Last week marked Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual calendar event hosted by the charity, Mental Health Foundation, that aims to educate individuals and businesses and create a society that prevents mental health problems from developing and protects our mental well-being.
At Boodle Hatfield, the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees is of the upmost importance. As the firm's Mental Health First Aider and the Director of HR, I am particularly passionate about drawing attention to the event and ensuring resources are available to all to further tackle mental health stigmas and support our peers. This years' theme is anxiety, a common feeling that can impact our personal and professional lives. Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control. Lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety, it can be connected to a job, exams, a relationship, finances, social situations, how we feel about ourselves, or a change in our life. It is one of the most common mental health problems we can face.
So, what can we do to cope with feelings of anxiety?
If we don’t know how to cope with our feelings of anxiety, they stop us from doing the things we need or want to do. The more often and the longer we feel anxious, the more it can become a problem. Dealing with anxiety can be difficult but it is also important to remember it is normal and natural to feel anxious sometimes, especially in times of uncertainty and change. There are some things we can do to manage these tough feelings. The following suggestions might work for you:
- Focus on your breathing to help you control the thought.
- Exercise is a good way of dealing with anxiety - this could be some gentle stretches, yoga, a walk, a run, swimming, or taking part in a fitness class.
- Keep a diary - taking the time to keep a record of what’s happening in your life and how it’s affecting you can help you understand what is triggering your feelings of anxiety and catch unhealthy thinking patterns.
- Challenge your thoughts, thoughts are not always facts. - it can be easy to catastrophise in your own head and have a string of "what if" scenarios. Take a moment to challenge your negative thoughts with the facts.
- Understanding where you can find the right support - If your firm has an EAP service this can be a helpful place to start.
- Spend time in nature - It can help us feel calmer and less stressed.
- Connect with people and talk about how you feel.
- Try to get some quality sleep or rest - reducing caffeine/social media intake may help improve sleep quality and lower anxiety.
- Try to eat a healthy diet - It’s important that we don’t turn to unhealthy foods or drinks as a way to cope as they will do more damage in the longer term.
- Be kind to yourself - speak to yourself as a friend and show compassion in circumstances where anxiety may be heightened.
Further information, support and resources can be found on the mentalhealth.org.uk website.
At Boodle Hatfield, we understand that we must support our staff to help improve and maintain their health and wellbeing both inside and outside of work. We have a Wellbeing programme introducing initiatives to support our employee’s wellbeing with particular focus on four areas: Mental Health, Physical Health, Financial Health and Social Wellbeing. As part of our wellbeing activities, we invite guest speakers in to discuss key topics in areas such as nutrition, stress and anxiety, sleep, digital detoxing and financial planning. We also have a quarterly wellbeing newsletter sharing topical information, upcoming events and nutritious lunch recipes. We host Firmwide coffee mornings on a monthly basis and encourage staff to come together for ‘elevenses’ and have a conversation about mental health and wellbeing.
Over the last week, we have hosted a range of events including massages in the office to help alleviate stress and relieve tension; an expert talk from Uxhsley at 'Stretching the City' around Managing Anxious Thoughts; and Firmwide breakfast morning to provide another forum for staff to check in with their colleagues.