Team Effort: Why Self-Care Doesn’t Have to be an Individual Responsibility

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There’s no doubt that work brings us many benefits. After all, it takes up much of our time and is our source of income. The late theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking explained, as quoted by TIME: “Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”

With your work colleagues, you have probably also built up a camaraderie which has led you to realise how socially enriching work can be. Here’s how co-workers can help to ease your self-care…

Why self-care is important in the workplace

Naturally, knowing that you’re doing your job well can boost your self-esteem. Furthermore, as your mental health flourishes, your productivity could follow suit, making the factors of mental wellness and workplace productivity closely intertwined.

The Mental Health Foundation reports that working people who have – or have had – mental health issues add as much as £225 billion yearly to the UK economy. That amount accounts for 12.1% of the country’s overall GDP – a lot to lose if mental health is too easily allowed to go off the rails…

Furthermore, the productivity gains from addressing workplace wellbeing can reach as high as 12%. However, if you develop a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, and struggle to contend with life’s usual challenges as a result, you should reach out for help.

How to share your concerns with other people

Rest assured that, if you have an ongoing mental health problem, you are likely to be legally entitled to reasonable adjustments in your working practices, as well as protection from discrimination and harassment. Are there colleagues who you would feel comfortable sharing your concerns with?

Alternatively, you might want to bring up those concerns if your manager holds supervision sessions where they ask about your wellbeing. Before disclosing your concerns, you could think carefully about what exactly to reveal, who to, at what time and in what place.

You should also investigate whether your employer has an employee assistance programme. If it does, you will be able to access this service both confidentially and free of charge.

What if you are a manager?

Much of the above advice still applies if you are yourself in a senior position; in fact, by opening up about your own feelings, you could inspire other members of the workforce to do the same. Your responsibilities could bring you especially close to burnout.

This would be more serious than typical stress, and it could risk denting morale among your team. Therefore, you ought to remember to lead by example, such as through regularly exercising, sleeping sufficiently and eating healthy and wholesome food.

However, you wouldn’t have to fully banish your stress before showing people how seriously you take the issue of self-care. You could act on advice from Harvard Business Review that you propose everyone ultimately tackling self-care as a team by utilising methods like group meditation.

Even if you already have an employee wellness scheme, you could introduce a more proactive solution from a company like LifeWorks.

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