8 Ways Companies Can Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Originally named by Mental Health America in 1949, this important awareness month encourages individuals and organizations to champion mental health awareness and to normalize conversation and action around matters of mental health and wellbeing.

There has been extensive conversation around the topic of employee mental health and wellbeing over the past few years, and rightly so. Though the pandemic has eased in many ways, employees are still facing challenges to their mental health and wellbeing. Persistent and widespread stressors include conflict around heading back to the office, overwork from staffing issues causing teams to be spread thin, and an undercurrent of global political unrest, among others. This creates a recipe for anxiety, depression, and burnout.

Why acknowledgment of Mental Health Awareness Month matters

Given the state of the world, mental health and wellbeing continue to be top workplace concerns. Everyone is affected to some degree. The good news is that addressing this topic in a meaningful way has the potential to bring employers and employees together by creating a healthier workplace.

Companies must lead the conversation around mental health and wellbeing, listen to employees, and provide benefits that make a difference in their lives. Acknowledging mental health is key to fostering a culture of psychological safety at work. Corporate wellness programs produce the best results for employees when paired with top-down, big picture culture change that allows employees to be themselves at work and feel valued for who they are.

Addressing multiple dimensions of wellbeing, holistic wellness practices boost feelings of connection, which prove integral to our sense of overall wellbeing.

Here are 8 ways companies can support employee wellbeing through investment in holistic wellness programming*:

  • Offer webinars on topics related to mental wellbeing – these presentations provide employees with information and discussion facilitated by a national board-certified health & wellness coach. Many wellness webinars include time for employee questions and interactions on the topic, offering the chance for them to be a little vulnerable if they choose, which can help fellow co-workers with similar challenges feel less alone.
  • Schedule live, interactive fitness & wellness classes – one of the benefits of live classes is the built-in connection employees have with instructors and co-workers. Workouts like HIIT, Strength & Conditioning and other types of exercise that really get the heart rate often help to boost feelings of wellbeing. Or, turn to mindful movement offerings like desk yoga, accessible yoga and Pilates. No matter the type of class, get the maximum reach by pairing live classes with a recording employees can view later.
  • Provide easy access to on-demand classes – many employees make use of wellness offerings they can engage with when it’s most convenient for them. Having an easily accessible collection of wellness practices, fitness classes, nutrition support, and webinars at their fingertips can help employees stay consistent.
  • Organize mindfulness talks or meditation & breathwork sessionsMindfulness and meditation practices teach employees to be present and focused, while breathwork helps to build self-awareness – all strong components of mental wellbeing. Ongoing, weekly classes offer employees a regular touchpoint for their practice, while one-time sessions make a great addition to meetings and special events.
  • Offer Chair Massage at the office – if you have hybrid employees, or employees have fully transitioned back to the office, this is a fantastic service to offer. Pick a day when the majority of employees are scheduled to be on-site or schedule a massage therapist through multiple time blocks so employees can receive a massage when it’s most convenient for them. Massage is known to decrease anxiety, reduce pain, and enhance mood.
  • Get Cooking – Food brings us together. Live, interactive cooking classes are a fun and unique way to bring hybrid employees together, creating the kind of connection that boosts mental wellbeing. These classes can also be fun even if employees prefer to watch and learn from the instructor.
  • Suggest a disconnect from social media – invite employees to disconnect from their social feeds, even for a brief period, while continuing to stay informed through other reliable sources. Social media is shown to have negative effects on mental health. Your company could even set an example by taking a month off from its social media campaigns, allowing your marketing & communications team a respite.
  • Express Gratitude – let employees know they are appreciated. A little recognition can go a long way and help employees feel seen, and thus feel a bit more motivated in their work.

Acknowledgment and action around matters of mental health and wellbeing can go a long way toward having happier, healthier employees, while helping your company to thrive into the future. What steps will your company take toward these ends this month?

*In addition to holistic wellness programming that’s offered at work, employees should always be encouraged to make use of EAP programs to consult with trained and certified mental health professionals. While they can be supportive in many ways, wellness practices are not a substitution for traditional mental health treatment.

 

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Browse our virtual wellness services catalog with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Discover the benefits of the Urban Balance on-demand video library, a workplace wellbeing solution with over 350+ holistic wellness classes. Includes membership options for companies and individuals.

