Mental health in the workplace

Depression, Health & Wellbeing, Professional Development

In recent times, mental health in the workplace has received much more awareness and many organisations have been placing a much greater emphasis on the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

Many have adopted a culture where mental health issues can be more openly discussed and are seeing it less as a sign of weakness.

So what really causes workplace based stress?

My view on this is simpler than you might think …

“Workplace stress is felt when you cannot separate who you really are from what you do.”

This may conjure up a number of thoughts and even some internal resistance but just ponder these questions for a moment:

When was the last time you had a truly magnificent day? And felt no resistance?
When did you last finish work and still have as much energy as when you started?
When did you last work the entire day from a state of joy, peace, love or appreciation?
Are you neutral to happy about even the most mundane tasks?
When did you last deal with boundaries being crossed with the utmost neutrality/professionalism?
When did it last feel like nothing was too much for you?

Was there ever any stress during this time? Or did things just flow?

The real you IS that part of you that can consistently and effortlessly do ALL the above.

Have you ever noticed how those that are not working from this head space suffer from anxiety or stress in some shape or form? Regardless of what their position is within the company.

We spend much of our lives in the workplace and it is when this anxiety or stress is left unchecked that things can start to escalate and affect our professional life, our home life and our relationships in and out of work.

Recognizing workplace stress

Workplace stress can manifest as (but not limited to) any of the following:

– irritation with team mates, stirring
– jobsworth, ‘fixed’ output
– condescending or ‘better than’ attitudes, talking over others
– anger or quick to temper
– isolation, withdrawal, insecurity, moodiness
– nervousness, anxiety, worry, frustration
– excessive laughing, shyness, stuckness
– neediness, desperation, threats to leave
– demands for unwarranted reward or compensation
– withholding information or not being a team player
– victimization, bullying, prejudice, clique formation
– can’t face work, belittled, devalued
– overwhelm, depression
– over ambition, strong desire

How do you know if you are keeping YOU and the work you do separate?

With a few simple questions:

Do aspects of your work weigh on your mind when you’re not actually working?
Are you attached to the outcome of your deliverables or to what you do?
Do you feel your personal survival is dependent on your job?
Do you identify with the work you do? e.g. “I am a Manager”, “I am VP of”, “I am Head of”
Do you often hear the phrase “Just let it go” in the workplace?

These are just some basic pointers and serve to highlight your level of attachment to your workplace and the work you do. How much you are attached directly contributes to your stress and anxiety levels and ultimately, your happiness or success in what you do.

(To go into a deep meaning of attachment and the philosophy behind the concept of attachment is beyond the scope of this writing piece. Suffice to say that in this context, attachment can be thought of as any want, any desire and/or a need to be controlling or be controlled in the workplace)

If you look around your workplace and impartially observe those who are the happiest (not always the most rewarded or senior), you will see that within them there is a very high level of inner comfort, presence and peace.

They will be the ones with a smile on their face no matter what the task is and no matter what their title is. They will be with healthy boundaries, have a willingness to share and collaborate, be honest, professional and most all, authentic. They will also have a high degree of detachment in all they do. Know anyone like this in your organisation? They do exist!

How can you help with those who are showing signs of high levels of attachment, stress and anxiety in the workplace?

Some options could include:

Firstly, acknowledge there is an issue there. Never be dismissive of someone’s anxiety no matter how trivial or ‘weak’ it may appear to you. Do not attempt to counsel them unless you are experienced and authorised to do so.

If possible, pair them up with a mentor who already exhibits a high level of ‘aloofness’ about them and yet still manages to get things done. Just being in their presence regularly will open the door for uplift and spontaneous change.

** Many large organisations already provide mentoring typically where one is senior in position to another to encourage growth and personal development. This is great EXCEPT in the case where mental health is concerned. It is very important to be extremely mindful of pairings in these circumstances. **

If the above is not possible or if no one in in your organisation is actually like this – and if they are open to it – invite/send them to see a practitioner that specialises in emotional release combined with Professional Development. The wonders of releasing will quickly allow them to reduce their stress and anxiety levels and become a more creative, confident, productive and happier member of team.

Other articles in the Professional Development series include:

Influencing an Influencer – Influencing was never the real issue!

Bullying and Victimization – how an inner transformation created an immediate outer experience

What are you putting out there? – does it really matter so much?