditation sessions, to clear the mind at the start/end of a busy day. There are lots of therapeutic techniques online to help practice mindfulness, as well as apps like Headspace and Digipill.
Most importantly promote an open culture where employees are encouraged to be honest and comfortable to talk about their mental health if they want to.
To find out about Forward Role’s own Wellness at Work Initiative and what we’re doing to keep our own team healthy and happy, have a read of our previous blog post here.