Wellbeing at work: The best virtual activities to help your team’s mental health
With so much conversation around mental health and burnout, it’s more important than ever to prioritise the wellbeing of your employees in the workplace.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), “fostering employee wellbeing is good for people and the organisation. Promoting wellbeing can help prevent stress and create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive. And good health and wellbeing can be a core enabler of employee engagement and organisational performance.”
Essentially, employee wellbeing – by which we mean both their physical and mental health – is a critical component of a healthy working environment and organisation. And one of the easiest ways to help improve their wellbeing is to reap the mental health benefits of a well-chosen virtual activity – one which has been designed to “hack into” people’s happiness chemicals.
How can you boost employee wellbeing?
Happiness chemicals are, basically, those hormones which boast mood-boosting properties.
According to The Brain Health Doctor, “you are looking to activate your employer’s daily D.O.S.E of happiness: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.”
For a dopamine boost, this might look like having employees tap into their creative side – or even learn something new. Oxytocin, otherwise known as the “cuddle hormone”, is largely impacted by physical affection – although acts of kindness and self-compassion can also help to increase its levels in a person (more on that later).
Serotonin, of course, can be “hacked” via meditation and practising gratitude – while endorphins can be released via exercise, laughing aloud, or even eating dark chocolate.
What are the best virtual activities for boosting employee wellbeing and mental health?
Employee wellbeing is influenced by a number of factors; their relationships with their co-workers, for example, as well as the tools, benefits and resources they have access to. And, of course, hours, salary, flexible/remote working models, and workplace safety also have a significant impact on employee wellbeing.
It’s likely that you care deeply about the wellbeing and mental health of your employees; you’re reading this article, after all. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that you have already done your utmost best to provide them with a supportive workplace environment – one which takes into consideration all of the above factors.
If you are still looking for additional ways to boost the wellbeing and mental health of your employees, then, it’s best to organise the sort of virtual activities that will give them their daily D.O.S.E of happiness.
Here’s our pick of the best virtual activities for boosting employee wellbeing and mental health.
Fun yoga class
We already know that yoga is packed full of health benefits, both mental and physical; it helps us sleep, it reduces anxiety and stress, it improves flexibility and physicality, and it generally helps to boost our quality of life.
According to the results of a medical study in 2013, though, there’s more to yoga's benefits than just that. Because, you guessed it, the 15 participants who practised yoga for 1 month saw improvements in their ability to recognise emotions and socio-occupational functioning. More importantly, they also experienced higher levels of oxytocin.
Why not try, then, a fun yoga class with your colleagues? A brilliant virtual activity for boosting mental health, your session will be run by a certified teacher who will guide participants through a series of yogic positions and stretches – albeit with a twist. From disco music to laughing yoga, there are plenty of ways for your instructor to ramp up this session’s D.O.S.E abilities, which means it’s far more likely to have a lasting impact on your employees’ wellbeing and mental health.
All together now? Om.
Research has shown that sharing food (or even simply eating it) is enough to see a spike in our oxytocin levels. And Keris Marsden, a nutritional therapist, has stated that “chocolate increases serotonin,” and that “serotonin helps you fall asleep at night” – and we all know that a good night’s sleep is vital for a renewed sense of self and wellbeing.
It makes sense, then, that a chocolate tasting session is one of the best virtual activities to help boost the mental health of your employees. Taking place over a 90-120 minute period, this fun session sees participants – all of whom will be sent a chocolate tasting kit ahead of time – taken on a tastebud-tingling experience by a renowned chocolatier. What a brilliant way to get that daily D.O.S.E, eh?
Meditation – aka the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts – is packed to the brim with mental health benefits, not least of all the fact that it is known to boost oxytocin and serotonin levels.
As if that weren’t enough, research has shown that meditation can also help to reduce levels of the damaging stress hormone cortisol, which releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. The same cytokines that, yes, disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
It makes sense, then, that a meditation class is one of the best virtual activities to help your team’s mental health. Designed with beginners in mind, the class will see you and your colleagues guided by professionals through a series of calming breathing exercises – as well as offer tried-and-tested advice on how to concentrate and relax.
Tension relief workshop
It’s no secret that massage can stimulate the production of the body's natural endorphins – particularly serotonin and dopamine – in order to help with mood regulation, stress reduction and relaxation. Why not reap the benefits of this, then, by organising an online massage lesson for your team?
Delivered virtually, this tension relief workshop – conducted by a professional instructor – will guide your colleagues into recreating a professional massage on themselves in the comfort of their own home. From locating pressure points to practising breathing exercises, it’s an easy way to help them release the buildup of tension from different parts of the body, as well as help give them a mental health boost.
Virtual knitting experience
Research has shown that the repetitive rhythm of knitting helps with serotonin release. How? Well, by focusing one’s awareness on the present and relaxing into knitting, one enters a sort of meditative state – which means that you can focus on breathing, clearing thoughts, and taking the time to be in the moment.
With this in mind, then, a virtual knitting experience is an easy way to help your team to recharge their batteries and boost their mental health.
Each participant will be sent the materials and equipment they need well in advance of the online session, which will see them guided through the process of knitting and crochet by an expert. Perfect for a knit and natter with their colleagues, right?