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Mental Health at work: Is it really ok, to not be ok?

It’s a phrase I am sure we have all heard, ‘it’s ok to not be ok’. And as someone who advocates for mental health and who has a bipolar diagnosis, I am the first to admit there are times I have not been ok. But how comfortable are we sharing that in the workplace? And who here has not been ok, but not felt able to voice that at work?

I have been through some real low points in my life on my journey to balanced mental health, I have been in the darkest moments and still wiped the tears, put on concealer and walked into the office like I am ok because I know that taking time off will be seen as weakness and that my manager would judge me for it. So instead I go in pretending that I didn’t cry the whole night, that every breath I took didn’t hurt and that I wasn’t clinging to life by a fingertip. And in the process I have been pushing myself closer to exhaustion and closer to the edge which inevitably once I slip off it is a long climb back up. That may seem extreme but the truth is that I have been honest in the past, I have said ‘actually I am feeling incredibly depressed and anxious and I just need to have a few days to sleep, to walk, to stop the cycle’ and I have been made to feel like a liability and I, despite having low absence, have felt like it has hung over me ever since. In the past it certainly hasn’t been ok to say I am not ok without significant impact on my career. I am lucky to now have grown as a person and in my acceptance of my mental health and its limits, but also to have an employer that makes me feel empowered to be who I am and that has been down to some amazing managers too.

The truth is we ALL have mental health, we can all be honest and say we have good days and we have days where we just aren’t doing so well. For some those bad days might be debilitating, for others they may be able to fake it through and for a lucky few it might just be a bad day and tomorrow will be good again. But although a lot of how someone recovers from those bad days is down to themselves seeking help and support or knowing self care, the reaction and support of employers plays a vital role in their recovery or ability to return to work.

When someone is brave enough to disclose they are not doing ok, in our personal lives we all want to be that person that can support, we all want to be that person who is there for someone in their lowest moments and give them hope to get through the day. I doubt many of us would roll our eyes and think, what a pain! But how many of us can say the same in the workplace?

So we probably all agree that if a friend or loved one was struggling we would want to help. But here is the issue, what would you think if someone said that they were struggling with their mental health to you as a manager? Would you see the strength of someone who is aware of their mental health and able to be honest and open? Or would you see weakness? Something you don’t know how to handle? Maybe even a lame excuse from someone not cut out for the job? Or would you maybe think about the issues their absence causes you? The cost of absence, the inconvenience of rearranging meetings, finding cover or covering workload? The problem is it is not just a case of agreeing or accepting time off, it’s giving that person the reassurance, hope and belief that not only do you care about them as an employee but you want them to know there is no judgement and you support them.

I have experienced both types of managers and no suprise which one I had more respect for and flourished under.

Chasing someone for a return date, telling them how inconvenient it is, giving them the cold shoulder, refusing to invest in their development or being angry or even discussing or threatening performance management is not going to get that employee back to work quicker. Instead you are adding to their anxieties, their feeling of hopelessness and to their despair and they are more likely to have extended absence. Not only that, but you are treading a fine line that I personally see as morally and ethically questionable and certainly unlikely to generate a healthy, happy workforce. Mental illness should not be treated differently to physical illness, and it also should be considered whether or not their mental health condition is a protected characteristic and as such protected by law.

Businesses need to start thinking of mental wellbeing as part of their workplace offer. Training mental health first aiders, having access to assistance programs, training for line managers and having a culture of open conversations about mental health all will help. Where my manger has offered support, talked openly about mental health and given me the respect to manage my condition myself and seek support where needed I have had fewer absences, my work is of a higher quality, I am more engaged and I am happier in my workplace. We all benefit from that! Productivity is higher, engagement is higher, career development is more sustained and progressive and objectives are met.

So maybe we should ve asking ‘is it ok not to be ok in my workplace?’ and if the honest answer is no maybe its time to address that. Maybe the conversation shouldnt stop at ‘its ok not to be ok’ perhaps it should be followed by ‘what do you need? how can I help?’.

As mangers we are part of the answer to that question and as human beings we have a responsibility to our fellow humans to make a world that is kinder.

