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Workplace Stress

Wellbeing in the work place is incredibly important, to highlight this, I will tell you my story.   

I was working in a fast-paced office environment, constantly juggling various aspects of my job.  It was the sort of job where the more work you do the more you get.  I don’t like having huge piles of work in front of me, I find it quite stressful, luckily, I had a really good manager.  At one point in my working life here we came to the agreement that I would mention when I felt overwhelmed with work and she would give me space to catch up.  It worked really well under this system and I felt that I had complete control over my work and was able to help others out at times also.  A win all round really.  

Unfortunately, everything changed.  I was asked to move to another team, a team where my new manager had a bit of a reputation.  At first it was fine, I got through the work quickly and in addition I had a designated trainer and training time which I hadn’t had before.  I thought everything would be ok.   Then the workload started to pile up.  I told my manager that I just had too much work on my desk.  She agreed to not give me new work so that I could catch up only to continue to give me new work anyway!  This continued for a while, my stress levels soared.  I didn’t notice it at first, the feelings of stress became my new normal and I started to get physically ill.  As soon as I had gotten over one illness I’d have another straight away. 

I couldn’t take sick leave because I was expected to be a “team player” and was given work that others needed help with when they went on holiday.  I was so busy that I didn’t notice that no one was helping me.  I increased my hours to try and catch up.  By the end I would consistently have had 3 weeks worth of urgent work on my desk and phone calls on a regular basis chasing for updates and completion dates. 

I had no choice but to see my doctor.  I had told my manager several times that I had too much work and my colleagues had also spoken to her about my stress levels.  The doctor signed me off sick.  I went from working almost 10 hour days to having nothing to do for 3 weeks.  I hated it, I did not know what to do with myself. Because I had been working so much I had no work life balance so no hobbies to fill my time. 

I went straight back to work after the sick leave ended.  It was difficult because the slightest thing would make me cry and I did not want others to see this.  Managers were supposed to provide reasonable adjustments so that you could work, my manager took this to the extreme.  I was told that I must tell her what sort of day I was having every single day (no thanks) and pressure was put on me to take medication.  I was sent on a stress course, it was a good course but after speaking to the person running the course I realised I had no other option than to take more time off sick. 

During this time of leave I met with some of my colleagues and had some meetings with others in the organisation and managed to get moved to a different team on my return.  I did really well in this team for a while, but then my personal life got rather difficult.  My resilience was low after my experience at work and I had even more time off sick.  I had requested a reduction in hours but didn’t get any advice of how to go about this since I had no children, flexible working was apparently not available for me as it was officially only for families! 

Eventually I left this job and struggled to put my life together.  The effects of poor wellbeing at work do not end when you leave a job, they impact your entire life.  Thankfully I realised that I’m rather strong and the life I have now is so much better than before.  The experience allowed me to evaluate what was important and I started many hobbies, I learned about wellbeing, managing emotion and, most importantly, self- respect.  I am no longer fighting for my career, I have qualifications that may no longer have any use to me, but I’ve learnt that there are more important things in life.  I fulfilled many dreams, I learnt to sew, play the clarinet and met some wonderful people that I wouldn’t otherwise have met.  I do believe that if my managers had worked together with me rather than against me that I would have continued to be a valued employee, I would not have needed time off, putting even more pressure on those around me. 

Running for Mind

On Sunday 22 April, I took part in this year's London Marathon. My goal was to raise £1,000 for Mind, as well as to run 26.2 miles around one of my favourite cities.

I remember watching the London Marathon on the television as a child, full of admiration for the people taking part, dreaming that I might get to take part in it one day and, of course, looking out for familiar faces (famous and unknown) on the screen.

Despite those dreams, it was only in adulthood that I stared entering races. Initially, I took part in 5K races to raise money for charity. Gradually I built up to 10K races and, eventually, half marathons.

Each year I would enter the ballot for a London Marathon, taking my chances along with hundreds and thousands of hopeful entrants, and each year I received the 'sorry you haven't got a place' letter. That was, until October 2016, when the letter I had been hoping for arrived.... congratulations, it said, you're in!

I immediately decided that I would run for Mind. A dear friend of mine, Fog, had died in the summer of 2014 and Mind had been his family's chosen charity. That decision made, I set up a fundraising page, downloaded a training plan and hit the pavements.

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My training was going really well until the spring of 2017, when I picked up an unfortunate knee injury. The good news was that my knee hadn't suffered any structural damage, the bad news was that recovery times for injuries like mine were unpredictable. I deferred my London Marathon place and crossed my fingers that I would be back training in time for the 2018 London Marathon.

