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How to cultivate a healthy mind

How to cultivate a healthy mind

What makes up a healthy mind?

The term mental health still holds negative connotations. There is more awareness around it and less stigma, but the fact of the matter is that we ALL have mental health. It is completely normal. This varies day to day from one side of the continuum to the other. On one end of the continuum we are living our best lives, super happy and are flourishing. On the other we are mentally ill. We all swing from one end to the other on a day to day basis. This is normal. As a nation we all sit somewhere in the middle (languishing) but with understanding, awareness and a plan we could be at the top end. We all have control over this!

1. Self understanding & self awareness

Our mental health is made up of a multitude of things that you might not even think are important:

  • Values – these values when crossed/not taken into account can really affect our mental health
  • Beliefs – beliefs which can be formed from the age of 6 when our subconscious minds were formed can sometimes limit us and hold us back from being who we want to be and doing what we want to do
  • Goals – depending on values and beliefs – often our goals might align with society rather than what we really want, causing an internal conflict
  • Mindset – are you open to opportunities or are you closed off?
  • Personality – we are who we are. Understanding it helps us to learn how to engage with others to stay mentally healthy
  • Genetics – sometimes this can play a part whether we like it or not

Self understanding and self awareness are key to building a bespoke plan to keep ourselves mentally healthy.

How we influence & take care of ourselves aligned to this mindset footprint can make a very positive difference indeed.

2. Building your bespoke healthy mind care plan

Following that, a thorough understand of what makes us resilience, practicing mindfulness & stress busing techniques to create a plan that is best for you. One size does not fit all!

  1. Resilience – pillars of resilience are:
    • Growth mindset
    • Internal sense of control
    • Connection with others
    • Connection with nature
    • Positive emotions
    • Emotional regulation
  2. Mindfulness – being aware and appreciating the world around you is an incredibly powerful thing:
    • Practicing gratitude – on waking & when you go to bed (3 good things)
    • Journaling – understanding your thought process & coaching yourself
  3. Stress busting techniques
    • Yoga
    • Talking therapy
    • Notifications – reduce social media
  4. Investment in yourself! – talk to an Expert. You don’t need to be mentally ill to benefit from this. Experts can help you to understand your personal mental make up & support you to build that bespoke plan for you and help you to implement it. A mixture of positive psychologists, counsellors, coaches etc. can make a big difference and help you to transition from languishing/surviving to thriving & living your best life!

The COVID effect

For the vast majority of us who have not contracted COVID, the long term effects are still being felt. A sense of exhaustion is upon us for various reasons – 15 months of balancing childcare and work with no support earlier last year, constant changes in regulations, need to calculate our own risks driving consistent anxiety, worry over our loved ones contracting the disease and financial impacts with many people facing reduced salaries , business turnover or job losses. The COVID effect has in one go wiped out 2 key elements of resilience which is an internal sense of CONTROL and connection with others.

Taking care of your colleagues

If you’re a line manager or you simply just want to take care of your colleagues through this difficult time. The simple things matter and mental health issues can start with development of chronic stress. You don’t need to complete Mental Health First Aid course to be ready to support. Just watch out for the following:

  • Irritability/Snappy
  • Aggression
  • Anxious
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Disconnected/Uninterested
  • Loss of sense of humour
  • Sudden drop in performance

Educating you & other colleagues or line managers on these simple signs can make a big difference. For line managers, fostering an open door policy and an open and honest relationship is key to catch this quickly. Especially if someone was previously a strong performer, and all of a sudden they are not performing.

Small gestures & agreeing a supporting action plan can make a huge difference whether it be:

  • Listening & open door policy
  • Reassessing  & reprioritising workload
  • Offering flexibility
  • Encouraging regular breaks
  • Supporting them to build their own healthy minds plan &potentially seeking Expert help
  • Building/pushing for a wider wellbeing strategy

Engagement drives success

A key element to many successful companies is employee engagement which drives productivity and overall company performance.

Often the root to engagement is an alignment of values and goals between the individual and the employer. COVID and the approach to risk management has seen a shift and sometimes misalignment in those values. If employers force employees back to an office environment without considering this, there may be an immediate disconnect and negative impact on mental health through increased stress and anxiety and long term impact on their personal lives. This is likely to push many people out of the comfort zone they have been able to live with, and into the panic zone resulting in chronic stress & anxiety. This needs careful consideration and alignment with line managers to realign values, understanding the perception of risk in order to reinstate a sense of control in order to limit stress and drive positive mental health. This in turn will drive productivity.

Wellbeing will be key to success.

The biggest advice for employers is to handle with care and caution. Blanket rules may seem obvious however a more consultative approach may be a more sensible option based on employee values and attitudes and where they currently sit on the mental health continuum.

Top tips for success

Business leaders would also do well to formalise a wellbeing strategy going forwards by offering proactive support to prevent mental health issues by:

  • Finding a way to track and measure the wellbeing of the workforce
  • Offering a proactive way to educate on what makes up our mental health and offering education to build a bespoke plan to promote positive mental health including
    • Teaching self understanding & self awareness to identify what makes up and influences an individual’s mental health
    • Fostering a growth mindset across the organisation
    • Educating and promoting resilience
    • Teaching stress management techniques including mindfulness, meditation
    • Promoting and demonstrating a work/life balance,
    • Educating on the importance of physical health on mental health (nutrition, exercise, sleep management)
    • Offering support & education on financial management

This content, wrapped up with executive sponsorship, alignment with company values and goals integrated into the HR process accompanied with a great communications plan will truly transform and futureproof any business’ performance in a post COVID world