#MentalHealth #Work #Workplace #Anxiety #Bipolar #Bipolar2 #BipolarDepression #Depression #MoodDisorders #mentalwellbeing

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Time management in workplace

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

1. Prioritize work life and personal life

An executive can use time management to take on more important projects. If an executive is working on five big projects, for example, time management can give them an overview of where the parts of each project will fit into their schedule, allowing them to prioritize and arrange their work.

2. Keep from getting overwhelmed

To be a good time manager is to be organized, a skill that will keep executives from becoming overwhelmed. If an executive is working on those same five big projects, they’ll stand a better chance at success and confidence if they know when and how to work on each project. Time management can be the difference between knowing what needs to be done next and merely guessing.

3. Avoid getting stuck in the weeds

Executives who find themselves working on too many administrative tasks or spending too much time in meetings must become better time managers. The problem with getting stuck in the weeds is losing track of time, which is a lone main non-renewable resource. Effective time management allows executives to be rich in time.

4. Delegate to grow your team

An effective executive is able to delegate tasks and projects. A good team, one able to handle more complex projects, is often the difference between success and failure. There are few better ways to create a successful team than to trust employees with important tasks. Executives with too much on their plate can delegate tasks to their team and instantly gain more time.

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Six causes of burnout

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

1. Lack of Control

In order to feel satisfied and competent in our jobs, we need to have a sense that we're in control of our tasks and their outcomes. If we haven't been given an appropriate level of responsibility, or if we don't have access to the tools or resources needed to do our jobs well, we can easily start to feel out of control.

According to Maslach, a lack of control can lead to a job that's in direct conflict with our own values: "Control problems occur when workers have insufficient authority over their work or are unable to shape the work environment to be consistent with their values. A sense of efficacy is unlikely to occur when workers are feeling buffeted by circumstances or powerful people within the organization."

2. Insufficient Reward

While we often think of rewards in monetary terms, but workplace rewards can involve anything that makes the day-to-day flow of work satisfying. This could certainly be financial rewards (high pay, good benefits), but can also be social rewards (recognition from those around you) and intrinsic rewards (the feeling that you're doing a good job).

If you're lacking in any of these three areas - monetary, social, or intrinsic rewards - you're more likely to feel dissatisfied with your work and may be more susceptible to burnout.

3. Lack of Community

A strong sense of community is characterized by good team work, low levels of conflict and positive social interactions. According to Maslach, a healthy community is necessary to mediate the stresses of work: "People thrive in community and function best when they share praise, comfort, happiness, and humor with people they like and respect. In addition to emotional exchange and instrumental assistance, this kind of social support reaffirms a person's membership in a group with a shared sense of values."

4. Absence of Fairness

A perceived lack of fairness can lead to feelings of being disrespected or powerless in your current situation. Maslach identifies a number of situations that can lead to a sense of unfairness:

-Inequity in workload or pay

-Cheating in the workplace

-Inappropriate handling of promotions or evaluations

-Poor dispute resolution practices

Interestingly, Maslach points out that people are generally more concerned about the appearance of fairness (i.e. that a procedure is carried out fairly), than that the actual result is fair. We want to know that our superiors are doing their best to maintain a fair and equitable workplace; we're not as concerned that the actual results are fair.

5. Conflict in Values

A conflict in values occurs when your personal values and goals aren't in line with those of the organization. An extreme example would be someone who has a strong belief in the humane treatment of animals working for a meat processing plant. Maslach writes, "Contributing to a meaningful personal goal is a powerful incentive for individuals. When this work contributes as well to the organizational mission, people may be rewarded with additional opportunities for meaningful work."

6. Work Overload

Perhaps the factor most commonly associated with burnout, work overload is simply an unsustainable workload. Maslach defines it as "job demands exceeding human limits." It may occur when the quantity of work exceeds the amount of time available, or when the job is simply too difficult given your current resources, skill set, or level of ability.

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Effects of Burnout

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

Physical exhaustion at the end of the work day. Cynicism and detachment from coworkers and customers. Extreme dissatisfaction with your work, and uncertainty about how to improve and progress in your career.

Workplace burnout isn’t just a small thing that people need to figure out how to get over. It is a difficult and impactful reality that can lead to many negative consequences in all areas of your life. People dealing with workplace burnout symptoms and job stress are often impacted in the following ways:

Physical health issues

-Excessive stress


-Increased likelihood for heart disease

-Increased likelihood for high blood pressure

-Increased likelihood for type 2 diabetes

-Increased likelihood for respiratory issues

-Increased likelihood for death before age 45

Mental health issues





-Increased likelihood for mental health needs like medication or hospitalization

Personal consequences

-Alcohol or substance abuse

-Isolation from friends and family

-Irresponsibility with finances

-Anger towards family members

-Inability to fulfill responsibilities

Professional consequences

-Job dissatisfaction

-Withdrawing from colleagues and friends

-Inability to do job well

-Drain on company resources

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Causes of burnout in workplace

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

Here are the six areas that can lead to burnout and how you can attempt to remedy each one.

1. Workload. When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively get your work done, have opportunities for rest and recovery, and find time for professional growth and development. When you chronically feel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.

To address the stress of your workload, assess how well you’re doing in these key areas: planning your workload, prioritizing your work, delegating tasks, saying no, and letting go of perfectionism. If you haven’t been doing one or more of these things, try to make progress in these time management skill areas and then see how you feel. For many individuals, especially those who have a bent toward people pleasing, some proactive effort on reducing their workload can significantly reduce feelings of burnout and provide space to rest.

2. Perceived lack of control. Feeling like you lack autonomy, access to resources, and a say in decisions that impact your professional life can take a toll on your well-being. If you find yourself feeling out of control, step back and ask yourself, “What exactly is causing me to feel this way?” For instance, does your boss contact you at all hours of the day and night, and make you feel like you need to always be on call? Are the priorities within your workplace constantly shifting so you can never get ahead? Or do you simply not have enough predictability in terms of your physical or people resources to effectively perform your job?

Then ask yourself what you can do to shift this situation. Is it possible to discuss the issue with your boss to establish better boundaries and not respond to messages 24/7? Could you come to an agreement that certain priorities will remain constant? Or could you have more resources if you communicated about what you needed? Once you’ve considered these areas, you can then see what you can do to influence your environment versus what won’t change no matter what you say or do.

3. Reward. If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of effort and time you put in to them, then you’re likely to feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.

In these instances, you want to look within and determine exactly what you would need to feel properly appreciated. For example, perhaps you need to ask for a raise or promotion. Maybe you need more positive feedback and face time with your boss. Or perhaps you need to take advantage of the rewards you’ve already accrued, such as taking the comp time that you earned during a particularly busy time at the office. Experiment to see which rewards would make what you’re doing worth it to you and whether there is the opportunity to receive more of those rewards within your current work environment.

4. Community. Who do you work with or around? How supportive and trusting are those relationships? In many cases you can’t choose your colleagues and clients, but you can improve the dynamic. It could be as simple as taking the time to ask others how their day is going — and really listening. Or sending an email to someone to let them know you appreciated their presentation. Or choosing to communicate something difficult in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. Burnout can be contagious, so to elevate your individual engagement, you must shift the morale of the group. If you’ve found that once you’ve done all you can, others can’t improve or don’t want improved relationships, then you may want to consider a job change.

5. Fairness. Think about whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable treatment. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions or do other individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed? Does someone else get regular deadline extensions or access to additional resources when you don’t?

If you feel that a lack of fairness exacerbates your burnout, start by speaking up. Sometimes individuals are unaware of their biases or won’t take action until you ask for what you want. You can request to be mentioned as a contributor, to give part of a presentation, or for additional time and resources. And if you still find that the response seems inequitable, you can consider bringing that up in a polite way: “I noticed that the Chicago team got an additional week to work on their project that was originally due on the same date as ours. Can you help me understand why that’s not possible for our team as well?”

6. Values mismatch. If you highly value something that your company does not, your motivation to work hard and persevere can significantly drop. Ideals and motivations tend to be deeply ingrained in individuals and organizations. When you’re assessing this element of burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you to match your values with those of the organization.

