The topic of mental health is often met with a dismissive attitude or joking. The truth is mental health is not just a clinical diagnosis or something that requires medication. It’s an important part of life that affects everyone.
Mental health is defined as someone’s “cognitive, behavioral, emotional well-being.” In short, it’s the health level of a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We all experience negative and positive mental health in our daily lives when we interact with others and through our own self-talk.
In this blog, we are going to dive a little deeper into what mental health does to our bodies, how to manage it, and how it is affected by high-stress jobs, like physical security services.
How Does Mental Health Affect Our Bodies
Stress is the typical term that people use when talking about mental health, but stress is just one part of a bigger picture. Negative mental health has numerous effects on our emotions, physical bodies, and behaviors.
- Lack of motivation
- Sadness or depression
- Feelings of overwhelm
- Chest pain
- Stomach issues
- Sleeping problems
- Muscle tension
- Over or undereating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Social withdrawal
- Less or very little physical movement
These aren’t the only negative effects on mental health. People can suffer from hair loss, increased sensitivity to pain, reduced fertility, and skin problems. Bad mental health is no joke and can cause severe emotional and physical consequences.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
If your body isn’t working properly or your finances aren’t stable, that’s going to cause a lot of negative effects on your mental health. But it works both ways. If you aren’t mentally healthy, your body will start to deteriorate and you may lose sight of your finances.
There are many ways to maintain positive mental health, but we are going to be looking most closely at exercise, meditation, and nutrition.
You don’t need to be a full-blown strong-man or triathlete to gain the mental health benefits of exercise. A good rule of thumb, especially for someone just building an exercise routine, is that any movement is good movement.
Physical activity has been proven to decrease and relieve anxiety levels, depression, stress, ADHD, and trauma. While it decreases the negative aspects of mental health, it boosts energy levels, sleep, memory, and self-esteem.
If you don’t have a work-out or exercise routine, some great starter options include walking/running, boxing, pilates, yoga, cycling, and resistance training.
People hear meditation and start thinking about hippies and monks. But meditation is a useful exercise for training the mind, just as fitness is an exercise for training the body.
Proper meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, anxiety, stress, and feelings of overwhelm. And while it decreases those negative things, it increases our relaxation and ability to focus.
Many people think that in order for it to be effective, you have to be silent for hours on end, like a Buddhist monk. That’s definitely one way to do it, but there are plenty of different kinds of meditation tools.
Meditation apps are a great way to start to learn about mediation and what type of mediation works best for you. These apps are built for people just starting out and will run newcomers through meditation training.
No one starts out meditating for hours on end. In fact, many people never meditate for hours, but the benefits of a 5-minute daily meditation practice have incredible positive effects on mental health.
Eating right keeps your body functioning properly. This includes your physical and mental state. Too many sugars and carbs with too few fruits and vegetables makes your brain foggy and your body sluggish.
Eating well-balanced meals and snacks doesn’t have to mean abiding by a strict diet. There are simple ways to maintain healthy eating habits, such as:
- Limiting sugar consumption
- Eating nuts
- Minimizing junk food intake
- Maximizing fresh food intake
- Drinking more water
- Getting enough fiber & probiotics
Just like the other tips listed, learning how to maintain proper nutrition doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start slow and build up a healthy routine over time. Soon enough you will be eating the proper foods needed for a healthy mind and body.
Mental Health in the Workplace
There are a number of ways that the workplace affects an employee’s mental health and the consequences that can have on the success of a business.
Job stressors include, but aren’t limited to:
- Job insecurity
- Unclear tasks or objectives
- Poor leadership
- Poor company culture
- Uncomfortable physical environments
- Long hours
These stressors can cause your employees to perform at lower levels than they are capable of. They can impact an employee’s ability to engage with other employees or even clients. Especially in physical security, workplace stressors can impact an officer’s physical ability to perform guard tours or routine patrols.
So what can security company owners do to facilitate positive mental health within their operation?
- Create a supportive culture that provides employees with clear direction, rules, and values.
- Advocate for a healthy work/life balance. Officers that have too much OT don’t have time to spend with their families or decompress from the weight of protecting properties or individuals, especially in high-crime environments.
- Discuss mental health in the office. Don’t allow it to be stigmatized. The more open you are about mental health, the more likely an officer will seek out whatever tools or resources they need.
- Send out anonymous surveys so that you understand the environment that has been created within your operation. If there is room for improvement, your officers will let you know what they need to maintain their roles and responsibilities in a healthy manner.
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of how to start looking at how mental health plays a role in your officers’ effectiveness and how the environment you have created as a business owner affects your officers.
If you or one of your officers suffers from more severe mental health challenges than what we have discussed here, there are tools and resources to help.