5 tips to help reduce employee stress

The mental health challenges facing employees–and in fact facing everyone–during the past 13 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been well-documented. This week, as the second Mental Health Awareness Month of the pandemic begins, many employers are turning toward helping alleviate those challenges.

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Andrew Shatté

That’s because, as Andrew Shatté of meQuilibrium puts it, “Taking care of yourself is not a luxury–it’s a necessity. Yet self-care is often the first thing to go when life gets busy.”

Concerns for HR leaders that accompany that include employee burnout, workplace stress and a lack of support for managing stress, based on Mental Health America’s 2020 Work Health Survey. And although the survey finished in September, the need for taking care of workers’ mental health remains, says Shatté, Ph.D., and meQuilibrium’s chief knowledge officer and co-founder.

“We are at a crucial moment in the pandemic when it comes to mental health,” he says. “While hope is on the horizon, we are still observing a continued slide in well-being and motivation, and a decreasing ability to handle self-care.”

What it means to HR leaders

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With depression and anxiety rising, now is a good time to offer some tips to help workers–and yourself–let go of tension and anxiety. Here are five tips from Shatté.

  1. Create meaningful transitions. Take at least 30 minutes after work to relax and move slowly from work to home. He suggests sitting or lying down and meditating.
  2. Break a sweat. Release anxiety throughout the day with stretching or bodyweight exercises in the morning and some stretches at your desk throughout the day.
  3. Experience something beautiful. This can be small or big, real or planned. Almost anything qualifies, from eating a nutritious meal to watching a beautiful sunset to listening to a favorite piece of music or even reading a travel book to inspire you to plan a post-pandemic trip.
  4. Live in the moment. Written like a master of mindfulness, Shatté suggests spending five minutes a day focused on what’s happening in your life right now–not tomorrow or yesterday. “Life is about good times and bad,” he says. “They are all part of the tapestry.”
  5. Embrace gratitude and positivity. Wrap up each day by focusing on compassion for everyone around you and by remembering that “we are all doing our best.”

Managing employee mental health also is on the agenda for HRE’s upcoming Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, taking place virtually from May 11-13. A panel of leaders will discuss “The Workplace Mental Health Crisis: How COVID-19 Made Things Worse and What Happens Next” on May 12. And Arianna Huffington, author and founder of global wellness company Thrive Global, will talk about resilience and managing anxiety with Mastercard CHRO Michael Fraccaro.

For more and to register for the free, virtual event, visit benefitsconf.com.

Elizabeth Clarke
Elizabeth Clarke is executive editor of Human Resource Executive. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Florida and then spent more than 25 years as a reporter and editor in South Florida before joining HRE. Elizabeth lives with her family in Palm Beach County. She can be reached at eclarke@lrp.com.