A BALLARAT mental health expert says we can all benefit from a short brain break in the workplace to combat stress in the immediate and long term.
Feels Good Wellness director Laura Duggan said it would be even better if it became the norm for employees to close their eyes and meditate for five minutes during the work day.
Ballarat multinational PETstock and charity The Ballarat Foundation's joint plans for a mass meditation event outside town hall have been twice postponed due to wet weather. Both remain encouraging businesses and employees to take a mindful moment.
This practice has become part of PETstock's internal health and well-being program, building on their well-known daily hot laps around the block and squat-o'clock to get all employees to get moving.
Ms Duggan said workplaces were opening more conversations with employees about anxiety, depression and support available but a little mindfulness was a technique everyone could use to de-stress or focus more, often without anyone else even noticing.
It's not about relaxing and switching off. It's taking a break and some deep breaths...and drop stress back to healthy levels.Laura Duggan, Feels Good Wellness director
"It's not about relaxing and switching off. It's taking a break and some deep breaths...even 30 seconds of long, slow, deep breathing can let your body know you're safe, relax and drop stress back to healthy levels," Ms Duggan said.
"Our lives are more fast-paced than they've ever been. We're working longer hours in modern history and we need to address our own mental health.
"...Humans can cope with a lot of stress but in modern times we're switched on for longer periods."
One in five Australians report they have taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell, like stressed, each year, according to the State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia report supported by beyondblue. The report found this rate more than doubled for employees who felt their workplace was mentally unhealthy.
Ms Duggan said it was important to train the brain as a muscle and keep practising techniques to reduce stress. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present, including physical and emotional feelings, without judgment.
She said this could be as simple as recognising tension in the body, like shoulders, and consciously releasing this. Or, taking a deep breath and re-group when moving from one appointment to another.
While Ms Duggan recommended routine meditation, she said this was not always realistic in busy lives and encouraged people just to start slowing down a little at a time because it all helped.
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