Wellness in the Workplace
I recently read the story of Leona Goddard, a UK Nurse who committed suicide after spiraling into depression from being overworked and loathing in self doubt. Despite praise from her peers, Leona was insecure in her qualifications and ultimately chose to take her life, instead of seeking help to cope with the pressures of her responsibilities.
The unfortunate reality is mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are very common. Right now, I'm willing to bet you know at least two people struggling with something mental health related and you may not even know it. It's not necessarily your business to know, however we live in a time where talking about mental health is just starting to be okay, yet it hasn't quite become cool and accepted without scrutiny.
Our work environment is often one of our greatest stressors in daily life. According to the American Psychological Association, occupational stress costs employers more than $300 billion/year through absenteeism, illness and productivity....read that again.
The good news is we are taking time off when affected (ever hear of a "mental health day" anyone?). The bad news is, we likely aren't doing enough to treat the root cause, and this could be due to a variety of factors: lack of resources (or knowledge of), flexibility with your employer, etc.
If your employer doesn't make Wellness a priority you need to head for the exit. Wellness isn't a one size fits all kinda program... it needs to be tailored to your unique industry and population. For example, if you work for a manufacturing facility in a rural area, it would be difficult to implement Yoga Wednesdays. Regardless of where you work, your employer should have some form of initiative showing they give a damn about you and your mental, social, financial, and physical health.
How do you know if your company shows an interest in your wellness? If you say yes to any of the below, your company is doing something (the more somethings the better!) to invest in your wellbeing.
- 401(k) match
- HSA/FSA company contribution
- Tuition reimbursement
- Gym membership reimbursement
- Free fruit / healthy snacks
- Exercise groups/breaks
- Happy Hours
- Flexible work hours
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Standing desks
- Mandatory vacation usage
- Outdoor working spaces
- Charity donations
- Random giveaways
The list could continue, but I hope you get the idea. In a nutshell, you want your employer to provide tools that give you a break from work, or make working easier to improve your overall health. You can check with your HR/Benefits department for a review of your available wellness resources.
Another resource you could turn to is meditation. When we are struggling from external factors, looking inward is a great way to refocus. Meditation teaches you how to watch your reactions so that you can be more attentive and deliberate in your response to actions you cannot control. For help on mediation, you can click the affiliate link below. Since this post contains affiliate links, we may receive a commission if you click the link and purchase something we have recommended.
If you're ever sitting at work feeling trapped, like you're drowning and there's no way out, I advise you to leave, immediately. Speak to your manager and tell them you need to go home. It's better to remove yourself from this atmosphere and regroup, than to allow yourself to spiral downward. I get it - sometimes my unopened email and constant ringing phone can be overwhelming. I feel like I should be able to handle this. Here's a news flash: We Are Human... we get burnt out, overworked, exhausted and worn. it's completely normal.
No one is going to take care of your wellbeing more than you. You're a grown up now - act like it. I tend to carry the load of others and put myself last so when I fall, I fall hard. I had to learn I can't be there for everyone else if I'm not there for me. Remember, you know how much you can take mentally and physically- don't be afraid to decline, or to ask for help.