Our mental health may not be visible like our physical body and yet it is just as important to our overall wellbeing. I think of it like a garden. Firstly, we have to set up the flowers and plants with space in between them and choose the items that go in to it. Secondly, we then have to regularly tend to it and pull out the weeds that naturally grow; there are daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks to keep it flourishing.
This is the same as our mental health – we get to choose how we remain in a happy space and we must continually look after it and pull out the weeds when they grow.
Bearing this in mind, we wanted to let you know that it is Mental Health Awareness Week 18-24 May, given the circumstances it is even more important to raise awareness of this important topic in the current climate. The Mental Health Foundation have some great resources available to help raise awareness of mental wellbeing within your organisation.
What is mental health?
Our mental health is how we feel inside. We all experience a myriad of emotions at any given time, from joy, happiness, excitement to sadness, worry and anxiety and many more. It is entirely normal to experience the highs and the lows. For me, mental health is about noticing how you feel, taking steps to keep it in as good a shape as possible and to be able to level out the highs and lows. It is also about acknowledging when we aren’t feeling so happy and sometimes just being aware of our mood is enough.
How can coaching support our mental health?
In coaching sessions we can notice how your mental health is in specific situations and circumstances. In a recent coaching session a client noticed he was more contented working at home than in an office as it helped him have space and thinking time. Another client recognised that they felt more joyful when they had a strong network around them and due to moving to a new area he was missing this network, so we were able to discuss steps to resolve this.
Coaching provides you with the space to acknowledge how you are feeling, and build your awareness about what you need. Sometimes that might be simply “sitting with that feeling” for a while or other times it is about taking action – including small steps to make some changes. These small changes can have a big impact over a period of time.
What are some of the ways to address your mental health on a regular basis?
I have noticed a variety of ways that clients address their mental health. I encourage you to share in the comments those you would add to this list:
- Speak to a confidante, someone you can trust and talk to
- Catching up with good friends who make you smile
- Hobbies – that may bring effortless enjoyment, fun and learning
- Spiritual practice – examples include joining a regular chanting group to meditating alone, or reading uplifting stories that have meaning.
- Study and learning something new
- Volunteering or giving back in some way
- Opportunities to be useful to others
- Having a clear sense of purpose
- Switch off and relaxing time
- Sleep routine
- Eating well and regularly
- Breaks in the day
- Fresh Air
- Professional support – examples may include a cleaner, therapist, coach, mentor and reflexologist.
- Alone time to pause and reflect
- Spontaneous time
How can you help others with their mental health?
By role modelling we can help others look after their own mental health. Often this involves speaking up about our own mental health challenges. I have noticed twice in the last week how useful it has been to share with others that I felt a sense of cabin fever at the weekend and how that impacted me. I also shared that it helped me to distract myself by having a call with my parents and how that shifted my mood in to a happy place. When I shared this, on both occasions the other person said, “I’ve been feeling cabin fever too”, and they then proceeded to share their own ways of dealing with the current situation. It gave us a great connection as colleagues/ friends and new ways of thinking. Here are my top tips for supporting others with their mental health:
- Talk about your own mental health
- Listen to others
- Use silence more in conversations
- Be non-judgmental
- Do not assume your ways of dealing with mental health will be the same as another’s – be open to their approaches
- Check in if your intuition tells you someone may need a listening ear – they can always say no if it is not required, although most times people will take you up on the offer of a virtual coffee
- Instead of giving advice share information
- Be compassionate and empathetic rather than sympathetic
- The Mental Health First for England talks about “ALGEE”:
- Listen and communicate non-judgmentally
- Give support and information
- Encourage support and information
- Encourage other supports e.g. a friend or family member
If you would like to experience the benefits of coaching, we work with lots of different leaders looking to be at their best and one of the ways is through regular coaching sessions to enhance our mental health. To discover more about our Executive Coaching programmes or if you have any questions for me, please get in touch.
Source: MHFA England