Mental health at work

It has always been important to check our health every so often, but in this weird “new normality” that we are living in, we believe that it is essential to check not only our physical health but also our mental health. This term refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use it simply to refer to the absence of a mental disorder. One of the root causes of mental health problems is EVASION

 According to the dictionary, evasion is “the action of evading something”(helpful, huh?). Psychology defines it as any form of distraction or entertainment and a strategy to elude responsibility and psychiatry sees it as the suppression of an idea that comes next in a thought sequence and substitution of a closely related idea. 

Why do we evade?

There are many reasons why we evade, here are a couple:

We don’t want to feel our emotions. We have a bad habit to label everything as good or bad. When we do this with our emotions, we restrain ourselves from feeling, because we think that being angry is bad, so we shouldn’t feel angry. Of course, just by saying that we shouldn’t feel angry doesn’t make it go away, so these feelings bottle up all together and create this big mess inside until they pop “out of nowhere”. 

A second reason is the fear of not being loved as who we truly are. We’ve been taught that there’s a checklist we need to fulfill in order to be “worthy”. We’re supposed to have a good education, get a career, get married, have children, be successful (whatever that means), and many other things, but we are rarely taught to know ourselves, just the way we are.

Now what?

Let’s go cry our hearts out because society is horrible and there’s no hope in humanity… Just kidding! The key point is to recognize who you are, allow yourself to feel all your emotions, and express with liberty.

Therapy is great, yes, but we have a simple exercise that can help you save some money: Ask yourself “in a day, how many things are you doing to be liked by others?” You’ll realize that that number tends to be alarmingly high.

Why is it important to understand this? Because living a life for others is tiring, and now add to that all the restrictions we put ourselves through? It’s not sustainable.

Questioning ourselves is an excellent tool to understand why we do what we do and help us be aware of what we are and what we are not, and act accordingly. We’re not saying that you have to stop doing things for other people! But by being aware of why you do the things you do,  you’ll get back the control of your life, being responsible for the consequences instead of a victim of life. 

Rember that nothing is good or bad; it is all about perception. All our emotions are valid, they help us through the different situations we live in the day-to-day, so give yourself the chance to feel.

Signs of evasion

There are many forms of evasion, however, some are more common than others:

  • Excessive time on social media. It is important to be aware of the time we spend in social media and the information we consume. 
  • Working all day. Home office is great and has a lot of advantages, however, it can facilitate the idea of working all day. Working 18 hours a day is not healthy and it’s important to set a schedule.
  • Being moody and angry. We all have a bad day now and then, sure! But if every day is a bad day, that is a sign that something else is wrong. The best way to get out of that funk is to pay attention and understand what is really bothering you.
  • Getting sick all the time. Being constantly sick is also another consequence of evading. Listen to your body, and try to understand what is making you feel sick.
  • Being exhausted. Living eternally tired and doing nothing but sleep is our best way to evade us and usually hides that something is not ok. 
  • Temporary forms of escape. Also known as addictions, in all forms: not only to drugs or alcohol, also sugar, coffee, binge-watching, etc. Everything that might help us escape reality, even for a little while. 

Improving mental health at work

We are strong believers that when employees and coworkers are happy with their lives, they are going to do better at work and so will the whole organization. So here are some recommendations: 

  • Create psychologically safe spaces. It is important to have moments for the team to speak with freedom and acceptance from others.
  • Send messages to reinforce healthy behaviors. It’s not ok to have people working 18 hours a day, not taking days off, working while feeling sick. All of this creates a toxic environment that will only lead to a bad performance over time. Lead by example and let your team know that is best when they’re rested and have a balanced life.
  • Have conversations with actionables. Create the time and space to listen, give your employees the confidence to help them unburden. However, it is important to finish the conversation with next steps, giving back the responsibility and helping them find solutions. 
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