Many people are suffering from mental illnesses. In Germany alone, this affects 27.8% of the adult population each year. Of these, however, only 18.9% ever encounter service providers to receive appropriate mental health care. The most common disorders are anxiety disorders with 15.4% and affective disorders such as depression with 9.8%. Almost one third of those affected thus remain untreated and presumably suffer in silence without receiving any adequate medical or therapeutic help.
The German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN) states: “After cardiovascular diseases, malignant tumors, and musculoskeletal diseases, mental diseases are among the four most important causes for the loss of healthy years of life in Germany” This finding suggests the critical impact that mental wellbeing has on the body in general and the importance of viewing physical and mental health as two sides of the same coin.
Mental Health at the Workplace
Who hasn’t experienced it: Hundreds of emails, urgent deadlines, personal expectations and challenging team dynamics. These are all factors that play a significant role in how well we cope with the challenges of everyday work life. Whether we are successful at coping with it or not, we are all faced with stress and when people work in a home office, isolation and social loneliness become additional stress factors. A recent study even shows that this already accounts for every third homeworker.
Due to the increase in tempo and the rising demands in our society, more and more people reach a point where they feel they can no longer keep up. When this feeling finally becomes a permanent condition, we speak of burnout. Those affected are energetically burned out, feel empty and have no more power. Usually felt throughout the entire body. The ability to perform and concentrate steadily decreases, while emotional exhaustion and fear of permanent failure increase. Overstrain becomes the dominant feeling and those affected suffer from a massive loss of quality of life, because even simple things become a challenge. Although the topic of mental health is becoming more relevant in the workplace, it is still a sensitive topic and people find it difficult to deal openly with their mental condition, as they fear being judged, stigmatized and sometimes even penalized.
Physical Health and Its Influence on Mental Health
People who are regularly active and take care of their physical wellbeing are not only healthier, but also generally more balanced and resilient to mental strains. A healthy and active lifestyle also prevents illness, weight gain and strengthens the immune system but the main thing is to exercise regularly. Better every day for 20 minutes instead of once or twice a week for two hours, the reason being that every moment of exercise, even if just 15-20 minutes is a moment that releases tension, readjusts the body and frees the mind. In addition, physical activity releases hormones that have a very positive effect on mental health as well. Particularly in the case of Anxiety or Depression, physical activity can have miraculous effects through the release of Serotonin and give new quality of life.
Nutrition also plays an important role and has an influence on physical and mental wellbeing. In recent years many exciting findings have been published which indicate the great influence the health of our digestive system has on our entire organism, as well as on our mental health. In other words, eating and drinking healthy food is not just good for our body but also for our mind! This shows again how the physical and the mental spheres depend on each other.
Physical Wellbeing at Work
Many people nowadays sit in front of their computers for hours every day, do not exercise enough and in addition usually do not eat very healthy. In the long run, this cannot be right and sooner or later will lead to negative health consequences. As a result, more and more people in our society have problems with obesity, high blood pressure, suffer from chronic illnesses or mental health issues because their bodies can no longer keep up with their unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Perhaps some receive a gym membership from their employer as a benefit and go once or twice a week, however, if they stick to unhealthy habits during the day anyway, it won’t change a lot. In contrast, a lot can be achieved with daily, short 20-minute exercises as well as a conscious diet. It’s all about having a sustainable routine. Both in terms of physical fitness but also to promote and strengthen mental health. And of course, this can also be done at work or in the home office.
What Employers Can Do
In conclusion, we can say that physical and mental wellbeing are inseparably related. Which is why when offering benefits to improve their employees health, employers should approach it in a holistic way. Particularly in the context of burnout prevention, the aim is to support those affected in achieving emotional equilibrium despite a stressful everyday life. The basis for a balanced mental and physical wellbeing is a healthy body and mind. It is also important to create islands of tranquility in order to recharge one’s batteries through Meditation, meaningful activities, and short stretching exercises at the desk.
In this respect, companies have an opportunity to provide their employees with the right tools and environment to maintain a physically and mentally sound lifestyle at work or in the home office. We see it to be the responsibility of every company to provide its employees with opportunities to rest and get active in a meaningful way. Ideally also during working hours, with short breaks to recharge in the context of short 20-minute self-care moments.