Employee Wellness

Prevention

Improving Mental Well-being, One Step at a Time

This Mental Health Awareness Month, encourage your employees to explore ways to improve their mental well-being.

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The Calm Team

7 min read

As workforce well-being remains unacceptably low, Calm asked 4,000+ workers what’s weighing on them this year. More than half of US respondents said the cost of living or inflation, just under half said their own anxiety, and nearly a third said being overworked. The state of the world, loneliness, friends and family, being too busy, and insomnia are other factors US workers said are affecting their mental health. 

“The pressures of work, relationships, and societal factors, like politics, climate change, and the economy, can significantly impact our mental well-being, sometimes even more than we realize,” Mental Health America has explained. It can be overwhelming to handle everything happening around us, it said. And while there’s more awareness about mental health, it’s often difficult to know where to start when it comes to self-care. Accordingly, that organization’s theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World.”  

Learn more about employee mental health in Calm’s 2024 Voice of the Workplace Report.

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Stress, anxiousness, and poor sleep can escalate to serious health conditions  

Indeed, taking care of our mental well-being can be challenging, especially when we’re already feeling anxious, overwhelmed, too busy, or too tired. But these moments are precisely when it’s critical to start self-care because stress and anxiousness, left unaddressed, can escalate to more serious mental and physical health conditions. Even getting poor sleep over time raises the risk for several health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 

Furthermore, more than two-thirds of employees agree that anxiousness and poor sleep negatively affect their performance at work, according to Calm’s survey. It’s important to help your employees take care of their mental well-being for their own health and the health of the organization.

Encourage employees to take small steps every day to support their mental well-being

This Mental Health Awareness Month, encourage your employees to take steps toward better mental health rather than wait for a crisis to seek help. Where to start? Explore approaches and find something that resonates, even if it’s listening to a favorite song. No step in the direction of improving mental well-being is too small.

Here are a few ideas to help employees get started:

Start the day with a mindful meditation  

Practicing meditation can help foster mindfulness—a state of active, open attention to the present that studies have indicated may lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and improve sleep quality. Additionally, regular practice of meditation has been shown to significantly reduce stress and decrease anxiety and depression. In fact, new research suggests that meditation may be as effective as medication in reducing anxiety, without the side effects. 

A study of approximately 900,000 meditation app users showed that meditating in the morning is associated with higher rates of maintaining the practice. Set aside a few minutes every morning to sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on your breath or the sound of a fan, a bird chirping, or your favorite calming music.


If you have access to Calm, here are a few programs to try: 

  • Aftercare (Sunrise Mix) is music by Grammy-winning, self-produced, British recording artist Imogen Heap. Her exclusive Calm mix for sunrise helps listeners meet the morning with acceptance and presence and in conscious breath. 
  • Commuting is a practice led by mindfulness expert Tamara Levitt to develop mindfulness en route to work (when it’s safe).

If you’re not inclined to try meditation, here are other ideas for incorporating mindfulness into your life through a daily ritual. 

Take micro breaks throughout the day to relieve stress

It takes just 90 seconds for stress hormones to clear our bodies if we don’t continue to fuel the negative emotions that triggered them. In moments when you feel overwhelmed, seek relief by taking a break.

Studies show that taking breaks can help you restore energy in the short term, build resilience for managing stress when it arises, and avoid burnout in the long term. Taking breaks has also been shown to improve decision-making skills and productivity while boosting mood and creativity.

Schedule breaks to move, stretch, or do a simple breathing exercise or meditation, even at the start of a meeting. Calm’s integrations with Zoom Meetings and Microsoft Teams make it simple to engage with any of the 3,000+ sessions in the Calm content library directly within either meeting interface.  

Here are a few programs on Calm to try:

  • Overcoming Stress & Anxiety Series is an 11-part series by clinical psychologist and educator Dr. Julie Smith in which she gives listeners tools to reclaim calm, overcome acute anxiety and chronic stress, and build confidence for life.   
  • Walk Away Stress is a series of short walks with Dr. Eric López Maya, founder and director of the Mexican Institute for Mindfulness, designed to help people find peace in the moment. 
  • 60-second Reboot is a mini meditation led by stress and burnout specialist Chibs Okereke that helps listeners unplug and reboot when they’re feeling fried. It’s a perfect meditation to try at the beginning of a meeting to help people reset. 

Listen to lo-fi music to improve focus and reduce stress

Low fidelity (lo-fi) music is a genre of music characterized by unpolished sound production that gives it a nostalgic feel. Its slow pace and mellow, instrumental nature can turn a stimulating environment into a relaxing one conducive to focus and productivity.  Employees with access to Calm can test out a selection of lo-fi music from our playlist, including Memories, Cloudy, Feel This Way Again, and Infinite Lo-Fi for Focus.

Studies have shown that background music, such as lo-fi, improves working memory and speeds up performance of skill tasks. By skipping the lyrics, lo-fi music also may help limit distractions and help workers concentrate on what’s in front of them. What’s more, listening to lo-fi or other background music has been shown to help reduce stress while people are studying or working.

Listen to music or a story to improve sleep  

According to the Sleep Foundation, studies have shown that listening to music can help you fall asleep faster and get better-quality sleep. Listening to music decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which may put you at ease, and also soothes the autonomic nervous system, leading to slower breathing, a reduced heart rate, and lower blood pressure. 

Research also shows that improving sleep quality improves composite mental health and specific mental health difficulties, including stress, anxiety, rumination, and depression. Try listening to some music; white, pink, or brown noise; or a relaxing bedtime story on Calm. Here are a couple of Calm programs to try:

  • Rolling Thunderstorm is a 30-minute Soundscape to help listeners relax and fall asleep.
  • Patagonia’s Marble Caves is a Sleep Story narrated by bilingual actor Carla Tassara. She takes listeners on a journey to discover the hidden world of Chile’s marble caves and their incredible, ever-changing colors.

Shift to self-care

Amid challenges at work and in the world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and put self-care aside. But when we don’t care for mental well-being, we risk letting anxiousness, stress, and insomnia escalate into serious physical and mental health conditions. The good news is that even small steps, like a 60-second breathing exercise, can make a real impact on our well-being. Help your employees get started today.

Also, be sure to tune in to our May 15 webinar, “Cultivating Calm: A Mental Health Awareness Conversation,” featuring renowned psychologist Dr. Rheeda Walker and Calm’s Chief Clinical Officer Chris Mosunic, PhD. You’ll get tips for taking the first (or next) best step toward better well-being and for cultivating a simple yet consistent healthcare routine. 

For more information about how Calm can help you and your employees relax and reset, connect with our Calm specialist today

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