Preventing ‘pleasanteeism’: protecting personal resilience

We all go through difficult times and for many of us the last 18 months have been just that – a true test of our personal resilience. Isolation from friends and family, fears for our physical health, and lack of job security have all had a marked effect on our mental health, and understandably so.

Although the restrictions that once governed our lives continue to ease and vaccination programmes roll-out further across the UK, it is clear that COVID-19 is here for the long haul, resulting in additional anxiety for many people as they return to the workplace.

Despite this, many of us aren’t opening up about these worries, with too many people suffering from ‘workplace pleasanteeism’ – feeling unable to express how they’re truly feeling and instead having to act like everything is ‘ok’ in front of their colleagues.

In fact, our recent research, Keeping up Appearances: How Pleasanteeism is Eroding Resilience, revealed that over half (51%) of people feel under pressure to put on a brave face at work, while a quarter (25%) are worried about having to be the best version of themselves when they return to the workplace, and almost one in five (19%) are concerned about their stress being visible to others.

As workplaces gradually reopen and people try to get back to ‘normal’ ways of working, it is vital that individuals prioritise their mental wellbeing. It may seem difficult to do, in fact, over two thirds (69%) of people said that barriers exist to getting support for mental health, while more than a third (36%) want to take control of their mental health but don’t know how. Nonetheless, there are several easy steps that people can take – all of which start with opening up an honest dialogue about mental health in the workplace.

So, why not start now?

Create opportunities to connect with your colleagues

We know that it isn’t always easy to talk about your mental health. But sometimes it’s easier when you feel like you’re talking to Chloe who likes horse riding, or Mark from your five-a-side team, rather than Chloe from HR or your manager Mark. Whether it’s looking for things in common or going for drinks after work, find ways to connect with your colleagues and see them as the people that they really are. You might find that they struggle with their mental health sometimes, too.

Remember to practice selfcare 

Don’t worry if downward dogs aren’t your jam. Yoga isn’t for everyone, but selfcare is – whatever that looks like for you. Go for a walk, have a bath, paint some pottery or do some colouring in. Find small, mindful practices that you will enjoy incorporating into your day-to-day life to put you on the path to greater resilience.

Know that it’s ok to take a step back

With remote working encroaching on work-life balance for many of us, make sure that you build in time to take a step back and find some headspace. Whether it’s twenty minutes to take stock over a cup of tea or an hour away from your phone at lunch, make it a priority to check in with yourself. We’re all guilty of working outside of hours every now and again, but a chance to extract yourself, calm down and recalibrate will do wonders for your mental health and your ability to deal with busy, high-pressure days.

When it comes to mental health, we know that there’s no single right approach for everyone – what may work for you might not work for others. However, as we adjust to the new reality of learning to live with COVID-19, it is crucial that we start to draw attention to the importance of mental health at work.

It’s only by opening up the conversation that we can fully support one another to be as healthy, resilient and happy as possible. And it’s a step that we can take together – talking to each other about our concerns will help demonstrate to others that it’s ok to do the same, in turn, improving mental health and building resilience. Such easy actions can truly make a real difference.

Article written by Shaun Williams, CEO, Lime Global Ltd

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