Week 2 Healthy Minds need Healthy Bodies
The Body -Mind Connection: Our physical health, feelings, and thoughts are connected to our general health and well-being. A healthy body leads you to a healthy mind - and a much happier life.
Little changes, big results! Being healthier doesn't have to mean revamping your entire lifestyle. Sometimes all it takes is a few simple changes. From eating more vegetables to laughing with a colleague, these quick-and-easy tweaks to your everyday health regime can make a huge difference in the way you feel and your mental well-being.
Explore the concept of “mental fitness”. The New Brunswick Health & Education Research Group defines mental fitness as a person’s capacity to be self-determined. Self-determination refers to a person’s capacity to think about, plan, and act on personal decisions that contribute to emotional, social, and physical development (Source: http://www.gnb.ca/0131/pdf/w/HERG%20Mental%20Fitness.EN.pdf)
Physical activity is an essential component in building and sustaining mental fitness.
Research says that physical activity helps maintain and improve wellbeing in a number of ways
- Physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows that it can also help protect people against depression and anxiety.
- Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.
- Some scientists say that being active can help improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control, and the ability to rise to a challenge.
Encourage employees to embrace the physical and mental health benefits of exercise by participating in a range of events held in your workplace to help them understand the body – mind connection and mental health in the workplace.
Try a few of the following activities to improve your workplace’s psychological health and safety by building awareness of the body-mind connection:
Celebrate ‘Healthy Body- Healthy Mind’
In your workplace with a recognition event/incentives for employees/teams/work areas that actively promote sport and exercise as a means of maintaining good mental wellbeing. The Canadian Mental Health Association offers these mental fitness tips: http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/mental-fitness-tips/#.US5hVY7ue-8 .
Body –Mind Connection
Hand out fliers highlighting the link between good mental health and sport, while also providing employees with information about who to contact if they (or someone they know) struggles with depression or other mental illness.
Log in to CHWM Dashboard
Create your own personal and/or your teams Dashboard of activity goals, note the tactics and resources that will help you, and schedule regular check-ins. By all means, share your aspirations and your progress with your team through the CHWM Dashboard.
Start running yourself or a run club with Couch to 5K podcasts . http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/mental-benefits-of-exercise.aspx
Bring Back Play
Promote physical activity in your workplace and access a variety of customizable marketing tools. Print ads, radio scripts, social media posts, and more can be downloaded from the Tool Kit. Add their own branding and message to be part of the movement to Bring Back Play. http://www.participaction.com/resources-partners/toolkit/
Stand Up for Your Health
Encourage your colleagues and work teams to take breaks during the day and start standing more! Build awareness of the serious health concerns for sitting too long and/or a sedentary lifestyle. Check out JustStand.org for activities to do in the workplace and/or videos to build awareness.
Steps Count Challenge
Track your steps and award prizes for not the top stepper, most improved, best attitude, etc. http://www.participaction.com/resources-partners/toolkit/
Lunch Hour Strolls
Some people just need to be told there’s a group going for a stroll! Pick a destination or route. Count your steps with a ParticipACTION pedometer. Related resource: Walking: Still Our Best Medicine
Try a Team Building Sport
Have employees sign-up for after-work activities like rock climbing, laser tag or dodge ball to increase physical activity and enhance teamwork skills. Debrief after the challenges.
Ask the Expert
Hire a personal trainer to come into your office. Have the personal trainer answer questions on how to achieve a healthy strong body and show employees a variety of exercises.
Have a Spa Day
Bring a spa technician into the office. Ask employees to sign up for a free 20-minute mini massage, mini-facial or mini-manicure.
Healthy Lifestyles Lunch & Learn Seminars
Bring a Registered Dietician in to speak on the glycemic index. Find an interesting wellness-related topic and the lunch crowd will be eating up the new information.
Try a company-wide stretch break program. Bringing in a fitness expert to lead your colleagues through an energizing stretch routine appropriate to your workplace. Related resource: Stretches For the Active Workplace, Stretches For the Office Workplace
Start a Checklist of Good Work Habits
How much water do you drink? How often do you stretch? How often do you break and change your focus? How frequently do you take a proper lunch break? Check your list for a week and make gradual changes if required. Related resource: EATracker.ca
Take Back the Lunch Break
Encourage people to eat a healthy meal away from their desk. Explain the benefits of getting away from your work, eating with friends or going for a quick walk. Often taking a break will make you more creative and productive. Related resource: Eat Well, Live Well
Distribute pamphlets to build awareness on the link between healthy eating/physical activity and mental health.
On-site health fair with health risk assessment screening tools available. Check Up from the Neck Up is an easy to use, online, private, mental health check-up. See www.checkupfromtheneckup.ca. Check employee stress see Quick Quiz: 5-minute Stress Test see http://wmhp.cmhaontario.ca/printable-resources
Develop a Healthy Workplace Policy
A policy that promotes the well-being of employees ensures that Healthy Workplace Month happens year round. See www.excellence.ca for details on Healthy Workplace.
Take Your Break
Subscribe to weekly emails that contain suggestions for activities to do during assigned break times that are known to have positive impact on your mental and/or physical health. www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com