 

Why You Should Go on a Wellness Retreat

 

Since the onset of the pandemic, more people have begun to develop an appreciation for the role of health and wellbeing in their lives. And, as we move into this next phase of the experience, many are ready to travel, gather, and experience the world again.

It’s no secret: the past couple of years have taken a toll on just about everyone’s sense of wellbeing. For one, maintaining physical wellness has been a challenge for many — getting out into nature, moving your body, breathing well, and eating well, are a few of the keys to thriving in this dimension of wellbeing. It’s also very important to acknowledge how challenging it can be to keep our attention here while living under stressful circumstances.

Mental wellbeing is another dimension of wellbeing that has been hugely impacted. In a recent survey from American Express, 69 percent of respondents said they had experienced mental health impacts from the pandemic, while 76 percent of respondents said they wanted to spend more on travel that put wellbeing at the center of the experience.

Over the past 10-15 years, this trend of seeking out vacations that prioritize relaxation and self-care has led to the rise of an entire industry. Dubbed wellness tourism or wellness travel, this industry boasts a wide array of retreat-like experiences in locations around the world.

Benefits of Wellness Retreats

Some of the most impactful wellness retreats combine multiple dimensions of wellbeing that help to enrich our lives. Offerings might range from yoga and meditation sessions to fitness classes to massage and other spa services. Wellness retreats often give participants a taste of the local cuisine, as well as opportunities to learn about the local culture.

There is typically some space set aside for retreat-goers to step out of the main group to enjoy personal time in nature or take excursions to local attractions of their choice. Such elements help transform a simple trip into a holistic experience. If you’re ready for a reset, here’s why you should make a wellness retreat part of your plan.

Holistic wellness retreats help you:

Nurture your body inside and out
Holistic wellness retreats often include daily movement practices like yoga or Pilates, access to spa services like massage and skincare, and the opportunity to savor delicious local fare. Typically taking place in restful, relaxing environments, holistic wellness retreats support the release of tension and stress in the body and nervous system.

Care for your mind
Mental wellbeing has been a well-documented challenge throughout the pandemic. Reducing your stress level for a few days by participating in a refreshing experience like a wellness retreat can help to shift your outlook amidst the challenges of life, and even boost your optimism.

Eat well
Often, one of the best parts about wellness retreats is the food – especially when it’s locally produced, sustainably grown, and chef-prepared. It’s easy to feel well when eating nutritious, flavorful cuisine. All the more reason to leave the cooking to someone else for a few days!

Connect with others
Wellness retreats are a great place to make new connections and discover new interests as you step out of your daily responsibilities and into a fresh perspective. Show up solo and you might just come away with a new friend.

Step out of your routine

There’s something comforting about our daily routines. They can help us stay focused and steady to ensure we honor our commitments to ourselves and others. Consider setting your routines aside for a time. Doing so can help to widen your perspective and release the stress of your to-do list as you immerse yourself in the present moment experience. When you return home, you might just appreciate your “regular” life and the space your routines hold even more.

Looking for wellness retreats near you?

Googling “wellness retreats near me” will pop up some great options in your local area.

Urban Balance is proud to offer local and international wellness retreats. To see what we have coming up, visit the retreats section of our website. Next up is our Gather Wellness Retreat happening April 22nd-25th at Brasada Ranch near Bend, OR.

Looking for a virtual “getaway” for hybrid employees? We also offer virtual corporate retreats that employees can take part in from any location!

 

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver live and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.


Browse our
catalog of virtual wellness services with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Ways to Boost Mental Fitness in the Workplace

Ways to Increase Mental Fitness in the Workplace

Have you heard the term “mental fitness” and wondered if it involved lifting tiny weights with your brain? Thankfully it doesn’t, but mental fitness training can enhance our ability to move through many of the challenges we encounter at work and at home – an area where many employees are needing support right now.


What is mental fitness?

Critical to our ability to thrive and reach our full potential, mental fitness can be defined as a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which we are in touch with how we think, feel and act. Just like physical fitness, mental fitness is something we can all strengthen and improve over the course of our lives. There is an array of skills, lifestyle habits, and practices that can help boost our mental fitness and increase resiliency so we can manage stress and cope with challenges.


What does being mentally fit look and feel like?

