Self-Regulation is the Solution to Stress Management and Great Mental Health
What is Stress
Stress is the human body’s natural response when one is dealt with challenging situations and high levels of mental and emotional pressure. Large levels of stress over extended periods of time can cause detrimental effects on one’s mental and physical health. Today more than ever it is a major cause of mental and physical health issues, relationship breakups, productivity declines and general enjoyment of life (Health Direct Australia). Within today’s Australia it is extremely common for full-time employees to experience high levels of work-related stress, and according to Safe Work Australia; “more professionals make claims for mental stress than any other factor, and a third of these claims are due to work pressure” – this is no small issue.
Small levels of stress can be seen to increase productivity however large levels of prolonged stress can lead to mental and physical illness and exhaustion (Mental Health Foundation, 2015).
The Statistics on Stress is Alarming and Will Move You to Act Now!
The National Health Survey 2017–18 estimated that 4.8 million Australians had a mental or behavioural condition. Females made up a higher proportion of mental health conditions by 22% to males. 3.2 million Australians have reported themselves to have an anxiety-related condition, which is an increase from 11.2% in 2014-15 and one in ten people have reported to be depressed or have had feelings of depression, which has increased from 8.9% in 2014-15.
Furthermore it has been recorded by Beyond Blue that 21% of Australians have requested leave from work in the past twelve months due feeling “stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy”. It is also stated that whilst 91% of Australian employees believe that mental health within a workplace is of importance, only 52% believe that their place of work is truly mentally healthy. This shows that there is an extremely large proportion (48%) of employees who do not regard their workplace to be beneficial to their mental health, exposing an extremely pressing issue when taking into consideration that depressive disorders are predicted to be the leading cause of the global burden of disease by 2030 (World Federation for Mental Health, 2012). Looking outside of Australia we see this prediction to already be a reality in the USA, where more than three in four U.S. employees (76%) have dealt with issues negatively affecting their mental health, according to a new survey from the American Health Association (AHA).
SELF-REGULATION: THE SOLUTION
Using the facts and statistics presented above I was called on to develop FLOURISH®: The Ultimate Wellbeing Program – a scientifically validated and evidence based set of rituals that go beyond talk therapy, office design, benefit schemes and asking people ‘R U OK?’, which all help of course, but have been an incomplete solution to the pandemic that is stress (as evidenced by the alarming numbers presented above).
The solution includes reflective techniques and self-diagnostics which allow deep self-reflection through self-awareness that empowers you to pick up on stress triggers and immediately respond with scientifically-validated practices to bring immediate peace to your mind. Sounds simple right? It is.
We went further with FLOURISH® to give everyone the opportunity to infuse their brains with mental serenity and focus through scientifically-validated breath mastery, chants, and authentic mindfulness that calls on ancient meditation techniques normally not available in Western societies.
We took it further to incorporate physical exercise to build muscle and stretches to relieve aches and pains and to bring balance between the body and its connection to your mind, emotion, and your purpose. FLOURISH® incorporates exercises to shape an ethical standard in the character of the participants. The decision to incorporate building an ethical framework was due to the fact that I noticed in my work as CEO and Executive Coach, this exercise has had one of the biggest impacts on people’s lives. Leaders just love having a clear set of moral virtues to live by as their ethical platform. FLOURISH® did something that we all crave, it allowed people to explore and find answers to the deepest of questions which include 1. Who am I? and 2. Why am I here? 3. What was I born to do? People are wowed when they discover their true nature and how to bring harmony between the good you, passionate you and the ignorant or lazy you that is within all of us.
As Tao Te Ching said, “Knowing your self is true wisdom. Mastering yourself is true power”, and this is the goal of FLOURISH® to empower employees with the wisdom and power to be their best self (happy, compassionate, resilient and grateful).
Best of all, we are finding that people are thriving in their own company, which is so important in times of isolation, as well as in groups. The course deliberately has you assess the impact of the people around you on your life and teaches you how to attract positive, empathetic and compassionate people to you. Here are three quotes from participants of FLOURISH®:
“Flourish is powerful! I’m definitely not the same person I was when I first started this course, I’ve grown, transformed 100% through this journey. I don’t get panic attacks anymore! Flourish has you master your mind.” – Mark Findlay
“Before Flourish, getting out of bed was the most difficult thing. I often thought ‘oh my God, I have to live another day.’ But after Flourish, I realised my life is beautiful. This methodology is amazing.” – Ashita Gandhi
“I am so thankful to Flourish, it gave me the ability to live a joyous life. Flourish and all of Rise Warrior Rise taught me a practical way to not to be shaken when my world was shaking around me. Roh is a human being of a different calibre. I am blown away by Roh’s love and teachings, he is the best.” – Tony Jacobson
Not everyone has access to self-regulation based programs such as FLOURISH®, empowering you to implement the frameworks and rituals as part of your daily life (at home and work). Unfortunately when you do not take charge of your own mental wellbeing, the implications are horrible where nearly 1 in 10 Australians are now on anti-depressants (Sydney Morning Herald), alcohol and drugs.
