Mental Health Awareness Week: 5 techniques to manage and reduce stress
Mental Health Awareness Week feels even more important this year than previously. The initiative, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, aims to spread awareness and understanding around mental health across the UK. This year the focus is on kindness, which feels very apt given the current climate and how hard and lonely it can be for many people, especially those living alone. Working from home for such a prolonged period can take its toll, with added pressures of homeschooling or caring for vulnerable loved ones, particularly when the future isn’t clear.
What this underlines is the importance of being kinder to our colleagues – you never know what someone is experiencing. The Mental Health Foundation believes taking care of yourself is fundamental to positive mental health, which includes identifying stress points and how to work to reduce these. Over the course of my career, I’ve developed a few techniques that have helped me personally:
1. Find someone you can talk to
It is a great source of comfort to have a mentor, line manager or colleague to discuss a problematic situation with. It doesn’t matter if they work with you or not, but try to identify an individual in your network who you can go to for advice – it can be particularly helpful if they work in your industry and can be impartial. Talking things through provides some perspective to any situation. Coming up with a strategy, solution, or even single next step together with your mentor or line manager is a great way to dismantle a roadblock, and helps to not let worries fester by talking things through with a colleague. And don’t be afraid to ask!
2. Always be honest
Making mistakes is part of the job, and part of life – as the adage goes, honesty is the best policy. Not feeling like you have to cover what you have done will go a long way to reduce stress. If you make a mistake, however bad you may think it is, speak to your manager or a senior team member who can help to rectify it. Two minds are always better than one to find a solution, and all of us have at least at one point in our careers made a mistake. It isn’t making of the mistake, but how you deal with it that is important.
3. A thank you goes a long way
Feeling valued at work and appreciated is proven to be one of our greatest motivators, so when we take the time to let people know that we value them, it inspires a continuation of positive behaviour. Saying “thank you” improves colleagues’ self-esteem, and our own self-esteem in turn. Each time we say those words to another person, we feel better about ourselves, our attitude improves, and we become more grateful. And in these times of remote working, a video call to thank a colleague is more personal than just an email.
4. Prioritise your workload
In strategic communications, we are multi-taskers – we get used to spinning multiple plates, and in the early years, it is hard to know how to prioritise. This is something that comes more easily with time. Every morning, write a ‘to-do’ list, looking at all your various deadlines and selecting a realistic number of tasks to complete. If you have too much on your plate, ask your line manager or team leader for help – colleagues often won’t know what other team members have on and are happy to help each other out. If you’re homeschooling kids, remember it doesn’t matter if they don’t do every single task and don’t let parents on the various school WhatsApp Groups stress you out with their baking and crafts, they are in the minority!
5. Don’t be afraid to take some time
In the current climate, many of us are struggling to find even a few minutes spare. Between work, home schooling, housework and other responsibilities, there doesn’t seem to be any extra time in the day. When you’re writing your to-do list for the day, try to block out a small portion of time in the day for an activity that gives you a break… a walk, an online workout, reading a book, doing a puzzle – there are so many possibilities and the positive impacts are numerous. Try to be as kind to yourself as you would be to a colleague.
For more information on Mental Health Awareness, visit their site here.