April is Stress Awareness Month, the perfect occasion to share the message on mindful business, and laying foundations for more zen in the office.
Did you know that 74% of UK adults have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope with stress in the last year? If you think these are eye-opening stats, there is more. 32% of adults said they had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress, with 16% of adults admitting of self harm as a result.
Stress has been linked to varied diseases from anxiety and depression to heart disease, insomnia and digestive problems, costing the NHS around 165,000 bed days and the tax payer £71.1m in a year.
So how can we solve the stress issue in the workplace, you ask? The first step would be opening the dialogue between management and their staff, followed by a real, deep treatment at the root.
Therapists and life coaches can cater to companies with mental health programmes to enhance wellbeing at work, such as London-based NLP coach Puja K McClymont whose Frankly Engaged programme helps organisations invest in the personal development of team members and ultimately prevent burnouts. The programme is a partnership with companies aiming to better engage employees, increase motivation and staff retention, and enhance productivity by aligning both company and employee goals.
In honour of Stress Awareness Month McClymont is offering a reduced rate of her Coach &GO service for employees of companies that sign up to the Frankly Engaged programme, to help employees manage work and personal lives by transforming the way they think for higher productivity through sustainable changes.
Work stress can also be reduced by implementing a conscious, mindful central culture that is aligned with the business, management and staff. The Vitality Test creator and Kindness Ambassador Nick Haines has years of experience implementing kindness in the workplace, but a corporate culture needs to be tailor-made for the business, or it could have disastrous results on the team’s mental health. “You have to make sure that the culture you want to adopt matches the person at the top. There has to be a natural fit and an alignment or you’re going to create stress in the individual and stress within the business” explains Haines.
Opening the dialogue between employers and their staff starts with a good knowledge of what a burnout looks like, being able to spot early signs and creating a safe space to discuss the issue. After all, it is the managers’ role to keep an eye on employees’ wellbeing and overall happiness at work, as much as it would be expected from human resources.
Entrepreneurs themselves carry their burden of stress and anxiety, sometimes ending in a permanent state of stress, or in other cases reaching burnout (or a life-altering turning point in their career). Author Helen Rebello is sharing their voices throughout the month of April in her new pop-up podcast The Turning Point, a collaborative community project designed to help listeners navigate life’s turning points with less stress & more ease. In the podcast, entrepreneurs and creatives share their personal take on how they navigated their messy moments, and emerged the other side, in the hopes of giving stressed-out individuals inspiration and tools to find peace in their process.
Stress Awareness Month is the time to study errors of the past and start incorporating steps for more happiness, fulfilment, communicating and understanding in the office. Being aware of employee wellbeing is one of the ground rules of mindful business, and goes beyond the month of April. Stress also goes beyond work in many cases, and can be eased up by adopting a healthier and more holistic lifestyle. Mindful living goes hand in hand with mindful business, and a healthy, stress-free life starts at home.
Burnouts give us signs that our bodies cannot handle the build up of stress anymore, and call for immediate action. “One of the challenges we face is that when illness knocks on our door we get obsessed with our bodies instead of looking at disciplining our minds” explains ChriSOULa Sirigou, author of The Book of Soulful Musings. “If we can focus on our minds, we can free ourselves from limiting beliefs, the thoughts that rule the way we perceive who we are, our past and our relationships with both family and work.”
Businesses can now bring life coaches to work, send employees on retreats, empower staff through workshops and participate in health and wellbeing events designed to boost happiness in the workplace – so there should be no excuses for another peak of stress in the UK in 2019. And if burnouts are bound to happen when signs of great stress have been ignored for a long time, they can be of great value and be turned around as strength. It can be the starting point of a new career or lay the groundwork for an exciting new mindful business respecting human wellbeing at all levels of the hierarchy.