Coping with stress, anxiety, and poor mental health in the workplace & daily life.
Part of a blog posts series by guest writers for the Jobs In Mind #VoiceYourStory awareness campaign.
Author: ‘C’. Reading time: 7 minutes.
ONE in four Britons will experience mental health challenges. They suffer silently, hiding from social stigma. Mental ill-health has deeply affected my life, my family, and countless friends and colleagues. Yet we’re all still struggling to own it. Britain still falls short on societal integration and support, leading to a welcome but belated rise in public attention.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, for the Jobs In Mind #VoiceYourStory campaign I’m sharing from personal experience of powerful perspectives that have kept me sane over the years. This trilogy of posts provides a handy round up of some empowering actions towards mental health resilience. They come in three flavours:
- Validates your difficult situation, and reminds you of your humanity (this post)
- Inspiration for daily coping tricks
- Activating motivation through structured action (coming soon)
Have a read through, find a few that resonate with you, and put one into action today. Here we go.
Part One – VALIDATE YOUR HUMANITY
Recognise you’re not alone. Mental ill-health affects one in four people, and one in six workers. This equates to two million Londoners, and a huge £105 billion/year burden on the UK economy. It’s indiscriminate. It affects any one and everyone, regardless of age, culture, sex, race, employment situation, or number of social media followers. You are not broken (see #2), you belong with everyone else in a connected society.
#2 We are all fallible
Allow yourself to be imperfect – The very nature of being a limited organic living creature makes ‘perfect’ impossible. There is no magic button to turn this reality off – please, let yourself be human! Neither mind nor body can sustain the chronic over-stretching demanded by our western culture. Both body and mind will face wear and tear, or be challenged right from birth.
#3 Self Compassion
Stop beating yourself up. Another difficulty in our performance-focused society. Self Compassion is a powerful tool to:
- Conserve energy wasted in self-criticsism
- Move from a negativity bias to focus on what is possible and where your strengths lie
- Build courage with the ‘fail faster’ principle (covered in a later post)
How to do it: challenge your negative thoughts, “Is this really true of me?”. Read more in this wonderful blog.
#4 Stop Self-Comparisons
You can never be anyone but yourself. You’re the only one who can be you. Every one else is a false measuring stick for you. It’s apples and bears. Please open your eyes and give to the world of all the wonderful aspects of yourself.
#5 Minimise social media consumption
There is a sad trend of inauthenticity on social platforms – Joe Bloggs’ real life is far less perfect than his avatar. You know this. Don’t let someone else dictate the value of your life. Get off your phone and back into your real life – remember what you did before you had an intravenous drip-feed to your smart phone? That, do that.
#6 Stay authentic
Focus on living true to your values, priorities, and fascinations. An empowering way to build conviction and gravitas, it requires self-honesty. When you give this up to peer- or work-pressure, you lose vitality. Whatever situation you find yourself in, ask yourself “Which decision am I really prepared to commit to? Is my behaviour aligned to my true values?”.
#7 Accept & express emotions
Trying to protect ourselves from unexpressed emotions does more damage than good. Be patient – as your emotions and life experiences were installed in layers, healing will also require layers. Regardless of gender or culture, sometimes your body will need to release all that difficult energy with tears. Allow this catharsis.
#8 Is there trauma?
Psychological trauma comes from a distressing event or situation. It’s much more common than we realise. It can lead to deep-seated anxiety or in extreme cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Professional help is needed to recognise the extent of impact and how to work with it. Please speak to your GP, or online resources.
#9 Get a trusted friend to answer these questions of you
We blind ourselves to ourselves. With this activity, you’ll be surprised to learn valuable aspects you didn’t realise of yourself. It will hint at areas you can leverage to build confidence and momentum.
- What do you most appreciate about me?
- What should I continue doing that supports the best version of me?
- Do you notice areas of my life where I experience a loss of power?
- When do you see me most inspired?
- What is the one thing you believe I could master in my lifetime?
#10 Tap into the energy of Heroes & Inspiration
Look for examples to follow. For me, there’s this guy, and this guy. Who inspires your values? Or a design aesthetic that you want to reinterpret? Who’s been where you are and came out the other side, a reminder IT is possible. Here’s a light, humanising summary of Elon Musk’s journey.
#11 So how does one actually get back on their feet?
Bored of those ‘rags to riches’ stories with no explanation how the hero did it? Read Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. This evidenced-based book fills that gap. Hint, it involves a lot of self-compassion, self-honesty, and self-responsibility. While you’re at it, watch her viral Ted talk about the power of vulnerability.
To close, we all have mental health, and maintaining good mental health is a life-long practice, which at times is hard work indeed.
However, it’s SO worth it. It means having more sustainable energy; clearer thinking; wiser responses; more focused motivation; and better relationships to yourself and others. Hopefully you’ve learnt new tricks from this post, and will be able to implement some with good effect soon. More smart approaches coming soon in Parts 2 and 3.
Remember – be patient and kind to yourself!