In my last two blog posts I’ve been talking about our relationship with work and how it affects our mental health. Generally speaking, the workplace has a huge impact on us – including our mental health. Working in a negative environment can be really detrimental. If everyone around you is demotivated or unhappy in their jobs, or if everyone is extremely stressed… no matter what it is, it will affect you.
I often joke that I have PTSD from some of my previous assignments, but if I’m honest with myself, there is some truth to it.
Of course it’s not as extreme as for example, for war veterans or victims of abuse – but I genuinely believe that you can leave a work experience feeling scarred. The negative experience and consequences you carry with you can feel traumatic and affect your behaviour in your new workplace and with colleagues, which of course, you don’t want. So today on the blog, I want to tackle the topic of workplace trauma.
This is a topic I have been wanting to cover for a while, but for which I needed to have enough distance with a specific event to write objectively.
Today I am coming from the position where trust in the workplace is a topic we are openly and actively discussing at the company. We talk about the impact lack of trust has on teams and individuals, how it affects our ability to do our jobs, and why we need more of it… Needless to say, I find it exceptional that we do so.
I was recently listening to the Go2Thrive podcast (episode 1), and as they were talking about the work-life balance, one of the guests brought up the interesting topic of “rest and recovery”.
This sparked something in me. Having previously written that the “work-life balance” can seem pretty binary, and that balance will look different for everyone, it occurred to me that rest and recovery is quite the same.
The work life is balance is a concept that is constantly being sold to us. In particular in today’s context of increased pressure and burnout, we are all running after it as if it were some sort of treasure. Countless articles are out there telling us how to find it, in fact I myself wrote one a few years ago.
Today I’d like to talk about what happens when work takes over your life. By that I mean more than working long hours, I’m talking about when work starts to ruin your social life, your relationships and your health. When it changes you, to a point where you’re not who you used to be. What can we do about this, and how can we prevent it?
If you are faced with some sort of mental health issue, you know that certain situations can “set you off”. If you suffer from social anxiety, going to large gatherings or parties may not be good for you. Or if you suffer from depression, an argument with a friend or a negative comment might start you spiralling into negative thoughts that it’s hard to get out of.
It’s difficult enough having to deal with these situations on a daily basis, but it’s an added challenge dealing with them at work. How can you ensure you will remain composed? How do you keep your emotions under control with your colleagues? How do you get away if you need a moment to collect yourself? I try to provide some answers below…
I’m pretty sure that at least once in your life you’ve thought to yourself: “that’s it, I quit!”
If you haven’t then you are one of those very fortunate people who gets to do a job they love, or else perhaps you’re delusional… Just kidding!
More seriously, I don’t think there are many people who have not gone through a difficult time at work, or considered their career options, without thinking about quitting. It’s natural and perhaps even healthy to question your choices every now again. But it begs the questions of all questions (sort of like knowing who is “the one”): how do I know when to quit? To answer that, I’d like to share my experience.
I’ve been addressing mental health in the workplace for a while, but one cannot talk about burnout (or other issues) if one doesn’t talk about what leads to it…
A lot of my articles focus on the individual and knowing oneself, which I continue to believe is of utmost importance. But is undeniable that certain environments create a burnout culture and are not favourable to employees’ wellbeing.
Last time I wrote about team dynamics in the workplace and how they can affect your mental health. A really important part of that, is how to help someone else when you see they are in need. If that person is part of your team, or a colleague you see suffering, what can you do?
Showing someone else you care is probably the first step towards making them feel better. Remembering the times I was in most difficulty, just the simple fact of someone telling me to enjoy a break, or ask for help, already relieved the pressure a little. So by the sheer fact of noticing, you might already be making a difference.
When it comes to mental health and the workplace, another great topic suggested to me was “how to relax”. I particularly like this one because even though it may seem mundane, I think it’s quite interesting to address.
The internet is rife with articles on how to relax. Type it into google (I just tried) and you’ll find any number of suggestions from mindfulness, to yoga, meditation, sleep… Don’t get me wrong all of those are perfectly adequate solutions, but I actually believe there’s more to it than that.
With the recent publication of the « Thriving at work » study, it felt like an appropriate time to write the sequel to my first post, which I’d been planning for a while.
In case you’ve not heard of the report, it was commissioned by Theresa May and highlighted the fact that around 300’000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year. Not only that, but apparently the number of people forced to stop work as a result of mental health problems was 50% higher than those with physical health conditions.