As I thought about World Mental Health Day it made me think about how amazing it would be to be able to see round corners. Having the ability to see the things that creep up on me or the things that can hit me unaware and at speed would be invaluable and reduce the situations that leave me in a state of stress or even worse, distress.
Having recently attended a two-day adult Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course and coupled with the Autumn Escape, it has really reinforced how mental health and wellbeing sit hand in hand. Alongside this, looking after yourself and looking after others is one of the most valuable contributions that you can make to a team. Whilst none of us can see round corners, it is important to be able to identify some of the triggers that can move us (sometimes unaware and at pace) from a healthy level of stress to a place of distress. The nature of consulting, the unpredictability of our clients and the turbulence we can experience with regards to workload, can take its toll. When you then factor in what can feel like an erosion of control in maintaining a sensible (and sustainable) work-life balance perhaps it requires us to think about how we can look after ourselves and others. Having reflected and reconciled myself to the fact that the status quo isn’t going to do this, there are a number of things that I am going to try to do differently. This includes:
1. Identifying the difference between urgent and important and prioritising the former over the latter. We can not do everything that everyone wants us to do all of the time without consequences - that’s a given. Asking key stakeholders to help identify what is urgent (really needs to be done now) versus what is important (and can wait until tomorrow) is a great starting point.
2. Delegating to others and specifically looking around and identifying others who may be able to help. This is not about throwing things over the wall but leaning on others who could feel valued and stretched (in a good way) by being asked to help or for their ideas in shaping the solution. One thing I find particularly hard is delegating the problem as opposed to the actions that ultimately deliver the solution. Being able to address this will be far more empowering for others and increase the likelihood of reaching a better solution as I don’t know all of the answers.
3. Recognising that asking for help is a strength and not a weakness - moving past the fear of vulnerability and not being afraid to say to others that I need help or support is important. None of us have all of the answers and reaching out for support from others is key in being able to open up our own stress valves so that we are looking after our own mental wellbeing and able to support others when they need it.
4. Looking for signs of distress in others - seeing the metaphorical hand in the air, pulling up a chair alongside someone or ‘Taking 10 Together’. Over the last few months I have realised that the biggest gift you can give someone in a heightened state of stress or distress is your time. Just listening can be enough!
So, against the backdrop of the Autumn Escape and as I pause for reflection on World Mental Health Day I hope that this provokes you to take time to reflect too. #WMHD2017 #lookafteryourself #lookaftereachother