yoga and the workplace: do employers do enough for stress, anxiety and depression?


I snapped this snake charmer at work in Jaipur. Do you think this man looks stressed, anxious or depressed? I don’t know and, from outward appearances, it is impossible to tell. You are, of course, at liberty to draw your own conclusions.

These days we all work in many different environments: some will be indoors, perhaps in offices, whilst other spend their working lives outdoors. Some people will love their jobs, others hate theirs and, no doubt, there will be a large number in between these two extremes. If you’re not happy at work, it is easy for others to suggest you find something else, although there may be many factors making this not quite so straightforward.

Why do we work? At a basic level, most of us need to earn a living to live. However, depending on our education, the size of our family, the level of our responsibilities and many other driving factors, we will all exercise some degree of choice over what we do and where we do it.  Working hours can be long and demands can be high.  We all react differently and, whilst some of us float through life, many of us experience some degrees of stress, which, if not managed, can lead onto anxiety, depression and other illnesses, which, taking the individuals concerned out of the equation for a moment, has huge impacts on businesses and their working environment, affects co-workers who are required to cover for sick colleagues as well as huge financial impacts on the bottom line of company balance sheets. That’s when employers wake up and listen!

This week, on 4th October, BBC Breakfast highlighted Business in the Community’s comments that employers are not doing enough to help with stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace. In case you’re wondering, Business in the Community is a charity presided over by HRH the Prince of Wales and it works together to tackle a wide range of issues that are essential to building a fairer society and a more sustainable future.

Throughout the media, we hear constantly about the rise of mental health issues and the struggle the NHS has to cope with them.  It seems mental health issues are still one of the last taboos in our society where their prevalence is forever growing without a co-ordinated and supportive environment to help those who need help.  We all have a body and, if it gets sick, it is accepted practice that we go to the doctor and, on a simplistic level, a broken arm can be seen, treated, understood and healed. We all too have a mind and this too can experience problems in how it functions, but, in this case, depending on those around us, there is less acceptance and understanding of mental and emotional health issues. Although awareness and understanding are growing, there seems to be less compassion towards sufferers with such health issues, which can be helped and healed.

For many organisations, the most expensive asset they have is their staff and enlightened organisations will do all they can to look after their staff.  The health and wellbeing of employees is vital. If staff are healthy and happy, they are more likely to turn up to work, perform well and work towards the aims of the business .  Whilst it’s probably unrealistic for all stress to be removed from the workplace as we all react differently, canny employers will know that homegrown stress also follows their staff around and sympathetic support to those in personal crisis will also help the wellbeing of their employees.

Another very easy and simple way for employers to help is to offer yoga in the workplace.  Yoga is an antidote to the stresses of modern, 24 hour living and ever present technology and is proven to help alleviate symptoms of stress and to help us avoid being caught up in the chitter chatter and the dramas that our minds create. Yoga promotes overall good health (physical, mental, emotional and therapeutic), flexibility, concentration and can help employees deal with challenging situations, both at work and outside. It also helps people relax which is so important to wellbeing, morale and motivation.

If you’re an employer, it can help with so much more (please follow this link).   I’ve enjoyed teaching in the workplace, have seen the benefits first hand and am keen to promote the benefits across the business world for both employers and employees. If you think it might help your organisation, I can help you.


© Sarah Swan (October 2016)





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