April 7th is World Health Day; an important day for individuals, families and businesses to look a little more introspectively at how they live and whether there are any areas for improvement. For the individual, this could be as little as a resolution to improve fitness levels or to reduce their sugar intake. For a business, it could be as big as a new office refit decked with office plants with the purpose of improving indoor air quality, reducing stress levels and improving wellbeing.
Whether your ideas are big or small, this article will teach you about how stress became the enemy of public wellbeing and how nature can be used to fight against its unwanted effects on the mind and body.
Stressed About Stress?
The World Health Organisation [WHO] cites poor mental health and cardiovascular disease to be two prime factors of worldwide illness by 2020 and at the heart of both issues is stress. Work is a large part of most people’s lives and many workers will attest that their work environment puts an emphasis on physical well-being, also recognised as the physical ability to get into the office and do the work.
This mentality, however, is proving to be quite old fashioned in the modern office; since 1986, WHO have been stating that health ‘is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a positive state of complete physical, mental and social well-being’. This means that a healthy working environment is one that does not only judge its employees on their physical well-being alone but also cares for their mental well-being.
This means listening to your employees when they are struggling with anxiety or heavy workloads and considering what you can do to make your workplace a happier environment. You might just find a rise in overall productivity when you make employee well-being one of your aims.
It should be understood by managers that the aim is not to remove all the pressures faced by the individual. After all, it is expected that employees will need to battle with emergencies and business-wide problems from time to time. If you feel that your company could improve its mental health awareness, you could start by considering ways to dilute the excessive stresses frequently felt by individuals. Offering more options to improve work life balance such as flexible working or allowing staff to organise their own working schedule can also be very useful. Encouraging people to talk about what is going on and offering moral support is also appreciated by your workforce.
Taking a look at the bigger picture, how can you make changes company-wide? This could be by updating your office look with some indoor office plants for a morale boost, or it could be that you introduce some new health-orientated perks for your workers.
How Can Nature Help?
The fight against stress is real; the British Heart Foundation speculates that high stress at the very least contributes to your risk for developing heart and circulatory diseases. One of the biggest dangers is that individuals will seek to assuage their feelings of stress with bad behaviours like alcoholism or overeating. If you want to keep a healthy business, it is equally important to spread the word about how individuals can adopt healthy ways to release their stress, as well as tackling their work-related pressures head-on.
You can do this by getting your business or team to spend more time in nature. It has been proven by a Dutch study that surrounding yourself with natural elements can lower stress hormones, so in turn, nature can be considered as a holistic measure against developing heart disease.
Indeed, some doctors in Shetland are already prescribing nature to tackle high blood pressure and anxiety. It should be remembered that these measures should not replace an individual’s pre-existing medications, but that many health experts are seeing benefits by adding a dose of nature to their patient’s prescribed treatment. The nature prescription has now been rolled out to all ten GPs across the Shetland, including the distribution of leaflets to help locals to understand the importance of outdoor therapy.
You can encourage your workers to spend more time in nature and increase their exercising by organising softball games in your local park, or by arranging an office hike. It can be hard to encourage all your workers to take walks in their own time if they are not already sold on nature’s beauty.
There is another way to connect them to the benefits of nature, you can introduce natural elements to their lives within your own office through our office moss walls and office flowers. Improve both their mental- and physical health with plants that fight dust levels and improve air quality. There are plenty reasons to have plants in the workplace which you can learn about through our infographic, and with our expertly trained plant technicians to take care of your office’s new plants throughout your contract, you won’t have to worry about finding time to manage their upkeep.
Office Moss Wall by Planteria
Let’s make World Health Day greener by spreading the word about the success of modern holistic practices together. We’re calling for more hikes and picnics at an individual level and a greater awareness of the benefits of biophilic design in the workplace business-wide. Please contact us for more information about how we can help you with an office refit that will not only boost employee morale, but health, too.
1) Stress at the Workplace (Online Article, by the World Health Organisation)
2) Stress (Online Webpage, by the British Heart Foundation)
3) ‘Nature’ Being Pre-scribed by GPs in Shetland (Article by BBC News, 2018)
4) Gardening Promotes Neuroendocrine and Affective Restoration from Stress (Study by Van Den Berg and Custers, 2010)