We all know stress management is the foundation for well-being, and that doesn’t change when we enter the workplace.
How are companies supporting the mental health of their employees in uncertain times?
Some business owners are implementing better programs to help their employees navigate these difficult times with both short-term and long-term solutions.
For instance, Target expanded its employee benefits offering to include access to apps like Daylight and Sleepio which are intended to help employees combat burnout and insomnia. Other companies like Starbucks are offering up to 20 counseling sessions for their 220,000 employees.
But how can marketers take it upon themselves to manage stress during uncertain times? First, let’s review the signs of stress overload that are most common.
Signs of Stress Overload for Marketers
It’s important for marketers and their team members to keep an eye out for signs of stress overload, burnout, and declining mental health.
There are several ways that burnout can surface in our lives, and sometimes they’re not as obvious as you’d like to think. Some signs include:
- Insomnia or irregular sleep patterns
- Difficulty with memory, communication, and follow-through
- Increased dependency on drugs/alcohol
If you’ve noticed that you’re having trouble focusing lately, or that you tend to just “check out” in the middle of a task, that can be an early sign that you’re struggling with your workload.
It’s never good to push through when you’re noticing these things coming up, as that can make the problem worse and create a snowball effect on your mental health.
Methods for Managing Stress During Difficult Times
Instead of pushing through the stress, let’s review some positive ways that marketers can manage stress and boost mental health during uncertain times.
Lean on Project Management Systems to Prioritize Activities
One of the biggest issues marketers face during uncertain times, like COVID-19, is figuring out how to pivot their strategies to respond to the changing landscape.
Agility is essential for any marketing team, but marketing activities are often impacted disproportionately when companies need to react in real-time. This is where strong project management can make a world of difference.
When your team has a strong project management system, it can help your employees stay on top of what aspects of the marketing strategy are most important while reprioritizing what isn’t.
This can be difficult for marketers sometimes who tend to be perfectionists, but during tough times, done is better than perfect.
As our global situation continues to shift, it’s important to take as much pressure off of yourself and your team as possible by focusing on the bare essentials of your marketing plan and creating room to pivot strategically as new information arises.
This means business leaders need to be leaning into good systems, good communication, and excellent delegation so that their team can minimize stress as much as possible.
Encourage Team Bonding During Remote Working
Now that social distancing has us all diving into the world of remote working, it’s worth mentioning that this is not easy for many folks.
For those of us who are used to remote work, things haven’t changed much. But for those of us who are used to being in closer quarters with our team, it can be daunting!
Learning to navigate platforms like Zoom can be challenging, especially when you add co-working with a spouse and kids in the house to the mix.
Humans are hard-wired to work together, to socialize, and communicate in person. Even the most basic human interactions release oxytocin (the hormone that makes you feel happy and connected to others) which is vital for our mental health.
This is exponentially decreased when all our interaction is happening through a screen.
This is why many teams are leaning into virtual classes, happy hours, and other online events to help their team members feel more connected.
Yes, it’s still behind a screen, but at least these interactions are more laid back and tend to focus more on bonding then work.
Communicate With Your Support System
In addition to virtual team bonding events, encourage your team to make time for exercise, fresh air, and connecting with family and friends through virtual meetings if they can’t see them in person.
One of the very best ways to boost mental health is to stay in close contact with a support system. Whether it’s your spouse, your friends, or your family, leaning on your closest supporters is one of the best things you can do for validation purposes.
As we approach record numbers of unemployment and mental health issues, it’s never been more important to evaluate where you’re at and keep an eye out for team members that might be struggling.
In a recent study by Mental Health U.K., researchers found that respondents who have a friend that is happy and lives close by are 25% happier on average. While we may not all be able to be close physically, we can maintain closeness in contact.
So call a friend, talk to a therapist, or even have that group movie night over Skype or that Zoom happy hour. It could make a world of difference!
Ask For Help
While it’s important to stay connected with friends and family, it’s not quite as impactful if you’re not willing to ask for help when you need it.
One of the best ways to do this is to reach out to your friend first and ask if they have the time and bandwidth to lend an ear. This opens up a dialogue, even if they’re not ready for it at that moment.
No, it’s not always fun to be vulnerable and let people know how you’re feeling, but it can also offer an amazing amount of relief and lessen your feelings of loneliness. And it’s not as a big of a deal as you may think, to be vulnerable.
The stigma behind mental health issues is virtually gone in America. According to a 2019 survey, 87% of American adults believe that having a mental health issue is nothing to be ashamed of, and 86% believe that those struggling with a mental health issue can get better.
Maintain A Healthy Diet and Get Regular Exercise
These might sound like a no-brainer, but proper exercise and nutrition is woefully underutilized in America.
It’s a little known fact that upwards of 95% of your serotonin (another one of those “happy” hormones) is actually produced in your gastrointestinal tract. This is largely influenced by what you eat and your overall blood sugar regulation.
Harvard researchers recently found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
Clearly, what we eat and how much we move has a direct impact on our mental health and our brain’s ability to combat stress.
Take Time Off
Just because vacations are on hold doesn’t mean time off is, but working remotely can make workers feel more hesitant to take time off.
According to a survey of CoSo Cloud employees in 2015, 52% of remote workers said they are less likely to take time off.
Why is that? Well, it might be because they’re more productive, and feel like they don’t want extra time off. It might be because they have the freedom to work around their own schedule and don’t think they need time off.
It may even stem from feelings of guilt for wanting to take time off when they already get to work remotely. But that kind of mentality can contribute to more mental health problems.
As workers navigate their new lives in lockdown, it can be emotionally taxing to try and keep their work and personal lives separated. It can be increasingly difficult to “turn off” after work is done for the day when your desk and computer are sitting right there.
But that time is essential, especially in difficult times! So don’t be afraid to take time off and allow yourself to recharge.
Have a staycation with your spouse or go on a day trip or a hike while maintaining social distancing from crowds.
Implement A Self-Care Routine
This one can be easier said than done, but it’s one of the most important tips on this list.
Self-care has been a buzzword for a while now, and for good reason. Taking concentrated time to just focus on yourself – even if it’s only 10 minutes per day – can be a powerful way to step back from the chaos and give yourself a chance to reset.
This routine can be anything from taking a long shower to reading a book, to writing in a journal. It just needs to be something that not only helps you drop into the present moment but also gives you a chance to tune into your feelings.
Sometimes self-care gets conflated with self-indulgence. And while indulgence has its place, self-care is often what we really need.
So make sure you’re finding time to do those things that you know make you feel better.
Remember, You’re Not The Only One
No matter what uncertainty you’re facing right now, just remember you are not alone.
Everyone goes through challenging phases in life, and it just so happens we’re all going through a big one right now. The beauty of that, though, is that we’re in this together.
This means we can all play a role in encouraging our team members to practice stress management and self-care right now.
Now more than ever, we should also strive to create more compassionate communication with our team members.
It might even be worthwhile to have regular meetings with your team to just talk about stress management tools and practices that have been helpful for everyone.
Great Stress Management Resources
Whether it’s through reading books, attending lectures, or listening to podcasts, we can all find ways that help us gain new perspectives and focus on the positives. Here are just a few that we love: