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Mental Health Advice for Business Leaders
64% of senior business leaders report suffering from a mental health condition, with work acting as a key contributor to these conditions.
Worryingly, around 58% of business leaders say that they find it challenging to speak about their mental health in their position; with 1 in 4 people feeling that they received less support for mental health issues since taking on a more senior role.
But why is it business leaders find it so difficult to speak out and seek help for mental health issues?
From the fear of other’s opinions of their ability to cope as a leader, to feeling the pressure to be ‘okay’ at all times, there is a multitude of reasons why it can be difficult for those in power to talk about what they perceive to be a weakness.
However, this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. By looking after their mental health, happiness and wellbeing, a person is able to perform much more effectively. Not only this, but it helps to create an open workplace culture where leaders encourage more conversations to be held around mental health.
It can be a lonely time at the top, so take some time to read the advice below to look after your mental health as a business leader.
As a business leader, you didn’t get to the position you are in from getting every decision right all the time. You got there through making mistakes, learning from others and, most importantly, communicating. This doesn’t change when you get to the top! When you reach that position, you’re most likely dealing with the most stress you ever have in your career; making it more important than ever to speak out.
We’ve all heard the common phrase, “a problem shared is a problem halved”. As a leader, you should be encouraged to speak about any concerns and issues you are facing; bottling them up will only take a toll on your mental health. Not only will you feel better within yourself, but it will help to show to your team that you are human, and will encourage them to do the same if they are also struggling. Create a culture which is accepting and encouraging of people speaking out about their thoughts, feelings and struggles.
In today’s world, our lives revolve around the internet. Everything we’ve ever wanted is now accessible at click of a button in the palm of our hands. Whilst this is amazing for efficiency and productivity, it has made it increasingly difficult to switch off, even when we leave the office for the day. It comes as no surprise that 40% of people check work emails five times or more a day outside of their office hours.
It’s time to put your mental health first! Every evening make sure you take some time away from emails, social media and any other work-related task. Let your mind unwind, away from the internet. You’ll find it does wonders for your mental health.
Trust Your Team
Within a leadership position, you care about where you work, the decisions that are being made and the people that work for you.
A key part of being a good leader is building a team full of individuals that you trust, and with that in mind, you need to trust them to do what they do best. It can be easy to fall into the trap of doing too much, to make sure it’s done to a high standard and on time. But this will lead to burnout, and severely damage your mental health.
To protect your mental health, you need to learn to trust the team around you. Delegate tasks to those suitable, and focus on performing impactful tasks that require your attention and skillset. That way, you’ll have more time to focus on what’s critical, instead of worrying about tasks that your team members are more than capable of completing.
Say “No” More
Leading on from this, sometimes you have to learn to say no. A key part of this is saying no to tasks where you know another team member can confidently carry them out. Don’t feel as though you have to do more than is possible.
Going on from this, within a leadership position, there are endless possibilities presented to you for networking, business events and other opportunities. But you can’t possibly say yes to everything! Know that it is okay to say no to events, there will always be another similar event in the future.
Relaxation and Mindfulness Techniques
If you’re feeling your stress levels rise, take some time out in your day to practice mindfulness techniques to rebalance your mind.
Some good practices to look into include:
- Deep breaths, or mindful breathing
- Positive affirmations
- Being aware of your senses - what can you see, hear and feel in the present moment?
It’s not a new idea that engaging in physical activity has a positive effect on mental wellbeing. When we get moving, it helps to relieve stress, improve concentration, encourage better sleep and improve our overall mood. In a recent study carried out by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it was found that running for 15 minutes a day, or walking for an hour, could help to reduce the risk of major depression by up to 26%, as well as helping to alleviate the symptoms of depression; showing clear links between physical activity and an improved mental state.
On a different note, think about your body right now. Are your muscles tense? Do you have back pain? Or do you regularly suffer from headaches? These are all physical manifestations of stress. Exercising helps to release endorphins in the brain, which in turn relaxes the muscles and reduces tension in the body as a whole. And when your body feels better, your mind does too. Exercise where, when and how is best for you. Not everyone enjoys the gym, and that’s okay. Find what works best for you and incorporate it into your routine.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Understand and Manage Stress in Your Life
Learn more about the nature of stress and how you can effectively cope with stress at work, at home and in life generally. The Skills You Need Guide to Stress and Stress Management eBook covers all you need to know to help you through those stressful times and become more resilient.
When to See a Professional
Whilst practising the above presents various benefits in terms of your mental state, if you are finding it difficult to manage your mental health, it’s important to seek help from a GP or other health professional. LycaHealth’s private GP service will help to devise a plan of action and provide treatment for your mental health, or stress at work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling, everybody deserves to have sound mental well-being.
About the Author
Lucy Bradley is a marketing professional working on behalf of LycaHealth, a leading private healthcare provider based in Canary Wharf and Kent.