02 Feb Stress and Burnout in Managers
Developing Self-Resilience at Work
“The COVID-19 pandemic represents an immense challenge to UK society. There will be no vaccine to protect us from for the mental health effects of the pandemic, but measures can be taken to minimise the anticipated increase in stress, anxiety and depression and to support people’s resilience. The UK and devolved governments must plan a mental health response that gives equal importance to both the mental health and the physical health effects of the crisis and prevents mental distress from escalating into severe and enduring mental health problems.” Mental Health Foundation 2020.
Are you mindful of your own and your staff’s mental wellbeing?
Recently we have been approached by companies and service providers looking for advice and support for staff who hold more managerial positions. There is an overriding sense that managers who have been holding considerable responsibility for staff wellbeing and the logistics of keeping a company or service going, are reaching a point of burnout.
We are aware that the pandemic affects all of us on a community, family, and individual level, but some will be affected more than others depending on circumstances, age, health, race and gender. As a working woman I can certainly see how trying to juggle different needs at home and work have affected me. Indeed, a recent Government report has found that working women have generally found it harder to manage different role responsibilities. Women were more likely to have made larger adjustments to manage housework and childcare during the first lockdown than men. These adjustments were associated with increased distress, with lone mothers being particularly vulnerable and are likely to affect work performance and sickness levels. (Government publication – mental health and wellbeing surveillance report. 2020)
Taking time to plan for mental health strategies and wellbeing plans:
It is not surprising then that when at work there are additional pressures for staff and managers under this umbrella of challenges that is covid-19. The uncertainty of the future makes planning and development more difficult for many businesses and managers often have to contain this uncertainty and support staff who may be vulnerable to increased distress.
Poor mental health can lead to decreased productivity, lost revenue, low morale, and diminished company reputation.
So, what can employers do to give their employees the Best Mental Health support in the workplace?
Employees need a psychologically safe place. This translates as having a place where someone with a Mental Health problem can talk with
feeling that they are being heard and supported
Getting support for work-based stress often starts with your line manager and then reported through HR and Occupational health. Informally there is a lot that can be done within the team to help support not only the ground level staff but also the managers who might feel that they should be the ‘strong’ ones.
Support for Managers
BraintrainersUK believe that developing skills for each staff member to understand personal strengths resilience and identifying stress and depression is a good starting point. The Government’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Surveillance Report (Dec 2020) noted that over time most people adapted to the lockdown. Interestingly, for people utilising greater use of emotion-focused coping (positive reframing, acceptance, humour, religion) and supportive coping mechanisms, was associated with lower levels of mental ill health. This may indicate a protective effect of social support and is something that managers and companies should keep in mind when developing a wellbeing plan.
Why looking after yourself as well as the staff you manage is so important? The key is avoiding burnout and building resilience as a team that will mean you gain strength and understanding of each other moving beyond the pandemic.
Here are a few tips for Managers – taking stock on a more personal level -on how you and your staff are coping through this third lockdown.
Ask the questions – How are you feeling? looking at where you are right now – what are the things that you have and what is missing? what has been lost and what has been gained. When life gets busy, self-care is often the first thing we sacrifice -Do you notice a change in your self-care or someone else at work?
This might help you when planning out the year ahead and thinking about what the company needs, what are your own needs as a manager and what you can provide to others. We have thought about some areas for consideration.
IMPACT of current situations at work and home:
- Emotional Health –
If you are heading for burnout, you will notice an increase in your emotions and a sense that they are ‘spilling out’. You might have stronger reactions that would be normal for you and even completely different emotional responses than the situation accounts for. Alternatively, you might notice a numbness and cutting off. Self-care helps you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and others. Doing things that make you feel physically and mentally good boosts your confidence and self-esteem. When you feel good, you are happier and better able to maintain positive relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
- Physical Health –
Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion, often referred to as burnout. Burnout reduces productivity and zaps your energy. You might notice yourself getting ill more frequently, not sleeping well, not doing things that you used to enjoy that helped keep you fit. By incorporating self-care activities into your regular routine, like going for a walk or socialising with friends, you give your body and mind time to rest, reset, and rejuvenate so you can avoid or reduce the symptoms of burnout
- Motivation and Mindset – Look out for a more negative mindset, seeing the worst in situations or being more critical of yourself and others. This can be a clue to how you are dealing with the current situation in an unhelpful way. People often think that taking time for themselves in the middle of busy times seems indulgent but looking after your well-being will help you be productive and care for others. It may help you to step back and see the bigger picture, noticing what has been going well is much healthier than over thinking what might go wrong.
- Practical Changes. – You notice in yourself or someone else – changes to their routine or not completing tasks, putting things off when they would normally be consistent – take note of this. Be aware that someone might not ask for help but changes in their behaviour might well indicate that something is wrong. Take some time to work through what practical support might be helpful right now. Problem solve, what the issues are and what support is available. Also be aware of your own limits and self-care needs. Demonstrate to the people around you that you know how to set healthy, functional boundaries, which sets a great example and helps to align their expectations of you. Self-care makes you more effective. When you take time for yourself, and give your body the food, rest, and activity it needs, you will have more energy to meet the demands of daily life. Much like refuelling the engine of your car, self-care activities refuel your body and mind. Bringing more balance to your daily routine will help you be more productive and more resilient to stressors.
- Resources: Think about resources in the broadest context – e.g. information, social, financial, support services both statutory and voluntary and other people – what do they bring…. Here are some questions that might help –
- What information is available? What information can I share that I have learned over this year?
- What practical support is out there?
- Who can support with practical issues? How can I support others – what has worked so far?
- Who can support with emotional wellbeing?
- What do I know helps me?
- Structure and Plans: Having control over the things in your control and letting go of trying to control the things that you cannot. Here are a few ideas: Write down some answers for yourself to get the ball rolling….
- How do I currently create work life balance – is it in balance?
- What changes do I need to make – write them down – What do I want for the future
- How do I make sure I have rest time social time and work time.
7. Generate a wellness Action Plan.
Contact us for more information on how we can help staff talk about mental health in a supportive and safe environment. We are using online workshops to encourage development of knowledge for anxiety depression and also skills to manage increased uncertainty, worry and burnout. A good starting point are Wellness Action Plans.
Wellness action plans (WAPs) are an easy, practical way of helping you to support your own mental health at work. If you are a manager, they are also a useful tool in helping you to support the mental health of your team members.
Covering London & the South East in Person and UK & Europe via Online Services
Kim and Carrie
+44 (0) 7510 223561 – +44(0) 07549 857216
We cover businesses and organisations across London & the South East. Individual therapy online or face to face all while still providing support for our front-line services working as NHS Mental Health Professionals & the chosen provider for South East Coast Ambulance Service ( SECAMB )
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