Mental Health Month provides us with an opportunity to make time to think about our mental health and how you can assist yourself, and those around you, to stay mentally “fit”. Perks People Solutions, Senior HR Consultant and Accredited Mental Health First Aid Trainer, Sarah Hills provides us with some practical ways you can focus on your mental fitness and support your employees to do the same.
Mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health.
Taking steps to look after the health of our mind, body and soul, allows one to re-centre and restore these aspects of our health. We all need to do this in short spurts throughout the day, whether that involves getting up from your work desk and going for a quick walk around the block or taking a quiet moment to get outside and breathe some fresh air.
At other times, look to invest in longer stretches of time to recharge your mind, body and soul health.
Promoting and supporting a variety of mental health practices amongst staff is a positive action that employers can take to improve productivity and assist in managing their WHS obligations.
Employers can start by consulting with staff about what activities they might enjoy – whether they be physical (e.g., exercise of any sort, participating in outdoor activities such as riding a bike) or mental (e.g., socialising, mindfulness, mediation, practicing gratefulness, having a hobby).
Identify what sort of information you could promote in your workplace about why making time for these physical and mental activities are important for their wellbeing.
If you want to develop something greater, create a workplace environment over time where information is given regularly. Create opportunities for staff to explore some sort of regular wellbeing activities in the workplace, and/or identify any staff champions of wellbeing in the workplace to spread the word. As a suggestion you can encourage your staff to consider making a self-care plan, see below what this is and why it is important for staff to take positive steps to look after their mental and physical health.
The actual act of making time for your mental health is not always at the top of our to-do list. Taking the time does not mean you have to meditate or get out for a 5km run, as these may not be options available to you. After all your “time out”, needs to suit you.
The thing about self-care is that it is a practice that requires you choosing to do it – but start small. Find that simple self-care activity which takes 15 minutes and commit to doing it each day or every second day. Start there, and then build it over time to become a regular habit each day – the investment will pay off, but not overnight and not by doing nothing. It will not happen unless you consciously make time for it, but by doing so, you will reap the rewards of your effort by experiencing greater overall enjoyment, satisfaction, rest and soul-health. It is only once you are feeling mentally well that you can then support and assist others.
Self-awareness gives us a chance to tune into what we are feeling, what we need and how we can best care for ourselves. Without self-care, there can be no growth because we are too exhausted from the obligations of life to think about what it is we need, want and desire.
Developing your self-awareness helps you learn more about yourself. What you like and don’t like and what you’re capable of, and importantly, provides you with information or clues about what you need when you’re not feeling that capable, satisfied or at your optimum.
Exploring your self-awareness can be hard if you’re not the kind of person who likes to think too deeply about your feelings. Your feelings are spontaneous and emotional responses to the things you experience in life. Like your senses (taste, sight and hearing), they give you good information about what’s going on around you, if you choose to tune into what you are feeling.
There are some great ways you can work on your self-awareness, but what you do then is entirely up to you. Look for some physical signs that might help you to ‘read’ or gauge your feelings. For example: if you have an urge to clench your teeth or hit something, this could mean you’re feeling angry or frustrated. If you have a pain or flutter in your stomach perhaps you are feeling nervous or anxious.
Paying attention to the physical signs you are experiencing might indicate how you’re feeling. By engaging with how you’re feeling, you can get better insights into what you like, what makes you feel uncomfortable and what makes you angry. Knowing this means you can start thinking about how to manage those feelings or how you can calm those feelings more. What works for you is unique to you, see below for details on how to build a self-care plan for you.
If you want to explore this topic more there are numerous books (hard copy and audio), articles and podcasts authored by celebrities, sporting and political heroes – take 30 minutes this coming week to look up some and see what suits your style, consider your values, experiences, interests and lifestyle philosophy.
Just search for “Mental Health” or “Wellbeing” podcasts on your device to find a huge selection. Some popular podcasts include: The Psychology Sisters; The Imperfects; Happy Place; The Anxiety Guy Podcast; The Minimalists Podcast; The Daily Meditation Podcast; Bloke to Bloke.
If you think you need something more than reading or listening to someone talk about feelings, then seek out the assistance of your GP or find some free help online or over the phone, search up some resources or visit the SA Health website for their guide to healthy living.
A Self-Care Plan can help you enhance your health and wellbeing, manage your stress and maintain your working and/or personal life. Learn to identify activities, practices and people that support your wellbeing and help you to sustain positive self-care in the long-term.
Here are some ideas for you to consider what “fits” your self-care plan, or even how you can support employees in their self-care plan:
Reproducing this list and thinking of ways to promote it at your workplace is an investment in your staff and your business, because being fit for work is about being mentally and physically healthy. So it’s worth asking yourself, as well as your employees; “what is one thing you can do today to practice self-care?”
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With a background in legal practice, Cecilia has developed strong technical expertise in all matters relating to workplace law, including awards, contracts, disciplinary matters, investigations, equal opportunity and HR policy development.