Mental Health at Work

Work Work Work! We can spend a lot of time there. Luckily, employers are starting to recognise the benefits of nurturing their employees mental well-being.

So, for this blog post I have a guest writer – Julie Morris. Please have a read of Julie’s insightful article below. Thank you Julie for this informative contribution.

Innovative Ways Employers Are Offering Up Benefits to Their Team Members


In this article, Jennifer Dodd will explore the many steps that employers are taking in order to provide a more satisfying work environment for their employees. Nowadays, this includes things like coaching programs, yoga classes, counseling sessions, nutrition videos and more. These types of benefits are not only helpful but also show an employer’s appreciation for their team members.

Employees who feel appreciated by their company are happier and less likely to leave the company which can lead to higher profits as well as better health for its employees. It is important to find these innovative ways because if you don’t offer your team members perks, they may begin looking elsewhere or worse yet be unhappy with their job which could lead them to make mistakes.

What types of innovative benefits can you offer?

Offering these types of innovative benefits can not only help keep your team members satisfied with their job but also increase company morale. It is important to think about what would be the best fit for your industry and company culture when considering if you want to offer certain benefits to your employees. While not all employers will want to offer the same benefits, there are some that everyone could benefit from such as hiring a wellness coach or nutritionist who can hold seminars throughout the year and teach members of the team how to take better care of themselves.

Here are some of our favorites

Offering educational benefits

Many employers have learned the advantages of offering employees educational benefits. By contributing to your staff’s higher education, you can show your interest in their professional development, and then help them apply those skills to boost business.

Online courses are a great option too, and online degree programs can provide coursework that helps your staff comfortably achieve their diplomas at their own pace.

Providing yoga classes

Yoga is a great way for employees to relieve stress and it also helps promote mindfulness. Yoga classes can be done in the office or externally depending on the preference of your team members.

To provide the best experience for your employees, it is important to keep in mind their interests. For example, a team member who enjoys hiking might be interested in joining a company that offers outdoor activities as benefits rather than yoga sessions.

Offering a personal trainer

Having a team member who holds regular fitness classes and is also available for one-on-one sessions can be extremely beneficial to your employees. This helps with both the spiritual and physical health of employees which leads to a healthier, more productive team.

Personal trainers are shown to help with building confidence and losing weight which allows employees to live a happier, healthier life.

Offering counseling sessions

Happiness is something that people value when looking for jobs. By offering counseling services, you can show your team members how much you care about their mental wellbeing, boost productivity more easily and also help keep turnover low by helping your team members deal with issues they may be dealing with that are affecting their job performance.

Try These New Age Benefits!

The benefits you offer your employees can have a tremendous impact on their happiness and productivity. What’s more, they don’t even need to be expensive. In fact, some of the most powerful benefits are free! For example, giving team members access to online courses or counseling sessions can help them get ahead in life, while also boosting company morale. What other types of innovative benefits could your business provide?

For more empowering content like this one, visit Jennifer’s blog

Image via Pexels

Julie Morris 2021

My Top 5 Mindfulness Blogs.

It is no secret that I rate mindfulness. It has added a real depth and calm to my existence. At a basic level it is about staying in the present moment. However, this is just the beginning of a very rich subject. There is such an abundance of information available it can be difficult to know where to start. Being overwhelmed when faced with a vast array of mindfulness resources does seem a little counterproductive. So whether you are a complete novice looking for some inner peace or a well practiced guru; this post might just enhance your life.

Tiny Buddha- Simple Wisdom For Complex Lives.

  • Instagram 1m
  • Facebook 4.9m
  • Twitter 600k
  • Subscription – 1 email each weekday, including 1-2 blog posts. Alternatively you can opt to receive one weekly digest.

Tiny Buddha was founded by Lori Deschene in 2009. It is incredibly popular, with a massive 6 million readers and followers as well as a diverse and supportive community forum. Tiny Buddha is a front runner when it comes to sharing wisdom and perspectives around inner peace and joy. The site features stories, tips and insights from readers of all ages from all over the globe.

