In 2018 the Mental Health Foundation published a UK-wide stress survey that indicated:
“74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.”
“32% of adults said they had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress”
“16% of adults said they had self-harmed as a result of stress.”
Stress is a part of everyone’s lives, and everyone copes with it differently. There are many reasons why we feel stressed and our ability to cope with stress can vary. It also doesn’t help that we are now living through a pandemic (with constantly changing rules) that has added to the uncertainty of our futures as well as affecting our day to day.
So how can employers help out their employees, because stress not only makes people less productive, but their mental health and wellbeing is important.
The importance of exercise
According to Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki (whose work has focused on understanding how aerobic exercise can be used to improve learning, memory and higher cognitive abilities in humans) “Exercise“has immediate effects on your brain. A single workout that you do will immediately increase levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. That is going to increase your mood right after that workout,”
She also describes in her TED talk that exercise helps brain functionality and focus.So why not encourage middle of the workday workouts?
Don’t worry about work time being lost though, the time your employees do spend working will now be more focussed and their mood will be increased. This doesn’t mean you will now need an office with a gym or Yoga instructors, perhaps just encourage your employees and yourself to go fora 30 min walk twice a day and if your employees are currently working from home they might even appreciate receiving a reminder to take their 30 min exercise breaks.
It is still important to remember that stress is everywhere and reducing is will not eliminate it, so check in with your employees about their mental health and create an ongoing dialogue so that employees feel safe to voice their struggles. Employees who feel valued are more willing to work harder and stay longer.