Parenting is a full-time job on its own, but when combined with a professional career, it may seem like there’s simply not enough time in the day to get everything done. While part of this can be solved through proper prioritization and time management, a large responsibility falls on the company to ensure that working parents are given ample time and resources to tend to both.
In today’s blog post we’ll explore the various ways companies can better support their parent employees.
How to Support Working Parents
Interested in learning more about what your leadership can do to help parents within the company? Here are a few ideas ranging from benefits and policies to amenities.
If your company has the resources, you may choose to offer certain employees a flexible spending account or FSA. These are saving accounts with tax advantages, and are typically used for medical or dental services. However, there is also something called a dependent-care flexible spending account, which works in a similar way but is used to pay for childcare expenses of children 12 years old and younger.
Child Care Assistance Programs
The government offers certain financial assistance programs to help your children receive the care that they need. Some of these programs include subsidies, Head Start for school prep, and special military fee assistance. These may depend on level of income and the state of residence, so be sure to research your own state’s programs.
Check to see if your office place has a room specifically for working mothers. These places can be invaluable for nursing mothers who need a private space during the work day, and may also include outlets and lockers. Expansive Workspace offers mother’s rooms in various locations.
Make sure to clearly outline in your employee handbook or guidelines how you support working parents. How many weeks of paid parental leave will you offer? What systems will you have in place to phase them back to work? What other childcare or parental benefits will you offer? These questions will undoubtedly be asked by newcomers and existing employees, so it’s best to have a concrete answer ready.
How to Attract and Retain Working Parents
Parent-positive policies and amenities can help support your current team members, but it can also attract new employees as well. Here are a few ideas that may lead to greater interest in your company’s benefits plan.
Though it sounds idealistic, unlimited PTO is a real perk offered by major companies like Sony Electronics, Dropbox, Github, Glassdoor, and more. Unlimited PTO may lead some to abuse it and take endless vacations, but for parents, it can be a major blessing. The important stipulation is that the unlimited PTO should never interfere with completing one’s work.
Flexible Working Hours
The 9-5 originated from an industrial factory mindset and now we can leave it behind in the past. With the ability to work remotely, companies should instead encourage employees to block their calendars off for certain meetings and tasks, and choose how they spend their day. For some parents, this will be invaluable in getting their children ready for school or picking them up from soccer practice.
Paid Parental Leave
The first few months after childbirth can be stressful as it is, without having to worry about deadlines and meetings. Companies around the world are now beginning to make paid maternity leave a standard in their industry, to help new mothers feel comfortable and supported during their time away from work. In some companies, paid parental leave is also offered to promote equality and responsible parenting.
Supporting Mental Health
Parenting is undoubtedly a mentally taxing responsibility. Not only do parents need to worry about their work or personal responsibilities, but they must also concern themselves with the wellbeing of their children as well. This challenge can only be exacerbated by parents with ongoing or underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or other relevant illnesses.
One direct way that companies can help is through providing health insurance. Certain small businesses may even benefit from a healthcare tax credit, and can qualify with a maximum of 25 full-time employees, an average salary of no more than $50,000, payment of at least half of the premiums, and purchase of a health insurance marketplace plan.
Employee assistance programs (EAP) may also be offered. These are voluntary programs at work which allow free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals and other services for personal and/or work related issues. These may include family problems, or other more serious issues like trauma and violence.
Finally, anonymous employee surveys can be useful in better gaining feedback on how to improve the organization’s efforts in supporting parents. Places like Officevibe allow employees to leave feedback or fill out surveys and reports anonymously, which can be useful for parents that want to suggest more supportive policies and actions.
Examples of Companies Supporting Working Parents
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC)
PwC has been praised by DiversityInc, Working Mother, Catalyst, and Fortune as one of the best places for parents to work. The company offers 8 weeks of paid gender-neutral leave, and 9 additional weeks of paid maternity leave for birth mothers. They also have a phased return-to-work option with limited working hours (at full-time pay) following parental leave, and sick childcare programs as well.
Beyond sabbaticals, CarGurus offers 16 paid weeks of parental leave and 15 “return to work” days for primary caregivers. Here’s what Director of Marketing, Ashley Karrr, had to say about her maternity leave: “While I certainly appreciated the generous gesture, the most important part was that my team and manager supported my taking additional leave even though it wasn’t in our original timeline. Being a new parent is stressful enough, and this definitely helped ease some of our concerns.”
