I am sure I can speak for many people reading this blog post when I say that work plays a significant part in our lives. Work can be fulfilling and it’s also a place where friendships are created that can last a lifetime.
Yes, work can have its challenges, whether that is meeting unrealistic deadlines, being late for that all-important client meeting because of a delayed plane, or not quite making the grade for the promotion you have worked so hard for.
Life can be a roller coaster of highs and lows, both professionally and personally where even the strongest of individuals can experience stress, anxiety, depression and a range of other mental health issues.
There is substantial evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. It’s even been shown that improving wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.*
In today’s blog post, I’d like to share 5 easy ways that managers and team members can support each other with mental health in the workplace. Hopefully, you will agree these are all practical and realistic for the majority of people to implement.
1. Talk About How You Are Feeling
Many people find it difficult to talk about how they are feeling. Sometimes this can be due to feeling ‘ashamed’ that they can’t cope, or fear that people will treat them differently if they knew just how they felt.
Sadly, some employees fear that an employer will respond negatively if they share how they are honestly feeling and they will risk losing their job.
However, I suggest that talking about your feelings is a sign of courage and strength. It’s also an indication that a person is taking charge of their own wellbeing.
Yes, it can be hard to talk about feelings at work. An excellent place to start is to find someone you feel comfortable with and whom you know will be supportive.
Some things to consider are:
What do you feel comfortable disclosing?
Who do you trust to talk to?
When and where would be a good time and place to do this?
If you are open about how you feel at work, especially if you are a leader, it might encourage others to do the same.
2. Keep Active
While we are all no doubt acutely aware of the benefits of exercise, we don’t all do it. If you work in an office, it can make a huge difference to take a break and go out for a walk at lunchtime. If you do have access to an office gym or one close by, explore what classes you could join before work, at lunchtime or at the end of your day. Fact: Exercise is a great stress reliever.
3. Eat Well And Drink Sensibly
Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, notice the effect different food and drink has on us. That’s why some of us can be found loading up on the coffee first thing and reaching for caffeine or a sugar fix later in the day.
Choosing a diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. While it can sometimes be hard to keep up a healthy pattern of eating at work, start with regular meals, plus plenty of water.
4. Keep In Touch With Colleagues
While it’s true we don’t always have a choice whom we work with, it’s a fact that relationships are crucial to our mental health. Working in an environment where colleagues are supportive of each other is hugely important for our wellbeing at work.
Whether you are at work or at home, we can at times experience tension in any relationship. This is when it’s essential to invest time and energy in those relationships. When times are tough, it’s your closest colleagues, friends, and family who are the ones you choose to lean on and who are there for you no matter what happens, which leads me to my next point.
5. Ask For Help
While I like to think I am very productive in my role and a high achiever, I am the first to admit I am no superwoman. To quote the lyrics from Rag n Bone Man’s recent hit, “I am only human after all”.
There may be times when you feel overwhelmed, get tired due to too many weeks and months of long days and travelling. These are the times when you need to ask for help. If you have an employee assistance programme that’s great, make use of it.
Alternatively, your GP would be the next step. As over a third of visits to GPs are about mental
health, consequently they do have an appreciation of what you may be going through and how you are feeling.
Your GP will be able to suggest different ways that you can access help and support. There may be other services that they can introduce you to.
And of course, having had years of personal therapy myself, and being a counsellor as well, I am a huge advocate of talking therapy. If you have the luxury of affording your own counselling this can be a great safe space to talk and explore your feelings. There is also local authority counselling services which are free, so check out what’s available in your area, although waiting lists are often 3-6 months.
In summary, there are many things we can all do that will support our own mental health and wellbeing. When we have tough and challenging times, it’s so important to engage with people rather
than withdraw. Only then will we be able to get the help and support we need.
Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., & Sgroi, D. (2015). Happiness and Productivity. Journal of Labor Economics, 33 (4), 789- 822. doi: 10.1086/681096
Royal College of Psychiatrists (2014). Talking to your GP about a Mental Health Problem. Available at: www. rcpsych.ac.uk/health advice/treatmentswellbeing/ talkingtoyourgp.aspx [Accessed 30/10/15
Until next time,
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