Mental health – and a month of dog walking adventures to help banish the winter blues

11th January 2021

Mental health – and a month of dog walking adventures to help banish the winter blues

The CIPD  – the professional body for HR and people development – suggests that mental health issues have a significant impact on employee wellbeing and are a major cause of long-term absence from work. As with all leading employers, Chwarae Teg promotes good mental health and provides support for employees who are experiencing mental ill health including anxiety or depression.

Women’s mental health and wellbeing in particular have been affected significantly by the COVID-19 crisis.  Research carried out by LinkedIn in November 2020 indicates a significant gap between men and women’s work-related stress levels, ultimately revealing the impact that COVID-19 has had on women’s careers.  The study highlighted that almost three-quarters of women (73 per cent) reported feeling work-related stress over the last month. This was in comparison to less than six in 10 men (57 per cent) that felt the same during this time period.

So for January 2021 we are encouraging people to spend a little time outdoors, in line with calls for ‘being active for mental health’ in January. At Chwarae Teg, alongside reflecting on ‘Blue Monday’ and having a virtual cup of tea with a colleague for ‘Brew Monday’, we are trying something a little different.

Did you know January is also ‘Walk Your Dog’ month?

We’ll be encouraging our staff to take breaks with their dogs and share their walking adventures and poochie pics with us. Of course, we want the non-canine owners to get outside too: This isn’t just an excuse to show off our furry, four-legged companions, but an opportunity to leave the desk, table and laptop behind, if only for a few minutes.

Walking is perhaps the most underrated form of exercise, but the physical and mental health benefits we can all get with a daily burst of nature and fresh air are undeniable.  Walking is known to improve self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it can reduce stress, anxiety and fatigue.

So how does physical activity improve mental health and well-being?

The NHS encourage us to exercise as it can help our body to release ‘good hormones’ – endorphins. These can make you feel good and improve your mood; can help with concentration and can help you get a better night’s sleep. There is even some evidence that suggests that being around a dog may also lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone which can have negative effects on our mental health.

Good organisations and managers realise that staring at a screen all day isn’t good for us, and at Chwarae Teg we make sure everyone can have time away. We recognise that working long, uninterrupted hours is not a sustainable way of operating and it will take its toll on our employees and their mental health. Striking the appropriate balance between work and personal life allows our employees to remain refreshed and productive, which is why we give everyone time to reflect, stretch, walk, exercise with their dogs and recharge the batteries.

So, if you see posts of Chwarae Teg dogs and their owners on social media, feel free to like, share and engage with us  and show us your stories of how you break up your day with a dog walk.

We are happy to see dogs, wellies, mud, no doubt rain and the occasional blue sky. But above all else, we will be sharing tips on how to improve mental well-being in the workplace and how that 30 minutes chasing sticks and enjoying fresh air can make a hugely positive impact on our attitude, stress-levels and overall happiness.