There is more focus on mental health in workplaces now, and it’s about time.
Our mind has layers of thought competing for attention in our subconscious at any given time. What do I need to finish by the end of the day? Will I get to school pick up in time at this rate? Why did Joe speak to me that way this morning, was he not happy with that report?…
Thoughts that involve fear/threat tend to dominate and be allocated high priority in our minds. If we try to ignore these they can nag away at us and disrupt our ability to do our work in a productive and enjoyable manner. Prolonged periods of anxious, stressful thoughts can have our body systems bathed in stress hormones associated with high alert states. This leads to poor concentration and potentially poor health.
Most of us understand this. So what can we do?
Some key mental health strategies include:
1. Learn to say “no” when you need to.
For many of us, this is the trickiest word in the dictionary. We may want to be “yes” people. We may want to please others. Many of us want to be liked, and to get good feedback for the hard work we do. This is all admirable. But among the yes’s, there will need to be some no’s in there too in order to be kind to yourself and (importantly) to the person making the request. A yes to them that you can’t back up is no use to anyone.
2. Confront stressful situations with bravery
The source of stressful situations we all face in office work and elsewhere varies. Time pressures, performance pressures, sales targets? One common example is a tense relationship between two work colleagues, combined with conflict avoidance.
Sometimes you just need to have the chat! It might be prickly. It might (and probably will) be uncomfortable at first. But it’s so much better than the uncomfortable background niggle of a relationship that has turned sour.
Ideally have this chat directly with the person in a suitable environment and at a suitable time when you are both as grounded as possible. If that’s not working, seek appropriate help and support from a manager / HR rep. There is commonly great relief and improved mental health when these needed conversations eventually occur. Approach them with an open mind, empathy and respect.
3. Slow down
Look ahead in your diary. Where have you blocked out some downtime? If you are a busy parent like me this time may need to be during time normally reserved for working hours. If you don’t plan ahead this time can be simply a pipe dream.
If you don’t plan time to stay well, then you are risk of needing to find time to recover from being unwell.
PHW Group now offers mental health training as part of our services. Look at our website for more.
Note: This area of our health is huge and deserves high priority. The advice above is simply a starting point. If you are suffering from low mood or any other mental health issues it’s important you seek support from friends, family and health professionals as needed.