8 Ideas to Build Healthy Minds at Work

James Wilson
December 3, 2019
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Staying healthy at work is important – especially since the average Brit spends 9.4 years of their life at the office. Here are eight great ways to promote healthy minds.

If you are a business director, you know the importance of looking after employee health. Sickness absences cost money and presenteeism – showing up for work when you should really take some downtime – can slow productivity and kill creativity.

The benefits of promoting employee mental health go far deeper than money, though. A positive working environment filled with healthy minds improves quality of life for everyone.

Share knowledge

Stimulated minds tend to be healthier at all stages of life, so creating a culture of learning can help to keep you and your coworkers happy and healthy. Even C-suite directors can benefit from taking time out each week to develop a new skill or experiment with a new type of software.

Just as cardiovascular exercise is good for the heart, learning is good for the brain – and strong minds often perform better.

Invite an inspiring guest speaker

Optimists live longer – that’s according to a series of studies that have investigated the link between positivity and health. The challenge for decision-makers is how to promote positive thinking among their workers, which is less straight-forward.

One method leaders are beginning to embrace is inviting a guest speaker to share infectious inspiration with the whole office. Bureaux such as Speakers Corner offer speakers with rags-to-riches stories that can give new energy to the staunchest of cynics.

Encourage work-life balance

Maintaining a work-life balance is arguably the single most important thing you can do to promote healthy minds at work. Many of the best things for mental health happen in your free time – like building positive relationships, pursuing a hobby or taking time out to be mindful.

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Employers can help to promote healthy relationships with work by encouraging workers to take regular holidays. Watch out for the names you always see on the overtime list.

Train a mental health first aider

Minds aren’t always healthy. Part of ensuring your workplace fosters mental health is to have provisions for people who are struggling. Training a mental health first aider can be a useful way to ensure your business can protect its workers’ minds.

Create time for exercise

The benefits of exercise for our mental health is second to none – and office work can lead to sedentary lives, which may be harmful to wellbeing. This is why it is so important to ensure time for movement is built into every day.

Consider incorporating walking breaks into the day or invest in a gym equipment employees can use at lunchtime.

Opt for a multi-space environment

Open-plan offices were once seen as the bright future of working environments, but we now understand that they speed up the spread of disease, create visual pollution and may even increase stress hormones such as cortisol if we always feel surrounded and exposed.

This type of work environment can be particularly harmful to certain people – such as introverts and people with autism spectrum disorders. More and more companies are recognising this, which is why multi-space offices are replacing the open-plan office.

Flexible working means creating spaces where employees can escape the bustle and find peace. Even something as simple as a well-thought-out floor plan can help to foster and protect healthy minds.

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Organise social events

On the flip side, humans are social creatures – we rely on cooperation to survive and thrive. That’s why loneliness is linked to so many health conditions. More and more leaders are recognising that the most attractive jobs don’t only pay the bills. Rather, great jobs provide an opportunity to socialise and work collaboratively.

One way to build structured social time into the working week is to organise events. Regular meetings, lunchtime movie clubs and annual parties all help. You can even kill two birds with one stone with light exercise classes – like office chair yoga.

Provide food for thought

The simple things can have a surprising effect on mental health – eat well, sleep well and you’re less likely to experience a fluctuating mood. At work, this can also help you to focus.

As an employer, it isn’t your job to lecture employees on healthy eating. You can inspire healthier choices, however. Try hosting a team breakfast before work or providing fresh fruit for everyone to enjoy at their desks. Replacing caffeinated drinks with filtered water is a simple way to promote good health, while the amino acids found in protein can help to keep our brains in great condition.

No matter which industry you work in, there are lots of simple things leaders can do to build healthy minds. As with any office project, the trick is to start small and consult with your coworkers. You may be surprised by how quickly the office atmosphere transforms.