The popular mailing and stamps service, Stamps.com, surprisingly has a variety of parental and child care benefits, including flexible work schedules, medical leave, family events (including a summer picnic and end of year party), and generous parental leave. Employees can also opt to contribute up to $2750 annually to their FSA.
Becoming a parent should be an exciting and rewarding experience, and while work is important, it should never come as a detriment to one’s family. Leaders have a responsibility to support parents however they can. What can you do to help your working parents?
Imagine the reaction from your CEO if you told them that you had found a way for the business to save $1685 per employee. According to the Center For Disease Control, $1685 is the average amount of money per employee that businesses lose every year due to sickness. By finding a way to reduce sickness and increase employee attendance drastically, the potential savings available to any company are staggering. The question is, how can you solve the problem and improve your employee’s health?
There are lots of great ways that you can encourage your staff to improve their health. Here are some ideas that are easy to implement within the workplace, are not exorbitantly expensive, and should encourage participation amongst a large portion of your team.
WHAT ARE SOME POPULAR WELLNESS ACTIVITIES?
EXAMINE THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES IN YOUR BREAK ROOM
Take a walk around your break room and assess what refreshments you currently offer your staff. If an employee wants to eat and drink healthily, is it possible in your establishment, or have you inadvertently placed barriers in the way? One of the most staggering health statistics published by the Harvard School of Public Health was that whenever someone consumes one can of soda a day, their chances of contracting Type 2 Diabetes increases by 26%. If that wasn’t enough to discourage you, that same can of soda per day also increases your chances of a heart attack by 20% compared with people who consume a lesser quantity of sugary drinks.
Explore healthier alternatives to soda and energy drinks. It’s hard to cut out soda altogether, but you also don’t need it every day. At Novel Coworking, our kitchens are stocked with water bottles, fruit drinks, and naturally flavored beverages. We also have a water fountain with a built-in filter. You can still find chips and cookies, but there are healthy snack options such as pistachio nuts, granola, and fruits. These incremental changes in the workplace kitchen can make a huge difference to everybody’s health.
HOW ABOUT SOME HEALTHY COMPETITION?
Fitbit is a small, relatively inexpensive pedometer, that counts the number of steps an individual takes per day. Fitbit’s software enables competition between individuals or even teams. Imagine a challenge between the accounting department and the design department for instance, with the winning team earning an incentive. Not only will this encourage a bit of competition, but hopefully it will also encourage people to be more active, to walk rather than drive, or even to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Companies can even set up walking clubs early in the morning before work. It also encourages people to think about their lifestyle, and helps to motivate them to change their eating habits and increase their daily exercise.
OFFER A FLU SHOT CLINIC IN THE FALL
Perhaps the busiest time of the year for the vast majority of businesses is in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, that also tends to be flu season, and consequently the time of year when sickness levels peak. One of the ways to tackle this is by offering a flu shot clinic at your workplace. This is a simple and effective method for tackling the issue and provides 4 main benefits:
It demonstrates that you are concerned about your employee’s health, which in turn encourages and develops employee loyalty.
Staff won’t have to miss work to visit their regular physician.
Fewer days are taken off due to the vaccination process.
Because a significant proportion of the employees are likely to take advantage of the flu shot, the likelihood of a large proportion of the staff being ill is drastically reduced.
Organizing a flu shot clinic is a simple process because medical organizations will come in and set everything up for your company, leaving you with an easy day and chance for your employees to get vaccinated.
ALLOW TIME OFF FOR THE COVID-19 VACCINE
Now that an increasing amount of people are getting vaccinated, people are starting to feel the COVID vaccine side effects firsthand. Symptoms may include muscle pain, chills, headaches, fever, and nausea. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to plan ahead of time in the event your team member gets their vaccine. Offer paid leave during their time off so that they are incentivized to not only get their vaccine but to take it easy and rest the day or two after.
