PPMW | Hit the pause button
Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 takes place from 15th May to 21st May and the theme this year is anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal emotion but sometimes it can become overwhelming and turn into a mental health issue. Lots of factors can contribute: relationship problems, work pressures and big life events. Anxiety can also stem from things like money worries and the cost of living, as well as genetic and personality factors.
According to research carried out by Inspire last year, the rising cost of living is having an impact on the mental health of people in Northern Ireland, with 66% of adults anxious about their financial situation over the next 12 months1.
These days, given all the competing demands and expectations that are often placed upon on us, at work and at home, it’s easy to see how life can feel like it’s spiralling out of control. Amidst all the distractions we can lose sight of what’s really important.
That’s why it’s a good idea to hit the pause button from time to time and take a look around. Time out allows us to think about how to better manage our own self-care: keeping or getting well; understanding what helps us lead healthier, happier professional and personal lives; and learning how to get the support of others. Here are a few ideas for harnessing the Power of Pause.
Remembering to keep track of our moods can aid our understanding of our thoughts and feelings. We can then take steps to avoid, change or prepare for difficult situations. These situations, from family gatherings to colleague interactions, will be individual to each of us. On the Inspire Support Hub, you can track your mood through your personalised dashboard. If you are more aware of your moods, you may be able to better manage your lifestyle choices, make informed health decisions, prevent or avoid triggers of negative moods, and work towards a positive lifestyle.
Taking a moment to be kind to ourselves can have powerful benefits. A self-care routine can better prepare us for challenges that may arise both personally and professionally. Self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical wellbeing. Take time in your day to practise self-compassion, whether its writing down something you accomplished today or doing something you enjoy after work to bring you happiness.
Find time to relax
It’s not healthy to spend all of your waking hours working or concentrating on the various demands of the day. Relaxation is very important. We may already know what works for us: music, a good book, exercise, the natural world or a hot bath. Practising mindfulness, for example, is a great way of pausing and becoming aware of the world around us. On the Inspire Support Hub we have our Mindful Moments series which can help you switch off even during your lunch break. Whatever we do to switch off, it’s important to create the space for those things.
Taking a moment to feel connected to those around us – colleagues, family and friends – can make us feel valued and give us a different perspective on things. Checking in with people face to face is ideal but a text, a call or an e-mail can make a real difference too. Even if we don't have a support network, there are other ways to make connections, like joining walking groups, book clubs or sports teams. Our Take 5 Database has some suggestions of how you can make connections through volunteering or group activities in your local community.
It’s also important to remember that some individuals will need professional intervention in the form counselling/psychotherapy or GP consultation.
[i] ‘YouGov survey shows impact of cost of living on mental health of adults in Northern Ireland’, 10th October 2022, www.inspirewellbeing.org/release-pressure-survey-data/
This article is by Inspire Workplaces from their Wellbeing Support Hub.
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