As a leader in the People area, this article about rising rates of anxiety, depression, and fatigue currently experienced by Americans really concerned me. While it is vital that each of us practice self-care, at an organisational level, we also must take care of our employees.
We spend most of our days at work, and this time is an opportunity to focus on supporting our mental wellbeing. People who experience challenges may not be in the frame of mind or be able to get help. As employers, we’re well positioned to provide assistance and support.
At Vitality Group, we’ve recently facilitated a number of masterclasses to help people cope during these strange and unsettling times. The topics we covered resonated with me and hopefully with many of the teams who joined in.
Executive coach and breath and mindfulness specialist Elizabeth Breuning-Ellis presented a masterclass about the pillars of resilience. This covered what we need to have in place to develop sufficient energy for optimised performance, as well as mental and emotional wellbeing.
We know that stressful times have a negative impact on exercise, nutrition, sleep – and the ability to switch off. We explored the idea of accepting these changes, and the neuroscience of habit formation to allow us to create purposeful routines that support an optimised physical, emotional, and mental state. I found this to be incredibly valuable as it taught me that we don’t need to add to the to-do list, but rather understand how creating simple routines can change our thinking, feeling and ability to cope well.
A stress and anxiety management workshop provided a practical understanding of how stress and anxiety manifests in our brain-body system, as well as offering breathing techniques and exercises to help us destress.
Finally, a mindfulness and meditation masterclass reinforced what has become one of the cornerstones of the purpose our Vitality Programme: developing our ability to be present in the moment using mindfulness and meditation – an essential skill for reducing stress, managing anxiety and creating a neurological environment that enables us to rest and recover.
We know that it’s essential to be able to switch off in an “always-on” world, where we are continually bombarded with information and demands. Unless we’re able to focus on the moment, reduce anxious thoughts and set up time-out, we risk decreased energy levels, anxiety, depression and even burn-out. By creating a calm physiological state, we’re able to focus better, think clearly, reduce inflammation in our bodies, and ensure quality rest and sleep.
We hope these tools will help those around us to manage this trying period in our history. And importantly, it tells our People that we know it’s not an easy time to navigate but that we’re there for each and every one of them.
Daniella Freinkel is the Head of People for the Vitality Group and Discovery Exec Office. She drives the international strategic Human Resources agenda, which includes creating business unit-specific Human Resources strategies, services and initiatives to support the Vitality Group culture, as well as the attraction, development, engagement and retention of top talent both locally and internationally. She has a passion for people development and traveling and during her No-Meeting Recharge Hour, you will find her reading or doing puzzles.