Supporting employees’ wellbeing through Blue Monday
The third Monday in January ‘Blue Monday’ is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
Many factors including weather conditions, dark mornings, debt accumulated over Christmas and failing new year’s resolutions can all contribute to a lack of motivation. When you throw a continuing global pandemic and isolation restrictions into the mix, you can imagine the toll this can have on morale in the workplace.
With employee absence levels at an all time high due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, keeping your employees well and in work has never been a greater priority.
It is reported that three in ten recorded sick days are related to mental health conditions. A figure which, given that fewer than one in ten employees feel comfortable confiding in their employer about the issue, may well, in truth, be significantly higher.
Both employers and employees have a responsibility and ability to make a difference.
For many of us the advice around how to maintain a sense of mental wellbeing isn’t new, but a reminder every now and again can serve us all well – and hearing it from an employer can underline to employees that they’re in a supportive environment.
Five top tips to boost your mental health
The mental health charity, Mind, advises five ways that everyone can improve their own mental health and build resilience.
There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.
It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages. With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection.
- Talk to someone instead of sending an email
- Speak to someone new
- Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you
- Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Exercise is essential for slowing age-related cognitive decline and for promoting well-being.
But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good – slower-paced activities, such as walking, can have the benefit of encouraging social interactions as well providing some level of exercise.
Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities.
Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations. Take some time to enjoy the moment and the environment around you.
Here are a few ideas:
- Get a plant for your workspace
- Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
- Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting
- Take a different route on your journey to or from work
- Visit a new place for lunch.
Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the opportunity to engage in work or educational activities particularly helps to lift older people out of depression.
The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing. Why not learn something new today? Here are a few more ideas:
- Find out something about your colleagues
- Sign up for a class
- Read the news or a book
- Set up a book club
- Do a crossword or Sudoku
- Research something you’ve always wondered about
- Learn a new word.
Participation in social and community life has attracted a lot of attention in the field of wellbeing research. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.
Research into actions for promoting happiness has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing.
Employers’ role in mental health
Employers can make a difference too.
To spot potential signs of mental ill-health, it’s vital that managers have regular training – ideally at least once a year. Research and understanding are constantly changing so an annual refresher course will help managers stay up to date with the latest thinking, and cost businesses a lot less than repeated employee absences. You can find full details of the Mental Health training courses we offer, along with Mental Health First Aid accreditation, here.
Additionally, we have a number of webinars in the resources section of our website that can help managers to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and enable effective conversations. Take a look, here.