It was during the months that I couldn't run that I realised how much I relied on running to release the stresses and strains of everyday life. I was one of the lucky ones though, and by September 2017, I was able to start my training again. It was very strange to start with, I couldn't even run 5K. Slowly, but surely, the distance I could cover increased and I started to believe that I would make it around the marathon, even if I had to walk some of the way.

The winter of 2017/2018 wasn't great for those of us with marathon places, but I held fast to the dream of completing the London Marathon and stuck to my training plan despite the snow and rain.

April 2018 arrived, marathon day got closer, and the weather improved. The improvement was so great, that the 2018 London Marathon was the hottest to date.

I can honestly say that the London Marathon was the most wonderful experience. It exceeded all my expectations and I will admit to squealing with joy as I crossed Tower Bridge! Along the way I met the most incredible people, many of whom were running to raise money for charities close to their hearts. The sense of community I shared with the other Mind runners and the amazing Mind supporters helped to keep my spirits raised. I enjoyed every moment of the race, which is just as well as it took me 6 hours and 34 minutes to get to the finish line!

Thanks to my amazing family, friends and colleagues, not only did I achieve my ambition of completing the London Marathon, but I also smashed my fundraising target. So far I have raised over £3,000!

Dr Jennifer Unsworth

Mental Health Awareness Week

14th – 20th May

This year Mental Health Awareness Week is all about stress and how we cope with it.

At Springfield Mind we know that stress is a key factor in poor wellbeing. Making people feel valued and supported with good information and guidance can develop people’s ability to manage stress and improve wellbeing.

We are asking employers and employees to thing about addressing stress in the work place during Mental Health Awareness Week in 2018.

Is your workplace the biggest cause of stress in your life?

Employees:

Looking after your own mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. We spend about 90,000 hours of our life at work so it should not be a surprise that this has a big impact on our mental health, sometimes positive sometimes negative.

By improving your mental wellbeing you are more able to cope with pressure and stress in your life.

Here are some pointers to help you:

  • Figure out what are the causes and signs of stress

What is causing my stress? uncertainty, being overwhelmed, lack of control, being under pressure. The causes might be due to one big thing but more often its lots of small pressures.

How are you feeling? irritability, anxious, racing thoughts, no longer enjoying things you used to like, loss of humour, loneliness and overburdened can all suggest you are stressed.

How are you behaving? eating, smoking, drinking more than usual, restless, snapping at people, constant worry, procrastinating, unable to concentrate.

Physical symptoms? headaches, high blood pressure, teeth grinding, feeling exhausted, sleep problems, tight muscles.

  • What can you do about it

Identify what makes your feel stressed, quite often regular issues or one off events can trigger your feelings. Take a little bit of time out to think about anticipating these issues spending time planning and problem solving can go a long way to helping.

Time management can put you back in the driving seat. We all have a best time of the day when we can concentrate and be most productive, try and get the most challenging stuff done during these periods. Making a list is a great way of prioritising but make it small and achievable, things we don’t achieve just add more stress.

Keep yourself well, taking breaks and taking things slowly can increase your productivity. Let’s make time for our own fun and invest in enjoyable and relaxing activities that we and our families enjoy. Keep it healthy, there is a treasure chest of resilience waiting for you which will kill off those stressful feelings. Restricting our time on social media & emails, keeping fit, eating well and spending quality time with family and friends will surprise you with a generous reward.

  • Reach out for other support networks

Make time to talk to colleagues, friends and family about your mental wellbeing – encourage others to talk about their stresses and strains. By sharing our burdens we can support one another through challenging periods in our lives.

Springfield Mind has a vast number of tools to support you and your mental wellbeing. We offer a range of one to one sessions, peer support and walk in sessions at our hubs in Stratford, Leamington Spa and Warwick – give us a call 01789 298615.

Employers:

Is stress costing your business?

The Health and Safety Executive has some bad news for us all, in 2016 we lost 11.7 million days to stress in the workplace, one in three fit (read sick) notes issued by GP’s was for poor mental health and on average people signed off with stress are off for 23 days.

At Springfield Mind we have spent a lot of time working on solutions to help our community and businesses. Improving the mental wellbeing of employees returns excellent results for businesses reducing sick days, less staff turnover and improved employee morale. Essentially a mentally friendly workplace will result in improved performance for your business!

 Here are our top tips to get you on track:

  • It’s time to talk

Get mental health on the appraisal agenda and start a dialogue in team meetings. The more open we are and talk about our mental wellbeing and stress the more people are going to feel supported and start learning how to cope.