Another excellent idea to encourage and promote health and wellness programs in your company is to offer a subsidy or even a free membership to a local gym for your employees. This need not be as expensive as it might sound and for many employees, it may provide the motivation they require to change their lifestyle. Speak to the local gyms and enquire about the various promotions of deals they may be willing to offer. This could easily be a win-win for both businesses, and it has the added advantage of demonstrating the caring side of your company to the employees.
HOW CAN CORPORATE WELLNESS PROGRAMS BE IMPROVED?
GET FEEDBACK FROM THE TEAM
Wellness programs are only as effective as the team members they serve. It’s important to continually request feedback to better gauge how successful each wellness initiative actually is. Choose an interval of time, whether it’s quarterly or monthly, and issue an anonymous survey or feedback form. Provide a 1-10 scale for rating efficacy and an open-ended answer box.
Surveys measure just one dimension of wellness program success: satisfaction. In actuality, there are many more categories and metrics that determine success. The Society for Human Resource Management lists the following:
Productivity and performance
Value on investment (VOI)
Be sure to include these metrics in your reviews to more accurately determine program success and employee engagement. To learn more about how to measure each one, visit SHRM’s article for more information.
REWARD TEAM MEMBERS FOR THEIR CHOICES
Living healthily should be a reward on its own, but it never hurts to add extra incentive for making the right choices. Consider offering rewards for healthy living, such as a branded water bottle or a Fitbit. For higher tier rewards, offer discounts to the gym, or gift cards for Whole Foods or similar healthy supermarket.
One common concern among non-smokers is the amount of break time that smokers are able to take. To even things out, reward additional time for non-smokers and create smoking cessation rewards, such as extra downtime, or a charitable donation to a foundation of their choice. Whenever possible, recognize the efforts made by a hardworking employee to set an example for the rest of the team.
At Novel Coworking, we are continually striving to find ways to assist and encourage business owners in their journey to success. One way to keep your employees mentally healthy is to find a relaxing and open office environment. Consider looking into coworking spaces that your team can use and collaborate in.
We are always coming up with new and exciting ways to increase sales or improve the morale of your staff, through tips on our blog.
If you truly want to be successful, actualize your dreams, and live the life you’ve always wanted, it starts with your own mindset. Look at some of the world’s greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists and other influential people— the one thing they all have in common is that they have a strong belief or sense of purpose, and everything else naturally follows.
In this post, you’ll learn the importance of a positive mindset, how to change your mindset for the better, and the various resources you can use to help you in your journey.
When to Change Your Mindset
The first question for many is, “when do I need to change my mindset?” Or perhaps some feel they are stubborn in their ways and do not feel the need to update their mindset to begin with. Nevertheless, there are a few telltale signs that may indicate the need to change.
When you experience constant negativity. Do you tend to feel anger when your expectations aren’t met? Tend to fixate on failures or disappointments, even when there are moments worth celebrating? It’s normal to feel saddened by a particular situation or event, but when it pervades every aspect of your life, it may be time to revisit your outlook.
When you’re unhappy/unsatisfied with life. Maybe it’s the expectation of a more glamorous lifestyle, or the wish things could just be different. Even when we’re on top of the world and have everything we need, we can still feel wholly unsatisfied with life. Worse yet, sometimes we may not even know what makes us truly happy.
When you’re feeling without purpose. Purpose can dramatically change one’s life, and can be the difference between simply existing and truly living. But what happens when the purpose or meaning isn’t exactly clear? For some, it can bring desperation and heartbreak.
Take the time to breathe, accept shortcomings or impossible scenarios, and move forward. Focusing solely on the negative can blind us to all the other blessings and good fortune in life, whether it’s family, friends, or simply having work at all. Here’s what you can do to make both small and large changes within your life.
Small Changes to Your Mindset
You don’t need to make drastic changes in your life to begin reaping the benefits of a positive mindset. All it takes is a few alterations within your daily routine and a new outlook or reaction to the events you experience. Here are just a few examples.
Meditate. We’ve preached the virtues and benefits of meditation in the past, but it simply cannot be overstated. Meditation isn’t restricted to any particular belief, personality, age, race or any other trait. You don’t need any experience, and you certainly don’t need any tools or technology to get started. All it requires is a moment or two, a place of solitude, and the awareness of one’s breath. Over time, you’ll begin to notice the profound impact it has on your health, both mentally and physically.
