Wellness in a time of high anxiety

In a time of high anxiety, how do we stay well? What is required of us, as leaders in these moments?  

In times of stress, many of us turn inward instead of outward and with many of us working on distributed teams, the impact of this behaviour can be even more pronounced.  Without face to face communication, we miss out on a lot of information and to compensate, our brains try their best to fill in the gaps with assumptions and judgements.  Often, these assumptions and judgements are just plain wrong and drive further disconnection.

An inward mindset refers to those times when we are focusing on ourselves.  We might see the struggles of others, but they are not as important as our struggles.  A simple example of inward mindset we can probably all relate to is how we feel when are stuck in traffic, late, and the car in front of us is driving too slow in the fast lane.  Most of us think (or mutter, or yell) a number of judgements or assumptions about that driver’s intelligence or character.  In this moment, that driver is not a human, they are an obstacle.  

If we had an outward mindset, we would think of that driver as being like us: trying to get to work, navigating traffic, maybe feeling a bit stressed/distracted, and certainly frustrated.  A human being with needs as valid as ours.


So how do you adopt an outward mindset when remote work promotes an inward mindset?  How do you see people as people and not just vehicles to get things done, barriers, or unimportant and not worthy of our attention?

  1. Be curious
  2. Focus on Facts
  3. Be Mindful

3 tips to maintain an outward mindset

  1. Be curious with each other.  Ask others for information rather than assuming you know their intent. 
  2. Focus on the facts.  Did someone not respond to your email because they thought you were unimportant?  Or did someone just not respond to you?
  3. Be mindful, think of your own impact on others.  If you are misunderstanding others, could others be misunderstanding you?  How do you know if the answer to that question is true?

Adopting an outward mindset can have a positive effect on the health and wellness of others without costing you a nickel.  Having a psychologically safe work environment where people feel seen and connected has a positive impact on mental health.  

 Keep this in mind:

  • Employee Assistance Plan provider, Homewood Health, reports “anxiety” as being their client’s top issue.
  • A 2019 Angus Reid poll found that one in four Canadian adults identifies as being lonely.
  • According to Manulife, we have learned that pandemics and disasters results in an increase prevalence of: depression, PTSD, substance use, domestic violence, and child abuse.
  • A 2019 Canada Life Report states that a disabled employee incurs almost 6 times more drug costs and 2.5 times more healthcare benefit costs than an active employee, per year.
  • Lost productivity related to presenteeism costs are 7.5 times higher to employers than the cost of absenteeism. (Statistics Canada)

Wellness in a time of high anxiety – Insights Webinar:

If you would like to learn more about how anxiety is impacting the mental health of our employees, ways to mitigate those impacts, and the benefit trends that are evolving as a result, please join us for our very first complimentary HR Insights webinar: Wellness in a time of high anxiety, from 10am to 10:30am PT on Wednesday, October 21st.

Space is limited, so please RSVP by Monday, Oct 19th at 5pm.

Have questions? We have answers.

Get in Touch