Request a time to talk toolkit from Springfield Mind, get some literature and materials out and about that promote talk!

Encourage employees who are struggling with their mental wellbeing to get support. Springfield Mind offers free support to individuals through a variety of projects, get in touch!

  • Skill up your workforce

Training your Managers on wellbeing lays the ground work for the culture of success you are working hard to create. Managers need to understand employee rights and responsibilities alongside how to manage a team to optimise wellbeing and provide employees with an emotional attachment to the workplace.

How many first aiders do you have in your business? Now ask yourself how many mental health first aiders do you have in your business? The truth is we are 100 times more likely to have to support someone in crisis with their mental health than we are to perform CPR.

Get your workforce mentally aware – get an understanding in the workplace about how you can support one another to better mental health and to combatting stress.

  • Look after your own wellbeing

Let’s make time for our own fun and invest in enjoyable and relaxing activities that we and our families enjoy. Keep it healthy and there will be a treasure chest of resilience waiting for you which will kill off those stressful feelings. Restricting our time on social media & emails, keeping fit, eating well and spending quality time with family and friends will surprise you with a generous reward.

  • Measure your success

Are you starting to see sickness levels dropping, is your staff retention and motivation increasing and most importantly is your business performance improving?

These are Springfield Minds strategies for a mentally resilient workforce. Why not contact me to arrange a wellbeing conversation and see how we can help support you with workplace training. We have a 98% satisfaction rating for our training and for every pound you spend with Springfield Mind is another pound going towards supporting improved mental wellbeing across Warwickshire. & Worcestershire.

Tel              01789 298615

Email           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web            springfieldmind.org.uk

Facebook     springfield mind

Twitter         @springfieldmind

Placement at Springfield Mind

As a year-long placement student and volunteer at Springfield Mind, I have been given many opportunities to enhance my knowledge of mental health issues and understand what people go through on a day-to-day basis.

I have enjoyed every moment of the placement so far, by meeting lots of new people and to be a part of Springfield Mind’s services in delivering well-being. I have volunteered in the well-being hubs, the Green Minds allotment and in the office, and I am extremely grateful that I was given this opportunity to expand my knowledge into these different services.

Springfield Mind is a very positive organisation and looks to improve the well-being of service users and individuals in the community. With the activities that also take place, this makes it a fun environment to work in, and it gave me lots of occasions to be involved with the services.

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Meeting service users has been the best experience during my time at Springfield Mind, as I got to really understand their personal issues, and see things from their perspectives. I have also been given lots of training to help with communicating to service users and this has been helpful.

Staff and volunteers at Springfield Mind have also been wonderful to work with; everyone is very supportive and easy to talk to. I would recommend for others to volunteer here at Springfield Mind, as this has been the most exciting and valuable experience I have come across so far.

By volunteering at Springfield Mind I have realised what a difference this has made to my personal well-being, as well as others’ well-being. Overall, I also hope to continue volunteering at Springfield Mind once I finish the placement, and to continue assisting the different services that Springfield Mind have to offer.

Jagjit Purewal

Coping with Loss

A third year university student from Kenilworth, who lost her father at the age of 12, is now campaigning to help others cope with grief and bereavement.

 

Raveena Nandra has struggled to come to terms with the death of her father and wants to encourage others to talk about people who have passed.

The 22-year-old has teamed up with Fixers to make a film documenting the seven stages of grief to help young people who have struggled with losing a loved one.

 

 

'My father suddenly passed away aged 42 of a heart attack. It made me feel like my whole world had fallen apart.

'I was daddy's girl and I felt like I lost my best friend.

'I made little things up in my mind to make me believe he's still here. I felt I had to be strong for my mum and that I had to throw myself in to my education to make my dad proud.

'It was hard to talk about my dad.'

Raveena has recently started attending specialist counselling sessions to help talk about the loss of her father.

‘I have now realised that maybe I didn’t get the support that I needed to be able to grieve properly.

‘When I was younger I do wish we’d spoken about it more, however, it is such a painful topic to talk about. We were afraid to talk about my dad as a family. It’s important we allow ourselves to remember the person that we have lost.

‘Now it has hit me that I haven’t been able to grieve properly and now I need to seek help for myself.’

Raveena hopes to organise talks at schools, colleges and universities to discuss the ongoing healing process and ways to deal with bereavement.  

‘I hope by doing this project it will help others who have experienced loss. The more we can be open about our grief the better we will feel.’

 

Raveena is currently on placement at Springfield Mind.

Hear from others affected by this issue. Click to read their stories.