Developing Positive Environments for Mental Wellbeing
We often consider our work, home and community environments to be out of our control, but there are numerous factors within our environments that we can influence and help us build the foundations for mental wellbeing that we are after.
Firstly, it is important to accept that passively hoping that an environment will improve or change, without investing any energy into it, almost guarantees that nothing will change. Most of us have heard the age-old definition of insanity – to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Sometimes we must help drive the change we want to see, even if we are not sure how others will respond.
As we have discussed throughout the foundations program – it is essential to identify what you really value, who it is you really want to be and what actions / habits embody these values. If we do not value it, we won’t follow through consistently and we will give up as soon as it gets hard. If we value something enough, we can then build our environment and our relationships to make the choice we value the easier choice.
For example, if you really value a supportive work environment that promotes positive mental wellbeing, take a simple first action – research a workplace that you know that does this and find out what they do. You may not become a Google pleasure palace straight away, but you might start with something simple as:
Providing opportunities for connection with co-workers
- Culture coffee
- Wellbeing walks at lunch time
- Supportive sport / resilience rides before, after or during work
- Bonding book club every month
- Helping to organize education / awareness regarding mental wellbeing
- Supporting RUOK day / mental health awareness events
Ensuring the environment is supportive of healthy choices
- Stop the snacking on the office kitchen biscuits by storing them in non-transparent containers, or place the containers in a cupboard so they’re out of sight
- Nutritious food options available at team meetings
- Provide guidelines on alcohol consumption and lots of nonalcoholic drink options provided
- Exercise is a part of the daily routine and good changeroom facilities available
- Spaces for relaxation / quiet time to unwind – health and wellbeing spaces
- Flexible working arrangements are promoted and supported
- Opportunities and encouragement of altruistic acts – doing things for others without reward or recognition. For example:
- Introducing yourself to the new person
- Packing / unpacking the dishwasher when it’s not your turn
- Bringing in home grown fruit or home baked goods to share with co-workers
For some organisations these changes may mean becoming part of the safety / wellbeing committee to help make it happen. If such a committee doesn’t exist – what needs to happen to start one?
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