Over 15 million working days are lost in the UK each year due to poor mental health and it costs the UK economy an estimated £94 billion annually.
For any business, having healthy and happy employees is key to creating an engaged and productive workforce. As a society, work perks are becoming normalised and rightly so! However, having mindfulness within the workplace as a perk is still falling behind the drinks trolley, gym membership and pension schemes that many organisations are offering.
Caring for mental health is something we can all benefit from, yet more than half of UK employees admit to suffering from stress and as a result, 42% pretend that they’re not feeling themselves due to a physical illness instead.[iii] With these shocking statistics in mind, our experts comment on the stress epidemic and ways to implement mindfulness within the workplace…
The stress epidemic
“There’s the stress of the workload, of performing your job adequately (or overcoming boredom!), then the stresses of your workplace relationships, the daily molehills that become mountains such as finding a parking space, finding your favourite mug, fitting everything you need to do into your lunch break… not to mention all the stresses involved in getting to and from work in the first place!
This kind of persistent stress can have a serious impact on our mental wellbeing, affecting not only our experience at work, but beyond the workplace in our private lives and homes,” explains Mick Cassell, Experienced therapist and founder of the mindfulness toolkit ThinkWell-LiveWell.
Prevention is key
Implementing mindfulness into your workplace before your workforce become over worked, stressed and potentially even burnt out is key – “prevention is far, far better than a ‘cure’. A few minutes of reflective ‘me-time’ every day will have a cumulative effect that leads to us all simply becoming less prone to stress,” explains Mick.
Overtime isn’t a given
One in four employees over-work by at least 10 hours a week, according to new research Mick advises, “we all need to learn how to leave workplace stress right there, in the workplace – almost more than coping in the moment. Optimum mental wellbeing is the ability to switch off and to enjoy our private lives and downtime freely.”
Implement walking meetings – these are not only a great way to encourage everyone to get out of the office but it’ll also give their mind some TLC – “Movement is essential, at minimum 20 minutes daily, the mantra is ‘move for mental health’ and a walk around the block is sufficient,” explains qualified psychologist, yoga teacher and health & fitness coach, Suzy Reading, working with the new mindfulness toolkit, ThinkWell-LiveWell.
Water and healthy snacks help to beat anxiety
Stress is a response to a threat in a situation and anxiety is a reaction to the stress. “Signs of anxiety: these manifest in both the mind and the body. Anxiety can be experienced as a racing mind, an inability to slow down, feeling out of control with our thoughts or trouble staying on track and focusing. It is in the nature of our thoughts too – negative thinking, over personalisation, catastrophising, and generalising. It can show up in our body as muscular tension, pain, jitteriness and difficulty relaxing. It affects our breathing, making it short, tight and held in the chest, which has other knock on effects for mood, mental health, the nervous system and cardiac health. Anxiety can also diminish our mood and energy levels, it can make us more prone to anger and reactivity, teariness and emotional sensitivity for some.”
Something as simple as implementing water stations and healthy snacks within the workplace can be the first step in caring for your employees mental and physical health – “Keeping ourselves well hydrated and feeding our brain with regular life-giving food will help avoid feelings of anxiety,” explains Suzy.
Implement yoga classes – yoga can bring employees together on their lunch break but it is also great for stress management and physical well-being – “working with the breath to soothe the nervous system can be a powerful way to cope when anxiety hits but also a breathing practice will help you breathe better through the whole course of your day and when you breathe better you feel better,” advises Suzy.
NEW mindfulness toolkit
A simple way to implement mindfulness within the workplace is through the use of two things everyday things – headphones and the Internet. Allocate at least five minutes each day for your employees to experiment with the brand new mindfulness platform, ThinkWell-LiveWell and watch the benefits blossom! The 5-Minute Instant Calmer, 5 Minute Count Your Blessings and 5-Minute Zenprograms will enable your employees to switch off briefly before going back to their to do list calm and focused.
Mick Cassell created the web app to answer the needs that his professional and personal experience told him were not being met by the mindfulness apps currently in the marketplace, such as Headspace and Calm. This toolkit draws on a multi-modular approach to add and combine leading techniques such as cognitive work, NLP, hypnotherapy, guided meditation and dream-work, delivered in both online and offline forms.
For just £8.00 a month per employee they can benefit from a number of programs. Encourage your employees to try the longer programs on their commute to and from work. The Postcard to Anxiety module can help change an individual’s relationship to anxiety and their response to the cause of anxiety. No one can live a life completely free of anxiety – because we can’t control the world around us. But we can control how we respond to things we find challenging in our day-to-day lives including our work.
See also: our article Stress in the workplace