Why Wellbeing Matters 

Business, Culture, depression, HR, L&D, Leadership, Management, mental health, Uncategorized, values, Volunteer, workplace

Some of my more enlightened readers will be thinking – of course it matters, I don’t need telling why – but believe me when I say that you would be surprised by how many organisations don’t prioritise wellbeing. For them, wellbeing goes into the “nice to haves” category, rather than the “absolutely goddam essential” category, as it should be in my opinion. 

So why do I think it is goddam essential? I’ll tell you, if I didn’t practice self-care I wouldn’t be at work. I’ve had to learn about prioritising wellbeing the hard way. From trial and error, finding out what’s worked for my mental health and what hasn’t, what’s helped me live with my chronic pain and what hasn’t. I want to help people before they find themselves down the hole and help them get back out again if they’re already down there. That’s why wellbeing is top of my agenda for me as an independent learning & development consultant. 

The kind of people who categorise wellbeing initiatives, programmes and interventions as “nice to haves” are often the people that describe L&D as “fluffy”; there’s nothing fluffy about wellbeing. The alternative to not prioritising your staff’s and your own wellbeing is not good. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England quantify the cost of mental health presenteeism to UK employers as £15.1 billion annually, which equates to an average of £605 per employee – can your organisation afford that? At any one time, nearly 1 in 6 people in the UK workforce is affected by a mental health condition such as stress, depression or anxiety. MHFA claim that 31% of the staff that they have surveyed are considering leaving their current job in the next 12 months if stress levels in their organisation did not improve. 

So with that in mind, what has helped me? 

  • Getting a dog – there is now a whole other being that needs me to get out of bed everyday to feed and walk her. Training my puppy Iris (a border collie) has taken a lot of time and a lot of patience as they’re not an easy breed. Having Iris also means that I get daily…
  • Exercise – I walk Iris everyday, come rain or shine which also means I get the added advantages of being out in nature, down by the canal or on the racecourse, getting some vitamin D. Keeping active and mobile also stops my back from seizing up, so win win. 
  • Making an effort with my appearance – if I look down and out, it makes me feel even worse. Looking like you’ve fallen on hard times isn’t going to cheer anyone up, nor is people looking at you like you’ve lost your mind because you’ve not brushed your hair and you’re wearing crumpled clothes to the office. Making an effort also includes regular showering, it might sound gross but for a lot of people struggling with MH problems, showering is one of the first things to go. 
  • Connecting with people – it is really easy to fall off the grid when you’re struggling with life but it doesn’t help to isolate yourself. Get in touch with a friend or family member that you don’t mind seeing you in your pjs, and tell them how you’re feeling. Sometimes just talking to someone can help you get some perspective. A sympathetic ear can make a world of difference, believe me. 
  • Consciously interrupting negative rumination – this one is easier said than done for sure, but once you can do it, it can be a real game changer. Taking time to think about what you’re grateful for in your life can really help to lift your mood. You might have seen the #3goodthings going around SoMe, join in, pick 3 good things that have happened today and take time to be thankful and appreciative. They can be small things too, no matter how bad your day is going you can always find 3 things, maybe its a nice brew, or a funny tv show, or talking to a friend – it can be anything. Interrupting negative rumination takes a real conscious effort but it is worth it. 
  • Volunteering – going to Uganda last year and volunteering with homeless children changed my life. From that experience I now know that volunteering is something really important to me and that I want to do more of it. Although it was a tough experience, it was also incredibly fulfilling. 
  • Having colleagues and a line manager I can talk to – not having to worry about being judged at work makes going to work so much more manageable, less stressful and more enjoyable. You can only have this if the organisation you work for doesn’t stigmatise MH problems. Your organisation needs to actively support people experiencing health problems (be it psychological of physical) in coming back to work when they’re ready. When it comes to my back, I can feel really embarrassed and self conscious about asking for help, because I’m young and I don’t look disabled. So having people at work who care about me, and think to themselves – Alice will need help carrying these boxes to the car – made a huge difference and stopped me from feeling embarrassed about not being able to do something.

I hope trying a few of these tips can help you, if you do try them then please let me know, and equally, if you have any different tips that have helped you then please let me know that too. 

Wellbeing is so important, looking after yours can be the difference between surviving and thriving, and that is why I’m so passionate about it, and also why I’m so excited about helping others through my wellbeing programmes. If you would like to learn more about wellbeing for yourself or for your team or organisation then please get in touch at AliceLsAndDs@Outlook.com. 
 

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Zeitgeist: A Documentary 

Culture, HR, L&D, Leadership, Management, mental health, Politics, Uncategorized, values

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that Martin Luther King Jr

This is real life, my friends. You all know what this blog is about. Do not worry, this will not be a long lamentation describing disbelief, fear, dread and other synonyms appropriate for a dystopic dirge.

This is a prediction or perhaps a proposal for a documentary or study into the current Western Zeitgeist. What do I mean? Brexit and Trump. Both are not the cause of these feelings of unrest, divide, fear (although, let’s be serious, they’ve not helped), no, they are the product. The Leave campaigners and Trump have tapped into something that is already there, and enhanced it, angered it, stirred it up.

More and more I hear people bemoan, “what is the world coming to?”. There is fear over terrorism and “the Middle East” which has become interchangeable with a whole host of negative connotations, recession and the aftermath, distrust in the financial industry, our leaders and politicians, the “establishment” – whatever that means. We all know from history (or hopefully we do) that economic hardship plus feelings of frustration, helplessness at a situation are the catalysts for infamous leaders to take charge. I’m sure you know the types of leaders I’m referring to.

I’m scared too. Not of terrorism per se or of foreigners taking my job but of these feelings of unrest and resentment I’m witnessing. I’m scared for women, people of colour, the LGBTQ community and disabled people. History has shown us that it is always these people that suffer, that take the brunt that are further marginalised and segregated and I’m terrified. Now is the time, more than ever, for love, compassion, equality and hope.

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George Takei said it beautifully this morning on Facebook:

I am addressing this to all who voted to defeat Donald Trump and what he represents. We may not have prevailed, but we must not despair.

Many of you are, like me, in a state of shock. This does not feel like the America you love and honor. We are in unchartered waters. In times like these we must reaffirm the values we cherish and have fought for: equality, justice, the care of our planet. We must stand up defiantly to any dark or divisive acts, and look out for the most vulnerable among us. It is more important than ever. 

Within our hearts we know the society we wish to live in. No one can take that vision from us. We are each of us keepers of that promise. This country has seen wars and grave injustices, slavery and even civil war in its past. Yet we found our way through.

Hold your loved ones close. Tell them that it is in times of sadness and in the toughest of days where we often find our true mettle.

I agree, surely when there are people like me (and hopefully like you), of sound mind (well ish), with compassion in our hearts and a determination to, in some small or large way, improve the world around us – hope can prevail? I wish that was a full-stop rather than a question mark.

We need to act. To look at ourselves and make sure we’re acting with positive intent. Be self-reflexive and honest, what can you do to help? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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