Same sea, different boats – #TeamStory action on World Mental Health Day
Dani Wiggins, our Social Committee co-boss and junior account executive discusses how little things can make a big difference to our mental health…
The pandemic has affected physical health, brought social issues into sharper focus and caused the biggest recession for decades. But one of the quieter, yet no-less-damaging impacts has been upon people’s mental health.
Research published this month by the Centre for Mental Health concludes 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children – that’s 20 and 15 per cent respectively – will need some level of support for conditions brought on or made worse by the effects of COVID-19.
This makes #WorldMentalHealthDay 2020, tomorrow (Saturday 10 October), all the more significant. And at Story, we’ve been looking at how we can better support each other’s mental health through these challenging times and beyond.
It’s fair to say most of us here have had ‘testing’ moments this year, with unavoidable impact on our thoughts, mood and productivity. Whether work-related – missing the boost of seeing each others’ lovely faces, pushing for big deadlines, or adapting to a pace of change like no other across comms – or in our own health, relationships, circumstances.
As the nights draw in through autumn and winter, we’re all the more aware of how this can affect us with the reduction in vitamin D and sun-soaked positivity. To help, #TeamStory has been looking at ways to help each other, culminating in a true-to-form honesty-fuelled meet-up yesterday (Thursday 8 October) to discuss all things health and wellbeing.
As well as a presentation put together by Jord and myself – AKA Story’s Social Committee, the team each received a little self-help book before throwing themselves into guided meditation and a 10-minute yoga class.
Here are some of the take-homes from our session, which we will all be using from now to check on each other a little more.
#1 Know the signs
In the hustle and bustle of the busy work day, it can be difficult to spot telltale signs that someone isn’t feeling quite right. Things are compounded by remote working – with little-to-no face time with colleagues, clients, friends, or family.
We’ll all be paying closer attention to ourselves and the team. If they start to make uncharacteristic mistakes, seem more tired than usual or don’t quite look like themselves in meetings, that’s something to take note of and respond accordingly to.
#2 Self-care is a skill – practise it
Self-care is a skill. It needs to be taught and practised before we reap the rewards from it – and we all admitted it was something we’re currently not very good at.
It’s not always easy, especially if you’re feeling low, but making a conscious effort to include self-care activities day-to-day is a surefire way to take positive steps towards increasing mental wellbeing. We all shared things that help us individually, such as simply getting outside and trying to be ‘in the moment’, going for some exercise, watching a favourite TV programme, or just doing something we love.
#3 Keep boundaries front-of-mind
Boundaries are an essential part of life and our relationships, yet articulating and enforcing our boundaries is often something many of us find difficult. Being a ‘yes man’ often gets things done, but if it’s taking a toll on your mental health it might be time to reconsider.
We talked about creating more defined and respected boundaries at work, such as being clear with our working hours so we get a routine going and hit the right work/life balance, or flagging nervousness or apprehension about carrying out an activity, so you get appropriate support.
But this also means we need to account for other people’s boundaries. In our personal lives, this could be asking someone you’re about to offload onto if they actually have the capacity for that right now, and aren’t dealing with other more pressing things.
#4 Talk about it
We’re all human. We all have varying degrees of mental health. Talking about things with each other can make a big difference, but often takes a lot of courage.
Simply opening the dialogue with one another by asking, “How are you?” and genuinely taking the time to listen to the response, can make a massive difference and give people the confidence to have trickier conversations.