Positivity in the Workplace: Mental Health Techniques for the Company and the Employees

Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

Health and Happiness Specialist™

Author of the Happiness Result

Negative effects of stress on mental health at work are rising. No industry is spared. Finding ways to maintain mental health while trying to meet the demands at work is a global issue. The downward spiral effect of this problem has been shown to impact organizations’ bottom lines and employees’ work and well-being. The impact of stress on mental health affects overall health. Major cities in the U.S. are aware of the burden of stress in certain professions and are able to directly correlate medical emergencies with workplace stress.

The World Health Organization (WHO), states that workers who suffer from depression and anxiety are costing companies time and money. Globally, companies are collectively losing trillions of dollars annually due to the negative effects of poor mental health and mental illness. Fortunately, companies like Google, have recognized this problem and have implemented mindfulness programs to help reduce employees stress and increase their focus and productivity. Companies are beginning to do their job to take care of their employees.

While not all companies can afford robust employee health and well-being programs, there are actions that both organizations and employees can take to create a healthier workplace environment. Many studies have shown that positivity in the workplace initiatives create happy, healthy, and engaged employees who are more productive and remain in the company longer.  Positive psychology, the science of happiness, optimum human potential and flourishing, offers many simple, yet powerful skills that protect and buffer the harmful effects of stress. Positive psychology consultants combine a number of research proven techniques and offer practical and unique approaches to team dynamics and development.

Companies who offer creative and personalized ways to cultivate meaningful connections boost their employees’ spirit and well-being. Some of these no-cost initiatives can be mentorship, appreciation and recognition, forgiveness, and kindness. These techniques can be transformative to the culture of any organization. As companies do their job to shift the atmosphere, employees have their role to play as well.

Employees have a responsibility to take time for self-care that preserves and strengthens their mental health. While some healthy habits can be done at home such as getting proper amount of sleep and exercises, other skills can be done in the midst of their busy day. Within the field of positive psychology are an array of powerful, proven skill sets that boosts health and well-being. Some of the techniques that come from the sciences, such as mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, all lead to the road of happiness and well-being. But it is up to the employee to learn and establish their own wellness practice before, during, and after work so that they can nourish their body and mind.

Researchers have found that positive emotions broaden and build people’s ability to produce and create. These researchers argue that happiness is not the only positive emotion; there is a range that includes gratitude, joy, hope, and so much more. Within each positive emotion are skill sets that employees can cultivate to improve and strengthen their mental health.

Employees can take an active role in their mental health. It begins with the thoughts that they choose to focus on. Thoughts that ruminate in the mind are distracting and draining on the energy which ultimately impacts concentration, communication, and performance. Human beings have a negativity bias that allows negative experiences, thoughts, and emotions to stick and stay in the mind for a long time. A recommended way to handle negativity is with positivity. In fact, a three to one positivity to negativity ratio is needed. Knowing about our tendencies towards a negativity bias can help individuals take proactive actions to release them.

There is much to be said about how positivity in the workplace can protect and strengthen overall health. Companies and employees both have to take responsibility for the atmosphere and attitudes. As organizations realize the cost of a negative work environment on its employees’ mental health and take actions to improve culture, employees must also do their part. Mental health is a shared responsibility for both the company and its employees.

To learn how to add more positivity in your workplace, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com. I would be happy to work with you and your group.

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