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I have the pleasure of speaking at The Opportunity Peterborough Bondholder meeting on the 13th October. This is excellent timing as, it will be World Mental Health Day on the 10th October. The global 2023 theme is: ‘Mental Health is a universal human right.’ It provides an opportunity for organisations to re-start conversations with their staff and encourage them to use the services that are provided, such as insurance, flexibility of hours, speaking to their MFHAiders® and other staff benefits.
One of the reasons for re-starting is that staff don’t use the available services provided by their company. There seems to be a gap between staff and the services. One of the causes the stigmas from staff feelings of anxiety. One of the goals of MMS is to educate staff about anxiety and give tips to self-care and guide staff to use their company’s services available. This article is focused to do just that:
A key message for anyone is to clarify the meaning of the work ‘anxiety’. The Mental Health Foundation clarifies this: it is ‘how we respond to feeling threatened, under pressure or stressed’. Many day-to-day situations can cause feelings of anxiety, a natural self-warning function.
The first point to note is that anxiety in short bursts can be useful. The Mental Health Foundation states that “anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can spur us on, help us stay alert, make us aware of risks and motivate us to solve problems.” It makes sense when we consider our evolution as primitive animals. Anxiety was one way to alert and prepare us for any action required so that we could survive and live with the danger around us. The military, sporting, and entertainment sectors are good examples of the benefits to channel anxiety to perform at the highest level. You can channel the feelings of anxiety in suitable situations, such as leading meetings, review with team staff, responding to urgent calls and working to finish a document.
Time is an important consideration because after a specific period our thoughts often start to overtake your day. MHFA England, who are part of the international organisation to train workers to be the in-house Mental Health First Aiders, advises that the key is to notice when levels of anxiety reach the point when they are ‘intense, longer-lasting or interfere with everyday living’. When this occurs, it is important to take action. Action means: tracking your mental signs and reactions, and what actions to consider in a rational way.
Andrew Huberman, Professor of Neurobiology & Ophthalmology at Stanford Medicine and host of the Huberman Lab Podcast advises that we focus on the difference between “real stress and anxiety” and the “mind’s translation”. A good example is responding to a new work request. Your mind may immediately jump to a defensive mode and conclude that you cannot deliver this due to other workloads and current deadlines you have. Your mind might be overprotecting yourself, and the goal is to focus on the ‘real anxiety’, not the feelings.
Here are some general tips on how to manage anxiety and channel anxiety.
It is important to try not to take any immediate decisions based purely on emotions. The goal is to acknowledge your emotions but not to let them only dictate your actions. The goal is to respond in a practical and real way to a situation. If you receive a request that drives your emotions, take five minutes to practice some mindfulness to focus on the current situation. Another way is breathing exercises – the UK’s NHS recommends breathing gently and regularly through your nose and out through your mouth, inhaling for up to 5 seconds and doing the same as you exhale.
Ask yourself ‘why’.
Jay Shetty on his ‘On Purpose’ podcast about anxiety suggests asking yourself ‘why’. This direct question acknowledges your emotions and pushes your focus on the real and practical impact of that moment. Perhaps your feelings are a reaction to the current meeting you are in, or perhaps the real anxiety is because you have just come off an intense phone call with one of your co-workers.
Break up a day or project into smaller pieces.
Breaking the work request into smaller pieces is a method to find the real situation and understand if you do new work request. Marathon runners often use this tactic. They focus their minds on specific phases to shorten their race, such as water stations, as well as reward their body and mind for reaching that stage.
Speak to someone.
It’s good to talk. Bringing your thoughts and emotions to a trusted contact helps focus on the ‘real anxiety’ and give time to find solutions. Over 40 respondents to a MMS survey stated that talking is a useful technique to understand the reality of a situation. The charity ‘Time to Talk’ was launched to help people find a suitable contact to talk about their mental worries in a confidential and safe way. You can find it here: https://timetotalkday.co.uk.
Lastly, I hope that just reading this article can help you take your focus onto your ‘real anxiety’. Look out for articles and stories about World Mental Health Day on the 10th October and, if you want, share them with your team and organisation as a gesture of support.
If you want to know more about Melville Mental Solutions’ passion and services please get in touch with the founder, Patrick Melville at email@example.com or visit their website – www.melville-solutions.com.