Daily affirmations. It may sound silly at first, but simply uttering certain words can give you the energy you need to chase after your goals, whether big or small. It may be about money (“I am worthy of making money”), love (“I deserve love and get it in abundance”), or something else entirely. Read this Medium article for inspiration on a few affirmations you can read to yourself in the mirror each morning.
Creating to-do lists. Tasks and projects can pile up, and it can be difficult to prioritize when there’s so much worth doing. To-do lists can come in handy, giving you a visual outline of your tasks that need to be completed. Besides the improved organization, it can also be a mental boost seeing each item get crossed off, one by one.
Celebrate success. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, take the time to enjoy your wins. Soon enough it will become a habit, and you’ll find a greater appreciation for the incremental progress you make each day. Treat yourself every now and then, and you’ll look forward to the next victory to come.
Big Changes to Your Mindset
In combination with the smaller changes, you must also plan for changes that take the course of several months, even years. These are a few suggestions.
Outline your long-term goals. Get serious about what you want to do or accomplish in life, even if it will take a lot of energy and time. Seeing your long term goals written down or hung up on a wall can inspire you to channel all your actions towards that ultimate dream.
Build strong listening skills. If you want to be heard, you must first seek to listen to others. It’s human nature to become so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget about the amazing individuals we work with and pass every day. Ask serious questions about their lives, become involved in their own dreams, and you’ll soon find inspiration for your own life.
Develop a growth mindset. In Carol S. Dweck’s landmark book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she outlines two types of mindset: a fixed mindset, in which people believe their abilities cannot be changed, and a growth mindset, in which people are responsible for their own development. Those that tend to build on the latter enjoy greater success than their peers. Focus on what you can control and change, instead of the things that are already fixed.
Use positive language. Here’s an experiment you can try out: count all the times you use negative words throughout the day, such as “can’t,” “won’t,” and “no.” Of course, there are times these words are absolutely necessary, but other times they can be limiters to what can be done. For example, if someone asks whether a project can be completed earlier than expected, instead of saying “no” or “it can’t be done”, try using more positive language like “we will try our best” or “we will take a look.” You’ll be surprised at how your behavior and actions follow the words you say.
Find your why. Above all, ask yourself “why?” whenever you do anything. Eventually you’ll find the ultimate “why”, the reason you get up in the morning and take flak from clients or exit your comfort zone.
Struggling to spend time with your family while receiving constant push notifications? Overwhelmed by the deluge of hourly news? Or perhaps even anxious about the appearance of your social media profiles?
Those living in the Digital Age face a unique dilemma. Unlike previous generations, people today are inundated with information from multiple devices, through dozens of services, streamed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be a lot for anybody.
Digital wellness refers to the state of one’s physical and mental health in the Digital Age. More specifically, digital wellness refers to preventative measures aimed at regulating and improving the healthy use of technology.
Reducing one’s activity on Facebook or monitoring time spent on a smartphone are just two examples of improving one’s digital wellness.
Most recently, major tech firms are under pressure to include new “digital wellness” features in their services. iOS 12 now has features to help users manage their phone use. Android P now has app timers to cut off use past a certain time limit. The digital wellness revolution has begun, and users must stay cognizant of their prolonged computer or phone use. Fortunately, there are a few tools that can help you get started.
Digital Wellness During COVID-19
2020 posed new challenges for almost everyone around the world. As work-life was upended, digital wellness became more relevant than ever before. Over a few months, people began to explore the various benefits of meditation, yoga, home exercises, healthier diets, and “digital detoxes”. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Increased Anxiety and mental Health Issues
A KFF Tracking Poll in March 2020 found that after stay-at-home orders were issued, 47% of people sheltered-in-place reported negative mental health effects related to COVID-19. Loneliness, isolation, and the new normal brought about by the coronavirus can all be viewed as causes for the added stress. Without digital wellness practices in place, these issues can only be exacerbated. Be sure to read the CDC’s page on coping with stress to learn more.
2. Increase in Scams
In the first three months of 2020 alone, the FTC received 18,235 reports related to coronavirus, and reports of $13.4 million dollars of losses due to fraud. As people spend more time working remotely or online, there will undoubtedly be a continued rise in fraud and scams, ranging from illegal robocalls to dubious vaccine information, to phishing and trojan scams that infect your computer’s data. Be vigilant of what you read online and the links you open or the calls you take. Read about avoiding coronavirus scams on the FTC’s page.
