ast year certainly taught many of us something new about what wellbeing actually means. For years we have concentrated on a trying to maintain a healthy diet, exercise more and focus on keeping our body in a positive state. The pandemic impacted on many of the choices that we used to take for granted and has unknowingly impacted our mental health and wellbeing.
It is shocking to read that one in four of us this year will personally experience a mental health issue, so why is that we are not nurturing our mental wellbeing as much as our physical wellbeing? Why is there is still so much stigma associated with this illness?
As a human, friend, family member, colleague, and employer we can take some time to change this and support one another, encourage others to look after themselves and get support for doing so.
Mental health is everyone’s business and all of us have times when we feel down or stressed. Before the pandemic I used to moan about the stress of commuting, whereas now I do not leave the house from one day to the next, which also stresses me out! Thankfully I have people in my life who are prepared to listen and these feelings pass, but for others this can develop into a more serious issue.
Turning to work and as leaders, managers and colleagues, we should all take the lead and make time to talk. This can be about what has gone well, what is causing us to be stressed or keeping us up at night. It can also mean shorter and more immediate conversations about issues that are affecting us now, catching them before they snowball into immovable objects.
If you can change your attitude about talking about mental health and communicate that is it OK to not be OK, you could positively change someone’s life. A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.
National Time to Talk Day which place on 4 Feb 2021, embraces this approach and more than ever suggests we take time to have open conversations about mental health and our wellbeing.
A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference. Claire Clifford
Three top tips to help you support others in building positive mental wellbeing...
1. Openly share how you feel with others. Avoid only sharing the glossy positives, if your weekend was a little damp, share it, if the cake you baked flopped, tell people. Be prepared to listen your colleagues anecdotes and stories, and be supportive by responding sensitively. If you take over the conversation, you could unintentionally have a negative impact on someone’s wellbeing.
2. Make sure your teams are taking time off. While annual leave might conjure up imagines of winter ski holidays and frolicking in the summer sun, the reality in lockdown is somewhat different. However, time off is even more important when in lockdown. Insisting colleagues take five weeks of leave a year will help them rest and re-energise. Employees who take regular time off work are more effective and productive, as well as being less likely to suffer from stress. Don’t send a mail out asking everyone to book time off for a holiday – that is rubbing salt into a wound if you are someone who loves to travel. Send out a mail to everyone asking them to structure regular time off on a quarterly basis. Do bear in mind that you can enforce annual leave too. Make sure you know ACAS’ guide on annual leave.
3. Create a rebalance day/afternoon/hour. In pairs, teams and individually, encourage people to take time away from their computers and walk and talk. This will help people refocus, provide an opportunity to share your wellbeing initiatives and encourage people to talk. Use the free resources from MIND, Time to Talk, & Action for Happiness.
Claire Clifford is director of people, skills and culture at EIC.