Focusing on connection and belonging this April.
April is stress awareness month. Since 1992 The Stress Management Society have raised awareness every year, in April, of what stress is, how it impacts us and how we can help manage it in today’s busy world. This year’s theme is all around community and taking time to reconnect with others, so very important, given our experiences over the last 2 years. Community is not just about those around us, but also about feeling a sense of belonging and support from friends and family. https://www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month/).
Hopefully, many businesses are now putting in place a wellbeing strategy to help support their teams and in our March blog we started to think about what this might look like. This month we wanted to explore this important topic a little further and really focus on defining the four key pillars of any wellbeing strategy, considering what they and why they are important. The first pillar is around social wellbeing and this ties in perfectly to the Stress Awareness month’s themes of connection.
1. Social Wellbeing:
Social wellbeing is all about having healthy relationships with others and enjoying a sense of belonging, community and connection. This can be applied to all aspects of life whether in the workplace or at home. One of the hardest things we all had to work through during lockdown was the limitation of our ability to interact with others. The impact of the quick shift that took place for many to move from perhaps spending more time in the workplace with colleagues, than with our families, to then being at home was significant. For some, this was positive, meaning they were more productive or spend time with loved ones, but for others, especially those living by themselves or trying to home school and hold down the day job, it presented huge challenges.
Many studies have been conducted to show that loneliness and isolation can have a major impact on our mental wellbeing,. As we move forward in a post COVID world and a hybrid way of working, it is important to reconnect and reach out to those who may have struggled – helping them to re-adjust into the workplace at their pace. Providing Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or some form of counselling, could help many to work through this.
2. Mental and Emotional Wellbeing:
Mental wellbeing is about how we feel, enjoy our lives and if we feel a sense of purpose. When we feel positive about these things, our mental and emotional wellbeing is in good place, which in turn enables us to be resilient, respond or react to change and respond positively to situations. Being mindful and living in the moment can also help us to appreciate what we have and what is going well. It is important that teams are encouraged to talk about their struggles in a confidential environment and the support is in place to help them work through these challenges.
Other ideas which will help to build mental and emotional wellbeing, is continued learning or community. The idea of continued learning could include improving our abilities in the workplace by gaining another qualification or discovering a new hobby. The idea of community ties very nicely into charity work, by giving our time and helping out others, we enjoy a great sense of satisfaction.
3. Physical Wellbeing: Studies have strongly linked regular physical exercise to positive mental wellbeing, resulting in lower rates of depression and anxiety. You do not have to be running the marathon to make a difference, simple things like walking in nature; walking to a colleague’s desk to ask them a question (rather than emailing); or getting off the bus one stop earlier, can make a big difference. Of course if you do wish to partake in sport, finding something which works for you and that you enjoy is a great way forward. Other key elements to consider as part of our physical wellbeing is to ensure that you are eating a balanced, nutritious diet and practising good sleep hygiene. 4. Financial Wellbeing: At a time when we are seeing huge increases in prices from petrol, energy bills to food and everything in between, money worries can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. Often one of the least remembered of the wellbeing pillars by organisations, is the stress that financial pressure can put on an individual. If one of your team is worrying about money or mounting debt, it can demonstrate in physical symptoms of anxiety or by limiting their ability to sleep for example. Ensuring they have access to expert help to enable them to work through this will be important. It is encouraging to see more and more organisations taking wellbeing as an important KPI for this year. There is a direct correlation between high levels of wellbeing, happy staff and greater productivity in the workplace. If your organisation has not yet got their wellbeing strategy in place, or needs some help in reviewing their current approach, please get in touch to discuss your individual requirements. Be mindful, Tricia Sources: https://www.hrgrapevine.com/content/article/2020-11-13-the-four-pillars-of-wellbeing https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/ https://wearewellbeing.co.uk/insights/four-pillars-of-wellbeing/