3. Sedentary Lifestyle
Shelter-in-place orders can directly lead to remote workers living less active lifestyles, as they become accustomed to working in front of their computer. This can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, and mental health issues. Especially at-risk are children who cannot attend school due to closures. Consider limiting screen time to take frequent breaks to stretch, run, lift, and move to maintain your physical health.
Digital Wellness Apps
Screen Time (iOS) and App Dashboard (Android)
While not technically downloadable apps, both Screen Time and App Dashboard are features in iOS devices and Android devices respectively that allow you to see how you spend your time on your phone. You can also set limits and restrictions on which apps you use and schedule time away from your device. Although it is tucked away in the settings, you don’t need to download or pay anything, and it monitors you as you use your phone.
f.lux (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android)
Every monitor and phone screen emits blue light, which can be harmful to your body’s internal clock especially at night. During the day, blue light can be useful because it emulates sunlight. But at night, it can impact our sleep and cause eye strain. With f.lux, you can adjust the color temperature of your computer or phone to adapt to the time of day. It’s something you simply have to experience yourself to notice the difference.
For a more extensive and user-friendly version of Screen Time or App Dashboard, check out Moment, available for both iOS and Android. It offers the same app/screen monitoring analysis but goes further with a “Phone Bootcamp” that coaches you into limiting your phone use. With a cleaner and more colorful interface, this app also excels at presenting the information in an understandable format.
For parents and caretakers, OurPact offers a comprehensive activity dashboard for your whole family. This app lets you track how your family members or other users spend their phone time, restrict access to unauthorized content, and even locate their position on a map. Best of all, it has cross-platform support, meaning iOS users can continue to track Android users and vice versa.
Headspace (iOS and Android)
Headspace’s website reads “live a healthier, happier, more well-rested life in just a few minutes a day with the Headspace app.” And it’s true, Headspace is designed to offer the benefits of meditation and mindfulness with just a few minutes of listening each day. Whether you need it to sleep, relax, or just get through the day, Headspace can do wonders for your mind.
Calm (iOS and Android)
Calm is another meditation app, focusing on longer, deeper meditations, upwards of 10 minutes. You can also choose to buy Calm for a lifetime subscription fee of $399.99. While Headspace features lighthearted and colorful illustrations, Calm has a more focused approach on meditation, designed for those who have practiced mindfulness before.
Why Your Company Should Promote Digital Wellness
Businesses have increasingly relied on technology in the past few decades, from email communication to storing large files on the cloud. There’s no denying the increased efficiency generated by harnessing the power of the Internet. But at the same time, that means employees are more likely to spend their time on computers and phones for a majority of the workday.
One survey found that the average screen time of an office worker is 6.5 hours per day. Only about half the respondents admitted to taking breaks, and the other half claimed to experience eye soreness regularly. Combined with the statistics of mental health issues developed from prolonged use, you have a recipe for a constantly tired and stressed workforce.
Companies play an important role in combating the phone and computer addiction trends. By updating the brand’s wellness program to reduce extended use, the business may just notice a drastic change in the overall workforce performance and mood.
From everyone at Novel Coworking, we hope you consider limiting screentime and break away from social media and digital devices to spend time with your family and loved ones.
You may not think about it during the day, but your office layout can make a huge impact on your mindset and your work. With a few adjustments to your office furniture, you can design a more productive and pleasurable work experience.
What’s an office layout?
This seems like an obvious answer: it’s how your office equipment and furniture are laid out within a certain space. However, we don’t want to just arrange these items based on space- office furniture and equipment should be arranged to maximize productivity, creativity, and collaboration.
It’s that second part that many businesses fail to grasp. Your office environment should encourage you to get more work done and communicate with the rest of your team effectively- sometimes, these objectives aren’t easy to accomplish when you have a lot of equipment, a lot of workers, or not enough office space (or all three).
Importance of an Office Layout
A productive environment breeds a productive mindset
Sharing an office with someone else can not only be more cost-effective (particularly for startups and entrepreneurs) but it can improve communication and encourage the important conversations that need to happen: whether that concerns a potential bottleneck, a troublesome team member, or an opportunity to innovate. Managers will also notice a change in employee morale, as team members will feel more legitimacy in their work when they have a dedicated workspace.
