May 19, 2022

Supporting Mental Health In The Workplace


Episode Highlights

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Taking Five: Mental Health Tips

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month; Kelly Dennis joins Robyn Carney and Jeff Smith to talk about some key ways to stay in touch with your brain and body. If you can’t get enough of this thought process, make sure to read Kelly and Camille’s blog on the subject here.

Episode Transcript

Welcome back everybody. Robyn and Kelly have coerced me into another edition of mental awareness in the workplace. I have to admit, when I was solicited by Robyn to produce another video, I said that my mental health needs a break from my mental health.

And then she convinced me rightly so, that this is the perfect month to do it given that it is mental health awareness month. And that we should obviously put some content out there. So here we are. As always Robyn’s here, Kelly has joined us. We usually have Jill but today we have Kelly joining us to talk through what we all agree is just some good tips and tricks on keeping yourself sharp, keeping yourself feeling healthy.

Some of the things that you can do outside of just what the company can do or what each individual team member can do. Like what can you do specifically to help yourself out? So just as a backdrop, mental health absolutely affects productivity at work. It affects productivity at home, but if we’re talking about it in the professional workplace, I mean, loss of revenue is a real by-product of burnout and unsafe mental health spaces.

We’ve talked at large about like what companies can do and frankly, what Hirewell is implementing and does to keep everybody fresh. Things like unlimited PTO with minimum caps, encouraging and making sure that there are minimum caps for mental health days, talking openly about these sorts of issues and breaking the stigma.

I’ve been very fortunate to have Robyn as my counterpart to talk about this openly for months now. Implementing half-day Fridays, et cetera, et cetera. I’ve also talked about what managers can do, given that I am a manager, modeling healthy behavior, encouraging taking PTO, taking mental health, conducting weekly check-ins that can veer

outside of professional and into a comfortable personal zone while allowing boundaries and lanes to still exist. And then just planning activities for all of us to potentially get together either virtually or in person, with the pandemic kind of going it’s important for us to still feel that sense of community.

So, what can we do? And you do? And us as individuals too? I’m going to kind of hand it off to you, both Kelly and Robyn, to kind of just go through how are you taking, what’s your approach to mental wellness? And I think we have five tips right? Yeah. So I’ll jump in here. I co-wrote a blog with Camille about a month ago and I had sourced something that was called take five, really I believe it’s called the five ways to wellbeing.

You’ve probably seen it in a variety of different titles, but it’s really hitting on the same sort of things. And it’s something that you can just consider a step-by-step or one at a time and just think about what you need in that moment, how you’re feeling, what you have access to. And it really comes down to, as Jeff said, these five pointers.

So what we’re looking at is physical activity, just in general, have you moved today? Because I know a lot of us are sitting at home or sitting in the office for hours at a time, yet we’re doing it right now. And when you get in the habit of that, I think that it can become so normal for you that you forget

your body needs a little bit of movement. Our blood actually pools into our legs after sitting for so long and it doesn’t get all the way up to the brain, which you can kind of guess what happens from there. So lack of focus, struggling with sort of completing a thought, let alone a project.

So it’s important to get up every now and then, and move. What I have learned in the past is that for every hour of sitting, you should get up and move for about five minutes. I know that not all of us have the space to do that. So can you stand for a minute? Can you stand and wiggle your feet a little bit, maybe do a quick stretch at your desk.

Just something to get the body moving again. Take a break, step away from the screen, go over to your kitchen and make a cup of coffee or tea. But of course, looking at that in a more broader sense, you can also try to incorporate a little bit more of regular physical activity, whether that looks like a walk every day or

going to the gym, going to a class, whatever you like to do, whatever you feel comfortable with. I think that’s a really important one that we need to prioritize because our physical body affects our mental state so much. Other points would be connecting with others. Whether that’s somebody in the workplace and just having an open conversation about something personal, something you guys like, like a show that you both watch.

Or somebody that is outside of your work environment, somebody that you can call and check in with. And then that also sort of ties into another point, which is giving. And giving can be anything tangible that you purchase or it can be completely intended. So, can you give somebody a compliment?

Can you give somebody an ear, if they need to talk. You’ve noticed that they’ve been stressed, can you give them your attention and your time? And those sorts of things tie together because we as humans, we just need that interaction. We need to feel part of a bigger picture and a community.

So those are two points and then another one would be to keep learning. So that just means stimulate your brain a little bit with something new. So whether it’s working on a skill that you want to improve, you want to pick up something new, try a new hobby, read a new book, just keep your brain- keep the gears turning up there.

That’s a really good point. We’re putting this out as a professional, you know, in the professional lens, but this can be like learn how to play banjo, you know? Learn whatever you want to learn. That will help stimulate. You can see my Violin stand behind me. I’ve been learning how to play violin very poorly.

