In a post-pandemic world, the conversation around mental health continues to expand and permeate into various parts of society, most importantly – the workplace. As Mental Health Awareness Month kicks off from 1 to 31 May in the UAE and around the world, workplace mental wellbeing platform Plumm, which recently launched in the UAE, has released a whitepaper indicating the clear links between mental and physical health.
The report findings highlight that the connection between mental and physical health is often misunderstood, however the two coexist. Three key mental health factors that have been highlighted as having an intrinsic link to physical health; these are chronic stress, depression, and burnout. The report demonstrates that neglecting mental wellbeing, particularly in these three areas, has a much more immediate effect on the body.
Concerning manifestations of these mental health factors include prolonged chronic stress that can contribute to physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, clogging of the arteries, and can even result in brain changes that lead to mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and addiction. Burnout or the feeling of “vital exhaustion” increases a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and other well-known risk factors including obesity, high cholesterol, and smoking. If unchecked, it can increase people’s likelihood of having a stroke or a heart attack. The physical effects of depression include headaches, fatigue, back pain, insomnia, heart disease and psychomotor activity changes. These somatic symptoms can significantly affect a person’s longevity and quality of life, and that is why it is crucial that they receive the help that they need to alleviate their depression. Thus, improving both their mental and physical health in the long run.
Such serious risks to one’s physical health have far-reaching effects in life including interpersonal relationships and occupational functioning. It poses a major threat to the overall productivity and output of any business, which can result in the loss of both profits and human capital. Burnout, chronic stress, and depression should, therefore, not be taken lightly, and deserve the necessary attention from companies and employers across the globe.
Caileen Lubbe, a Research Psychologist at Plumm, shares her tips to improve mental and physical wellbeing in the workplace this Mental Health Awareness Month.
- Making time for mindfulness and meditation is important for all of us. Even taking five minutes a day to take a break in the workplace and focus on being mindful or pausing for some meditation is great for mental and physical health.
- Setting goals can be fantastic to boost positivity and energy, both mentally and physically. Start with small, achievable goals like taking the time to have breakfast at the same time every day, and slowly move up to bigger goals. This sense of drive and accountability keeps us motivated and focused.
- Setting clear boundaries between work and personal life. This sense of balance and boundaries allows for a happier and more productive workforce, not only impacting the individual, but also the business.
- Nurturing a safe space to freely communicate needs of all is incredibly important. Communication is key to personal and business growth.
- It’s important to address the root cause of problems and stresses to ensure you seek the right treatment and solutions before more serious consequences ensue. This Mental Health Awareness Month, take some time to reflect and resolve the root cause of some of the key stressors.
Highlighting the importance of overall wellbeing from the Plumm whitepaper, are the findings from the recent 360° wellbeing study by global healthcare provider Cigna. According to the research, the UAE sees that the largest gap lies in mental health support – with 34% of UAE employees claiming to have a lack of support and 39% feeling they need access to resilience training for mental health.
The Cigna report also highlights that UAE residents are now more attuned to whole health, with people becoming more open to various elements of their health. The top focuses for residents were family health (81%), mental health and emotional wellbeing (78%), physical health (77%) and financial health (77%). A majority (72%) of the respondents also place high importance on having access to care, such as medical advice or treatment, home environment and living conditions (72%) as they work more from home, and work-life balance (73%).
This data intrinsically links to the underlying message of Plumm’s whitepaper, that overall wellbeing should be a focus from a full perspective, including both mental and physical health. The two are connected and balance is key to a healthy life.
Plumm’s CEO and Founder, Dubai-raised Asim Amin said: “The two will always be intertwined, when the mind suffers, so does the body, and consequently personal and professional lives of individuals. At Plumm, we believe that everyone should be given the chance to improve or maintain mental and physical wellbeing, ensuring happier and healthier workspaces.”