In true bloggy-style,
our recent post on inductions closed with a question. However, it never
crossed my mind at the time of writing it that I might wind up answering it
myself. The question in question – which followed an extensive list of
suggested components in an induction e-learning package – was this: ‘Have we
missed anything?’ My answer now is, ‘Yes…’
At Red Mirror, we’ve
recently experienced somewhat of a flurry of interest from clients wishing to
create e-learning pieces to support their employees’ ongoing mental health.
It’s a hot topic of
late, garnering high profile support – including from the likes of the
young royals. And it seems
that a greater sense of collective responsibility and increased awareness has
extended into the e-learning domain. And rightly so.
According to the Mental Health Foundation:
- 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace (14.7%)
- Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%)
- Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions
Pretty hard-hitting, right?
Before we go into
what this post aims to achieve, let’s clear up what it does not. Firstly, it’s
not a plug for our own services. If there’s one topic we’d like to remain
altruistic about in a business sense, it’s this. There’s enough data out there
to explain why investing in supporting a mentally healthy workforce should be
every CEO’s priority; how they choose to do this is for them to investigate.
Secondly, we are not – and therefore would never claim to be – authorities on
the matter; in terms of e-learning, that’s the role of SMEs. Finally, in
acknowledgement of the fact that severe mental health problems necessitate
professional intervention, this post is not intended for anyone in a time of
Have a focus
While we wouldn’t
encourage anyone to deny a problem exists or shy away from trying to fix its
root cause, sometimes, distraction helps. Especially if what you choose to
focus on brings about positive change. Paradoxically, while work might be an
instigator of stress, it could also be a means of alleviating it.
Speak to your
manager about a particular project you’d like to get your teeth into, or an
exciting client you’d love to work with. And if work doesn’t work, think about
personal ventures you’ve been dreaming of. Figure out what your goals are and
pinpoint the steps you need to take to achieve them – then make a start, even
if all you can manage right away is a crawl.
Lean into it
Each one of us is
continually navigating 21st century living and all that it entails –
the highs and the lows. Not only are people who appear to be happy 24/7 excruciatingly
irritating, they’re probably under strain from maintaining the façade. Emotions
change and we shouldn’t deny any of them. If you feel sad, acknowledge it and,
with kindness to yourself and patience, allow it to remain…and then pass.
Speak out and accept support
Don’t suffer in
silence. Not only might sharing how you
feel open the gateway to good advice from those who’ve been in a similar
position, but it can help those around you to understand what you’re going
through and make allowances.
with people who raise you up and support you in your goals. Shallow networking
and mindless partying won’t cut the mustard, but spending time with the people
you love to be around, or those who share common interests, will take your mind
off what’s dragging you down and re-energise you to deal with it.
*Beware of energy
vampires – there are certain folk you need to be in a good place to deal with
(everyone’s got at least one in their life!); if you’re already feeling
depleted, they’ll bleed you dry.
Get out of your head and into the present moment
As attractive the
sofa and remote control might be, succumbing to the charms of a week-long
Netflix binge is not going to help matters. Get outside. Breathe the air. Look
around you. Life is good and it’s there for the taking. Without wanting to jump
lemming-style onto the mindfulness bandwagon, it’s worth looking into, if you
haven’t already –the NHS website would be a good place to start.
It doesn’t matter
how, just do it. Running and yoga are Red Mirror exercise go-tos, as is choosing to walk instead of being transported – not only
will it give you an endorphin boost, but your body will thank you for the extra
It’s an obvious one
– we all understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. But how many are we
actually getting? And how many of us are knowingly reducing our chances of
getting them by staring at our device’s blue light as we slip under the covers?
The fact that
decent shuteye is so closely intertwined with decent mental health can lead to
entanglement in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and anxiety. The mental
health charity Mind shed further light on this and offer some coping strategies to
help break negative sleep patterns. On a personal note, the free app Insight
Timer has been hugely
beneficial when it comes to switching off and surrendering to the land of nod.
Get a pet
Red Mirror team has its very own menagerie…and when we’re not obsessing over
our own creatures, we’re obsessing over each other’s. Apparently, stroking, playing with or even just sitting next to a pet can
calm the mind. Whatever challenges the day has presented – and however you
responded to them – is of little concern to your dog. He or she will gladly
whisk you out the house for your exercise fix and listen to your woes without
so much of a sniff of judgment – a pertinent reminder from the animal kingdom
that lending an ear could be the greatest gift you can give to a friend in a
time of need. (And if you’re not in a position to own your own, borrow
one’s a bit of a minefield. A quick
Google search will reveal a plethora of centres, techniques, gurus, retreats
and charlatans, which, if pursued, could potentially leave a hefty dint in your
bank balance and little enlightenment to boot. But its meditation’s inherent
simplicity that makes this situation all the more absurd. If guided meditations
are (or could be) your thing, you’ll do well to check out the selection on
offer in the aforementioned Insight Timer. However, all you really need is the
self-discipline to carve out a little time and space to:
2. Close your eyes or let your gaze soften
That really is all there is to it.
It’s not about
stopping thoughts, it’s about allowing them to come and go, becoming the
observer and gently guiding your focus back to your breath. Your brain is a
muscle and regularly exercising it in this way can lead to structural change,
the benefits of which are pervasive and impactful long after you open your
Find out what you love…and do it!
Red Mirror hobbies
range from model-making to perfume concocting, and video gaming to
badge-making. Finding time to indulge these pleasures is the hard part. Which
is why you have to *make* time. And if you’ve almost reached your 40s (or 80s!)
and still haven’t worked out what you love, it’s not too late. Be open to new
opportunities. An acquaintance of mine took up power lifting in her 60s and now
holds the world title for her age group. Respect.
Often our hobbies
result in producing something. If that’s the case, giving it away will multiply
the feel-good factor you derived from its making. As demonstrated in the book 29 Gifts, giving is a naturally reciprocal process. (Theresa, I know
you love to bake…coffee cake is my favourite…just saying.)
Love yourself – then pass it on
Modern life sets us
up to excel in self-obsession. People measure their worth in empty likes and
shallow shares – taking on board the reactions of others without checking in
with themselves and their own take on things. No wonder the term ‘self love’ is
so easily misunderstood. Before taking the time to explore this concept, I too
assumed loving yourself was concerned with ego and one-upmanship, failing to
realise that I couldn’t be further from the truth.
however, I later discovered that showing love to yourself (i.e. treating
yourself with the same care and kindness that you’d treat someone else you
love) is the first step to truly becoming less
self-obsessed and, consequently, more compassionate towards others.
How many times a
day do you put yourself down? Would you speak to your close friends in the same
way? Doubtful. Flip the script – only you can do it.
…So how about you? Does any of the above resonate? Perhaps you’ve got your own pearls you’d be willing to impart? We’d love to read about them in the comments section below.
Before we sign off, let’s quickly return to that question which closed our last post and opened this one. Induction is the perfect place to introduce employees to the support offered by their new place of work. The sooner cultural norms are assimilated, the greater the impact they will have. As such, regardless of the processes already in place, it’s imperative that reassurance is given from the get-go that mental health is valued and taken seriously. At least that’s how we see it. Any thoughts?