Time to check in: How is your mental health?

Being in business takes a toll. The pursuit of success also requires a level of sacrifice, whether that be time lost with family and friends, less time at the gym, even the simplicity of time off work. If you are in a leadership, management or business role, it is unlikely that you took sick leave the last time you were sick. Long term gain for short term pain right? Maybe. And if you don’t take care of your mental health, then definitely wrong.

When your head is down and bum up working, are you necessarily aware of whether your mental health is starting to deteriorate? Or does “good mental health” get put on your “later” list of important but not urgent agenda items.

Below is a quick quiz that can help you to evaluate whether you need to take some action on your mental health. Our suggestions for how to do this follow.

In the last 4 weeks how often did you feel..? None of the time A little of the time Some of the time Most of the time All of the time
…nervous? 1 2 3 4 5
…hopeless? 1 2 3 4 5
…restless of fidgety? 1 2 3 4 5
…so depressed that nothing could cheer you up? 1 2 3 4 5
…that everything was an effort? 1 2 3 4 5
…worthless? 1 2 3 4 5

What does your score mean?

Add up your individual responses to give a total score between 6 and 30.

  • 6 – 11 is a low score and suggests that you are well though may benefit from learning more about how to prevent or assist others with mental illness.
  • 12 – 19 is a moderate score suggesting that you may benefit from making some improvements to how you manage your health and wellbeing. Try the below suggestions and access information about mental health.
  • 20 – 30 is a high score and suggests that you may benefit from face to face support from a health provider like a psychologist or your GP.

Top 5 mental health activities

Get moving. Exercise is so powerful that you can treat depression with exercise alone, but it has got to be regular to be effective. Regular means 3 sessions of moderate exercise every week for 45 minutes at a time. Moderate exercise is when you can talk but not sing while working out. So if it’s a walk, it’s a brisk walk so you could talk to your mate but not carry a tune.

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Be mindful. Practice focusing your attention on where you are and what you are doing instead of being up in your headspace thinking about past, present and future problems. A good example is when you are eating dinner with family and thinking about work (and vice versa). You lose contact with the stuff that adds meaning, pleasure and fun to your life. Practice mindfulness, the cognitive skill of paying attention on purpose with curiosity to get out of your head and in to reality. For more information on how to be mindful, check out www.mindsetabilities.com.au/mindfulness-resources/

Do relaxing things. Life is demanding. This is not a bad thing, but it does need attention. Take time out to do things that help you to relax and unwind so that you can recover from life’s inevitable demands (including work). Relaxation is not necessarily doing nothing. It might mean going for a run, seeing a mate for a beer or going stand up paddle boarding out at Narrabeen. It might mean doing nothing too – like having a hot bath and reading a book. What matters most is person-activity fit, because what I find relaxing you might find stressful – and vice versa.

Do fun things. Did you know that experiencing a positive mood undoes the effects of stress? As little as 30 seconds of feeling good starts to reduce the physiological impact of stress. Feeling good can be done on a massive scale like an overseas holiday or on a small scale like watching a Youtube video of a cat versus a vacuum cleaner. You can make decisions every day to do things that are fun, interesting, hilarious, loving, etc.

Connect. We are social creatures by nature. Think about it: we couldn’t survive on our own 50,000 years ago. We needed to be part of the clan. We are hard-wired to connect with others and these connections are the biggest protective barrier to mental illness. You have two jobs with your social networks: one is to talk about your concerns and get the benefits of debriefing and getting support. The other is to not talk about your concerns and just enjoy the company of people who you like.

For more information on how to get better mental health, contact us today.


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