360 Workplace

National Stress Awareness Day - 3 tips to improve workplace wellbeing

Today marks 2018’s Stress Awareness Day. A day which provides an opportunity to think about our workplace wellbeing and what we can do to improve it. Saskia Lorrison, Wellbeing Consultant at 360 Workplace gives 3 tips to improve workplace wellbeing.

According to an HSE report, it’s estimated that 526,000 people suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, and there was 12.5 million working days lost due to these issues in 2017. These statistics are not only concerning for the individual’s personal wellbeing, but also for a business’s bottom line.

It’s therefore important employers and employees alike talk about mental wellbeing and take steps forward to provide positive working environments, which consider all aspects of an individual’s personal wellbeing.

As a business, we assist clients to adopt WELL Building and Fitwel standards which contain many opportunities to reduce stress in the workplace. Here I share three top tips influenced by both standards that cost nothing and can be implemented right now on National Stress Awareness Day!

TIP 1 – OPEN THE BLINDS

There is a colleague of mine who, every morning when she comes in, opens all the blinds on the first floor of our office. I didn’t realise how beneficial this was until I visited a client who had small windows – the lack of daylight was incredibly noticeable, and the space felt cramped and claustrophobic.

Every morning, before you make a cup of tea, spend a couple of minutes opening the blinds around the office – do you know if they even work properly?!

During the winter months, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can result in symptoms such as persistent low mood, irritability and increased desire to sleep to name a few. Although the exact cause of SAD isn’t known, it is linked to the lack of sunlight during the shorter days. There is a part of your brain called the hypothalamus which controls the production of melatonin, serotonin & controls your circadian rhythm (aka internal body clock). The hypothalamus can be affected by lack of sunlight and therefore reduce, or altogether stop the production of the serotonin – a hormone that affects your appetite, sleep and mood. One of the treatments offered for SAD is a lightbox – so why not create your own in the office by opening the blinds!

TIP 2 – GO OUTSIDE

In our company, we encourage walking meetings – if there isn’t a meeting room available we will go on a 15-minute round walk to have a catch-up. It will surprise you how easy conversation flows and how creative you can get whilst on the move and outside in daylight. You can use this to destress by encouraging a digital detox – we all know that spending too much time in front of a screen is detrimental to one's health, so get out! Move around and focus your eyes on different objects at different distances. Get offline for half an hour and see how it feels.

I recently found a Bee House by our offices in London Bridge – an erected wooden shed put in place to house bees with a Bug Hotel close by. You never know what you will find on the walking routes near your office. Try creating a map to display in reception so other colleagues can see which walking routes/nice coffee shops/interesting outdoor places you have found. Some companies have purchased umbrellas to offer out to employees who wish to go outside on rainy days, to support the movement and exposure to daylight and fresh air. I would encourage everyone to take one meeting outside where possible and see what different ideas you come up with and where your local bee house is.

TIP 3 – BE SOCIABLE

Does your office have a book club? A company football team? Walking groups? All these things cost nothing and can be implemented tomorrow – all it takes is for one person to send that email out. Getting ‘cross-department’ clubs like this going breaks down the silos that exist in most organisations and can help you combat stress levels.

We used to have a team of “Culture Champions” but on reflection we felt that this sent a message to staff that our company culture was someone else’s responsibility. We made changes and now every member of staff is invited and encouraged to come forward with their own ideas; in recent months we have seen the rise of book clubs, Gen10 (celebrating those who have been with the company for 10+ years), a Pilates club and various walking groups across all offices.

Within our smaller team, we do Monday Lunchtime together – we go out and buy ingredients for a lunch that will feed all 5 of us (my favourite so far is two whole roast chickens from the Deli counter, avocados and Uncle Ben’s Mexican style rice). Together we prepare the food, dish up and spend an hour eating lunch together. This kind of socializing makes us feel valued and included, it reduces stress, increases productivity, keeps your brain sharp and has also been proven to give you more confidence. Need I say more?

So, what are you waiting for – try implementing these changes this National Stress Awareness Day!

All of these ideas have come directly from Fitwel and WELL Building standards – if you want to learn more about either of the standards or any other topics covered here please get in contact to find out more.

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Our B Corp Impact Report 2023/2024

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Creating a Workplace that Supports Mental Health

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