In the past few years, much of our daily life and work patterns have had to change and our work lives are perhaps more tightly bound to our private lives than ever before. This means that looking after our wellbeing is more important than ever.
Mental health is rightly becoming an increasing topic and awareness is growing; taking away old fashioned stigmas and allowing people to talk more freely about challenges they are facing. We are seeing a huge growth in companies offering initiatives such as Wellbeing Days and flexible working to aide work/life balance and create happier workers. However, according to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly 1 in 7 people experience mental health problems in the workplace so it would seem we still have some way to go, despite moving in the right direction.
Have you ever stared at the computer screen, finding it hard to get through your to-do list? Don’t feel guilty as the lack of motivation could happen to the best of us. When an employee is more engaged and happier at work, they’re 20% more productive. And employee wellbeing at work has indeed been climbing up on the corporate priority list, becoming a topic under the spotlight as the pandemic brought an immense impact on our life.
Now is the time to explore what you can do to improve your overall wellbeing, no matter if you’re working remotely or in the office.
1. Calm Your Mind Before Major Tasks
Anticipating the implementation of a big task can be daunting. Right before you start, try these simple techniques to help relieve your nerves.
Breathing exercise - make sure you’re wearing something comfortable. You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down:
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
- Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again if you find this helpful.
- Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.
If you’re working from home, meditation and yoga are also great options for de-stressing. These exercises require nothing but a mat, and you can find abundant resources and instructions on YouTube, making it effortless to practice at home.
2. Stay Active
People may not move as much when working from home but managers can still create opportunities for their staff to get active. Arranging exercise sessions during lunch breaks is highly achievable and costs nothing. Here at Carrot, we have held a month-long fitness competition to encourage our teams to stay active. This month, we’re also sending our teams out on a treasure trail. These activities are not just beneficial to the physical well-being, but also motivate employees at work.
Encourage employees to walk into nature and enjoy the relaxation it can bring. We have organised company-wide hiking trips and walks in the past that have received positive feedback.
Gym or sports club memberships have become a popular item in the employee benefits package. It's a flexible way of encouraging employees to exercise whenever works best for them.
If budget and resources are of concern, why not offer your team a spontaneous early finish on a sunny day so they can make the best of the good weather.
3. Taking Time Away from the Screen
Remote working often makes it harder to remember to take breaks that allow you time away from the screen, which is vital to both mental and physical wellbeing. Set an alarm every hour to step away from the computer for 5 minutes, during which time walk around the house to get yourself some refreshments and to have a nice stretch. You can still practice this if working in the office too.
It’s common to have pains that result from sitting in a certain position for too long. Don’t ignore any aches and check your posture for anything that needs correcting. If possible, ask for a standing desk so you can work on your feet for a change during a long working day. Your employer should be regularly checking that you have a suitable setup that works for your health and wellbeing.
Lunch breaks are a good cut-off point for time away from the screen, so make sure you take it. And for the same reason, get ready and wrap up your tasks in the last half an hour of the day so you can log off on time. As easy as it is to work overtime when you’re at home, try to stick to the normal work schedule to avoid burnout.
4. Get Organised
Draw on your creativity and arrange the desk space to suit your character and work purposes. Perhaps it’s a small plant pot or a multi-layer tray that helps with filing; you’d be surprised at the impact of a little change to the desk setup.
The same can apply to planning your work. Instead of adding tasks to the standard Outlook calendar, why not write them down on a physical calendar and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing them off as you work along?
5. Don't Shy Away From Ways to Connect to Others
Wherever possible, organise activities among teams as a great way to bring people together. Regular contact, be it virtual or in-person, allows a more approachable channel that supports colleagues where needed. Be it a virtual coffee break or a drink after work, seize the chance to socialise. You may not even realise how much you’ve missed chitchat with another colleague. It's a good opportunity to take your eyes off the screen and mind off work during a long week.
Looking for ideas to keep your teams stay connected? Check out our blog here.
6. Practice more awareness
Pay a little extra attention to your surroundings, and you’d be surprised how much more you take notice of even on the most normal day. Take a moment to look around on your way through the park, slower your pace on a hike, or take a minute to talk to your colleagues and find out how they’re doing. This applies to introspection too: Be aware of your own feelings and what you may need. Don’t be hesitant to seek support if needs be.
This awareness can also be used within the workplace. If you sense a colleague is struggling or not quite feeling themself, take some time to talk to them and offer your support where possible. This might be by allowing them to talk about things going on within their personal life or to give them the opportunity to offload some of their work tasks. Many businesses now have mental health first aiders, so if you’re concerned about someone’s wellbeing, speak to them, or seek advice from the likes of Mind or the Samaritans.
7. Nourish and Feed Your Body and Soul
We all know that peckish feeling in mid-afternoons, but snacking doesn’t have to compromise your health. Leave a fruit bowl nearby to satisfy your hunger while adding to your five-a-day, or choose any healthier option that best suits your appetite.
8. Learn New Things
Learning new things has known positive effects on the brain. And it’s a rewarding feeling when you see yourself progress through the learning process. Is there a skill/ hobby that you’ve always wanted to pursue? Now is a good time to realise that dream!
As an employer, you can create that environment for your employees. This can be work-related, such as encouraging them to take courses or attend workshops that help develop their skills. It can also be about their private lives; giving them time off work or the occasional longer lunch break so they can enjoy what they love.
9. Giving Can Bring You More
Giving back is a great culture within a company and, in turn, can bring more benefits. This makes colleagues feel appreciated and even more motivated at work; it doesn’t have to be of a monetary value. Here at Carrot, we recognise everyone’s hard work by offering an early finish at the end of the month, so people have the chance to pursue a better quality of life or enjoy a drink together when things are open.
When working in the office, this can be as simple as offering a helping hand to a colleague that seems a bit stressed or making a cup of tea for one another. Or how about sharing your best practice with each other so you can all grow and further your knowledge base.
Although this week will help to highlight mental health awareness, our mental wellbeing at home and in the workplace should be of top priority all year long. What better time than now to practice these tips in the workplace and let your colleagues know they are supported.
More quick and easy tips to improve your wellbeing whilst working:
- Create a ‘to do’ list to keep you focussed
- Have a defined start and end to your day
- Remember to take a lunch break and step away from your work space to do this
- Use video technology to speak to your colleagues
- Try and make a small ‘office space’ so that you can separate work and home
- Acknowledge how hard the change to home working can be
- Take a walk at the end of your ‘working day’
- Pack away your work space and turn off all work related devices
- Actively support your mental wellbeing: remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself
- Don’t suffer in silence
Explore the links below to find out more about how you can take care of your health and wellbeing. You’ll also find advice on how you can help other people to be happier and healthier.
If you’re in need of support with your mental health wellbeing, here are some organisations and networks that specialise in providing it:
Mind - https://www.mind.org.uk/
Anxiety UK - www.anxietyuk.org.uk
CALM - www.thecalmzone.net
Samaritans - www.samaritans.org.uk
Young Minds - www.youngminds.org.uk