There is a lot of emphasis on tackling workplace mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and hopelessness when they have built up to be serious and chronic. This is a positive development, but it is much better to be pro-actively preventative at an early stage, rather than having to deal with mental health issues with therapy and antidepressants once it has become a big issue.
There are four ‘T’s to improve mental wellbeing: Talk to someone. Time for oneself. Technology disconnect. Thanks for what is good
TALK – to someone
Having someone to talk to is a really important way to prevent severe problems building up. Often people worry about confiding their problems and concerns with those close to them; they don’t want to burden their friends and family and there is also the stigma of being vulnerable.
So, many people march on through life with an ‘I’m ok’ mask on, only for it to fall off when they collapse. And also, those closest to us often have their own agenda and historical perspective/view – ‘I warned you she was hopeless’; ‘I told you not to take that job’. Lou Hotz (a famous American football coach, author and sports commentator) once said “Never tell your problems to anyone…20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”
Confiding in a trained coach or counsellor, someone wholly independent, who listens without judgement but who also challenges your perspective in a supportive way, is invaluable. There are a range of professionals to suit all budgets – and very often just one session where you can disgorge all that is bubbling up and causing stress, can be extraordinarily beneficial – giving clarity and perspective – before one buckles through overwhelm.
TIME – for self
In addition to talking to someone unbiased, it is important to carve out some space for your self – this may be just 15 minutes going for a walk ideally outside in nature, sitting quietly and reading a book. Being disciplined and stopping from our busyness is extremely difficult but once practiced, it is remarkable restorative.
Disconnecting from technology is critical – digital detox. Smartphones, computers and social media (the ‘always on’ culture) has become the tail that wags the dog – so we are always responding to other people’s actions/prompts/comments/ interruptions/emails. We need to re-establish control over and ownership of our own time – the only thing that we cannot replenish, once it’s gone it’s gone.
THANKS – for what we have
Recognising what is right with our lives is also key – gratitude for all the things we take for granted. The best way to be grateful is to reflect upon what we would miss if we no longer had it – our health, our friends, family (even the annoying members!) etc and be grateful for the many things we take for granted. Focusing on what is good in life is a really good way to nudge negative thoughts away.
Kedge Martin, CEO of executive mentors Rutbusters