You will discover posts about happiness, love, relationships, change, meaning, mindfulness, spirituality, minimalism, letting go and so much more.

While the roots are in Buddhism, this isn’t a site focused solely religion. It is a space for positivity and self reflection. The ethos is more around sharing ideas, which when applied can make a huge difference to those facing difficulties. Any suggestions that promote a fulfilling and happy life are worth a second look in my opinion.

Blog post examples

How Can We Overcome Our Obstacles When We Don’t Believe It’s Possible?

The One Simple Decision That Freed Me From Social Anxiety.

Zen Habits

Founder Leo Babauta 2016 boasts over 2 million readers and over 200k subscribers. Named one of the Top 25 blogs by Time Magazine. Frequency 3 posts a week 13.6k fb 183k tw

Zen Habits is about discovering simplicity and mindfulness in the daily mayhem of our lives. The emphasis being that by clearing through the unnecessary jumble, we can focus on what’s important and find happiness.

As well as the hugely successful blog Leo Babauta has also written numerous books and offers training and habit changing courses. Leo’s passion is palpable throughout and as is often the case it all began with his personal experiences. He gives valuable insight into how small changes are often contagious. Every positive step can spill over into many other aspects of health, contentment and well-being.

Blog Post Examples

Find Freedom in Any Moment.

Delight in Uncertainty.

London Mindful (The Mindfulness Project)

Although based in the UK capital London Mindful is available worldwide. It is a not for profit company founded by Alexandra Frey and Autumn Totton 2013. Whether you chose to read the blog or fancy enrolling on one of the fantastic courses or workshops there is a wealth of resources available.

The vision was to create an innovative platform for sharing mindfulness with as many people as possible. This is certainly being achieved. By offering a secular and research informed approach the information is both valid and meaningful. It offers like minded people the chance to share tips and strategies on how to become a more in the moment person. The content is positive and offers valuable insight on how to exist in a mindful and satisfying way.

Blog Post Examples

Present Perfect

Communicating Mindfully When We Are Upset.

The Blissful Mind

Founded by Catherine Beard in 2014, The Blissful Mind is both mindful and realistic. Catherine’s intentions for her blog and shared resources include ways to:-

  • Help you organise your thoughts and calm a busy mind.
  • Work on overcoming any doubts and eliminate stress around future plans.
  • Find a sense of peace in your day to day life.

There are also plenty of recommendations for books/podcasts/journals and planners/self care products. Catherine confesses to having a soft spot for new notebooks and for this reason alone I view her as a kindred spirit. If you fail to appreciate the potential of an untouched notebook then I’m afraid we just can’t be friends!

Peace of mind, confidence and the chance to develop a healthy and positive mindset are examples of the subjects devoured by Catherine. There is content on self-care practices, daily routines and effective time management strategies. When put in place all of these tools can lead you to a more authentic and mindful existence.

Blog Post Examples

How to unplug from technology when you need a break.

Self-care or self-sabotage? How to tell the difference.

Mindworks

Mindworks founders Barb Mendel Suzan Garner, Tokpa Korlo, Sacha Basio and Laura Pretsch base their work on the following ethos:-

We believe in the basic goodness of all human beings and our ability to discover our minds true potential.

There are 3 core values steering the resources and information shared by Mindworks

1.) To teach genuine methods.

Through the skillful integration of mindfulness and awareness meditation we gain direct understanding of how our minds work. This gives us the opportunity to rewire reactions that arise from habitual negative emotions.

2.) To speak from direct experience.

The Mindworks team can provide insight into the practices and benefits of a well trained mind because they have experienced the value of meditative mind training in practical life situations.

3.) Motivation.

It is a non profit labour of love. Mindworks was created by experienced meditators whose lives have been enriched and transformed by practice. It is their intention to pass these skills on.