An office can help protect and safeguard your team
Innovations such as webcam security, keycard access, and biometrics offer a unique security advantage compared to a traditional workspace. Teams that need not worry about the safety of their possessions or the well-being of their colleagues can enjoy a sense of comfort and peace of mind. Remember to always inquire about emergency planning and procedures no matter which office you choose.
What are the best types of office layout?
Experiment with different design ideas until you find one that best complements your workflow. Try using one of these layouts:
Most commonly found in older office buildings, the cellular or cubicle office arranges employees and desks by rows and columns, often with low walls to divide people and (supposedly) retain their concentration. While these layouts still exist, they are gradually being phased out in favor of more open layouts.
Open Office Layout
In contrast, an open layout removes doors and walls as barriers to communication and collaboration. Multiple workers may share a single table, and the tables may be scattered throughout the space. These layouts have become more popular with startups as well as large tech firms as it encourages more immediate communication.
Directly inspired by an open office layout, a coworking layout also eliminates walls or boundaries, but is much larger and often shared among multiple companies. The coworking space may feature couches, shared desks, private or dedicated desks, or high counters. Coworking has the added benefit of encouraging cross-company communication and networking.
Some businesses may have unique services or products they work on and may decide to arrange their offices around the most frequently used equipment and machinery. For example, a startup that focuses on recording podcasts may strip their space and lay their computers, chairs, and other equipment around the recording microphone.
Match your company culture with your office layout
Ultimately, no one can tell you how to arrange your team, furniture, and equipment- you have to decide what’s best for your business. Some companies have a greater need for private spaces while others desire more meeting spaces.
One way to design your office layout is by basing it on your team’s needs and culture. Ask yourself these questions:
What does my business do?
What are the most common tasks each day?
What devices, equipment, or furniture does my team require to accomplish their work?
Open layout or cellular layout?
Collaboration or privacy?
Creativity or efficiency?
At the end of the day, these questions are about your business’s brand and culture. Ask yourself whether your space accurately and honestly reflects the team’s personality.
Cubicles are a thing of the past. According to BizJournal, 81% of office owners and managers say office space is “very important” when it comes to hiring top talent, and 78% say they’re “increasingly being asked for open-office environments” and “more collaborative workspaces.”
Where and how your team works greatly affects the end product of their labors. When you make it easier and more enjoyable for your team to work, you can look forward to a stronger, more enhanced version of your brand.
Office Layouts & Social Distancing
2020 saw a major shift in the workplace due to the coronavirus. Offices around the world have updated their layouts and designs to encourage greater social distancing and overall public safety. This includes more spaced out furniture, sneeze guards, and even limitations on how many people can be in a space at a given time. Remember to practice safe distancing and protocols to prevent the spread of viruses in the workplace, regardless of where you work. Be sure to visit Novel Coworking’s COVID-19 Protection Plan for more information and guidance.
Taking care of one’s mental health can be difficult, but this year has proven especially challenging for many around the world. Staying indoors, being isolated from friends and family, as well as being hooked on news headlines can make just about anyone feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, you are not alone. Novel Coworking is here to help, by offering a few helpful reminders as well as directing you to important resources. But first, it’s important to understand exactly why looking after our mental health is so important.
Importance of Mental Health
Why is it so important to take care of our mental health? Just as we take care of our bodies, we must take care of our minds. Our brains handle all the important functions of living, from memory and emotion, to logic and reasoning.
If our mental health suffers, so too does our physical health, which in turn affects work, productivity, decision-making and almost everything else in our life. We can run the risk of burnout, endanger our personal and professional relationships, and develop even more damaging mental illnesses.
On the other hand, if we take the time to understand what is happening in our minds, and seek the necessary help, we can avoid these growing problems and cultivate a happier and more fulfilling life. Let’s look at a few resources that can help with your mental health.
Mental Health Apps
Bloom is a quick and easy way to get started with therapy straight from your phone. The app comes with interactive videos, guided therapy programs, daily exercises, and even analytics that track your overall progress. Bloom harnesses the power of CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a short term, goal-oriented, and hands-on approach to therapy. The app comes with a free trial, as well as monthly ($14.49), three-month ($34.99), yearly ($86.99), and lifetime ($399) subscription options.