A few common indicators include:

  • A positive sense of how we think, feel, and behave
  • Living in the present moment more of the time
  • Resiliency in dealing with stressors as they arise
  • Experiencing flow states more of the time
  • Laser-focused attention and a clearer mind
  • Clarity about who you are and how you want to be
  • Eagerness to take on new challenges and show up in your life
  • Ability to creatively problem-solve

What are some ways to increase mental fitness?

Meditate or otherwise practice mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness practices encourage relaxation as you engage in contemplation. Regular meditation may increase your ability to focus, decrease anxiety, and help you approach life with greater intention.

Look at your “information diet”
Pay attention to what types of media you’re consuming on a regular basis. What is the overall quality of your “diet”? Notice the quality of thoughts that are flowing through your consciousness each day. Kinder, more compassionate thoughts help to develop a more optimistic mindset which in turn supports positive action.

Focus on Nutrition
It’s hard to focus or feel mentally engaged when our bodies aren’t getting enough nutrients. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet to follow as each body has different needs, concentrate on eating a wide array of nutritious foods and eat for brain health whenever possible.

Maintain physical fitness
A healthy body supports a healthy mind. There have been many studies done that show the positive impact of exercise on mental health, including this one. If your mind is feeling dull or on the other side of the spectrum, chaotic, getting out and moving can work wonders, often in a short amount of time.

Improve Sleep Hygiene
Consider your sleep habits. What is your caffeine and water intake like throughout the day? Do you have a routine in place like reading or meditating to help you wind down before bed? These can all impact the quality of our sleep.

Mental Fitness Training Programs
Mental fitness programming is one of the many ways companies can demonstrate care for their employees’ mental well-being. In fact, formal brain training/mental fitness programs have become quite a trend in the last few years and with the widespread increase in demand for mental well-being programming in the corporate wellness landscape, these programs definitely have their place.

Urban Balance offers one such program called Positive Intelligence. In this 8-week course, employees learn to identify, recognize and intercept thoughts, habits, and patterns that no longer serve them. The practices offered within the program simultaneously activate and strengthen the region of the brain that supports highly effective stress-free performance and optimal response.

To enroll yourself or a group of employees in the next session of this widely-acclaimed professional development course starting in January, please contact us for full details.

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety,

Returning to Work: How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety

Mental health, and employee well-being in general, have been prominent topics of conversation throughout the pandemic.

At first, quarantine had an overwhelming impact on everyone’s mental well-being. A sense of isolation paired with never really being able to “shut off” work was an issue at the forefront for so many. Fast forward 18 months to now, when many employers have announced their return-to-work plans and the transition is well underway. It turns out going back to the office has been just as challenging, if not more so, than the sudden switch to remote work.

In June 2021, global management consulting firm McKinsey conducted a survey of 1,602 employed people, in which 1 in 3 employees reported that returning to the office negatively impacted their mental health.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety at work is marked by the presence of feelings of interpersonal trust and an overall culture of respect and inclusivity that invites members to show up as their whole selves, take risks, and innovate. Ensuring employees feel psychologically safe in the workplace is part of supporting their mental well-being through this new round of changes.

What are the current employee concerns; how can employers help?

Perhaps the most obvious include physical concerns related to contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to loved ones, including immuno-compromised family members and children who may not yet be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Another top-ranking concern is flexibility, which 62% of survey respondents reported could decrease the stress of transitioning back on-site. Many employees are seeking hybrid work arrangements and more time off. In our increasingly busy world, one where employees are often leaving for greener pastures, employers are needing to find ways to accommodate people in this regard.

What role can your workplace wellness program play in supporting psychological safety at work?

Holistic corporate wellness programs can go beyond providing employees with stand-alone movement, meditation, or cooking classes. When executed well, engagement with these offerings helps to create a culture of well-being at work – a culture where qualities like openness, inclusivity, and caring about co-worker’s joys and challenges, becomes normalized — all of which can help to reduce mental health stigma and help employees find a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Livestream and on-site classes — activities done together in real time — serve to bring employees together to cultivate a shared experience, and even a sense of community and purpose, around something other than work. Through interacting with co-workers during a wellness webinar on reducing stress through meditation, for example, employees may come to realize that they have the same anxieties and stressors as some of their peers and feel less alone as a result.