So that’s like one of the things that I’ve been kind of trying to do because I have been kind of trying to broaden my horizons here, but yeah. I like that. Very important. And those sorts of things, we can check two of these boxes at once. If you want to learn a new skill that maybe requires a bit of physical activity, learn how to rollerblade, learn how to bowl,

I don’t know, anything. You can kind of tie two things together at once. Don’t have to but just a little extra pointer there. You can do two of those. And then the final thing that is always good to consider is keeping mindfulness in your life. So yes, we can meditate. The two are slightly different, although they really compliment each other.

When I’m talking about mindfulness, I just mean about being aware in the present moment. I think a lot of times we get caught up and we start feeling things or thinking things and not being able to tie back to where this is coming from. So being mindful is just taking a break, taking a pause and thinking, what am I feeling or what am I thinking and where is that coming from? What can I do about this? But a really important part about all of that is removing any judgment from it. So I’m stressed at work, I need to take five minutes, I need to talk to my manager about a better strategy, but that doesn’t mean that I’m doing a poor job. It just means I’m human.

I’ve got a lot on my plate and I need to take a moment to consider how I can improve my situation without judging myself about it. So those are all things I think we can all keep in our back pocket and think, all right, what am I feeling right now in terms of mental health and wellbeing and what of those five things could I do right now, or this evening or tomorrow to make myself feel better?

And sometimes if you feel really stuck, just start asking yourself, some open-ended questions. So thinking about your who, what, where, what, why? Who can I talk to about this? What can I do? What do I know that can help me? What sort of tools do I have? When can I start implementing this?

Because asking yourself or somebody else, if you’re trying to help them sort of problem solve, it’s just going to really open up your options and help you brainstorm ways to get to a better place. Having a conversation, a non-judgemental conversation with yourself about where you’re at is really important because sometimes when you’re like having a bad day, it can be like, oh, I’m having a bad day I’m the worst. Oh my God, this is terrible. I’m so bad at this. And it’s like, no, you’re having a bad day. Did you not sleep enough? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Do you need to like get up and walk around and that kind of thing?

So I think like leading with a nonjudgmental, like figuring out kind of like what’s going on is a really great way of thinking about it. Anyone watching this, if you don’t necessarily understand what this all means, I’ve been there. It took me a while to figure out, even what questioning where it’s coming from means. Two things that popped up with what Kelly was saying,

one, hopefully you have a professional structure that allows for at a minimum, exploring this stuff. And if you don’t ask- as long as you feel like it’s a safe place. If you don’t feel like it’s a safe place to ask, I would then start to think is this the right place to be? But that’s a whole separate conversation.

Secondly, given the month that we’re in, I could not advocate more to say that part of my journey, definitely included talking to an actual professional about how you get to these places within your own brain. Sometimes you just need a shepherd to walk you through how to get from point A to point B. I’ve talked to many people who I can sense are struggling in a way that they can’t comprehend.

And I’m not a mental health professional and I’ve guided them to talking to somebody and they’re like, oh my gosh. Like when I talked to a therapist, I uncovered this, this and this, and that was the root cause. But a lot of people don’t know how to get there and that’s okay. Absolutely. So like the first thing earlier, you said that I twisted your arm into doing this video, which I low key did, but only gently- anybody who’s watching.

But the important thing is the reason why I said that we needed to do this video is because Hirewell puts its money where its mouth is, or we definitely try to. We’re listening to people. We want to make sure that we’re creating an environment where it feels safe that people can talk about their mental health, where we can talk to our hiring managers.

And if we don’t feel comfortable talking to our hiring managers, we can talk to somebody at the company to kind of get some processes moving in the right place. And doing this content where we kind of talk about it outside of work is a part of a bigger picture where we want to make sure that we’re like letting people know this is a thing, but

your boss cannot be your therapist, nor can your colleagues. So it’s really important that if you’re really, really struggling at work and you’ve talked to your boss and you’ve tried to figure out some things and you have a company that is not just doing the lip service webinars during mental health month, it’s a company that’s like actually putting it’s efforts where it should be. Then it’s important to talk to somebody and figure out solutions for any sort of problems that you might be having. And everybody has like their own sort of things they’re struggling with, you know? No two people have like the same brain or the same kind of struggles.

You can find some people that you like identify with and you can like talk to you about various things, but it’s always important to, if you’re in a situation where you feel a little overwhelmed out of your depth and not sure where to go, seek some help. And there’s nothing wrong with that, you know? It’s like going to an eye doctor when you can’t see.

It’s the best analogy. I think all three of us shook our heads. We all feel fortunate that it has been de-stigmatized to the point where we can do this openly and feel comfortable doing it. But there is still a world where lots of folks can’t. Well, we appreciate everyone’s time.

Hopefully some of these tidbits are helpful. As we all three have stated, if you are struggling, reach out to somebody that you trust. If you don’t have somebody that you feel like you trust, reach out to a professional. We’re excited. I’m excited for Robyn to continually challenged me to continue to put this stuff out because I agree it is very, very important.

And we’ll see you all next time. Yeah. Thank you so much. And thanks for being on Kelly. Of course, be kind to your mind, everybody.

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