It's ok not to be ok
In 2020 cases of anxiety and depression around the world increased, with an estimated 76m extra cases of anxiety and 53m extra cases of major depressive disorder.
As 10th October was designated World Mental Health Day we want to help raise awareness of the need to check in on each other at work and share some ways in which members of our team take care of their own mental health and wellbeing.
The charity Mental Health UK rightly says “if we noticed a colleague had a bad cough or had started to limp, we would ask them how they’re doing and show our support. But sometimes we can be nervous or feel uncomfortable about asking someone how they are doing mentally if we’re concerned about them. We may worry that we’ll make the situation worse or that we’re overstepping professional boundaries. Especially if someone has already said they are “fine”. We may need to make extra effort to look out for signs”.
1 in 4 people is likely to suffer from mental illness at some point in their life. So, what do we need to look for?
Has someone changed their behaviour? Perhaps they are taking less care with their appearance, or they’ve mentioned they are having difficulty sleeping. Maybe they aren’t ‘present’ in conversations, have stopped paying attention to detail, or appear to be unable to concentrate. Their emotions might be more apparent – are they getting irritable or angry? Do they seem overly worried or anxious, or unable to make decisions?
Offering support in these situations can be tricky, so just start the conversation. Find somewhere away from others, ask them open questions – a simple “how are you?” instead of “are you ok?” is a good place to start. Then just listen. Be empathetic, not sympathetic. Don’t try and find a solution or compare their situation to something you’ve experienced. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, and to seek help.
No one expects you to be an expert. Ask the person what might help them – sometimes the chance to talk is all they need. But if they do need more support, offer up information such as contacting their GP in the first instance, or calling Samaritans. Anyone can call Samaritans for free at any time, from any phone – just dial 116 123. Samaritans offer a safe place to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you.
Now let’s hear from some of our team talking about how they take care of their mental health and wellbeing:
“To cope with stressful situations, I tend to count to 10 or walk away and consider my response instead of reacting immediately. Sometimes it helps to get someone else’s opinion on a situation if you are unsure of the response. I feel that removing yourself from the immediate stress factor can help you to see more clearly. I find that a few rounds on the punchbag takes my mind off of any low mood or feelings of stress. Therefore, I would say any form of exercise helps to alleviate any mental health issues and get fitter at the same time.
Socialising and talking about anything other than the stressful situation. Spending time with people who make you laugh is also an important element of maintaining your mental health. As well as watching television that you enjoy such as sport or comedy can lighten your mood. Talking is a massive help for everyone whether it be to your partner/wife or friend or colleague, it can help to put feelings into perspective and lighten the pressure that you may be feeling.
As far as external factors, the pandemic has been one of the external factors that could have affected my mental health. During that time, I kept busy with jobs around the home and garden DIY projects. It is also important to remember that it is ok not be ok.” P.J. Site Manager
“For many years I struggled to find an outlet for my emotions. But now in my late 20’s I have worked out far better ways to juggle and cope with my daily battles. Sleeping and long lie-ins help massively, I find this is the only time my brain fully switches off. My bed has always been my safe space and place to hide from the world. Speaking and sharing my struggles with my partner, family and friends make the biggest difference. For many years I kept those thoughts and feelings bottled up, I would let them take over. Since discovering I can speak to my loved ones; I am able to park any issues and find the positives in those tricky times.
When I moved to London in 2018, I started to really enjoy walking I find my mood lifts instantly, I am a tourist who lives in London that’s for sure! I walk the emotions away and focus that negative energy on getting my steps in and taking in the sights. Singing, brunches, and going to the Theatre are my favourite pastime activities, each keeps my mind focused and away from any demons that might be lurking.
During the lockdown, my mental health really suffered being at home. Thankfully, I had a lovely garden which became a project that helped me regain my purpose. Along with baking, arts & crafts, and many late nights singing karaoke with my partner. Thankfully as the world started opening so did my purpose and excitement for life. Every day there are hurdles and bumps that sometimes throw me off, but I can say with ease the skills I have developed over the years have really motivated me to move forward and grow from each low moment.” F.C. Client Relationship Manager
“I must admit my mental health has been suffering lately. I always find anxiety attacks and the like are heavily influenced by the breath. When we are stressed, we tend to hold our breath – the jaw tightens and shoulders clench upwards affecting the breath further – the trick is to be self-aware and to correct posture and breathing. We can do this by – inhaling for 5 seconds through the nose, filling the lungs from the bottom up. Hold and exhale through the mouth for a long and controlled 6 seconds. This works every time and can prevent a panic attack.” E.O. Office Administrator
“I believe that good sleep is very important and will always help. This makes me feel more energized during the day. Sport has always helped me having a clear and stress-free mind and I also recommend socializing at work or with friends and family”. A.D. Financial Assistant