As well as the blog posts there are paid memberships/ subscriptions for those who are keen to join. A variety of courses are available, including a free 14 day introductory course. A fantastic way to dip your toe in the water! Another plus is the Mindworks App which is available on both IOS and Android platforms.

Blog Post Examples

Understanding Empathy and Compassion.

How To Do Meditation At Home.

So those are just a few of my go to websites/blogs if I need insight into the peaceful world of mindfulness. I have taken a lot of positive and helpful information from them and genuinely enjoy the content.

Care to share some of your favourites? Drop a comment below!

The dark side of the bright side.

̶#̶g̶o̶o̶d̶v̶i̶b̶e̶s̶o̶n̶l̶y̶         #allvibeswelcome

We are encouraged now more than ever to talk about our feelings. To reach out to those closest to us when we are faced with struggles. We may need supporting through a serious life crisis or it could just be a vent about day to day issues. Either way the message is everywhere; from social media to TV campaigns and mental health charities – don’t suffer in silence, keep talking.

Expressing our feelings is a way of releasing the burden. Even if our confidant can’t actually solve the problem, simply feeling heard and validated can be incredibly uplifting. A problem shared and all that!

Yet what happens when talking actually makes us feel worse?

How many of us have reached out for support only to be met with the following responses?

“You just need to think positive” 

“You should be grateful for what you do have.”    

“Never mind, it could be worse.”

Did these pearls of wisdom ever make anyone feel better. I would say – absolutely NOT. In fact, the recipient is more likely to feel guilty or ashamed for having what are actually completely normal and appropriate human emotions.

Toxic positivity….

Is the belief that no matter how awful or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset.

Of course there is no denying that having a generally optimistic outlook is good for our wellbeing. Re-framing difficult situations can often supply a more compassionate and balanced perspective.

However, when positivity becomes overzealous and rigid it is not only unhelpful, it’s toxic. This attitude doesn’t just stress the importance of optimism, it minimises and denies any trace of human emotion.

In a nutshell – we shouldn’t have to pretend everything is OK when it isn’t.

What if it’s not only acceptable for us to feel all the emotions that accompany the bad stuff – but it’s beneficial? By providing opportunities to process, feel and accept we are able to move forward in a healthy way.

Difficult as it may be, undesirable emotions are best met with open arms. Dismissing pain and forcing positivity is a false economy. The negative energy will eventually find a way out – it has to. And it is unlikely to be released in a healthy way.

Facing all emotions, good, bad and ugly is all part of the authentic human experience. My feeling is that even the unpleasant aspects of life are integral to living fully. As such they should be embraced and shared.

The pressure to appear ‘OK’ invalidates the range of emotions we all experience. It can give the impression that you are defective when you feel distress, which can be internalised in a core belief that you are inadequate or weak.

As cited in Scully (2020)

Symptoms of toxic positivity

Hiding/masking your true feelings.

Trying to just ‘power through’ a situation by dismissing emotions.

Experiencing guilt or shame for feeling what you feel.

Minimising other people’s sad experiences with ‘feel good’ quotes/statements.

Trying to offer a different perspective instead of validating their emotional experience.

Shaming or berating others for expressing frustration or anything other than positivity.

Can lead to depression, self-doubt and denial.

Cherry (2021)

So what is the alternative to smothering someone with a blanket of positivity?

Acknowledging that we all have a myriad of complex emotions is a good starting point. For example, you can be grateful to the NHS for treatment you receive but still feel resentful of the fact you need treatment in the first place.

Empowering people to recognise and accept their thoughts and feelings is ironically more positive than following the urge to ‘buck them up’ using toxic positivity.

How to cultivate genuine optimism.

Silva (Garrison) 2021

Sources

Cherry 2021 Garrison 2021 istock 2021 Karoll cited in Skully 2020 Tristone Coaching

Don’t stress….

Two little words which are as helpful as a concrete parachute!