Headspace has captivated the world with its simple yet friendly format, that anybody of any age can find it useful. Their mission is simple: to allow people to live healthier and happier lives through meditation and positive sleeping habits. The app comes with guided meditations, videos, music and more. Best of all, they have something for every situation: whether it’s handling anxiety at work or relaxation before bed. Headspace is free for the first two weeks, then can be purchased for $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year.
Similar to Headspace, Insight timer offers over 55,000 recordings, music tracks, and guided meditations with one notable exception— they’re all free. Whether it’s a guided practice for going to sleep, or a TED talk on the importance of meditation, there’s something here for everyone.
Habits can either help us or impede us in the quest for mental resilience. Bad habits such as drinking and smoking can be difficult to stop, while good habits such as exercise or mindfulness, can be difficult to start. HabitBull can help. This app has a ton of features that you’ll find useful, from reminders, cloud syncing, data exports, and much more. HabitBull is totally free, and you can see it in action in this video:
Streaks is a lot like HabitBull, only with a cleaner, minimalist design. Each habit you want to track (say walking the dog or quitting cigarettes) is represented by a circle, and the more you continuously form that habit, the more that circle gets filled in. It’s simple yet surprisingly effective. Streaks has a one-time payment of $4.99.
Free Online Mental Health Classes
The Science of Well Being
Offered by Yale University, The Science of Well Being is a deep dive into increasing one’s happiness and building productive habits. Taught by Professor Laurie Santos, the course covers misconceptions about happiness, how the mind works, and how to change for the better.
Offered by the University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill, Positive Psychology is a primer into the field of positive psychology, or the science of what makes life worth living. Dr. Barbara Frederickson also covers tactics that can help just about anyone make a positive difference in their lives.
Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills
A University of Pennsylvania Coursera course, Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills is all about mental resilience, at home and at work. Taught by Dr. Karen Reivich, the course covers protective factors (such as mental agility and optimism), cognitive strategies, and a critical relationship enhancement skill.
Mindfulness and meditation can often seem like exotic or complicated concepts. Though it started as a religious practice, today it is also viewed as a psychotherapeutic practice, meaning it can help one tremendously with their mental health. In his course, De-Mystifying Mindfulness, Professor Chris Goto-Jones breaks down the history of mindfulness and relates it to the fields of philosophy, politics, and psychology, giving each student the tools to understand meditation and mindfulness with clarity.
Mental Health at Work
You may be wondering, “how can I apply these lessons and resources in the workplace?” The answer depends on how you want to approach it!
As a leader, you can always increase awareness of mental health by providing assessment tools, workshops, and seminars. Manager training can also ensure your other leaders are equipped with the vocabulary and resources needed to support their teams.
It all starts with the culture. Companies should strive to develop a welcoming culture, one that prioritizes work-life balance over productivity. This can present itself in a variety of ways:
– Allowing employees to work remotely when they want
– Regular check-ins regarding workload
– Encouraging and incentivizing healthy decisions (such as rewarding workers that maintain their exercise habits or kick a smoking habit)
– Offering crucial benefits such as healthcare, paid time off, vacation days etc.
– Providing free or discounted mental health resources
Caring for our mental health remains one of the most important issues of our time, perhaps now more than ever. We live in a culture and society that views mental health illnesses as weaknesses or nuisances when in reality it can affect just about anyone. It falls on us as individuals and as a collective to look after ourselves and each other. That all starts with developing the practices and using the right resources to look inward and care for our minds.
Here is a list of emergency resources if you need immediate help:
Emergency: 911 National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) Crisis Text Line: Text ‘DESERVE’ TO 741-741 Lifeline Crisis Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ (Online live messaging) Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT-CUT (1-800-366-8288) Planned Parenthood Hotline: 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222 National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line: 1-800-622-2255 National Crisis Line – Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357 GLBT Hotline: 1-888-843-4564 TREVOR Crisis Hotline: 1-866-488-7386 AIDS Crisis Line: 1-800-221-7044 TransLifeline: 1-877-565-8860 and https://www.translifeline.org Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net