After three long months of lockdown some people are beginning to get back to work, but business is most definitely not as usual. Research released in July by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that 56% of people said coronavirus (COVID-19) was still having an impact on their work.
The global coronavirus pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our daily lives, work being the most obvious one. It is estimated that 600,000 British workers dropped off the payroll between March and May 2020 and around 9.1 million people were furloughed.
Almost everyone has been taken by surprise by this unique situation and our efforts to manage this ‘new normal’ have had a big impact on our wellbeing. The insecurity and instability of the crisis with no clear end in sight is taking its toll. The ONS reports that 7 in 10 adults are currently very or somewhat worried about the effect of coronavirus on their lives. Little wonder then, that we are seeing high levels of anxiety across the UK.
Getting some headspace
Recognising the current need for calm, meditation specialist, Headspace, has stepped in to help people who have lost work during this time. In June they announced that they would be offering furloughed and unemployed workers in the UK one year’s free access to their app. The app is already free to NHS workers, and this is a welcome extension.
Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, said: “We know how devastating unemployment can be, and the stress, anxiety, and health concerns that it can lead to. Obviously, mindfulness cannot change the circumstances of the pandemic, but it can help to provide essential tools for managing stress at this difficult time.”
Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation are being recognised beyond the confines of fringe groups and increasingly supported by scientific research. A study from UCLA (2015) found that regular meditation can help keep our brains younger for longer. While researchers in 2014 found a strong link between meditation and the reduction of depression, anxiety and even pain. Another study found that after just 8 weeks of meditation, practitioners had improved their concentration and attention.
Headspace claims that meditation can also:
- Reduce stress
- Improve focus
- Boost mood
- Increase compassion for others and ourselves
- Calm aggression
- Help us to work more effectively.
In addition to the thousands of hours of meditations already available via the app, the Headspace team have also created Living Through Unemployment which contains six meditations designed to support anyone currently faced with job loss. The guided sessions cover topics such as adapting to sudden change, finding purpose and recovering confidence.
Apps like Headspace provide an accessible way to promote wellbeing and meditation in the comfort of your own home. There is no need for any expensive equipment, all that’s needed is a smartphone and a few spare minutes. Which, in these uncertain times, is perhaps all we can be sure of.
Organisations may feel powerless to support their furloughed employees or those they need to let go due to the current situation. They, themselves, are having to grapple with the devastating effects of the crisis. Headspace offers a helpful steer to businesses that want to help their teams navigate the next few months. Letting staff know about the mental health benefits of meditation and apps such as Headspace is a great step to opening up a positive, two-way dialogue to maintaining communication and staff wellbeing.
Keeping the lines of communication open and proactively supporting your employee’s mental health are building blocks to creating a trusting relationship that will support their return to the workplace when the time is right for your business.