Over the past 12 months there has been a large and very much-needed increase in awareness in the media for Mental Health in the UK.  Every week there are new articles & news stories that are promoted either online or in print media and the barriers to seeking support seem to be being broken down, albeit very slowly.

I was recently asked to write an article on mental health  – which was subsequently produced.  Unfortunately it was not printed. The editors enjoyed and liked it and wanted more tips and support writing into the article.  As you may appreciate the article, all be it receiving great feedback, did not get revised to give away more tips…..what it did was prompt my thinking towards what is it we really seem to want? The conclusion: a quick fix for as little investment of time and resource as possible.

As passionate as I am about mental health, emotional well-being and people being the best versions of themselves, this passion is underpinned by several beliefs, one being that if we can take responsibility we can create choice and in turn relieve our heightened states of stress.

Stress at Work

We are all aware of and band around the words wellbeing, mental health, emotional resilience…we all like to grow our knowledge and gain information, surround ourselves with facts and figures…notice in others if we feel they are not ok.  How often do we notice, take time and give ourselves a chance to notice our own emotional health.

4 out of 5 of us feel anxious, stressed, depressed or stuck at some point in our lives.  The impact can be and is significant on us.  We often have the answers inside and need the time, space and expertise to find them and move forward.  Our responsibility is to ourselves first and then those around us at work and home.  If we can do this at work for ourselves, colleagues and staff and at home for ourselves, family and friends, life suddenly frees up and we become more emotionally agile.

I have recently been working with a group of General Managers in the NHS, supporting them in an action learning group as part of their management training.  The group was fabulous and worked well together to support each other with some challenging day-to-day work issues.  The common themes were, stress and pressure of work load and time pressure.  The key challenge with this being these issues inhibited people fulfilling their jobs to the best of their capability and ability, and therefore not enjoying their work.  The group sessions were able to give them time and space to review challenges, expand their choices and thoughts on how to manage issues raised and support each other.

My reason for sharing this…we can look at stats, we can look at theory…the most powerful way of seeing peoples’ stress diminish is in action.

The feedback from the group was positive:

  • unanimously they agreed that they want to keep meeting beyond the project as the benefits for them were so impactful
  • knowing that they were not in isolation with some of their day-to-day challenges
  • realising that the benefit of coaching and learning sets to enable them to feel happier and less stressed
  • knowing that they were responsible for their own changes and that they had begun to make changes to support themselves at work, through gaining the support they need

“Whether mental distress is caused in work or out of work we spend nearly half our waking hours in work; because of this it makes sense to have a stronger, healthier and more emotionally resilient workplace.”

Paul Farmer – Chief Executive, Mind

We can take responsibility for ourselves and those around us.  Day to pressures can be managed and not result in stress.  When we think, feel and react at our best we perform well and in turn diminish stress.

Key steps towards looking after yourself:

  • Notice – what you need and be curious
  • Connect – take the time to listen to yourself and those around you
  • Be active – take up the challenge – once you know there is an issue, take action.
  • Take notice – be aware of your own and your colleagues behaviors
  • Keep learning – as mental health changes, make sure you have the skills to respond
  • Creativity and play – find creative ways to get you and your staff and colleagues to talk.

Enjoy being the best version of yourself as often as you choose to be.