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13-19th May marks Mental Health Awareness Week and social media has been alight with suggestions and tips on how to look after your mind and encouraging words to speak out if you're suffering.
Recent years have seen increased attention on issues of mental health, with focuses on men’s mental health, body image, wellbeing and mindfulness. People are opening up, realising that “it’s ok to not be ok” and appreciating that mental health needs to be taken as seriously as physical health.
Workplaces are beginning to recognise the need for good mental health too and stigmas around depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses are lifting. Many workplaces are introducing wellbeing programmes and mental health first aiders to give employees the support that they might not have access to as easily outside of work.
At Synergy, we recently launched our own wellbeing programme with a delicious healthy breakfast to sweeten the deal.
The programme includes weekly yoga sessions, healthy snacks available, wellness coaching and the introduction of an Employee Engagement Committee, made up of colleagues from across the organisation, giving them a chance to voice suggestions, concerns and changes they might want to see.
Promising steps are being made by businesses to aid the mental health of their employees, but there are also practical steps that people can take for themselves to look after their minds and bodies.
According to Forbes, a new study has shown that there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and how people spend their lunch break. The ‘work hard’ mentality of wolfing down lunch at your desk whilst trying to work can actually lead to reduced productivity: “without taking adequate breaks from work, employee productivity, mental well-being and overall work performance begin to suffer”.
Our in-house behavioural science expert Chloe has been making a conscious effort to practice healthy behaviours this week, particularly on her lunch breaks.
So, how did Chloe get on? Here’s her log for the week:
Today was a beautiful day, so I made the most of the sunshine by getting out of the office and walking to the shop to buy my lunch for the week. This has a positive impact on both my financial wellbeing by saving money and my physical wellbeing with healthy food and getting a few steps in on lunch. A win-win!
I’ve created a default in my calendar to remind me at 1pm to leave my desk for lunch. This pre-set reminder reflects the U of our HUMANISTS checklist.
Decided to take lunch in the kitchen. There was a meeting happening while I was in there and I offered to help a colleague with something they sounded nervous about; it felt good to give someone a hand with something.
I took part in an agency-wide creative group briefing over lunch today, which was both pleasurable (lots of laughs) and purposeful (helping with ideas for a brief). This kind of interaction with my colleagues is good for social wellbeing, and feeling productive was an added bonus too.
I’m using the vibration reminder on my Fitbit to do ensure I’m doing some steps every hour. These chances to leave my desk for a few minutes help me keep a clear head and it’s actually making me more productive!
Chloe’s week shows that small steps can have big impacts on your mental health and she’s encouraging everyone at Synergy to do the same.
But it’s also important to remember that you can try all the yoga, meditation, mindfulness, exercise and healthy eating under the sun, but listen to your body; if all of those things feel like too much pressure, take the weight off and do what’s best for you. Sometimes that might just be catching up with a friend, speaking to a family member, reading a book or just taking time for yourself. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health.
For help with your wellbeing programme or to chat more about behavioural nudges that can help people, get in touch. We’re always happy to help, or just be there to listen.