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Could a holistic approach to wellbeing ease ‘back to the office’ anxiety?

Could a holistic approach to wellbeing ease ‘back to the office’ anxiety?

Holistic. I’m not sure why but this word for me conjures up images of aromatherapy. Shoving aside for the moment my own inaccurate linguistic interpretations, organisations are increasingly taking a more ‘holistic’ approach to their people’s wellbeing. That is, they’re taking a view which looks beyond mere physical health and its symptoms and instead considers the emotional, social and spiritual aspects of wellbeing, too.

And that has to be cause for celebration.

We’re lucky to partner with some fantastic organisations that really ‘get’ how a healthy body isn’t enough to stay well – a healthy mind is an equally important part of the jigsaw. Long before the phrases ‘COVID-19’ and ‘social distancing’ began dominating our daily conversations, we witnessed an increase in the number of clients seeking our support on a range of diverse wellbeing programmes – Anglo American’s powerful suite of mental health videos being just one example.

As the coronavirus pandemic began to grip, we saw this growing commitment to wellbeing increase further still. And it’s easy to see why. In March 2021, around 62% of UK adults reported feeling anxious or worried. By mid-April, one in five adults reported drinking more alcohol than normal.

In May, as people began to finetune their self-preservation strategies, 53% of adults said they felt worried. And by December 2020, 43% of people reported suffering from depression.

Many of us are now gearing up for a return to our communal offices. When that does happen, we need to be mindful that almost two thirds of employees are feeling anxious about setting foot through the door.

Yes, many of us have been missing those real-life, real-time water cooler moments. But equally, some of us have discovered homeworking has actually benefitted our wellbeing – and now we’re panicking about letting that go.

Thankfully, with a little time and focus we can all support each other to give our minds and bodies a boost.

At H&H, we’ve channelled our creativity and deep understanding of human psychology to create a wealth of wellbeing resources that everyone can pick up and run with – wherever they are working, whatever their ability and regardless of whether they favour adrenaline-fuelled activities, doodling on sticky notes, Netflix binges or dancing like nobody’s watching.

Are you ready to make wellbeing part of your everyday? Here are some of our top tips:

1. Get creative

Did you know cooking is a mindful activity? Or that leaving a positive review online can lower your blood pressure and flood your brain with happy hormones? Wellbeing doesn’t (and probably shouldn’t) have to involve blood, sweat, tears or even a hint of Lycra. So, if your ideas about how to promote a healthy body and mind extend only as far as exercise or breathing techniques then have a scout around. There’s loads of inspiration out there. Sudoku, doodling, random acts of kindness and even whipping up a baking disaster can all feed your mind with the kind of hormones that can ease anxiety and boost happiness.

2. Pick ‘n’ mix

You might love a 10km run every Sunday or turning your front room into an impromptu art workshop, complete with oil paints and metre-high canvases. Both are great at boosting wellbeing. Yet the sheer thought of such activities might bring out your colleagues in a cold sweat. It sounds obvious but if you are planning to encourage your co-workers to practise mindfulness or get out in the great outdoors, make sure you offer a selection of options that’ll float everyone’s boat.

3. Give it a nudge

I’m not into yoga. At all. And yet whenever H&H organise a spot of impromptu desk yoga I’m there – and I always feel amazing afterwards. And yet this isn’t enough for me to go off and buy my own yoga mat. Quite simply, I need a nudge. And being invited to spend time doing something with my colleagues, during working hours, is the perfect nudge for me. Why not try blocking out an hour in people’s diaries and inviting them to a virtual fika? If it’s a choice between looking at those spreadsheets they’ve been putting off for days or joining in a virtual art session, you might be surprised how many people are suddenly game – and how much they enjoy the experience!

The same ‘nudge theory’ applies to healthy eating. Telling people how much sugar is in the chocolate bar they’re chomping on isn’t likely to encourage them to pick up an apple instead. But leaving a bowl of tempting-looking fresh fruit at eye-level might do.

4. Have fun, be empathetic

Giving people the time, resources and support to focus on their mental and physical wellbeing is important. Offering a range of engaging activities to help them do this is a bonus. But this is in no way suggesting this is all that’s required to make sure everyone stays happy, healthy and well. One in four of us will experience mental health issues in any given year. Depression and anxiety, and loneliness and stress, can make the world feel like a very bleak and uncomfortable place. People suffering from such need empathy, understanding and the right support. For help and advice about how to best help yourself or your colleagues, organisations such as Mind or the Mental Health Foundation are a great starting point.

Are you ready to shake up your approach to wellbeing? For more inspirational tips, or to find out how we can support you.

Meet the author

Catherine Lea

With an extensive background in journalism prior to setting up shop at H&H, it’s safe to say words have played a leading role in my career. As a copywriter, I love playing around with language to communicate exciting messages in the most compelling way. I find great joy in interpreting complex client briefs and finding the best words to condense them into simple but inspiring communications that everyone can understand.