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Stress vs Burnout

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

Definition of Stress

The term ‘stress’ is defined as a person’s response to a disturbing factor in the environment, leading to physical, psychological or behavioral divergence for organisational participants. It is an important part of work life, which encompasses the interaction of individual and the environment. The factors from the environment which causes stress are called ‘stressors’. The intensity of stress is not same for all individuals, i.e. some get highly stressed as they overreact to stressors while some have the stamina to cope with stressors.

In general, stress is seemed as negative, but it has a positive dimension also. When stress is positive, it is known as ‘eustress’ which is often viewed as a motivator. Eustress provides an opportunity to an individual to gain something. The stress is said to be negative when, it is related to a heart ailment, marital breakdown, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc.

There are some businesses which are more exposed to stress than others, like banks, shipping, construction, retail outlets, BPO, IT, etc. are some business which is on the top of stress-prone businesses.

Definition of Burnout

Burnout refers to a mental, emotional, or physical condition, of chronic exhaustion occurs due to prolonged stress. It is a state of mind caused by excessive exposure to intense emotional stress, displayed through emotional exhaustion and negative attitudes. An individual who is burnout is hypertensive, faces mental depression and is cynical about everything. It is when you feel overwhelmed and unable to fulfil demands constantly.

There are three stages of burnout, i.e. emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and feeling of ineffectiveness and lack of personal accomplishment. The additive impact of these three stages is a host of negative attitudinal and behavioral consequences.

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Gratitude and Appreciation cycle

#Gratitude #Anxiety #Wellbeing #Workplace

By using the cycle in the diagram as a framework, and moving clockwise around it from the top, here is what these program stages might look like in actual community practice:

-When people come to your program, welcome them! Whether there are two people or twenty, welcome them. Listen to them; listen to their ideas and experience; learn from them. Acknowledge the value of their experience. Allow yourself to be influenced by the people you are serving in community. When people feel welcome, they are more likely to return; and they may bring their friends. (We elaborate on the power of welcoming later on in this section.)

-As people start to engage in your program’s activities, recognize and appreciate their efforts and skills. Acknowledge the abilities and perspectives they bring to your program. This also means being open to learning how your participants might engage in activities differently than you. Include a variety of approaches and experiences. Try something new. Be gracious in observing differences.

-Appreciate and be guided by the cultural dynamics of the community you serve. This means being sensitive to the seasons, foods, events, and resources available in your community at various times of the year. Learn from the people around you. Adapt your own approach to reflect the interests, resources, and aptitudes of your program participants, volunteers, funders, and other stakeholders.

-Engage in both planned and spontaneous acts of recognition and appreciation for what you have achieved together after several weeks or months of meetings. In addition, you can incorporate both formal and informal acts of gratitude and appreciation for each other, for your program, or for something that you share. Such actions can occur regularly, and become part of your program’s normal operation.

-As participants start to become more comfortable with each other, and problem areas come up, innovate. Do something different. Keep getting participant feedback, and then create something to delight or surprise someone, somewhere. Take a small risk in addressing a priority of the group. Evaluate the results. Modify as needed. Do it again.

-Invite both planned and spontaneous feedback. After your program has been operating for a while, evaluate and assess how things have been going, where you have gotten to, and where you are going next. Use Appreciative Inquiry and ask, for example, “What did you enjoy about this activity?”, or “What surprised you when we tried this…?” (See more details on Appreciative Inquiry in a supplement to this section under Tools.) Ask other important questions about your project. If you wish to influence your group, allow them to influence you.

-Give thanks for the opportunities your program has enjoyed – such as the opportunities of getting to know each other and learning together; the opportunities of embarking on new adventures and having new experiences together; the opportunities to be safe and comfortable together.

-Celebrate, with awards or other kinds of recognition for the expertise and successes you have gained individually and collectively. Your celebrations can be as formal as giving out engraved certificates, or as informal as a pizza party or meeting in a new spot. People almost always like to be recognized, whether in large ways or small. Invite a sister or brother program to come and join you. Share some highlights or challenges as you build partnerships. Go on a group outing to discover a new community resource or place of interest. Share your discoveries together.

