4 mental health tips to help business leaders thrive
If COVID-19 has affected your business, these top mental health tips for business leaders from Batyr’s Gus Wylie may help.
COVID-19 has turned business as usual on its head for many. As a business leader, especially if you have staff depending on you, you might be tempted to keep your chin up and tell yourself things could be worse.
But neglecting your mental health can be counterproductive, as Gus Wylie, program content and delivery manager at batyr explains. Founded in 2011, batyr facilitates workshops in workplaces, schools and sports clubs to share stories and smash the stigmas surrounding mental health.
Getting control over your anxiety can be easier said than done, especially when you’re facing the kind of unprecedented challenges that come with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really understandable that we look at what we’re feeling and justify it by telling ourselves, ‘There are heaps of people in worse situations than I am',” Wylie says. But don’t fall into the trap of letting these justifications discount your feelings about your own struggles, he warns.
You’re probably good at noticing when you’re not getting enough sleep, not eating right, or not enjoying the things you used to. But the real skill is challenging the thoughts that follow, which usually start with ‘but’, Wylie explains.
“The problem with saying things like ‘But it’s just because of the pandemic’ is that while we might point to a reason that we’re stressed, we’re still not dealing with the fact that we’re stressed.”
Even though we don’t have control over when the pandemic is going to end, we do have control over how we’re coping. The time to do something to make yourself feel better is once you notice you’re beginning to slip, Wylie advises.
“It doesn’t have to be the threshold of a massive crisis to do something proactive to improve your situation.”
Spending half an hour exercising, taking the extra time to prepare a healthy meal or pausing to chat with your partner each day are some ideas. Even simply tidying up your workspace can go a long way to helping you feel refreshed.
It’s also worth using some sick days to take care of your stress levels. If you take a day off when you first need it, you might save yourself from having to take a week off in a month’s time when you’re completely burnt out.
If you want your workforce to be healthy, happy and productive, one of the biggest things you can do to build trust is acknowledge when things are tricky. As a leader, visibly taking steps to ensure your own mental health is in good shape can be very empowering for your staff.
“If I’m a young employee at your organisation and I see the boss proactively taking charge of their mental health, that’s going to have massive ramifications for me and the way I view that role model,” Wylie explains. “It normalises it for other people in your organisation."
Clocking on and off at the right hours, making sure to take lunch breaks, and taking those invaluable mental health days off when required are just some of the ways you can walk the talk as a leader.
If you need a financial incentive to give your staff the leeway to look after themselves, just look at the mining industry, where high intensity fly-in-fly-out work is the norm. A report by PwC found mining companies reap an average of $2.30 worth of productivity for every dollar spent on mental health initiatives.
Looking after your mental health doesn’t need to be as big as going to your GP for a mental health plan, Wylie points out.
“Not all of us have a chronic health condition, but there are going to be days we wake up feeling like rubbish,” Wylie says. “You can just go for a bit of a tune up, to get a bit of an edge on life.”
Most mental health services offer online support, which can make it a lot easier to reach out and gain confidence with putting your thoughts into words.
For some people, simply reaching out to a professional network and having a chat with someone going through a similar experience can do wonders.
“We noticed a really big drive towards consciously connecting and checking in online at the start of the pandemic,” Wylie reflects. “It’s partly fatigue – we’ve been here too long now – but we’ve kind of forgotten how useful that conscious connection can be.”
Business can be stressful at the best of times. Now, more than ever, building the skills to better deal with stress will help you succeed as a leader – whether that’s speaking with a professional or simply taking regular steps to take care of yourself.
This article is a general overview and should be used as a guide only. We recommend that you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before acting.