teamwork - mental health in the workplace

MENTAL HEALTH AND THE WORKPLACE

PART ONE

How EI (Emotional Intelligence) can help with stress

Since 1992, Stress Awareness Month has been held every April to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.  

Anyone can suffer with stress and in recent years all sorts of people from all walks of life have been opening up about their issues with stress and mental health, from politicians, A-list celebrities, and sportspeople to name a few. And anything or anyone that brings awareness of stress into the public domain, has to be a good thing, doesn’t it? 

But here’s the thing: whilst stress awareness is increasing, so it seems is the problem itself. Whilst the epidemic is on the increase, NHS waiting lists for mental health and stress treatments grows ever longer. Many A-listers and celebrities have the option of treatment at a private clinic – but that is unaffordable to the vast majority of us – so what, if any, are the options remaining to us help manage our stress levels? 

In this 3-part blog series, I’m going to try to identify the major causes of stress that affect us all and how using Emotional Intelligence (EI) may be able to help you manage your own stress. 

Major Causes of Stress

If we can pinpoint the major causes of poor mental health and stress, then maybe we can find a solution. So, let’s start with mental health in the workplace and why it could be affecting us so badly.

Most of us spend a large proportion of our waking hours at work, and so it will come as no surprise to find that the most commonly reported cause of stress is work-related. With the average Brit spending up to 35 hours a week – often more – at work, multiply that by the months and years and that adds up to an awful lot of stress! It’s also been reported that as a result of such stress, people think about quitting their jobs up to 16 times a year! That’s not going to be beneficial for the individual or the company.

So why can the workplace often be so stressful?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) issued a report on The Causes of Stress at Work and identified these six key areas affecting people:

  • Unable to cope with the demands of their job
  • Unable to control the way they do their work
  • Don’t receive enough information and support
  • Have trouble with relationships at work, or are being bullied
  • Don’t fully understand their role and responsibilities
  • Are not engaged when a business is undergoing change.

That is a lot of stress for people to endure and there are some common themes in the findings:

  • Lack of control
  • Poor communication
  • Uncertainty and self-doubt
  • Relationships with people
  • Lack of support from colleagues or management.

So how can we reduce stress at work? 

Unfortunately, business owners, managers, and HR are often unaware of these problems; my main role at Koala Wellbeing is to work directly with people and businesses, identifying the stress triggers and helping to resolve them. 

Work and workplace culture is a huge factor in a person’s mental health and well-being. If we focus on making our workplace culture better, we could then improve the mental health of millions of people and lower their stress levels. This way everyone wins!  People become happier and perform better, they feel engaged, and love their work. As a result, fewer sick days are lost, and businesses become more productive, more profitable, and more sustainable. Even the NHS wins.  

The Emotional Energy Matrix 

I regularly run introductory sessions that focus on the benefits of Emotional Intelligence (EI). These sessions are not ‘psychology theory’ or ‘fake it till you make it’ mantras full of psychology jargon. 

Instead, they are practical sessions where people actively participate and discover things about themselves and others – things that they were previously completely unaware of but things which may go a long way to helping identifying your stress triggers and getting them under control. 

This is the Emotional Energy Matrix which helps us with self-awareness (the first principle of EI) because most of the time most of us are not very self-aware!   

The simple diagram (below) also helps us better understand how energy and emotion affect everyone working in a business (and in their personal lives for that matter). 

 

EMOTIONAL ENERGY MATRIX

As living beings, we experience feelings as ‘energy’ (no, not something strange or supernatural) we simply experience feelings as a constant movement of ‘energy’ in our body and humans give these energy experiences names: tired, sad, happy, good, afraid, alert, anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, there are hundreds of words that we humans use to describe these experiences.

In Mental Health in the Workplace – Part 2, I will show you what is really going on in each of the zones of the Emotional Energy Matrix and how you can harness your own energy for a positive outcome.

Free 1-hour Taster Sessions are available on this topic; for further information on dates/times and how to book, or for an informal chat with Chris, please contact  mail@koalawellbeing.co.uk