Stress: are we coping?

Last week at Home, we joined in with Mental Health Awareness Week, the official theme of which was ‘Stress: are we coping?’.

Although marketing can be a pretty fun industry to work in, we still recognise that it can be hella stressful at times, so we wanted to educate Homies about well-being at work and dealing with stress in a healthy way. We also wanted to add to the work we did last year on creating a safe space where our Homies feel like they can open up, in the hope of fighting the stigma surrounding mental health.

So, what did we get up to? A week chocka-block with insightful talks and fun activities. Here are a few of our highlights…

Ommmmm

We kicked off the week with sessions on how to meditate and find your zen. We’re all now equipped with an easy 60-second technique that’s perfect for beginners. Fancy giving it a try?

  1. Find a quiet(ish) space
  2. Close your eyes
  3. Pick out one sound and name it e.g. birdsong, or a computer fan
  4. Listen to that sound for 5 seconds
  5. Keeping that sound in mind, pick out another and do the same again
  6. Keep doing it until you have 5 sounds in your head
  7. Focus on those sounds, and listen for as long as you want to

Remember, meditation is hard and needs practice, so don’t be disheartened if you find it challenging to start with.

Mind – guest speaker

Mental health charity, Mind, came in to give us the lowdown on workplace well-being. From the stigma attached to mental health, the causes and symptoms of stress, to practical tips for managing our own well-being at work, it was great to have an expert telling us what’s what. Our trainer, Paul Croston, also gave us a whole bunch of handy resources to use, which have been shared around the agency.

Confess the stress

Five brave Homies took to the stage this week to open up about their own personal experiences with stress, and to share their tips and tales. We really believe that by talking about this stuff, it helps break the stigma and allows other people to accept and seek help if they’re struggling.

Here are a few of the tips we picked up from them…

  1. Block out your time

    In the same way that people book meetings into your work planner, book in your own time (work or personal) so you can ensure you have enough time to complete the tasks you’ve got. This way colleagues can also see when and how much free time you have and you won’t over promise.

  2. Write it down

    Writing stuff down came up a LOT – it seems that us Homies love a list! There’s no ‘one size fits all’ here, so experiment with it. For example, if fortune telling is something you struggle with, try writing down worst case scenarios followed by ideas for how you could manage them, and what good could potentially come from those situations. It could also be as simple as creating an everyday to-do list, or keeping a diary of 5 positive things that have happened each day, like if it was sunny, or if you had a delicious dinner.

  3. Get perspective

    If you are a natural worrier and the worries are mostly unimportant, try reading global news to regain perspective. Or you could ask yourself “what would Bob Marley think?”…

Yoga and massage

To banish the stresses of the week, we had an opportunity to stretch it out in a couple of different yoga classes. The relaxation session at the end was SO chilled though, that one Homie even fell asleep!

If that didn’t do the job in easing out the aches and pains, we also had a day full of soothing 10-minute massages – lush.

Eleanor Snare – guest speaker

During the week, we were lucky enough to be joined by Eleanor Snare for the second year running. She’s a copywriter and consulting communication specialist, and teaches fashion marketing at the University of Leeds. She spoke frankly and openly about the mental health journey she has been on, which was really inspiring to listen to. A few of the takeaway messages from her talk are…

  1. It’s okay not to be okay

    When you’re struggling with your mental health, particularly with something like depression, try not to be too harsh on yourself. Don’t worry if you need to change your normal routine and take things a bit slower, just be sure to take care of yourself – whether that’s by burrowing into your duvet or going for long walks by yourself.

  2. Refocus anxious energy

    To deal with the adrenaline that comes with anxiety, try concentrating on hobbies and channeling that energy into something productive. It can help your anxiety feel more manageable and make you feel more level.

  3. Be honest

    Being honest with those around us can make a huge difference. For example, explaining to clients that sometimes you feel anxious and it may be better to reach you on email rather than over the phone is a small thing that could relieve some pressure. Chances are, they’ll be cool with it and appreciate you telling them.

Other goings-on

As if all that wasn’t enough, we also had daily coffee breaks and local walks to get away from our desks and allow our brains to have a little mid-morning rest. We didn’t go hungry either, with doughnuts, a BBQ, and a big breakfast at the end of the week…

There was also Pimms outside on Friday afternoon to get some all-important vitamin D and start the weekend right…

And not forgetting piñatas, so we could release any residing frustration on that surprisingly hard to break papier-mâché!

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Mental health in the long term at Home

To continue with our ambition and desire to focus on health and well-being, we are in the process of getting two people trained up as mental health first aiders.

Legally, companies need first aiders who can deal with physical emergencies like cuts and heart attacks, however having mental health first aiders is seen as more of a ‘nice to have’, and we are having it! Nice!

What did you get up to for Mental Health Awareness Week 2018? Tweet us @homeagencyuk.