COVID-19 has changed the routine for many, especially for employees who are struggling to maintain a proper work-life balance. People who had a tough keeping up with their healthy habits and staying physically active were finding it difficult to cope with the sudden changes. In addition to impacting physical health, the pandemic has affected employee mental health too.
A JAMA study showed that the depression symptoms increased to 28% since the pandemic started in 2020. Another study proved that 53% of US adults were stressed and had anxiety bouts due to the pandemic that impacted their mental health. The most mental health issues were –
- 12% – Worsened chronic conditions
- 12% – Increased alcohol consumption
- 18% – Frequent headaches or stomach aches
- 32% – Poor appetite and overeating
- 36% – Difficulty in sleeping
With the remote working situation, it has become easy for employees to fall prey to unhealthy habits. Right from the lack of physical activity to the easy availability of unhealthy snacks at home, spending more time alone, and juggling between multiple responsibilities, it has impacted employee health and wellbeing.
Employers, through corporate wellness programs, can offer all the support required for the employees to overcome their distractions, and to take control of their health and wellbeing.
Here are some simple actionable ways that employers can promote through their corporate wellness programs to help employees re-prioritize their health and wellbeing, and get even with those unhealthy habits.
- Break the Habits Gradually and Compassionately
Changes do not happen overnight. Also, negative feelings and lack of confidence are what discourages many people from following their plans to achieve their goals. The first step to getting healthy is to change the negative mindset and start having compassion for yourself and others. Weight loss and exercise routines call for patience and consistency. With no immediate results seen, it can add to anxiety, often leading to stress and unhealthy eating habits. Set short-term goals and stop focusing on stressful thoughts. Shifting the focus away from negative to positive thoughts can help in reducing stress and improve overall physical and mental health.
Employers can provide daily tips and articles to motivate employees as a part of their corporate wellbeing programs through their wellness program platform, mobile devices, or internal messengers. They can also conduct counseling sessions to motivate employees and reduce their stress.
2. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
Setting actionable and achievable goals can affect the wellness journey. Many health coaches set S.M.A.R.T. goal methods into their corporate wellness programs.
Specific – Set specific and refined goals Evaluate and understand the health and wellness goals like weight loss parameters, BMI, etc. Consult a nutritionist or physician for a detailed insight into these details. Depending on the vitals, plan your behavioral changes like quantified diet, exercise routines, etc.
Measurable – The specific goal you are setting must be measurable so that it can be easily tracked during the entire wellbeing journey. These goals and actions can be tracked via wearable devices or fitness apps that can be synced with the corporate wellness program platform.
Attainable – To accomplish the goals successfully, they must be attainable. For example, if you are a beginner at exercising, setting goals to achieve 10K steps daily may be difficult to start with. Set the goals depending on the body’s capabilities, and keep readjusting it gradually with newer goals.
Relevant – Understanding the relevance and importance of the goal, and its benefits will help in staying motivated and achieve the goal without giving up. For example, when you understand the harmful effects caused by smoking for your health and to that of your family around, you are more likely to give up on it and stick to your quit-smoking goals.
Time-Bound – To make it more reasonable and achievable, it is important to set time-frames to check the progress regularly. However, the time limits must be feasible and sensible. Setting very high ambitions in an irrelevant timeframe may cause more harm than benefits. For example, setting a goal of losing 10 kgs of weight in one month is not only very difficult to achieve, but also will do more harm to the body and its metabolism through the plan.
3. Prioritizing Mental Health
Holistic wellness can be achieved when all health and wellbeing aspects are taken care of, including mental health. The recent pandemic has emphasized the impact of mental health on physical and overall wellbeing. It can also affect the body’s immune system, making it more prone to infections and illnesses. Long-term mental health issues can also be detrimental to building a healthy lifestyle, and in the long run, it can also affect heart and brain health.
Many employers have now prioritized employee mental health, and they are offering mental wellbeing initiatives as a part of the employee wellbeing programs. These initiatives may include wellness challenges ideas and activities to improve sleep patterns, stress management, socializing, better lifestyle habits, and also help in seeking appropriate therapies.
4. Build A Proper Routine
Following a routine is crucial to achieving the goals, creating an enduring change, and leading a disciplined lifestyle. The healthy habits adopted through the employee wellbeing programs and the wellness challenges must be sustainable and long-lasting. Set actions that are really achievable in the routine. For instance, it may not be possible to run every day in the morning, but it may be possible to spend 15 minutes at any time throughout the day for meditation. Just having a 5-minute morning routine can offer many health benefits. Make sure the routine is aligned with your priorities, time, and work schedule, to make sure the routine can be followed with commitment.
5. Get A Good Night’s Sleep Daily
The body repairs the whole day’s wear and tear while sleeping. Studies show that sleeping for 7 – 8 hours every night plays a huge role in minimizing the effect of depression, anxiety, and stress. Just like eating healthy and exercising is important for a healthy body, sleeping well also has its own set of benefits for overall health and wellbeing. Employers can offer Better Sleep initiatives through their corporate wellness programs with wellness challenges, tips, and activities that can help them relieve stress and sleep better.
Taking charge to live a healthier lifestyle requires patience and persistence, along with a combination of healthy mental and behavioral changes. Corporate wellness programs have become very common, and the outcomes have proven their effectiveness in building healthier lifestyles. Make sure you get the best employee wellbeing programs, like Wellness360, for your workplace from wellness vendors who offer comprehensive solutions, including assessments, screenings, holistic wellness challenges, and other wellness modules that can help your employees achieve their wellness goals, and improve business ROI in many ways.