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Thoughts

Mental Health Awareness Week

15th May, 2023

Anxiety is a normal emotion, but sometimes it can run out of control, contributing to poor mental health, or becoming an ongoing psychological struggle.

We are all human and need to to pay attention to how we are feeling, remembering that it is OK to stop and breathe every once in a while. We are more encouraged than ever before to foster positive mental health, so why is it still a taboo to say you’re overwhelmed at work? When you have to manage difficult people, what can you do to mitigate the stress that sometimes come with that challenge?

We spoke to our colleagues and Mental Health First Aiders to get their thoughts on why anxiety is still a taboo topic this Mental Health Awareness Week.

Our Contributors

Laptop, notes and office stationery in mess on desk. Overwhelmed with work

Why is it still a taboo to say you’re overwhelmed at work?

It’s still a taboo to say you’re overwhelmed at work because, for many people, feeling overwhelmed it can feel like a tacit admission that you’re not good enough to do your job. This has been a common refrain in high pressure industries for a long time. But we know this is wrong. We’re all human and have limits on the time, energy and emotional effort we can realistically put into work.

Something that’s always served me well is to try to remember that if I’m not looking after myself and managing my workload, then I can’t deliver for my team or for clients. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, speak to your manager. It helps to come with ideas or strategies for how you can reduce your workload or prioritise what work you are doing to make it more manageable. These conversations are good for your mental wellbeing, but also fundamental to being a part of a sustainable, well-functioning team.

Contributed by

Summer Country Road With Trees Beside Concept

What are some tips for managing anxiety and stress when dealing with people?

Back-in-the-day, I had a stint as a driving instructor.  Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I wasn’t half bad (30 years ago that is).  So, in that spirit, and clinging to the rather dubious memory of my teaching prowess, when my son turned seventeen, I enthusiastically dashed out and bought some ‘L’ plates.

Things were ticking along quite nicely on our carefully planned routes, the easy left and right turns with a sprinkling of mini roundabouts.  I was feeling pretty smug with myself and promised a more adventurous outing soon.

On the morning of said adventure, I had already:

  1. been salty from a disagreement with my husband
  2. trodden in the dog sick I had inadvertently smeared like peanut butter along the floor when opening the living room door
  3. taken a call from my eighty-five-year-old dad’s care home to say he’d done a commando roll out of bed (again).

Still, I have a blind spot when it comes to my son and I had promised, so off we went.  Suffice to say, my dark mood created the perfect storm with an ill-thought-out route followed by a white-knuckle ride of epic proportions – our combined potty mouths alone should have seen us kneeling on rice for at least a week as penance!  Point being I knew, after I screeched like an unhinged banshee “pull over somewhere safe of the left”, that this was absolutely 100% my bad – we had run a red light, literally and metaphorically.

That morning should have started with an apology, not ended in one.  I’m sorry, I can’t take you out at this moment, let’s circle back when I’ve properly dealt with a/b & c.  By taking a step-back, reflecting on our triggers and owning our behaviours we can make better (sometimes safer) choices and be more agreeable to be around.  Similarly, navigating the negative behaviours of other people can feel overwhelming.  I’m not saying we should support ‘difficult’ behaviour, but what we can do is take a beat, try not to take things personally, perhaps flip our view to see things from their perspective.  Remember, you can only be in control of own journey. Try not to judge others without taking the time to understand what is driving their behaviour – be assured they are busy trying to navigating their own journey too.

Lesson learned. Well, in progress at any rate.

Contributed by

Businessman in shirt working on his laptop in an office. Open space offic

How can work anxiety be better managed?

A significant factor in supporting people with work anxiety can come from company culture. Being flexible and understanding with those who may struggle with anxiety can make a huge difference. In my current role, there exist several accommodations already in place that can help me manage my anxiety whenever it strikes:

  • Hybrid Working – Sometimes the world can be difficult to face or navigate when under the cloud of anxiety. Having the option to avoid the outside world can be incredibly helpful.
  • Access to quiet spaces – Having the ability to sit somewhere private and quiet for a moment can be a remedy to any stifling, overwhelming feelings that can occur.
  • Listening to music – In a similar vein to quiet spaces, familiar sounds or songs can be a useful tool in centring oneself or calming the negative thoughts and feelings.

Contributed by

Workers chatting by computer

A problem shared…

In my life, I have spoken with many people who have experienced mental health wellbeing challenges, as well as experiencing some of my own. These challenges can far too often lead to increased levels of anxiety and in other cases can even materialise as depression.

These symptoms often fly in the face of the personalities we like to project to our colleagues and seniors at work, causing us to suppress these symptoms and hide them from our colleagues. This then leads us into a spiral of withdrawing ourselves from the very support structures we could use to help us address and overcome these challenges.

So, whether you find yourself going through bouts of anxiety or depression, please remember to try do the most difficult thing in the world… and share you concerns with others!

By just taking this one bold and brave step, you will soon find that a problem shared can quite literally turn into a problem halved!  Take the time to talk along with some other useful tips, such as developing a routine, moderating what you consume and becoming more active.  You will soon find your mental health rebounding and returning to the best version of yourself!

If you are concerned about reaching out to those nearest to you at work, remember that Gemserv have many Mental Health First Aiders that work in other parts of the business who will listen to your concerns and help you as confidentially as possible.

Contributed by

Womens business meeting

Life as a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA)

Mental health support relies on knowledge of the issues and what can be done to help. MHFA are a source of knowledge for anyone in the company to use. Among other things we raise awareness of mental health issues, provide information and support about what to do if you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues and provide people with someone who will listen non-judgementally (especially outside of their work team).

Contributed by

Authors

Shane Denny

Operational Account Manager (Retail Energy Code)

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Will Taylor

Senior Low Carbon Consultant

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