I’ve already blogged about Commscamp North which I recently attended. But I also wanted to talk about another of the sessions – on mental health and wellbeing.
Rather than consider the things an organisation could and should be doing to improve mental health, this session focused on the practical things we can all do to help ourselves.
I’ve traditionally considered my mental health to be quite strong, but like lots of people, I get stressed and have times where I feel more under the weather than others – both physically and mentally. This was particularly the case last year.
So, the tips that were shared at this session were incredibly useful. I thought I’d record them here in case they could help anyone else. Some of them are pretty obvious, but I do think it helps to see them written in black and white. Feel free to chip in with your own in the comments section. I’d love to hear them.
As with my previous blog, thanks again go to Leanne Ehren. She led this session and shared her personal experiences – in her typically frank, honest and engaging style.
Get out of the office
Taking some time out for a stroll and some fresh air can do you the world of good. If you’re having a meeting with your boss, why not make that a walking meeting. You might find it less stressful.
Talk to people
Most mental health charities encourage people to talk to someone if they’re not feeling alright, and this really is good advice. The old adage of a problem shared being a problem halved does ring true.
Ask someone (ask twice)
The reverse of the above – if you’re not sure if a friend or colleague is ok, then ask them. If they give a short response, or it doesn’t sound honest, ask them again. But do make sure you have the time to listen to their response.
No meetings at lunch, and take a break
This is something we can all do fairly easily. Block out lunchtimes in your diary and make sure you take a break. It is perfectly reasonable to turn down most meeting requests if they clashes with your lunch break. Don’t forget, if you’re working a full day, a break is a legal entitlement.
The stress bucket
This is a way to think about stress and how to relieve it. Imagine there’s a bucket you carry with you which slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress.
Sometimes you feel strong enough to carry a lot of stress, but it’s important to find activities which help you lighten the load. Think about what they are, and whether increasing these will help empty the bucket.
Where to get support
Lots of organisations provide support and guidance on helping your own mental health. If you feel able, you could proactively look for some of the support networks that are available for when you’re not feeling as good.
Most of us benefit from structure in our working lives. Making a to-do list and trying to minimise unexpected intrusions to your working day might help. Even working communications, where lots of what we do is reactive, you can still achieve this by being prepared, and controlling what you can.
Owning a project
There is evidence that shows that people perform better when they are given a specific task to own and deliver from start to finish. Is there a piece of work that you could take on and deliver in this way? Could you discuss working like this with your manager?
Employers should make reasonable adjustments for people who have disabilities or mental health problems. This can cover a wide range of things, and the adjustments don’t need to be big changes.
Red amber green
Someone suggested that their team does a simple check in at the start of their meetings. People give a red, amber or green rating about how they are feeling. They don’t discuss this further in the meeting, but it helps people to understand others’ state of mind. People can then discuss things further outside the room.