Championing an Active, Mindful Approach
Regular movement, physical exercise and mindful activities help to improve mental wellbeing during the work day but also productivity. The final section of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit offers useful reminders on prioritising group activities and exercise.
Extra-curricular office activities can play a major part in supporting the wellbeing of all, both physically and mentally. Taking part in group activities can be a great catalyst for strengthening social bonds, reducing isolation, and developing a strong support network within practice – all of which can have enormous benefits. Whether working in an office or from home, it’s also important to prioritise lunch breaks, regular movement, physical exercise and mindful activities to improve mental wellbeing but also productivity.
Tips for practices
- Celebrate and promote group sports or clubs – for smaller practices this could mean pairing up with one or more practices, which brings further benefits such as socialising with new people.
- Explore less competitive sports and activities if this puts people off – group cycling or walking can both fall into this category and are easy ‘clubs’ to establish.
- Charity events are a great way to motivate staff to get active – and by making charity work part of a company’s culture it can not only improve the corporate brand, but foster an attitude of giving.
- Offer yoga and even mindfulness activities. They are shown to have huge impacts on mental wellbeing, creativity and focus.
- Train managers to conduct walking meetings where feasible.
Tips for individuals
- If there are no clubs or teams at your practice, explore ways to set up one.
- Explore ‘active commuting’–be it cycling to work or getting off the bus one stop earlier to up your daily step count.
- Get up and move throughout the day. Standing desks are good but you need to move as much as possible to stay healthy.
- Take a lunch break! As architects we have all been guilty of having lunch at our desks, but getting out of the office for a short walk has benefits to both our mental and cardiovascular health – and the productivity boost you will get in the afternoon will almost certainly outweigh the lost time! Be particularly mindful of taking breaks when working from home.
- Start a healthy recipe exchange and potluck lunch.
- Smiling Mind – Daily mindfulness and meditation app. Also offers workshops on meditation, mindfulness, creating a thriving team culture, connection and clarity.
- Headspace – Meditation app. Focuses on mindfulness and dealing with stress and anxiety.
- Calm – Popular meditation app with an ever-growing content library that aims to improve sleep quality, reduce stress or anxiety and improve focus.
- 16 Workplace Health and Wellbeing Activities and Initiatives (for any budget) – Dr Steve Aldana, WellSteps. Ideas designed to change policy and improve the work environment so it is easier for employees to adopt and maintain healthy behaviours.
- My Next Challenge – Listing of walks, runs, swims, bike rides and other physical challenge events and activities around Australia.
- The brain changing benefits of exercise – Wendy Suzuki, TED Talk.
- All it takes is 10 mindful minutes – Andy Puddicombe, TED Talk.
This is an excerpt from the first edition of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit (Australia), an edited version of the UK Toolkit, which was compiled by members of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum in the UK – a group that John Assael and Ben Channon set up in late 2017 with the ambition of improving mental health across the profession.
This toolkit includes content and resources specific to Australia. We would like to thank Ben Channon and the AMWF UK for their generosity in allowing us to tailor this Toolkit for the Australian profession. Thanks also to Artemis Nikolopoulou, who designed the UK Toolkit, and Siân Rearden for the illustrations.