The first Wednesday in November is National Stress Awareness Day. This is an opportunity to think about the effects of stress, physically, emotionally and mentally, as well as how engaging in a culture of care can support our wellbeing and mental health.
There are many reasons we can feel stressed, whether it’s deadlines for work, a change in our relationships or pressures we may be putting on ourselves. Sometimes pressure can be useful as it can motivate us to sort things out or get something done.
However, there are times when stresses can pile up, or when a prolonged period of stress can really impact on us, leaving us feeling unable to cope. Particularly at these times, having a workplace that fosters a culture of care and values that support the flourishing of all is beneficial to our emotional and mental health and wellbeing.
A workplace that promotes a self-care culture reinforces things such as setting up healthy boundaries at work through simple practices such as respecting people’s time. This type of caring workplace culture has been shown to reduces stress, raise morale and in turn leads to more effective team-working.
Managing stress can be challenging. Sometimes there are factors that are simply out of control. But at these times it’s even more important to identify the things that are in our control, that we can change or address them. One of the key themes here is making time for ourselves. If we make time to talk, or rest, or try to enjoy ourselves, this can be the sort of thing that can help us get through the most stressful times.
Self-care time has traditionally been reserved for outside of work hours—something like a morning jog or an evening bubble bath. But self-care is changing. It's becoming clear that weaving moments of self-care throughout our day is more beneficial than grinding through a hard day and leaving the “you” time for later.
In other words—it’s more effective to consider self-care as a regular part of your routine than as a complete departure from it. Developing a Wellbeing Action Plan can support this, the integration can help ensure ongoing good health (both mental and physical), and help you better manage your stress and build resilience.
So, here are some of our top tips for supporting a culture of self-care:
Foster good habits
- Have walking meetings. Encourage people to get out and about for meetings and calls. Scientifically, it’s been proven to promote outside-of-the-box thinking, but it also helps in terms of health—both mental and physical.
- Encourage people to log off and shut down. You want people to know that they’re not just able to but expected to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Discourage eating lunch at the computer. Lunch is the perfect opportunity for people to get a bit of a mental break, whether by actually getting up and going for a walk, or by simply focusing on something non-work related.
- Practice what you preach. You can set a good example by living by your own self-care rules. Manage your time, take breaks, go for walks, and let people know it’s okay to prioritise their own needs sometimes.
- Build pauses into the workday. Calendars that are overfilled with meetings don’t give people the time they need to think or process at optimum levels. By working these little breathing spaces into the work week, you can encourage better work habits and allow yourself and others to reach their full potential.
- Set communication time boundaries. Encourage employees to set boundaries around their time.
- Practice mindfulness, support employees in their mindfulness journeys by promoting the free Be Mindful App.