Stress can impact upon productivity, and even more importantly for employees, their physical and mental wellbeing. They might lose sleep, eat unhealthy foods, drink more, and smoke more, all of which increases the likelihood that they’ll become less productive, demotivated, and absent from work.
In this newsletter, I’m going to look at the importance of looking after the mental and physical wellbeing of employees, and why doing so is better for an organisation in the long run.
There are also some informative articles on stress, nutrition, and sleep; an EBook you can download on how to find the elusive work/life balance, and the latest workplace wellbeing research and news.
Let’s make our workplaces happier, healthier, and more productive places to be!
How to manage workplace stress
If you’re a supervisor, manager, or HR officer, the first time you may become aware that an employee is stressed at work is when you see a fit note stating that the employee is absent from work due to a ‘stress-related illness.’ One in three fit notes given out by GPs are for mental health problems, and while stress in itself is not defined as a medical illness, if it is not addressed early, it can lead to anxiety, depression, behavioural disturbance, and physical illness.
How should you deal with workplace stress?
- Look at the reasons behind the stress, both in the workplace, and in the employee’s personal life. Invite the employee to discuss the root causes of the stress and if they’re identified, how you can work together to approach and resolve them.
- If it’s difficult to identify a particular cause, but work appears to be a contributing factor, consider using the Health and Safety Executive’s Stress Risk Assessment (hyp) questionnaire tool. This will help you identify the possible causes of workplace stress such as work relationships, lack of support, and change.
- Look at the organisation’s culture. If employees say they feel overworked and undervalued, what can you do to address this? Doing so may help prevent work-related stress problems before they even arise.
- A referral to Occupational Health is a good idea if the causes of stress are still not clear. An adviser can give their opinion on whether they believe the employee has a medical condition, and whether they need further support from a manager, counsellor, or therapist.
There is no quick fix or one size fits all approach that can be applied to mental health issues because people recover at different rates, and everyone has different levels of resilience. But if people are well supported at times of crisis, they are likely to recover quicker and become more resilient to stress in the future. Addressing mental health in a timely, thorough, and professional manner from a health and wellbeing and business perspective is crucial.
If you would like more guidance on managing stress in the workplace, our e-learning packages are an informative, valuable, and flexible learning option for you. We’re currently offering 10% off our Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace and Mindfulness in the Workplace packages.
My free EBook on Work-Life Balance is also available for download by clicking here.
The effects of work on our diet
Work-related stress can have a considerable effect on our eating behaviours too. Long working hours, our desk-bound culture, and a work culture that values getting the job done rather than focusing on wellbeing all contribute to poor eating behaviours and patterns. Here’s a fascinating interview with Dr Meg Arroll, a psychologist and author who has studied the relationship between stress, weight and fatigue. Click here to read more.
The importance of gut health
The health of your gut can be linked to many health issues, including poor mental health. Scientists even refer to the gut as the ‘second brain’ because it’s lined with 100 million nerve cells that control digestion. Having a healthy gut plays a key role in wellbeing, because ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive system affect many of the body’s functions like nutrient absorption, immune response, the ability to eliminate toxins and the production of hormones. If there is an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut, inflammation occurs in the digestive system and symptoms occur throughout the body.
Research has found that when the gut is irritated or inflamed, the nerves in the gut send messages to the central nervous system which can then trigger changes in mood.
So how can you improve your digestive health? Here are 10 tips for better digestion, courtesy of SuperWellness
Some reading material...
This is an informative article about what causes workplace stress and how it can be managed effectively. Click here to read more.
Sleeping better and productivity
Poor sleep can be disastrous for physical and mental health, not to mention productivity in the workplace. Click here to read about the problems that poor sleep can cause and what managers can do to help.
The importance of a health and wellbeing strategy
According to a survey by Aon Employee Benefits, the number of employers who have invested in workplace wellbeing initiatives has risen from 36% to 42% this year. Wellbeing apps, virtual GP services, weight loss support, smoking cessation and physical activity programmes are among the initiatives being considered to help employees become healthier and happier at work.
