How to promote emotional well-being during the pandemic
- January 26, 2021
It’s a fact that the pandemic has accelerated numerous trends and technologies that were just beginning to emerge. In terms of technology, we could mention remote communication, privacy, and collaborative work platforms, which have made a spectacular leap forward. However, when it comes to trends, one of the most advanced ones is the attention and importance given to workers’ mental well-being. Today we’ll analyse why this interest in emotional well-being has increased so much and look at the measures that can be taken to improve it.
Emotional well-being, the pandemic and companies
Before 2020, workers’ concerns were largely shaped by situations arising within their working and personal environments, but now a new and viral external factor, SARS-CoV-2, has arrived on the scene. With the new virus bursting upon us, we have to add its consequences to the emotional burden we bear. Remote working, the difficult economic situation, social distancing and our uncertainty about the future have joined the long list of potential causes of stress and other emotional disorders. What effects does stress usually have? Headaches, breathing difficulties, chest pains, fatigue, stomach upsets and, in more severe cases, immune disorders and heart attacks. Companies have realised that stress is one of the main causes of psychological and physical discomfort among their employees and they’re looking for techniques and solutions to alleviate its effects and ensure that their teams don’t suffer from its consequences.
Let’s start at the beginning; what is stress? Basically it’s our body’s response when we have to mobilise ourselves in a situation that demands an answer, but we don’t think we’re capable of generating it. These are cognitive and physiological reactions that cease to have any effect once we’ve achieved the desired goal. Although stress may seem like a marginal ailment, according to data provided by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 28% of Europeans suffer from it (no more and no less than 28% of the population). The same institution also calculates that the economic impact on companies totals 20 billion euros.
How can we improve our workers’ emotional well-being during the pandemic? An excellent question that has no single answer. Let’s take a look at what we can do to improve it.
- A 2nd-century Roman writer of comedies unwittingly hit upon one of the keys: Mens sana in corpore sano. A balance between our body and mind resolves many of the pains and worries that we express somatically. Many companies have applied the Roman adage and implemented health programmes for their workforces. These facilitate proper nutrition, promote physical exercise and, ultimately, foster a healthy lifestyle. Firstly, playing sport regularly increases our work performance and self-esteem, prevents certain cognitive diseases, increases brain performance, reduces anxiety and triggers the discharge of endorphins, known to be one of the four hormones of happiness. If we combine these benefits with those produced by a balanced diet, we have a highly powerful and effective cocktail to combat emotional discomfort at work and in life in general.
- Another key factor that companies take into account is our ability to separate our work and personal lives. In this regard, the situation caused by the current pandemic hasn’t helped to distance one area from the other, quite the contrary. With the advent of remote working, this boundary has become even more blurred, and companies require actions to help their employees to build borders between the two spheres. Some guidelines being followed that are getting results are based on a single concept: “divide and conquer”. Separating the times of one world and the other is vital in this respect; actions such as switching off your company smartphone or email during your free time, setting a time limit for each activity, promoting holiday schedules and extra days off are some of the ways companies have to ensure that their employees enjoy separate personal and professional lives.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, employees should be aware of the activities and services that the company provides to improve their emotional well-being. Clear communication is essential. However, workers must also know why these initiatives and programmes are beneficial to them. The benefits of all the measures we’ve discussed throughout the article: knowledge is power. The power of knowing how to improve our emotional well-being during the pandemic that we’re witnessing.
If you know of any other activities that could help us to improve our emotional well-being at work during the pandemic, don’t hesitate to post your proposals in the comments section.
People First es un espacio de inspiración donde compartimos contenidos con un eje común: las personas. Desde distintas ópticas y sectores, abordamos varios temas, tendencias y noticias de interés humano.