Sometimes, there comes a moment where everything just gets on top of you. You aren’t always sure what triggers it. It’s often an amalgamation of lots of different things that have happened over a period of time, building up to that breaking point. I knew it had been building up over some time, I noticed the signs. I had been a little shorter than normal in my responses with people, I felt irritated by things I didn’t normally, and I had felt a little emotional. Well I reached breaking point, the icing on the cake so to speak. And it was trigged by passion, or lack off. But it’s not what you think it is…
My moment arrived following yet another conversation with someone who doesn’t see employee mental health and wellbeing as an important thing in the business. And here’s what happened… I lost it. How on earth are people not passionate about such an important topic? Do you not get it? How can you not see that this is one of the most important things for you? Why aren’t you as passionate as me on this? … are just some of the questions I shouted loudly at absolutely no one. But the steering wheel got an ear full on my way home that’s for sure.
If you were as passionate – it would make this process a whole lot easier… but alas, I am in a field which is subject to constant criticism and scrutiny, a significant lack of understanding and a stigma that rolls like tumbleweed, hard to catch, ugly to watch and has no intention of slowing down. And at these moments, I think that’s it, I give up. And I have two reactions when at this stage…my first reaction is the one that folds her arms, huffs, and begrudgingly mutters to herself as she stomps to the sofa with a glass of wine.
The other, perhaps more reasonable side of me then says, you do not give up because you care too much and you know that people don’t always get it and its your job to help them to understand and its exactly why you are in this job BUT you’ve put yourself under too much pressure, so its time to stop, take a breather, reflect and then start again. The reasonable Helen is right….much to sofa Helen’s disgust.
There are constant challenges and pressures happening in whatever business you work in. Sometimes its one thing, sometimes its multiple things; getting into a position where we didn’t intend to be, getting shouted at by a customer who isn’t happy with the service, getting feedback that makes us question what we do or how we do it, work with someone who knocks us back a bit, that deal we wanted doesn’t come through like we hoped, looking stupid in front of a customer because of an error they made with what they wanted. That barraging can become unbearable. We feel deflated, our self-esteem a little bruised maybe, we question if we can do it, our self-confidence playing hide and seek.
So what do we do? Well, we have to take a moment out. We have to say, okay. Lets. Stop.
And let’s go and do the things that don’t cause us to feel this way. Do the things you love. Do the things that allow you to find calmness. I keep a list of things I love doing, that I know really help with my wellbeing. It’s a list of things that I have built up over time. I keep a list because in moments like this, its not easy coming up with things that help you so I go to the list and I pick something. Listening to music, breathing exercises, sitting in the garden, taking a walk, playing with the dog, exercise, playing the piano, singing, writing. After a while, the negative feelings settle and you will feel that pressure subside. And in doing so, it will give you the space to reflect, in a mindset that is prepared to reflect, honestly and constructively.
Learning to manage your own state of mind can be challenging and what works for you will differ to someone else. Your health is individual to you.
– Some of the first signs are changes in your own behaviour. How you respond, how you react, attentiveness, confusion and increases in anger are just examples. Behaviour that isn’t necessarily in normal character for you.
– Listen to yourself – your body and mind knows when things are affecting you. Physical signs could be sickness, colds, coughs, headaches, tiredness or lethargy.
– Be prepared to stop and take time out when those times happen. Keeping going won’t make it better.
– Write a list of the things you love to do – which don’t put pressure on, which don’t allow you to question your ability but DO encourage you to find that calmness and reflection space. Keep the list in a place where you can access it in those difficult moments.
Everyone has to work at creating positive mental health. There are moments that affect us all, for different reasons. It’s up to us to find what is the best thing for us to do. To pull upon our own toolkit that we know helps us out in the times we need it most.
U+I offers workshops on ‘Creating your own Wellbeing Toolkit’. Because you never know when you might need to pull on it. Contact [email protected] for more information.
And, whilst the reasonable side of me came through…I still drank the wine.