World Mental Health Day 2022
Social and economic instability, threats to the natural environment, protracted conflicts, and public health emergencies are all affecting our well-being. On top of that, fall has arrived in the Northern hemisphere bringing about the loss of sunlight, greenery and summertime ease. Seasonal anxiety can be tough on our already stretched mental resources.
How can we take care of ourselves, employees and leaders through these times?
In observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10th, Potential Project is joining the global commitment to protect and improve mental health. The resources we've created for this occasion are dedicated to four areas that contribute to mental well-being: Nature, Joy, Belonging and Optimism. See below for some background, research, and tips to help improve well-being in these four areas.
1. Nature (Physical Well-being)
Be honest: How much time do you spend in front of a screen each day? For many of us, that number exceeds 10 hours, according to recent reports. Our increasing reliance on technology, combined with urban living, means we are spending ever less time outdoors.
Psychological research is clear: Time in nature increases happiness and subjective well-being, lowers stress, improves mood and positive social interactions, and even enhances a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Those who consciously retreat into nature for contemplative practice provide further insights into nature’s gifts for the human mind. Immersing ourselves in a new environment, away from the home and office, breaks our propensity towards the auto-pilot mode. Our awareness is called into action, and we can start to think creatively and see new possibilities.
2. Joy (Mental Well-being)
You may remember a situation where you felt relieved, despite a recent stressor, by a good laugh with friends or colleagues. This demonstrates the power of positive emotions to neutralize the impact of life’s stressful side.
There are many proven benefits of bringing more joy into our everyday lives and workplaces: Our social abilities expand, attitudes improve, and our self-efficacy increases, which in turn helps our job and relationship satisfaction. Laughter can also improve sleep quality – another vital piece to our mental health puzzle.
However, workplaces are suffering from a ‘joy gap’ whereby most employees would like to experience more joy at work than they currently do. Let’s reflect on what we can do – individually and together – to reap the benefits of joy.
3. Belonging (Social Well-being)
Today’s workplace is emerging from pandemic restrictions and hybrid arrangements, which have challenged human connections. Employees are feeling isolated and are seeking help to feel a sense of shared identity with colleagues and managers. Belonging has always been a top driver of happiness and engagement, and it is even more important now than before.
We belong at work when we are seen for our unique contributions, connected to our coworkers, supported in our daily work and career development, and proud of our organization’s values and purpose. Research shows that a sense of belonging allows us to get more from working life, be more resilient, and to contribute greater levels of performance.
To counter disengagement and boost well-being in your workplace, consider how you can contribute to a sense of inclusion and cohesion, and help everyone feel appreciated.
4. Optimism (Spiritual Well-being)
During prolonged periods of uncertainty or crisis, maintaining optimism can seem out of reach. But to persevere through turbulent seasons, companies need people who believe that the world will change for the better.
This mindset can be cultivated or trained, and it can become an important advantage when facing hardships. Wise (or realistic) optimism is especially helpful for dealing with setbacks and emerging stronger. It encourages us to acknowledge the current situation as difficult and then to find the confidence to move forward.
With wise, as opposed to blind (or naïve), optimism, we do not miss the negatives but instead disengage from problems that appear unsolvable and attend to those that we can solve. We see the glass half-empty and also half-full. This broadens our perspective and makes it possible to create strategies for the present moment as well as a long-term situation.