Supporting Anxiety in the Workplace through Yoga, Mindfulness and Breathwork



Yoga in the West and Global North is often associated with purely a physical practise, yet its roots have a range of practises encompassing meditation, breathwork, relaxation, concentration and more. From one of Yoga's most prominent texts, the Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali, Yoga is said to 'lead to the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind'. Many yogic practises have application to support those suffering from anxiety and there is a growing body of research on the explicit benefits of yogic practises on anxiety and depression. Rumination (the fluctuations of the mind) is a common symptom of anxiety, along with shakiness, restlessness, nausea, hyperventilation, muscle tension (a full list of all mind/body symptoms can be found here)


The impact of COVID is even wider than its disease alone, and has caused additional pressures and worries on people, leading to a rise in diagnoses in both anxiety and depression in the UK since March 2020. This is unsurprising, yet when we add this to the 20% of the UK population (in 2014) who showed symptoms of anxiety and depression without a pandemic, it could be affecting up to a quarter of your total workforce. It is more important than ever to continue supporting employees.


The Mental Health Foundation estimates that better mental health support in the workplace could save UK businesses £8 billion a year. Promoting wellbeing at work through information and advice, seminars, workshops and web-based materials are estimated to cost approximately £80 per employee per year. For a company with 500 employees, where all employees undergo the intervention, it is estimated that an initial investment of £40,000 will result in a net return of £347,722 in savings, mainly due to reduced presenteeism (lost productivity that occurs due to an employee working while ill) and absenteeism (missing work due to ill health).


I offer informative and experiential workshops, which can be conducted online and in person, on breathwork and mind-body tools for the management for stress and anxiety. Regular yoga and breathwork classes can also be a way of consistently supporting your employees who suffer from stress and specific mental health conditions by supporting healthy behaviours whilst providing them with practical skills to manage their wellbeing. Of course, it's just one part of a larger plan of support and care, but it can be a way to consistently provide tools and practises for them to access.


Breathwork practises can be used to regulate the nervous system, allowing a practical way to reduce anxious feelings and get 'out of your head'. Other practises like coherent breathing have been shown to bolster and build resilience by creating flexibility in the autonomic nervous system, so that we can adapt more appropriately to future stressors. This can reduce overwhelm and can support management of stress. Mindfulness practises can help people to spot signs of anxiety (fast breathing, holding the breath) by cultivating awareness, allowing them to then make adjustments to support themselves.


The important thing to note; it's not just any breathwork, any yoga practise or any meditation that helps stress and anxiety. It needs to be a tailored practise delivered by someone with a specific knowledge base to make it meaningful, accessible and worthwhile. To discuss how to support your workplace through mind-body classes and workshops - send me an email now leanneantonia@gmail.com


Sources

Yoga for Mental Health - Heather Mason & Kelly Birch

Mental Health Foundation (2016) - https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/fundamental-facts-about-mental-health-2016.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/16/stress-anxiety-and-depression-levels-soar-under-uk-covid-19-restrictions

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/symptoms/






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