May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but mental health impacts workplace culture and performance all year long. This is why we want to share helpful ways to encourage conversations that de-stigmatize mental health and treatment, along with activities that can help you foster a thriving and flourishing culture.
Our suggestion: pick your top activities from below and activate them in your company.
1. Host a Stress Reduction Workshop
Stress can trigger health challenges that include everything from headaches to heartburn and insomnia to mental illness. Consider hosting a stress-reducing activity workshop. Your employees will benefit from learning new and helpful ways to handle stress!
2. Host a Well-Being Day
Host a day dedicated to well-being activities and exploration. You can keep it as simple as a mini-wellness benefits review with a light breakfast and an equally light workday. Or, have activities throughout the day designed to encourage well-being.
3. Gratitude Challenge
A regular gratitude practice is shown to improve optimism and improve mood. Those who do it on a consistent basis tend to feel better overall. Ask your employees to take part in a gratitude challenge. This can be as simple as journaling about three things they’re grateful for each evening. Or, you can have a virtual or in-person bulletin board where individuals leave anonymous notes of what they’re grateful for.
4. Pay Attention to the Positive Events Happening Every Day
Research shows we have three times more positive than negative events every day. But our minds have a “negativity bias,” so we notice the negative more than the positive. Challenge your employees to write down three good things that happened today, no matter how small they are.
5. Promote Random Acts of Kindness
Research shows that doing a kind act for another person is beneficial to mental health. Not only does it provide a momentary happiness boost to the person receiving it, but the person showing kindness also benefits. Showing kindness can boost optimistic feelings, confidence, and happiness. It may also have a domino effect that encourages others to show kindness, too.
6. Teach Breathing Techniques for Stressful Moments
Breathing exercises help to re-set the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for “flight or fight” responses. A popular and effective breathing technique is this: Breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and breathe out for eight seconds. Do this at least five times or however long it takes to feel better.
7. Share Positive Affirmations
Positive self-talk can help you handle anxious thoughts or stressful moments at work. Encourage your team to write and share their personal positive affirmations.
8. Create a Calming Workspace
Encourage your team to place objects on their desks that encourage calm presence: pictures of family, Post-It notes of your favorite mantras, or fidget toys. When we can keep things that help us feel better on hand, and create easy access to those items, it will help reduce stress and anxiety. If your office space allows, create a “Quiet Room,” where people can go to meditate or simply unwind.
9. Schedule “Calm Moments”
Encourage your employees to review their calendars and schedule moments throughout the day to reduce stress and re-set their mental focus. For example, 5 minutes of deep breathing before a big meeting, or scheduling the last 15 minutes of the workday to update To-Do Lists. This will help your employees to avoid thinking about work after their day ends because their To Do’s are already scheduled and noted.
10. Encourage Self-Care
Ask your employees to identify their personal self-care practices and schedule them. This makes their health and wellness a priority and will help them manage stress and anxiety. You may even encourage your employees to share their best practices to inspire new techniques and approaches.
This article does not constitute legal advice. It is strongly suggested that you seek consultation or legal counsel before making decisions about policies.