Late last night I was asked to write a blog on mental health by a colleague. In the spirit of being part of an amazing team here at Orchard, of course, I agreed. But I could have said “No!”
Juggling multiple projects, working part-time, caring and worrying for a multi-generation family and a crazy new pup, like many people I am stretched. I do not believe in work-life balance; I believe in balance. We do not park our lives elsewhere whilst delivering great stuff at Orchard – we are a whole.
As I watch colleagues in meetings half engaged in dialogue with phones glued to hands, I am curious as to what technology has done to our mental health? It has broken down timelines and plane trips connecting us in the most powerful of ways. It has informed and educated beyond all possible boundaries. But, simultaneously it has perhaps driven us apart and makes us the most socially isolated of busy connected people. So, my question is this: “Who’s in charge?”
In my career as a so-called people expert, it’s not hard to notice that over the years, there has been a definite change in workplace health problems - from muscular-skeletal, to undoubtedly ones centred around mental health. There are huge advantages about having clear knowledge about mental health in the workplace – early detection, clear and supportive communication and having clinical experts at hand when necessary, such as Occupational Health. However, there are things that we can all do to help us in the quest of a happy workplace. And so, in the spirit of getting off-grid quick smart – here are my quick top tips:
1. Say NO!
Sometimes it’s hard to say no, even when you already have a lot on your plate. If you don’t enjoy doing something, don’t have the time, or it isn’t important to your health or happiness - just say no.
2. Think. Rethink. Maybe send?
We all receive those emails. Where people in the office may be taking their frustration, their anger out on you. But we need to sit back and think. Read the email you’re sending. Take in to account the person on the receiving end. You never know what that person is dealing with, or what their current mental state is. We all need to nurture and care for each other. Don’t send that email in frustration - rethink and come up with a better solution.
3. Switch off
Don’t live your life through your phone. When I first joined the team at Orchard, I challenged my colleagues to digital free time. I trialled a couple of apps to see how allegedly untouched I was by this trend. Ha! My results were shocking. My busy life was being pummelled by constant checking, engaging and monitoring - I was caught in the tech trap. I was certainly not in control of my time - and at my age that felt foolish. Switch. It. Off!
4. Get offline
Go outside and crunch through those autumn leaves; call a friend; hug your dog; talk to people in your neighbourhood. Just get outside, focus and reconnect with the world.
5. I’m struggling
If you’re finding it difficult, help is always at hand. Talk to someone. It may be difficult, and sometimes you feel like you don’t want to talk about it, but you can’t help yourself if you don’t make other people aware of the situation. Many workplaces have protocols in place if you’re feeling like this. Talk to your manager and tell them how you feel. You’re not going to be ostracised and help is there if you need it.
We all have a responsibility to support each other, and to talk openly about our health. Here at Orchard for example, we have an incredibly open and trusting approach to growing a business with family values where we largely don’t count holidays. However, we juggle this gesture of trust and honesty as we are acutely aware, that in some cases, this can create a reverse trend of people feeling guilty about taking well deserved time off. So, what do we do? We talk to people. Simple as that.
As the beloved Robin Williams once said,
“Seize the day. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing.”