Adaptiva HR
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Adaptiva HR

The Wellbeing Of Your Employees Matters

In the early days of the Pandemic, there was a lot of emphasis on the importance of mental health. And now, almost two long years later, the mental health headlines seem as though they are coming from a dystopian horror movie:

The CDC Adds Mental-Health Conditions to its High-Risk COVID List

The Surgeon General Highlights the Youth Mental Health Crisis

Colleges Address Student Mental Health Crisis

The Implications of of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Vermont’s Mental Health Agencies Worry Staffing Shortages are Reaching ‘Point of no Return’

This crisis is affecting everyone, of all ages, in many different ways.

At Adaptiva HR, we worry about this crisis. We are concerned about the lack of resources for individuals that need them. We want to encourage employers to prioritize the mental health of their employees. While we can’t alleviate this entire mental health crisis, by reminding employers to pay attention to the mental health of those they work with, more layers of support can surround and uplift individuals.

Winter Wellness

In addition to the ongoing pandemic, Winter is a time of year that can be particularly challenging. Because of the harsher temperatures and less daylight, many people find it harder to cope. “There is a predictability to this repetitive, seasonal cycle so we don’t have to be surprised by how hard it can be ,” says Jennifer Jacobs, owner and Human Resource Consultant at Adaptiva HR, a holistic Human Resource and EAP provider in Brattleboro, Vermont. “We encourage employees and employers to find ways to bring in additional support as needed during this time of the year.” While many individuals experience some sort of winter blues, those who feel it more acutely may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include low energy, trouble sleeping (sleeping too much or too little), appetite changes (eating too much or too little), feeling sluggish and hopeless, and losing interest in activities previously enjoyed. Some individuals may experience feelings of depression and worthlessness. For others, Seasonal Affective Disorders can manifest in cravings for comfort foods, such as sugary items or carbohydrate-rich foods.. In the workplace, individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder might be experiencing less productivity, decreased levels of engagement, and even isolation from colleagues.

“We don’t need to beat ourselves up for feeling this,” explains Jacobs. “We can be more understanding with ourselves and others and address as we would any other health issue.” Because of the reduced sunlight during the Winter, our body’s natural stress-fighters, including serotonin and melatonin, are affected. Our circadian rhythms are also disrupted.

Jacobs encourages employers to remind their employees to take breaks as needed, especially in the middle of the day when the sunlight is stronger. Jacobs also encourages employees to remember that they are not alone in this, even though it can feel very isolating. According to the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), “millions of American adults may suffer from SAD, although many may not know they have the condition.” Additionally, SAD occurs more often in women than in men, and is more common in those living farther north like us Vermonters, where there are shorter daylight hours in the winter.

Creating A Culture of Caring

Other ways that employers can encourage employees to find balance and more ease this winter is by encouraging employees to utilize their EAP if they have one. When an employee feels supported, the entire organization will benefit. The more mental health help is available, the less stigma there is to it.

One simple, but often forgotten about, way to promote a culture of caring is to make it “okay” for employees to share concerns about their workload or challenges outside of work, such as lack of childcare or transportation. Also, because many organizations are still working remotely, it’s more important than ever for managers to check-in with their teams. Keep in mind that when working remotely you need new strategies for staying in touch and sharing information. For example, if you used to share mental health resources in high-traffic areas at workplaces, consider adding links in your email signature or sending out a wellness newsletter. It is also a good idea to encourage staff to turn off emails on the weekends, schedule email and text messages so they are sent only during work hours, and to promote casual human interactions, such as a walk or other Covid-safe activities.

All of these small actions help create a warm, supportive, and positive environment in which mental wellness is valued. Another benefit: your bottom line will probably increase too! We can turn our attention from dreading Winter to focusing on ways to promote positive environments in which employees feel supported and connected.

“We hope that employers are able to continue to support their employees so everyone can benefit from a healthy workplace and more positive communities as we navigate through another Pandemic Winter,” adds Jacobs.

Winter Cafe: As a response to this challenging time, Adaptiva HR will be hosting a series of free, online “cafes” on Mondays at 12:30 p.m. on Zoom. Join us to connect with others, practice some self-care, and have some solidarity around a time of year that is difficult for many others. Activities, resources, and additional details will be determined by the interests of the group. Come once, every week, or as you are able. No commitment required!

Bring a cuppa tea, coffee, or your favorite warming beverage (or your lunch or nothing at all) and meet us at the Winter Cafe. The first cafe opens on Monday, January 10 at 12:30 a.m. We hope to see you there: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/adaptivahr

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To learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder, please visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

If you are needing immediate help and are in Vermont, please text VT 741741 or visit: https://mentalhealth.vermont.gov/services/emergency-services/how-get-help

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