October is World Mental Health Month. But mental health isn’t discussed just once a year in October. In fact, mental well-being is so significant that it is raised all year round: in March (Self-Harm Awareness), April (Stress Awareness), May (National Mental Health Awareness Month in the US) – just to name a few.
So why is it so important? In recent years, we have become increasingly inundated with stress. The advent of Covid exacerbated existing tolls and brought about newer ones.
On a positive note, Covid “helped” – companies were encouraged to let employees work from home. Employees were only too happy to avoid waking up at ungodly hours, and either driving in incessant traffic or squeezing with the masses on buses and trains to get to their offices. However, Covid and the resulting remote work served as a double-edged sword.
Think about it: how many of you feel burdened because it seems like your workday never really ends? What used to be a 9-to-6 turned into “one more Zoom meeting.” Often, we receive non-stop emails and Slack messages about “urgent” actions that need tending to. Even when you are done, access to work (your laptop or phone) is still just a few steps or clicks away.
When Kai, our HR Associate from Singapore, worked in Beijing, China, he found that most of his clients adopted a “9-9-6” mindset. What’s this, you ask? Well, it means working from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week. It became the norm for employees to show up at the office on Saturdays, and sometimes even on Sundays. In fact, you’d be frowned upon if you didn’t! Kai saw first-hand how this resulted in burnout, stymied creativity, and made even the tightest-knit teams angry and irritable at one another.
Vested understands these challenges all too well – we are certainly not shielded from the negative impacts of stress. After all, we’ve had a distributed work environment since day one. That said, we value our employees’ mental well-being. While we can’t always get together for a fun offsite, we employ other ways to get the team energized, including weekly fun activities. One such activity is “Wellness Wednesdays”, where the Vested team engages with external experts to get tips on improving wellbeing. Another one is “Fun Fridays”, which in a nutshell is just fun and games in all forms!
During our last Fun Friday activity, more than half of Vested’s 90-person team gathered online and played Trivia. It was an exciting event where team members engaged in friendly competition. We had 3 winners from the event, Vikram Asgaonkar, Akshay Narkar and Soham Moghe. Kai talked to them to get a sense of what they gained from this event, and summarized their top 3 insights:
On top of these weekly activities, there are also one-off fun activities throughout the year. Earlier this year, the team participated in a yoga virtual session to celebrate Yoga Day. Recently, team members were able to participate in a company-wide Hackathon. In line with Halloween later this month, Vested’s team members will be able to take part in a Halloween design competition.
There’s so much to be done to ensure we can lead healthy, happy, and effective lifestyles. In addition to taking your macro pauses (vacation!), don’t forget to take micro (e.g. a 30-second break from your screen) and meso pauses (e.g. an afternoon walk) throughout the day! Here are some suggestions and favorites shared by our Vested team members:
- Find a quiet space and meditate for a few mins every morning or evening!
- Listening to music while going on a bike ride in the evenings (Nidhi)
- Give your pet (dog, cat, whatever!) a BIG, BIG hug at least 3 times a day
- Read a good book
- Playing badminton in the evenings and DOTA on weekends (Akash)
- Working out to release extra dopamine (Darwin)
- Go running! Best to run outside if the weather’s good
- Drink chamomile tea in the evenings – helps with rest!
- Yoga, once a week!
Stay happy and stay safe!
What are some of your strategies for taking a breather? We’d love to hear from you!