Although I have an understanding of what happens to my body and mind when I get stressed, it still has the annoying habit of catching me off guard.

We are told that a certain amount of stress can be useful. It keeps us alert, focused, allows us to flee from danger and perform at out optimal capacity. Although we have evolved, our fight/flight/freeze response dates back to our caveman ancestors. It was a matter of survival; fight, run, or die! In 2021, it seems the majority of us are living on our nerves. The stress response that may have saved us years ago is now a massive contributory factor in poor mental and physical health. Too much of the s word is really bad for us! That’s a stressful thought in itself.

So where is the line? How do we stop ourselves from crossing into the stress danger zone? What can we do if we find ourselves flailing around in a sweaty, heart racing, jaw clenching, stomach churning stress soup?

STRESS CYCLE

There are a few things I have found helpful when dealing with stress. The most basic one is having an understanding of what is happening to me on an emotional, physical and behavioural level. Don’t get me wrong, being aware is only half the battle and it takes practice. However, if I can catch myself before falling too deeply into the stress cycle then I have a chance of taking back control.

The perfect example is my most recent assignment deadline. I was quite tired and already feeling overwhelmed by the ticking clock. Deciding to power through and just get it done I set to work. The negative thoughts began to trickle in, so quietly at first I barely noticed them. However it wasn’t long before the critical voice was like a megaphone in my ear. “You are going to fail!” “You left it too late!” “Everything you write sounds like drivel!” Obviously my stress levels went up and the feeling of nausea and tension set in (physical). I wanted to cry, run and even quit my course (behavioural)

It was then I realised, I wasn’t doing so well. So I stopped. I actually told myself, out loud to STOP! The decision was made, right then to leave my work and focus on what I really needed. To take care of myself.

For me, that looks like a hot cuppa in a relaxing lavender scented bubble bath (not very original but it works). The negative thoughts were relentless in their quest to invade. While it would have been easy to get angry with their persistence, I knew the less oxygen I gave them the quieter they would become. So I calmly distracted myself with pleasant activities and let the noise continue in the background. The next day, feeling a lot better I managed to complete my assignment. It would be a stretch to say I enjoyed it, but it was definitely less painful!!

I recently devoured a great article on http://www.harleytherapy.co.uk that included tips from psychologists on how to handle a stressful day. They advocate this idea of having an “adult timeout.” By walking away from the stress even for 5 minutes, allows the anxious part of the brain to calm down. Once this happens, more rational balanced thoughts can come in and the physical symptoms have a chance to settle.

Deep breathing exercises are a great way to change what is happening in your body on a physiological level. I often use the 4-7-8 technique, even at times I don’t need it. By regularly practicing deep breathing it becomes sort of ingrained. This makes it easier to access at those times of stress or anxiety.

Mindfulness is another way to bring yourself back into the moment. You can even add exercise into the mix by going for a walk and being mindful of your natural surroundings. Use all 5 of your senses. What can you see, hear, smell, feel and taste? Really listen to the soundtrack of nature and concentrate on how the sun feels on your skin.

I have found it can also help to look at the bigger picture. Let’s be honest, life can be hectic and we often get so caught up on getting everything done that we forget how phenomenal our existence actually is. Here we are, on a planet that is positioned in the ideal place to sustain life. We are part of a universe so vast it is beyond our comprehension. When you view it from that perspective, does it really matter if you are five minutes late for the meeting?

I find mantras can help to ground me when I feel out of my depth. The soothing words bring me back to the here and now. It doesn’t matter what your chosen mantra is, if it brings you comfort and reassurence in the moment then that can only be a good thing.

These wristbands from Together UK – ZOX are awesome. They have a variety of phrases that can comfort and lift at difficult times. “I am safe” is my most used. Probably because when stress hits me, I feel anything but safe. These words remind me that what I am going through is just my body responding to a perceived danger. Most of the time it is all I need to calm down and reset.

