The unfortunate reality is there is a real need for mental health services, now so more than ever before.
The horror start to 2020 was enough to put most of us on edge. Then came COVID-19. Nobody has been left unaffected by this pandemic.
Most of us were forced to work and study from home. Nearly a million lost their jobs. Essential workers braved the elements and carried on while the rest of us went into lockdown.
If you are one of the fortunate ones that didn’t lose your job, count your blessings. But we know you too have your own stressors. Whether you’ve been juggling remote learning while trying to work from home, looking after family… it’s been stressful.
Managing the stress workload
Most jobs involve varying degrees of stress, and this can affect people at all levels within an organisation, including our leaders. Like COVID-19, it knows no barriers.
Some stress is reasonable, but when it is excessive and ongoing, that can become an issue. What causes workplace stresses can vary too. From role requirements, resources and support available, external forces or maybe your own capabilities.
What we all have in common is that we all know what stress feels like. We’ve experienced it at some stage.
WISR survey findings reveal financial stress has increased considerably in our current climate, compared with pre-COVID-19. In fact, 41% workers say thinking about their debt affects their work.
Nearly 15% workers say they are not confident meeting day-to-day expenses, compared to 4% pre-COVID-19. Workers also admit to experiencing increased anxiety levels today.
Excessive job stress can be damaging to your mental health and can contribute to the development of anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions.
Understanding your own stress
When you are aware of what is contributing to your stress, it’s easier to look for the right strategies to manage it.
Reaching out for assistance is one strategy, either with your boss or with a dedicated team, like People & Culture.
You certainly don’t want work stress affecting your relationships and life outside work. A healthy work/lifestyle balance is essential for good mental wellbeing.
Taking mental health breaks
Another effective strategy is taking a mental health break when you feel you need it most.
Principal Organisational Psychologist at the Centre for Corporate Health, Rachel Clements, says taking a mental health day when you need it is, firstly, about demonstrating self-awareness, which is a cornerstone of resilience.
“That awareness of ‘when is my stress now shifting from helpful to harmful?’ is a very good thing for people to be able to monitor themselves,” says Ms Clements.
Mental health breaks are helpful to give your mind, body and spirit what it is craving the most. But this is different for everyone.
The key is to plan what will work best for you on a mental health break to de-stress, what will make the time worth taking. That might include:
- spending time in nature
- meditation, yoga or exercise
- writing in a journal
- painting, drawing or a hobby you enjoy doing
- reading a book
- listening to music
- spending time with family, friends and pets
However you choose to spend your mental health break, make sure it counts.
Promoting a healthy workplace
Businesses that care about good mental health and personal wellbeing, that really look after their staff, have proven to attract and keep top talent because they’re great places to work.
The facts are clear: as well as benefiting employees, a mentally healthy workplace is also better for your bottom line.
Ms Clements explains mental health days help keep us healthy and do a better job.
It can be hard to take one and be open about it. But mental health days — and actually taking them — are important for us and for our workplaces.
If you need a mental health break from work, check your leave entitlements and chat to your manager. Any queries regarding leave entitlements should be directed to your People & Culture team.