This year, Mental Health America marks its 70th year of celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month during the month of May.
With 1 in 5 adults experiencing a diagnosable mental illness in any given year (that’s over 60 million Americans), it’s hard to ignore the importance of mental health.
In 2018, major depressive disorder alone costs U.S. companies $210.5 billion. Health economists estimate that, by 2030, global mental health costs will top $6.0 trillion – that’s greater than the estimated economic burden of diabetes, respiratory disorders and cancer combined.
As the business case for employee mental health is strengthened, more companies are investing in workplace wellness programs to lower stress levels and encourage mental health. This is a smart investment: over 80% of employees who are treated for mental health conditions later report improved work efficacy and job satisfaction.
Increasingly, companies are looking to mitigate stress and enhance mental health through mindfulness: the secular, science-based practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Recent studies tout the benefits of mindfulness for reducing stress and anxiety levels, encouraging positive emotions, and bolstering social connections – all things we need for good mental health.
Try out these mindfulness-inspired tips to boost your mental health in the workplace:
- When You’re Stressed, S.T.O.P. – When you notice yourself stressed or frantic, that is actually a moment of mindful awareness. Instead of fighting against stress or strong emotions, S.T.O.P. and take a mindful pause:
- Stop what you’re doing
- Take a few deep breaths
- Observe your experience (thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations)
- Proceed with something that will support you in this moment.
- Make Mindfulness a Daily Activity – One way to practice mindfulness is to do so informally – to bring your full attention into activities that you already do every day such as eating a snack, talking to your co-worker, or walking from your car into the office. During these mindful activities, try putting away digital devices and focusing on bodily sensations and sensory inputs that arise. Practicing informal mindfulness trains your mind to experience the peace that can only be felt in the present moment.
- Look for What’s Right (Not What’s Wrong) – Our brains have evolved to protect us with a negativity bias, meaning our brains are wired to cling to bad memories and discount good ones. Practice being extra aware of the good things by pausing to be grateful during your day, even if it’s something as small as a co-worker who made you laugh or a nice cup of coffee or tea. A positive attitude at work will enhance your productivity and help you keep your stress levels down.
- Smile – You can change your state of mind by changing your state of body! Even a forced smile has been shown to release feel-good endorphins and lower blood pressure. Combat stress and boost mental health by remembering to smile several times a day.
- Sign Up for a Meditation Class – Mindfulness meditation has been shown to boost overall wellbeing and protect against mental illness. Learning how to meditate will empower you with practical tools to maintain optimal mental health. If you’re in the Dallas area, join me at Mastermind Meditate’s next in-person mindfulness meditation training: www.mastermindmeditate.com/programs.
Cultivating mental health is a lifelong journey. The good news? Research studies show that even one mindfulness meditation or mindful pause can lower your stress levels and boost your mood. During Mental Health Awareness Month, make a commitment to start incorporating these mindfulness tips into your workday for enhanced productivity and overall wellbeing.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close
As Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind Meditation, Dorsey Standish brings research-backed mindfulness and mindful movement to clients throughout the state of Texas. A lifelong learner and scientist, Dorsey has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the UT Dallas Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Master’s Program. After mindfulness transformed her own work, health and relationships, Dorsey left her corporate role at Texas Instruments to share the power of mindfulness with others full-time. Dorsey’s teachings combine neuroscience research with her experiences in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program and multiple weekend and 10-day silent meditation retreats. Join Dorsey for one of Mastermind’s upcoming applied mindfulness programs at mastermindmeditate.com/programs.