Providing options can help to reduce stress and give employees flexibility in how they engage with your wellness offerings. Each employee population is a little different. Try mixing up your offerings and how they are delivered. If your employee report feeling “Zoomed out” by the end of the day, it may be difficult to get everyone on board to take part in a single virtual class. Instead, try offering a mix of virtual and on-site services, or perhaps some on-demand classes they can take part in when it feels right for them.

For example, try offering 2-3 weekly yoga classes paired with an on-site massage session once per month. If on-site programming does not yet feel accessible in your area yet due to state or local restrictions, it’s something to consider for the future.

Finally, with ‘The Great Resignation’ underway, your employee wellness program has to do double duty — that is, support existing employees while also signaling to prospective team members the type of workplace culture you are looking to prioritize. If you’re in a leadership role, model positive engagement with existing wellness offerings. Stay connected with current employees’ needs, both by surveying and talking with them regularly, while staying abreast of the trends. A quality well-being program is a singular, yet potentially very impactful piece of the puzzle of supporting your team’s mental health.

In Closing

Psychological safety is a huge part of your employee’s overall well-being and prioritizing it in your company’s return-to-work strategy will be of the utmost importance. If your company is seeking a partner to help tailor and execute a corporate wellness program for these times — look no further! We have a deep commitment to understanding the nuances of employee wellness and will be here with you every step of the way.

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Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

Pandemic Reflections: Co-Creating The World We Want to Live In

Pandemic Reflections: Co-Creating The World We Want to Live In

The pandemic has revealed how deeply interconnected we are with everyone and everything on the planet. We have seen first-hand how a virus with a single point of origin could come to affect us collectively in one way or another.

Whether that impact has looked like losing your sense of day-to-day normalcy, or at worst, contracting the virus or losing loved ones, we have all felt the toll and witnessed the great suffering and iniquity it has revealed. But now that the regulations are starting to lift and our movements are becoming less restricted, where do we go from here? Read more

On Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

On Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: How Companies Can Demonstrate Care

It is no secret that the pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health to some degree throughout the past year.

According to a survey by the CDC, 40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a marked increase in substance abuse.

As a corporate wellness company focused on holistic programming, we recognize that mental health and wellbeing are inextricably linked from the overall picture of employee wellness. So, what is the relationship between the two, and what can support look like in the workplace? Read on. Read more

The Well-Being Difference: Taking a Holistic Approach to Corporate Wellness Programs



According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center in early 2020, one third of Americans have experienced high levels of psychological distress during the pandemic. Nearly one year into this event, we also know that stress and burnout are now more prominent in the workplace than ever.

These issues were rising even prior to the pandemic, but what is clear now is just how many employees are expecting support from their employers. According to a MetLife survey, 76% of employees think their workplace has a responsibility for their health and well-being. As noted in the summary of the study (linked), employees need an ally. Employers can assume this role by acknowledging their employees as whole people and providing holistic support through their wellness programming. Read more

4 Ways to Promote Resilience Within Remote Teams

November 2020

There’s a lot of talk about “Covid fatigue” these days. Perhaps you’re seeing signs of it in your employees and colleagues, and maybe even yourself. Now several months into this global pandemic, most workplaces have moved beyond the adrenaline/shock of it all and further into the question of “when will we go back to normal?” Read more

On Virtual Wellness Retreats (and How Your Employees Can Benefit)

What comes to mind when you hear the word, “retreat”? You might think of traveling to a remote location in pursuit of a self-care experience, free from the distractions of work and family. “Retreat” comes from the Latin verb – “to pull back”. Indeed, no matter the style or location of a retreat, one of the reasons they are so beloved by many is that they invite us to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of modern daily life, while providing the clarity, inspiration, and inner healing we crave. Read more

Corporate Wellness Program Strategy: 3 Ways HR Teams Can Recommit to Their Employees This Fall

by Kasey Stewart, UB Team Member and Yoga Instructor

As we welcome September and the change of seasons, it is clear that we are heading into a fall like none other. How are you pivoting your employee wellness strategy to compensate?

Of course, there are still many unknowns that may pose challenges for your company, but what can your corporate wellness program strategy look like despite these unknowns? This transitional time is a great moment to acknowledge what is possible, given the circumstances.

Here are a few tips to help you prioritize employee wellness this fall:
Read more