The world is dealing with a mental health epidemic. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says every fourth person on the planet suffers from some kind of mental health issue. Every 40 seconds, a person takes their own life. In fact, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally and accounts for 8 lakh deaths a year.
Poor mental health severely affects organisations and employees. Regular stress and even mild depression can reduce a person’s physical and mental ability to perform well. The person tends to make more mistakes, since stress affects their:
- Cognitive and emotional ability to make decisions,
- Engagement with their work,
- Communication at work and in their personal life,
- Performance and productivity and
- Compassion for self and others.
How the fast-changing environment affects our mental wellbeing
Computerisation, digitisation, augmentation and Artificial Intelligence are bringing rapid changes around us. However, is our ability to adapt to these changes growing correspondingly?
Humans are creatures of habit. And whenever there is a change in our present environment, position, job responsibility or learning style, our first reaction is to resist. This is because change makes people feel like they are losing control, and newer ways of doing things interferes with their habit patterns and autonomy. Adapting to change also consumes more energy and is mentally, physically and emotionally draining. Therefore, change evokes emotions like stress, anxiety, resentment, apprehension, fear and vulnerability. Exposure to such conditions leads to “burnout syndrome”, which is a likely consequence of experiencing these various stressors at regular intervals.
Sometimes even simple organisational or lifestyle changes can trigger resistance and, if timely steps are not taken, can lead to serious emotional and mental health issues among employees. At first the effects may not be visible, but the eventual impact could be more lasting and damaging for organisational productivity as well as employee health.
Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence
Overcoming an inertia-based response to change requires cultivating different mental and emotional capabilities. Developing mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence skills is an effective way to build sense of psychological safety. There is now strong evidence that mindfulness-based EI interventions lead to more positive outcomes in reducing stress and cultivating overall mental and physical well-being. It is found that people who regularly practice mindfulness are far more flexible to change and less prone to mental tension. These people also report higher well-being and lower stress levels during the precipitously-changing environment.
Our mental health depends upon how we look at the given situation; some people see change as a threat and others as an opportunity. What should one choose? The answer is obvious.
The good news is that our mental health is very much is our hands. Like we take care of our physical health by exercising or eating healthy food, we can also develop a healthy mind and positive behaviour through mindfulness and emotional intelligence very easily.
With a little training and the practice of mindfulness, one can cultivate the ability to attentively observe situations, connect with one’s thoughts and understand the feelings and emotions of the self and others. Using emotional intelligence, one cultivates a positive behaviour to navigate emotions and uses this data to guide one’s decisions and actions.
When we are in state of mindfulness we feel safer, and this makes us more empathic and compassionate towards ourselves and others.
Cultivating mindful behaviour allows us to understand situations, evaluate opportunities, visualise prospects and respond from a place of calm and mental clarity. This is also known as a “state of flow”, and it gives us natural momentum to progress more swiftly and less stressfully. The next time you, your family or co-workers go through stressful periods of change or mental health issues, do not hesitate to touch base with a mindfulness expert and learn these life-changing skills to propel your progress by building a positive outlook towards life.