This week organisations around the country have been focusing on Mental Health Awareness Week.
At EKFB, we focus on wellbeing and mental health every day of the year. Following up on our previous post, Taking care of wellbeing the virtual way during lockdown, we’re using mental health awareness week to talk to focus on the 'five ways to wellbeing' and linking that with this year's theme Mental Health Awareness Week theme of kindness.
We have found that there have been plenty of opportunities to encourage kindness during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people are dealing with depression, loneliness and other mental health illnesses whilst others may be dealing with loss and grief.
It’s important to practise kindness: it significantly improves our physical and emotional wellbeing, whether we are giving or receiving it.
Our initiatives towards wellbeing are based on the five ways to wellbeing that we embody in our everyday lives: social relationships, physical activity, awareness, learning, and giving. Take a look at some of the things we have focused on in our team…
Choose 2 Connect
It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and the EKafe, our virtual coffee and chat meet up, has been a great way to keep the team connected. One of our people shares his experience:
‘I joined EKFB six days before lockdown, so it has been a really strange time to join a new team. The way that EKFB has kept in touch with everyone has been really impressive though – I was given Teams training within a day of having to work from home, and I have enjoyed getting to know the team socially through the ‘EKafe’ daily virtual drop in. It could have been a really difficult time to join a new business, but I have had loads of opportunities to connect with my new colleagues.’ – Christopher Reed, BMS Administrator
Choose 2 Give
Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research into actions for promoting happiness shows that committing an act of kindness once a week over a six-week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing. It’s still possible to give during lockdown, it could be giving a friend or colleague your time.
Choose 2 Notice
Reminding yourself to ‘take notice’ can strengthen and broaden awareness. Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being. It’s so easy to be isolated during this difficult time and at EKFB the team is proactive in looking out for each other. This helps to notice those who might be going through a difficult time so as to reach out to them.
‘For me, Wellbeing, EDI and mental health are all tied up in the same thing: It’s about being able to bring your whole self to work. We have formal practices in place, but on top of that our people know that they are absolutely empowered to take the time to care for their own and others’ wellbeing. I’m really impressed with the way the team has picked this up and run with it in the virtual world, introducing some really interesting and original ideas like the EKafe and mindfulness moments. We’ve always had a thriving social life at EKFB and I’m delighted that this has continued during lockdown with online games and quizzes and even a continuation of our ‘Thirsty Thursday’ where people meet after work for a social catch up and a cuppa or a beer. I’m incredibly proud of our team of Wellbeing Champions, whose impact is definitely felt – and embraced – by the wider team.’ David Lowery, EKFB Director
Choose 2 Learn
Continued learning enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. The practice of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, is strongly associated with higher levels of wellbeing. At EKFB, learning is part of our everyday culture. We recently held language exchange sessions to learn more about each other’s languages.
‘I believe every challenge always brings about opportunities and the lockdown for me has provided an opportunity to learn so much about my colleagues and the different cultures that exist in my team. The language exchange session gave me an insight into French, Greek and Spanish and now I’m even more keen to connect and learn more about our diverse and multicultural team.’ – Nothando Bozongwana, Communications Coordinator.
Choose 2 Be active
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. At EKFB we have weekly virtual lunchtime exercise sessions, open for anyone in the team to join in.
‘I’ve really enjoyed the lunch time workout sessions because I get to burn the virtual biscuits, I would have had at the EKafe. The last one was really good as it had background music and I also enjoyed the Joe Wicks session which had a quiz, so I was working the brain muscles as well as the body’. – Jade Jones, Operational Support Coordinator