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5 tips for building relationships at work

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

1. Build relationships from the start

New hires or employees new to the workforce may have a more difficult time forming relationships with their co-workers. According to one CNBC report, people in entry-level jobs are the least likely to have a best friend at work.

Building relationships at work begins on an employee’s first day. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to establish an onboarding process that welcomes new employees, shows them the ropes, and incorporates your workforce.

You can support work relationship building by introducing new employees to your current workers during new hire onboarding. Delegate new hire training to one or more of your current employees. Encourage your new hire to ask one of their co-workers if they have any questions about their duties.

Another way you can encourage relationship building from the start is by hosting a team lunch where your new hire can get to know your current employees. You can cater lunch, take employees out to eat, or ask all employees to pack a lunch. Nothing says bonding like food, right?

2. Encourage interdepartmental communication

You can’t expect employees to build relationships if they don’t get the chance to communicate. Creating teamwork opportunities can help bring employees together, but communication can be difficult if you have multiple departments in your small business.

Encourage interdepartmental communication by meeting regularly with your staff. That way, different departments or employees can discuss projects they are working on.

After meetings, employees should continue to collaborate with their co-workers, even if they are in separate departments. An employee in one department might be able to provide valuable information to another.

You might even consider pairing up employees from different departments to work on a project. Interdepartmental teamwork can strengthen your relationship building efforts and also increase innovation within your small company.

To further emphasize your commitment to creating an environment where employees can foster relationships, consider using collaboration tools, such as online messaging and video systems. That way, employees can keep in touch about work projects, exchange funny memes, and talk about their days.

Collaboration tools can especially encourage communication between your remote employees and in-house staff. With the right virtual collaboration tools, your employees can build relationships, regardless of their physical location.

3. Increase socialization opportunities at work

When employees lead busy lives, they may not have the time or energy to focus on building relationships at work.

According to the CNBC report, work friendships decline as age and responsibilities (both in and out of work) increase.

Rather than eating lunch together, your employees might work through their break to get more tasks done. And instead of meeting for coffee after work, your employees might head home to take care of their families or attend night class.

To balance the busy lives your employees lead, consider hosting social events during work hours. You can host holiday parties, monthly team lunches, or achievement celebrations. That way, employees can step away from their desks and build relationships with their co-workers.

4. Hold in-person training and team-building sessions

Continual training opportunities help develop your employees’ skills, knowledge, and abilities. And, synchronous, in-person training sessions can be great for building effective work relationships.

Team-building activities, like a volunteer opportunity or fun scavenger hunt, can also be helpful to growing work relationships.

Consider hosting a monthly or quarterly training or team-building meeting. That way, employees can touch base with one another, get to know new hires, and grow their strengths.

5. Start a wellness program

One report found that 66% of HR managers saw an increase in wellness programs between 2013 and 2018. Do you have a wellness program in your small business?

Aside from reducing absenteeism, cutting health care costs, and boosting productivity, wellness programs can build relationships among employees.

Employees who exercise and make healthy eating choices together may form a camaraderie due to the increased time spent together (either during lunch or after work) and shared goal. Not to mention, pursuing a common goal gives employees something to talk about.

You can encourage employees to participate in a wellness program by offering incentives and including information about your program in your employee handbook. Also, you can turn your wellness program into a friendly competition between employees or departments.

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Burnt out?

#Anxiety #Burnout #Workplace

Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress. It is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability. More simply put, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, and begin to feel less capable at work, you are showing signs of burnout.

Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. So, if you hate your job, dread going to work, and don't gain any satisfaction from what you're doing, it can take a serious toll on your life.

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time.

Common signs of burnout:

-Feeling tired or drained most of the time

-Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated

-Feeling detached/alone in the world

-Having a cynical/negative outlook


-Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done

-Feeling overwhelmed

When asked to identify the symptoms of burnout, 85% of UK adults correctly identified symptoms of burnout, while 68% mistakenly identified symptoms of anxiety.

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