The awareness and importance of stress and overall mental health was brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind this past year. Many companies and employees were caught in the COVID-19 react and respond mode. It’s only with some distance that we can reflect on the impact of stress and mental health on employee well-being, across all work environments, including the construction industry. The construction industry is extremely stressful with one of the highest reported rates of individuals experiencing burn out and depression.
I want to invite you to think of a time when you have had an increase in stress or experienced a mental health challenge. Think about how that experience impacted your daily habits and how you took care of yourself. Maybe the thought of having healthy nutrition felt too challenging, your sleep routine was probably disrupted, or you may have been less mindful of your surroundings and your safety. When we reach high levels of chronic stress, it can be more difficult to engage in healthy lifestyle choices and practice self-care.
The good news is that there are things that you can proactively do to help better manage your stress and mental well-being. Resiliency, a practice that has gained attention during the pandemic, is the ability to adapt to new environments and unexpected situations in our day-to-day experiences (Wellness Coaches Resiliency and Energy Balance Health Promotion Information). It is a proactive approach to improved well-being and can be learned and developed overtime. How can you cultivate the practice of resiliency and use it to help better manage your approach to mental well-being?
Individual practices to incorporate into your daily routine.
Engage in Self-Care – Self-care is not selfish! Think about when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant is going over the safety procedure when there is a drop in oxygen on the plan. What are you instructed to do? Put the mask on yourself first. When we tend to our own needs and feelings and engage in healthy daily habits, we have the strength to weather everyday challenges and the energy to show active care to others.
Practice Positivity and Gratitude – Resilient individuals are not those that have never struggled. They view change through a more positive lens, even when experiencing hard times. A good way to practice positivity and gratitude is to write down 5 things that you are thankful for. Keep this list in easy to see places, such as on your bathroom mirror or by your desk.
Expand Your Perspective – When facing a stressful situation, pause and ask yourself W.A.I.T. (What Am I Thinking?) before reacting. Practicing this mindful pause can help you become more aware of your emotions and the role that you are playing in the situation.
Workplace practices to help individuals better manage stress and mental well-being.
Wellness Coaching – As an onsite Wellness Coach, I have the opportunity to engage one-on-one with individuals and help guide them in developing ways to better manage stress and overall well-being. We explore strengths and weaknesses to create a plan of action and move towards a better view of self and well-being.
Wellness Programming focused on Stress and Mental Health – This helps to bring awareness and information to the workplace. I host monthly events such as lunch and learns exploring resiliency and self-care, live virtual guided meditations, and plan mental health awareness campaigns.
Mental Health First Aid – A certified Mental Health First Aider is able to recognize when someone may be experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis. They are trained at offering resources and providing support so that an individual receives the care they need – when they need it. A Mental Health First Aider is similar to someone trained and certified in Injury First Aid. We have reached many individuals needing support and have had great success in hosting onsite Mental Health First Aid trainings.
Employee Assistance Programs – There are times when an individual needs further professional support in managing stress and mental health. I have found that many employees are unaware of what their company’s Employee Assistance Program offers. EAP is a great resource (usually at no or very little cost to the employee) and is often underutilized. I keep an information packet on hand to provide to interested individuals. I also have a benefits representative come to the workplace and speak directly to interested employees. This helps to keep employees informed about existing services they can access.
Local Community Resources – Information from local community resources can be beneficial for employees. The local chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness, Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous and the Veteran’s Administration offer great resources and bring heightened awareness to mental health.
Stress and mental health challenges cannot be turned off and on like a light switch. Stress and mental health issues impact the daily lives of individuals – both personally and professionally, regardless of job title or income level. Personal experiences before work, during work, and after work matters and affects an individual in every part of their life. When providing support in the workplace, it is important to engage the complete individual with open communication, a wide array of services, and a proactive approach to managing stress and mental health.