Every year, one in four of us will have a mental health problem according to Mind, with the COVID-19 pandemic placing further strain on our mental wellbeing. This means it is more than likely that a member of your team could be living with mental health issues.
Cheryl Lythgoe, Matron at Benenden Health, shares five useful tips to support positive wellbeing and help employees beat the January blues as we enter the New Year.
1. Let there be light
All forms of light and brightness can help us fight off the winter blues when the days are short and the nights are long.
With many teams now working from home, encourage your employees to think about their home set-up and encourage them to use more lamps and LED lightbulbs, which tend to be brighter than conventional bulbs and give off a more natural spectrum of light.
For those still in an office, make sure there is as much natural light as possible and encourage employees to take breaks to get into the open air when it’s still light. Walking meetings are also a great way of encouraging your employees to get outside.
2. Getting social
Social interaction is a well-known protector against all forms of depression, lowering blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. Encouraging your team to stay connected through regular video calls and team updates, if working from home, can help address feelings of loneliness and isolation in a month when spirits can be low.
3. Staying active
Whilst the dark days and cold weather can naturally put us off going outside to exercise, it is well documented that keeping active has mood-lifting effects that are as good as taking antidepressant medication.
To allow for the short days, consider introducing a flexible working policy, allowing employees to step away from their desk and get some fresh air whilst it’s still light outside.
4. Step away from the screens
A recent Ofcom report found that UK adults are currently spending a quarter of their waking day online – which is a new record high.
Ensure that employees always take time away from their desk for their lunch, encouraging them to get outside when possible, or promoting signing off from their computers on time.
5. Talk to someone
Consider training up mental health first aiders to support your teams throughout the year. There are also specialist organisations who employers can turn to who will be able to offer the support and advice that you and your staff may need. When looking for a provider of this service, you might want to consider whether they offer 24/7 telephone support as the team member affected might feel more comfortable raising an issue anonymously than raising it through their manager.