At the beginning of the 21st century, most people were hesitant to talk about mental health, let alone see a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get a diagnosis on their state of mind. But in the last decade or so, mental health and wellbeing were brought to the forefront as more and more people became vocal about it in the public domain with a newfound respect for individual vulnerabilities. This phenomena was further accelerated during the pandemic, when work-home boundaries were blurred and mass layoffs led to understaffing issues in organisations forcing employees to work beyond their shift timings causing fatigue, exhaustion and burnout.
As organisations and HR leaders understood the need for the wellbeing of their employees, policies such as mental health days or weeks, four-days workweek and counselling benefits were introduced. But there is still a gap at an individual level, where an employee is unable to differentiate his work life from his home life. You can usually spot the signs if you observe carefully: These individuals might feel anxious about the week ahead, are unable to focus on work during shift hours, usually take more sick leaves, feel performance pressure, etc.
To help these professionals inculcate mindfulness in their lives and strengthen their mental health, chairman and MD, Jaipur Rugs and social entrepreneur Nand Kishore Chaudhary shared some helpful insights in a blog post when a young colleague posed a question about management and mindfulness recently. Chaudhary, who has been one of the pioneers of inclusive growth as he tried to eradicate middlemen and child labour in carpet supply chain, will also be a speaker at Asia’s largest HR and Work Tech conference, People Matters TechHR India 2022.
Here is Chaudhary’s practical approach to better mental health for employees at work:
Chaudhary in the blog post revealed how a few years ago, he found himself in a similar mess as his colleague, where he would often find himself thinking about home while he was at work and as soon as he sat down for some family time, he was anxious about the work that had to be done. But when he zeroed in on the problem, he realised that it was all because he was totally out of control. It is at that very moment, he decided to be in-charge of his life and lead it on his own terms.
Taking care of your mental health is important for better productivity at work and overall healthier life. If you look at the latest report from JobSage, the findings depict that mental health issues are the biggest reason for more than a quarter (28%) of recent employee exits. Not just that, 53% of respondents agree that their work is suffering because of poor mental health. Hence, it is important for employees to take the reins and plan their work around their wellbeing and not the other way around.
Build practices, one at a time
According to a report titled All in the Mind: The Leadership Factor 2022 by human capital solutions and services provider Gi Group Holding, India, three in four employees (77%) hold their leaders responsible for ensuring employee mental wellbeing. While we believe leaders are the harbingers of change, it is a wise step to begin at an individual-level to strengthen your inner game and become the best version of yourself.
For Chaudhary, it was all about practice: the more he practised, the healthier he felt, mentally. He shares, “I took charge of my life and that made all the difference.” For all those, who wish to follow in his footsteps, he says the key is to start. “If you don’t start, you will reach nowhere. If you start, you might reach somewhere beyond your imagination,” believes Chaudhary. But he cautions against adopting too many practices at once as the purpose is to adopt a resolution and excel at it.
Surround yourself with people who prioritise mental wellbeing
Chaudhary began his journey once he started being around people who considered mental health and wellbeing to be an important part of their lives as he believed our environment triggers action. For him, being around these individuals helped him focus and adapt to things that were good for his mental wellbeing.
Put a stop to multitasking
In today’s time, a person is always multitasking as he attends meetings, checks his phone, or is pushed into different tasks based on his manager’s commands throughout the day. While many believe multitasking to be a strength at work, according to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, it is indicated that multitasking is less efficient as it takes extra time to shift mental gears every time a person switches between tasks. Chaudhary also believes that once he stopped multitasking, his focus was on deep work and mindfulness. And he saw the immediate results as “it improved his efficiency like magic.”
Break out of your patterns
In the end, it was all about understanding one’s patterns and reflecting on them. Chaudhary explains that most of our patterns are built at an early age, and we unconsciously keep on practicing them. But once, he understood his patterns that created a hinderance to mental health, he started replacing them with positive things he wanted - first in his thoughts and then in his actions. He shares, “I started decluttering self-destructive habits by breaking the cycle of shame, guilt, and fear by taking responsibility for little messes.”
For Chaudhary, who was born at a time when mental health wasn’t a subject of discussion, he was never taught how to take care of his mental health. But with his valuable insights, we hope you can find the beginning you were looking for as you move towards staying mentally healthy and happy. To know more about Chaudhary’s business venture or meet him in-person, join us at People Matters TechHR India 2022 conference at Leela Ambience on 4-5 August.