Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

For Mental Health Awareness Week those within Sanderson Government & Defence wanted to discuss a variety of topics including Health & Fitness, Managing Workplace Stress, Pandemic Mental Health and Maintaining Mindfulness as a way to shine light on these and provide helpful tips and advice.

Workplace Stress

Did you know that 1 in 6 employees in the UK reported having a mental health issue in the last week?

Being in good employment reduces the risk of mental health conditions such as depression and psychological distress but, for some people, the workplace can also be a cause of stress and common mental health problems.

This may include a drop in work performance, mood swings, loss of motivation/confidence, depression, anxiety and sleeping difficulties.

Ways to manage your own workplace stress include starting your day off right, ensuring you are clear on requirements, staying away from conflict, staying organised, having positive communication with your employer, walking at lunch, establishing boundaries, meditation and accessing mental health support services.

As an employer there are some steps you can take to reduce workplace stress for employees, including encouraging open communication, offering mental and physical health benefits, offering meditation classes, offering paid time off, encouraging employees to take breaks, taking your team offsite, bringing fun activities into the office, offering flexible working schedules and prioritising an inclusive culture.

Workplace Health & Wellbeing

As adults, we spend a large proportion of our time in work – it has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing. There is clear evidence that being in a healthy work environment enables us to live healthier lives outside of work.

Ways you can ensure you’re looking after your health and wellbeing in the workplace: eating breakfast, drinking 1.5-2 litres of water a day, taking your breaks, eating lunch to fuel you for the afternoon, stepping outside for fresh air and getting yourself into a healthy fitness routine. 1 in 3 adults reach the minimum recommended guidelines for weekly physical activity.

As an employer the steps you can take are…

  • Fruit bowls around the building
  • Corporate gym discount
  • Cycle to Work Scheme
  • Encouraging walking breaks
  • Water fountains
  • Meditation Mondays

Other ways could be providing health and wellbeing content and allowing flexible working hours so that employees can get appropriate rest and fit in exercise around their personal commitments.

Not only this but having a sense of security, autonomy, good line management and communication within an organisation are all aspects that make a work environment healthy!

Pandemic Mental Health

The Pandemic was a difficult time for most of us, but it’s fair to say that some suffered more than others.

Studies looking at mental health trajectories for individuals suggest that a majority of the population retained stable and good levels of mental health during the pandemic. However, some groups had been more likely to experience poor or deteriorating mental health during this time, especially the first part of the pandemic.

These groups include; women, young adults (aged between 18 and 34, depending on the study), adults with pre-existing mental or physical health conditions, adults experiencing loss of income or employment, adults in deprived neighbourhoods, some ethnic minority populations, adults with personality traits that were more ‘extraverted’ or ‘open to experience’, and those who experienced local lockdowns.

Experiences of anxiety, depression, loneliness, or mental distress may be linked with personality type, changes in lifestyle, or adopting coping behaviours. Some of these behaviours have been analysed in recent studies. Overall, these studies suggest some association between experiencing mental distress during the pandemic and changes in diet or eating behaviours, exercise, alcohol use and sleep. Many people have also employed positive behaviours such as engaging in creative pursuits and hobbies and ‘thinking positively’.

If your mental health is suffering due to the pandemic or any other reasons it’s important to get help. Not sure where to start? Click here for helpful resources.

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness and why is it important?

Former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Professor Mark Williams, defines mindfulness as a means of knowing directly what is going inside and outside of ourselves, moment by moment. In today’s modern age, it's become a habit to not stop and just notice the world around us. We tend to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and end up living “in our heads”, because of being caught up in our thoughts without stopping to realise how those thoughts are affecting our emotions and behaviour.

Professor Williams explains that an important part of mindfulness is “reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs. Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment. It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives."

So how can we practise mindfulness?

Let’s start with the basics...

Try and make a conscious effort to remind yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you.

It is easier said than done – but the first step to being more self-aware and mindful comes from a conscious effort to just take a breath, pause, and reflect. Luckily, in such an advanced tech age, there are 3 online tools dedicated to helping us become more self-aware and mindful:

  1. Headspace - designed to help you train your mind and body for a healthier, happier life and get the most out of your day.
  2. Calm - described as a “truly life-changing app”, Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners but does include advanced programmes, for those a little more ahead of the game
  3. Aura - if you’re after a personalised meditation experience, Aura may be just for you. Aura learns about you by asking you questions

There are many, many more apps available, and it just goes to show how important mindfulness has become to leading a happier, healthier balanced day-today life. It’s never too late to start – so go on, have a break, stop and breathe in – lets draw the attention back to you.

Things to try:

  1. Practice mindfulness (apps to try: Insight Timer and Headspace)
  2. Walk and spend time outdoors (try lunchtime walks or a local walking groups)
  3. Practice self-care
  4. Volunteer – check out Do IT | Connecting people to do good things
  5. Join a group with shared interests - check out Meetup - We are what we do
  6. Practice a craft - check out new things to try at Yuup - Find fun things to do in Bristol - Unique Experience - Yuup
  7. Gratitude lists
  8. Get help (Contact Samaritans - call 116 123)
  9. Schedule weekly calls with friends and loved ones
  10. Ensure you get a good night’s sleep

Let’s all help provide a safe and welcoming work environment, upskill technology to keep in touch with loved ones and raise awareness of the links of poor mental health and loneliness.