Find what works for you, mantras, self care, exercise, a movie, a hug.

The most important person you can be kind to……is yourself!

Together UK – ZOX

If you are struggling, please reach out for support.

The Samaritans 116 123 www.samaritans.org

MIND http://www.mind.org.uk

Mental Health Matters http://www.mhm.org.uk

Hi, I’m Jennifer

Welcome to my blog.

The write way to good emotional health!

I will admit I am a novice at the whole blog writing thing. In typical “Jen style” I’m a little late to the party. Still, those who are first to arrive often leave early too; so despite my tardiness I promise to be the life and soul of this shindig! You may be wondering why I have decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon now. So, lets dive in!

I was diagnosed with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the age of 12, after which life quickly unravelled. The years of treatment and surgery that followed were, to say the least, devastating. Unfortunately, other than being handed a leaflet of relaxation exercises, I was not offered any mental health support. It is difficult to ascertain why and entirely possible I simply slipped through the net. So it was a case of “just getting on with things,” a task I had neither the emotional capacity or maturity to manage. The lack of emotional support inevitably had consequences. My adult life has been tainted by severe mental health problems. While I am grateful to be alive, there have been many times (and may be many more) when this was not the case.

So………mental health.

It gives me “the feeling.” You know the one? When something is so fascinating it draws you in and takes over. Learning about it, talking about it never gets old, even on the days my brain is fit to burst. My work as a Well-Being Practitioner, coupled with my own personal therapy has changed me in ways I didn’t know possible. Ironically, the very focus of my pain and grief now feeds my soul. It’s pure fascination, an insatiable urge to know more. That’s “the feeling,” and I want to share it.

Working in mental health is grounding. The human condition means that no one is immune. If you haven’t been personally affected, then I have no doubt that you know someone who has. Mental health services in the UK are stretched beyond breaking point. The net I slipped through as a child is now riddled with holes; so getting appropriate support when in crisis is exceedingly difficult, if not virtually impossible.

I have created this public blog simply because mental health cannot be overdone. Everyone’s experiences are unique and should always be taken seriously. Great strides have been made in getting people talking and removing the stigma. We need to keep up the momentum, now more than ever.

So what can you expect from this blog?

  • A safe, non-judgemental and informative space.
  • Although (hopefully) uplifting, inspiring and motivational, it will also be realistic. Sometimes, life is bloody hard. It is expected and OK to have bad days and difficult emotions. This is where self-compassion comes in!
  • To emphasize how much value we all have as individuals. Everyone deserves to feel heard, valued and included. To this end, I welcome comments and suggestions. Please feel free to use the provided comment box or reach out via email. I just ask you are respectful of differing views/ideas.
  • Humour – we all know the adage ‘if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry! A good bout of either is a fabulous release of oxytocin and endorphins.
  • Signposting to resources – this is a biggie! There is a wealth of untapped resources and online support out there. This blog aims to highlight as many of these as possible. Anything from simple breathing exercises to peer reviewed research is potential blog fodder!
  • Finally I will share my own experiences/helpful tips. This blog certainly isn’t an altruistic endeavour. Writing is my armour, my relief. It distracts my brain and is my go-to when things are rough. I will share my published writing here and there, but my focus is primarily to share information and avenues of support.

I will end my introduction with a poem I wrote for the charity Mind on World Kindness Day 2020. Please remember, the greatest kindness is that which you show yourself.

Someone

Someone noticed me today
They smiled and said hello
Just a small thing really
Yet it gave me such a glow

Someone held my hand today
When I was feeling sad
Suddenly I was less alone
Things were not so bad

Someone made me laugh today
We shared a joke together
The world seemed brighter for a while
A moment I will treasure

Someone gave me time today
There is no greater gift
I’d like to do the same for them
Should they ever feel adrift

Someone gave me hope today
A simple act of kindness
A smile, a hand, a laugh, just time
These little things are priceless