The key is for organisations to focus on taking preventative action rather than acting when employees are already experiencing issues.
Managers have an important role to play in creating a workplace culture that pays attention to wellbeing, especially when it comes to stress reduction. They can do this by encouraging a healthy work-life balance, listening to employees, building supportive teams, and giving employees some flexibility over where and when they work. Being able to recognise stress and other issues in the workplace and knowing how to support employees adequately is crucial in a healthy workplace.
Learning these skills is an investment in yourself, which will empower you to make the right choices for your organisation. E-learning is a fantastic way for busy managers to access high-quality education and resources, and the opportunity to build peer to peer support networks brings the benefit of being able to share experiences and learn from others.
There’s currently 10% off our Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace and Mindfulness in the Workplace e-learning packages which cover how to effectively support employees through difficulties related to their mental health, and how to communicate mindfully, share information, and facilitate change.
As well as being mindful of the wellbeing of your employees, it’s important that you check in with yourself too. If you manage or own a business, the chances are you don’t take enough time off or have much balance in your life. This can be true of any manager or business owner, but it rings particularly true for women, who as well as running their business, still have most of the childcare and household responsibilities. Burnout is common among women, and that’s why we hold Mindfulness Day Retreats for women, which are all about learning to relax, be mindful, and look after yourself. Click here for more information.
Beat Stress with a Mini Meditation
3-minute Breathing Space Meditation
When you’re stressed out, it can be difficult to remind yourself to stay calm, and when you’re busy, you might feel like you don’t have time to meditate. This is exactly why this short Breathing Space meditation was created. It’s designed to create a pause in your day so you can collect your thoughts, ground yourself, and keep perspective. Use this daily, anytime you feel like you need it.
Here’s what to do:
- Sit or stand up straight and close your eyes if possible. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings and acknowledge any difficult feelings that arise. Can you feel any sensations in your body? Acknowledge that they’re there, but don’t try to change them.
- Now concentrate on the breath. Focus on the physical sensations of the breath in the abdomen; expanding as you breathe in, and relaxing as you breathe out. Ground yourself with each breath, and if your mind wanders, guide it gently back towards the breath.
- Finally, expand your awareness to take in the body as a whole. Imagine the whole body is breathing. If you feel any discomfort in your body, imagine that you’re breathing in to these areas. Explore the sensations, but don’t try to change them in any way. Once they stop being the focus of your attention, become aware of the whole body again.
-adapted from Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
Practising mindfulness at work and at home can help employees to detach themselves from workplace problems and demands when they get home, according to a study. The study looked at mindfulness and the stressor-detachment model, which says that increasing emotional stress and a demanding workload at work should correspond with the inability to detach yourself from work when you get home. The inability to switch off is associated with lower wellbeing at bedtime. The study found that mindfulness could be a useful tool in helping people to psychologically detach themselves from work despite high job demands.
Haun VC et al. “Being mindful at work and at home: buffering effects in the stressor-detachment model”. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
Drinking alcohol to cope
More than half of all adults who drink alcohol say they do so to cope with the pressures of daily life, according to a poll for the charity DrinkAware. More than one third of those questioned said they drank alcohol to forget about their problems. 47% of people reported having a drink to cheer themselves up and 41% of people said they felt it helped when they felt depressed or anxious.
Increase in referrals for mental health support
The nurse adviser service RedArc said it gets 30% more referrals for mental ill health in January than at any other time of the year. They have urged employers to remind employees about mental health support services in the workplace such as access to counselling.
How can I help you?
I can help you master mindfulness to enhance the wellbeing of individuals at work, and to help organisations build productive, successful teams of individuals who listen to, and support each other. Through face to face mentoring and mindfulness sessions, or via e-learning, we can work together to manage stress, promote workplace wellbeing, deal with anxieties about job insecurity and organisational change, and develop effective leaders who’ll remain calm and make considered decisions even during volatile times. Find out more about what mindfulness can do for you here.
I hope you have found our newsletter both interesting and useful. If there are any topics that you would like us to include in our next newsletter please let me know. If you do not wish to receive further copies of the newsletter contact me and I will remove your details from our database.