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Imagine this …. you walk into work and see a member of your team sat at their desk, eyes closed and breathing slowly.  Your initial thoughts?  Most likely your thinking this person is slacking off, flying their kite, swinging the lead, skiving, sleeping on the job etc and has nothing to do with wellbeing.

But what if this was coping strategy for managing stress or anxiety?  Would it then become acceptable?  Fifty years ago if you saw someone running down the street you’d likely think “what have they nicked or who are they chasing?”  Today when we see someone running down the street we know it’s someone investing in their physical fitness.  So, 50 years from now, will taking a minute to practice mindfulness in work become acceptable?  I really hope so!

Speaking to Managers on a daily basis about mental health and wellbeing, it is apparent that many of us do something weekly to benefit our physical fitness and make daily choices to consume healthier food and drink choices.  What’s also apparent is that most people don’t do anything consciously to benefit their mental health.  I feel this is part of the problem. Take Mindfulness for example, 90% of those on my courses have never heard of it, 5% do it because they are interested in Wellbeing and the remaining 5% do it because they have been off work with stress and were recommended it by a counsellor or therapist.  

This is the classic reactive approach to health and well-being.  We wait for things to get so bad that we need professional help and then discover a coping strategy.  Why are we waiting??? Instead of waiting to see if you’ll end up being one of the 1 in 4 that develop a mental health issue, why do we just start practicing mindfulness, self awareness, building personal resilience NOW!  The fact is, we can’t avoid stress, non of us are bullet proof and its highly likely you’ll encounter tough times.  Start acting now and give yourself a fighting chance of getting out unscathed. 

Here are my top tips for improving your personal mental wellbeing:

Be genuine to yourself about your emotional state 
Many of those suffering with poor mental health can’t see it for themselves, they feel unhappy but may not be aware why.  Self talk and being honest to yourself about how you feel is an essential component to good psychological wellbeing.

Identify what gets you stressed 
We all experience stress at some point in lives and we can’t always avoid it. Compose a list of the things that frequently get you stressed.  i.e. workload, the school run or poor punctuality.

Review how you cope with stress – is it helpful or toxic? 
Now you have established your stressors, think about how you react to these. Is it always positive and rational? Or, does your emotional Chimp take over? 

Establish a series of positive coping strategies
Research some positive coping strategies and find something that works for you.  This could be controlled breathing, mindfulness, walking the dog or slowing down your impulsive reactions.

Find a mood changer – something that can turn a bad day on its head 
Do you have something that can turn a bad day onto a good day?  A song, a memory a video or  maybe a call to a friend who always leaves you in a better frame of mind. 

When it comes to wellbeing, especially organisation wellbeing we need to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first.

Content & Delivery Director at Hero Wellbeing

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