Office Workers Are Most At Risk
Many employees – office workers in particular are at risk of very sedentary lifestyles due to their line of work requiring to remain seated indoors for a large portion of the day. A sedentary lifestyle is known to correlate to an increased risk of various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, higher risk of developing mental illness, weight gain and overall degradation of health (Rimmer, 2016).
The obvious way to counteract or, at the very least decrease, the effects of a sedentary lifestyle is to participate in regular patterns of physical activity. Regular physical activity leads to many great physical rewards on the body; these including weight control, a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the strengthening of muscles, improved respiratory function and an increased life expectancy (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 2015). There is also seen to be a strong correlation between exercise and the improvement of mental health. A study by Guszkowsa (2004) has proven that many aerobic exercises are extremely capable of reducing levels of anxiety and depression and an overall negative mood. Some of these exercises may be jogging groups, yoga classes, fun runs, after-work sports teams and/or competitive exercise regimes with positively reinforced goal-achievement. The formulation of these types of health, exercise and sports groups is becoming ever more popular within society, so why can we not bring them in as an engaging, yet mandatory practice within our workplaces?
At Populis and ExcelerateYou, our wellbeing and productivity programs always leads with FLOURISH®, which includes certifying champions in workplaces with easy to implement physical activities that everyone can partake – we aim to bring back the carefree child in us who found fun in simple activities among friends and self. Especially popular are breath mastery, chants and eastern mindful practices which become part of the way companies operate and their culture. Meetings go from a place that usually brings many people stress to an opportunity for participants to bring calm and serenity to the mind, invoke as sense of community where people can be their authentic and best-self.
In recent times of COVID-19 where people are working from home, FLOURISH® practices and daily updates empower employees to make solitude a tool for mental strength rather than an opportunity to become lonely and depressed.
Self-help materials are shown to be very helpful in assisting the improvement of mild to moderate depression, anxiety and panic (Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, 2016). These materials used at ExcelerateYou include video and audio lessons or blogs that educate the reader about the signs of anxiety and depressive disorders and offer not only advice on how an individual can independently counsel and manage their thoughts and emotions but show them how. As employers and leaders, one cannot begin to know or understand the mental stresses or ailments that your employees deal with daily, and on the other hand, as employees, these issues are generally wanted to be kept private as they may be extremely personal, potentially detrimental to one’s professional image, or may also cause discrimination amongst a work team. Taking this into account it can be extremely helpful and encouraging to not only place free self-help courses such as FLOURISH® within a workplace, but to have daily exercises from FLOURISH® fed to employees throughout the year to do and mark completed so that individuals may have a means to independently regulate their mental wellbeing.
Counselling services offer an effective means to release and alleviate stress and built up emotions within an individual; they allow an individual to take time out of their day to approach the issues within their life that are affecting them on a physical and mental level and attempt to overcome them or manage them; overall stimulating personal growth. A great life coach is one who comes with a wealth of life and professional experiences and can be very effective in helping you deal with a multitude of personal issues from anxiety and stress, personal self-worth to other impeding situations in one’s life. Other situations where a great coach can help have included: family and relationship issues, substance abuse and addictions, sexual abuse and domestic violence, absenteeism, career change and job stress. It is stated by Navare (2008) that the implementation of professional coaching and counselling within a workplace can bring about a decrease in costs related to turnover, burnouts, absenteeism, as well as improvements in the performance of employees and thus lead to an increase in productivity.
It is known that with an increase in employee health, wellbeing and employee productivity comes a decrease in costs associated with workplace health issues. It is said that “medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent” (Baicker et al, 2010).
The time for organisational intervention is now, and it has to be with programs that empower employees with practical ways to self-regulate through engaging training, implementation of health and fitness practices within meetings, mental health and self-help workshops, coaching services.
Self-Regulation is not only the solution to stress management and great mental health, it is also the best solution to greater productivity, success and profits.
This paper has been written by Rohilesh R. Singh – GAICD, Order of Merit and Vivian-Alexander Singh – Masters of Public Health. Roh empowers leaders on self-mastery and is the head coach of our wellbeing and leadership programs.
Compliment your wellbeing programs with FLOURISH®. Click the picture below to find out more or Contact Roh at [email protected] or by phone on +61404049613 to book a workshop or access our digital programs.