The Office for National Statistics reports anxiety affected the work of one in five people last year.
Amongst these figures are HR professionals, who have been at the frontline of supporting line managers and transforming workforces throughout the pandemic.
This is in addition to other issues confronting organisations at the moment such as wellbeing, harassment and inequality. All of them require changes and improvements which are being driven by HR teams.
The pandemic has been a huge opportunity for HR professionals as leaders draw on their support to help them bring calm and order in a rapidly changing landscape. They remain a key component in navigating the complexities ahead as companies try to introduce office or hybrid working into the mix.
Anxiety comes in many degrees. If we fixate on the worst-case scenarios in our lives all the time then it can affect our work, relationships and even our health.
The good news is with practice, anyone can learn to change their thinking to help them have a positive effect on daily life.
1. Recognise thoughts for what they are
When we’re worrying about things, our perceptions and thoughts are often distorted.
Humans have on average 6,200 thoughts a day according to a new study. They help us to interpret our world whether through describing what’s happening, to trying to make sense of things such as sights, sounds or events, for example. However, thoughts are not facts which is why it’s important to learn how to intercept them, particularly in times of stress.
2. Challenge negative thoughts
Whenever you have a negative thought, stop and challenge yourself as to whether it’s based in fact. In neuroscience studies, negative experiences are more likely to linger in the brain over positive ones. Negativitiy bias can even cause us to colour what are generally positive experiences. Who hasn’t left a generally successful meeting feeling crushed by the off-guard remark made by a colleague in the opening comments? If your thoughts are a negative perception of yourself, then try to think how you would react if a friend or colleague said the same of themselves. Ask yourself to consider if you are assuming the worst about a person or situation.
3. Take a break from thinking
One of the ways of doing this would be bring is to actively bring your attention to the world around you and your response to it. Taking notice of the present and spending some time observing what’s beautiful and unusual about the world around you, is a good way to focus the mind on the here and now rather than being occupied by uncontrollable thoughts. The charity Mind has some useful advice here.
4. Physically induce mental calm
When things get busy or heavy, you can use some simple physical techniques to help you remain calm.
Being present and in the moment using mindfulness techniques are key here. Learning slow breathing, getting up to move around and spending a moment to have a laugh are all aids to mental wellbeing. Read our blog for more.
5. Focus on your strengths
It’s human nature to be your harshest critic and if you’re worrying a lot already, then it’s going to make your view of yourself even worse. The more you focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses, the easier it will be to think more positively about your present and future. Take some time out now to think about your strengths and talk to others your trust and respect for their opinion too. Then remind yourself of them regularly.
These points are proven techniques to help manage mental wellbeing. Practice them regularly to help you navigate the day ahead as we move into the next phase of workplace transformation. If you feel you are not improving, then do seek further professional advice.
Wellbeing at work is a vital part of employee engagement as we navigate today’s workplace. Bitesize Learning runs a wide range of programmes to develop your company’s wellbeing strategy.