23 February City leaders gather to discuss mental health and long-term physical conditions in the workplace
How to take care of your mental health for a successful start to 2024?
Starting the new year as we mean to go on, we asked This is Me Steering Group Members how they are taking care their mental health for a successful start to 2024, from both an individual and organisation perspective.
Big thanks to...
Alan Rankin, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Sellafield Sites
Mark Dugdale, Marketing Manager at Thrive Law
Laura Sartin, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Manager at Aon
Chris Mack, Programme Manager Wellbeing at Community Business
Richard Martin, Executive Officer at Mindful Business Charter & Principal Consultant at byrne•dean
Phil Canale Business Planning Manager, International Area Management at BNY Mellon
What are you doing to take care of your mental health for a successful start to 2024?
Alan: Ensuring daily break away from screen at lunchtime, additional fresh air and exercise and reducing alcohol!
Mark: Buying a Fitbit and counting steps to achieve better physical health, which will hopefully improve my confidence and boost my mental health. Setting boundaries and sticking to them; ensuring work-life balance and trying to carve out time for self-care. Make sure I use at least one-hour a day for ‘me time’ and try to leave the house for a walk when I can. I will also be aiming to do at least one yoga class and one run per week, but not beating myself up if I haven’t got the time or energy to do so; reading a book on my train journey to work, rather than scrolling on my phone. I’m going to push myself to be more active this year, even if it’s a short walk or yoga class, just something to get me moving more. I’m also trying to be more present and enjoy each day as it comes rather than chasing the next best thing. Taking mini breaks between tasks so that they do not feel overwhelming or stressful.
Laura: Practice healthy habits, taking regular breaks to move around. Keeping connected with team members and wider networks. Planning workload, scheduling time for specific tasks and keeping to the task in hand rather than letting other peoples priorities become a distraction.
Chris: Identifying and firming boundaries especially with work-life balance. Reflecting on what does success look like, previously it was all very work goal oriented but for 2024 it has to be more around what I enjoy doing, activities, hobbies, travelling. To be more compassionate towards myself and not shrug off long periods of stress and seeing that as the norm. Treat it similarly to physical health, you wouldn't ignore the warning signs for physical health issues so why should I ignore the signs for mental health issues.
Richard: Fresh air, exercise, checking in with myself and not saying yes to everything
Phil: Ensuring I leave nothing hanging over at year end that is in my control. That way I control the narrative for 2024 and am not worried about what I haven't done.
What is your organisation doing to support workplace wellbeing for a successful start to 2024?
Alan: Webinars and pod casts for Blue Monday, return to work wellbeing guidance and information stands and resources across our site in January.
Mark: Introducing the Thrive Power Hour for a week in January, when employees take an hour per day to do whatever they need to improve their wellbeing plus enabling employees to take a paid two days off over the course of 2024 to focus on their wellbeing. Thrive also gives employees their birthdays off, as well as paid days off for moving house and celebrating religious holidays. Employing monthly 1-2-1s and 360 feedback, to stay in close contact with employees and monitor their mental health and wellbeing and our monthly Made A Difference award to receive a voucher or a half-day of annual leave. Giving employees access to a workplace wellbeing platform full of resources aimed at improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing and introducing a wellbeing committee. Designing and deploying Licence To Thrive for each employee, so that the whole team knows how to best communicate with one another. Providing a free eye test and a financial contribution towards glasses.
Laura: Sharing emotional health resources with colleagues, preparing for our Time to Talk Day event. We shared a productivity and time management learning module at the end of 2023 to make for a good start to the year. We also create a Winter Wellbeing pack for colleagues in October which will be relaunched for the new year.
Chris: Carrying on an initiative we ran back in the middle of 2023, our "Wellbeing Wonders" ERG type group. A group of volunteers within the organisation reviewing, driving and encouraging more engagement with our employee benefits and creating new ideas on how to improve mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing. This may involve debunking or educating what support is available with our employee benefits or it might involve evaluating employee feedback/survey data to bridge the gap between employee expectation and workplace support offer. A focus on Social Wellbeing (inclusion and belonging and strengthening team relationships) and Financial Wellbeing (understanding our individual relationships with money and finances and understanding how to improve our financial health for the present and future) is what's driving our wellbeing next year at work.
Richard: We are very active in training, provision of MHFA internally, psychological safety and more - its what we are about as an organisation.
Phil: BNY Mellon has a 'Recharge Period' for the weeks of December 18 and 25. During this time, employees are not expected in the office, and all non-critical meetings have been cancelled.
What is your top tip for taking care of your mental health at work in the new year?
Alan: Fresh air and taking time to appreciate outside space.
Mark: Speak up! Thrive Law talks openly and honestly about mental health which means that no mental health subject is taboo. The Thrive Tribe acts as a support network for everyone else within the firm. The office, Teams channels and even WhatsApp groups are alive with the sound of stories being shared and told, and circumstances being accommodated. Prioritise yourself, speak out and seek support, try walking meetings, fresh air breaks, break down bigger tasks into smaller tasks so that it’s more manageable and less overwhelming.
Laura: Think about what you want to achieve this year how you will go about it in a sustainable way. Develop healthy working habits that will help balance your work and life commitments.
Chris: Talk to yourself as if you're talking to a close friend. We're quite notorious for not being good at listening to our own advice yet we're more than happy to help others. Be honest with yourself. We shrug off a lot when it comes to our own health because we want to either push through it, don't want to accept it because it can be scary to accept, or we want to have this image that we're always composed. With the world hopefully changing, it's more common for people to understand that people aren't always composed and showing vulnerability is hopefully becoming the norm. Therefore, it can hopefully give us the space to be honest and do what we need to do to look after ourselves.
Richard: Check in with yourself on a regular basis, with the self awareness to know how you are likely to react and be and feel when things are not right, to know what works for you to do something about it and to make the time to then do it.
Phil: Control the controllables and don't procrastinate. Focus on those things that are in your control, and importantly if they are yours to own, deal with them.
Join our next This is Me event on 21 February 2024 here