Yoga at work: How to stop stress turning into sick days

(posted on the Bristol Post website on 30th Jan 2014)

CLOSE your eyes and try to think of nothing for five minutes. It is a lot harder than it sounds. But mindfulness techniques such as this are exactly what a leading charity is urging businesses to offer its employees in a bid to improve people’s mental health — and claw back some of the £240 million lost every year because of sick days in Bristol.

The research, carried out by the University of Bath, also discovered 10 million working hours were lost to sickness or injury in Bristol in 2010 and the average worker in Bristol took three days off sick a year.

Experts believe one of the best ways to keep employees clocking in everyday is for businesses to place more emphasis on the mental health of their workforce.

Because of this, Second Step, a leading mental health charity, and Community Conscious, a local social enterprise, are hosting a free lunchtime event tomorrow to teach businesses and organisations methods to de-stress their employees.

There will be taster sessions in mindfulness- based stress reduction, yoga, seated massage, acupressure, meditation and lots more.

It is hoped bosses will take back the techniques to their offices by introducing anything from hourly to lunchtime sessions for their staff or to offer head and neck massages at people’s desk.

Nealey Conquest, director of Community Conscious, said; ”The city loses millions of pounds every year due to sickness at work. And we know that a leading cause of absence from work is due to mental health problems. It simply makes good business sense to prevent sickness in the first place.”

Paul Siddall, director of services at Second Step, said his charity’s wellbeing therapies service helps scores of people across Bristol and South Gloucestershire deal with problems such as depression, anxiety and low mood.

He said: ”We are finding that dealing with these problems early helps people keep in work in the long-term.”
”A lot of research supports that if businesses do support their staff they will reap the benefits.
“It is doubled edged because businesses will benefit from having less sick days and they will benefit because it is seen as a positive activity to have at their organisation, one which employees really value.”

To attend the event head to Hamilton House, Stokes Croft between 1pm to 2pm on Friday.

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