During this transitional and confusing time of reverting back to in-person or hybrid work, the subject of self-care is critical. As companies are trying to set policies around the vaccine and remote or hybrid work, it is important to remember that workers are still stressed. Now that summer is upon us, children are out of school and since not all children are vaccinated parents are in a quandary about allowing them to participate in summer camps. Furthermore, workers worry about the risk of contracting Covid from unvaccinated co-workers.
Why is helping employees thrive one of the most important parts of banishing burnout? Mental health is at the crux of ability to thrive, to succeed at work, and to have valuable personal relationships. When employees thrive, the company thrives. Stress impacts the bottom line, not only in healthcare costs, but also in corporate culture, morale, and the customer experience.
Mental self-care incorporates many different techniques from being kind to yourself, to seeking counseling and practicing daily writing. I am going to discuss some of the less popular facets: Sleep, Sun, and Writing.
Get a good night’s sleep. Stress impacts sleep, and sleep impacts stress. When your teams don’t get a good night’s sleep it is hard for them to think clearly and solve important work problems that require enormous amounts of creative energy.
You’ve probably heard that adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night for optimum health. But one in three do not get adequate amounts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those who don’t can develop chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress, according to Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health.
What can you do to help employees develop proper sleep habits? Nancy H. Rothstein, The Sleep Ambassador, recommends having a nightly sleep routine, that may include:
- Warm shower or bath
- Cup of sleep-friendly tea (caffeine-free or herbal)
- Relaxing book
- Sleep-conducive temperature (65 – 68 degrees)
- Consistent bed and wake time to support circadian rhythm
- Phone-free routine at least an hour before sleep
Get out in the sun. Did you know that the moment the sun hits your skin, Vitamin D is activated? As a matter of fact, Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the Sunshine Vitamin.
Besides powerful benefits to the body, such as strengthened immune system, supported cardiovascular system, and enhanced growth of muscles, brain, and more, Vitamin D also provides mental and emotional benefits:
- Boosted alertness
- Enhanced mental function and memory recall
- Reduced effects of depression
In terms of stress and anxiety, light improves the communication between various parts of the brain to help teams handle emotions. Furthermore, studies have shown that the more time one spends outdoors, the more serotonin and endorphins are released and the happier workers feel.
You can see how spending time outdoors is valuable for mental health. To help your workers get more sunshine, consider holding walking meetings or even outdoor Zoom or audio-only meetings. There is no reason not to spend 10 to 30 minutes per day outdoors, at least during the spring and summer months.
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Morning writing. Morning writing is something that Julia Cameron talks about in her book, The Artist’s Way. She calls it Morning Pages. Cameron suggests committing to writing only three pages. Once one starts, they often write more.
Daily writing helps to let go of any residual negativity from the previous day and to let go of worry over the day to come. Writing down feelings helps to clear the worry out of one’s consciousness.
Ridding workers of all the little worries is a critical form of self-care and stress reduction. Letting go is one of the keys to banishing burnout.
These three models of self-care: sleep, sun and writing are often overlooked and are hugely powerful for mental health. The sun impacts sleep. Sleep impacts energy and mood. And writing enhances mood by unleashing stressful feelings that can weigh one down.