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"Why we should be talking about mental health at work" with Rosa Ponce de Leon, Leadership Strategist

Why we should be talking about mental health at work

Somehow talking about mental health has become taboo, especially in the workplace. I hate to break it to you, but we all have sanity issues. And by ignoring them, we force ourselves into having a false sense of health. We go into survival mode and operate from a place of fight or flight.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close

Invest in your sanity now and take steps to maintain it.

Don’t wait until you’re on the brink of a breakdown to invest in your sanity. Take steps towards staying healthy every day. This goes for both you and your employees.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to be bored? We’re taught that boredom is a bad thing and that we constantly have to be in some state of movement, but a state of boredom actually allows for deeper thinking. Boredom gives us much needed time to slow down and process our thoughts and feelings.

We are a whole being, we can choose our thoughts but we often allow external stimuli to take control of our day. When we take charge and challenge ourselves in a deeper way, it feels satisfying and is key to keeping us sane, happy and fulfilled.

Are learned thinking patterns no longer serving you?

A lot of business owners have problems with two major learned thinking patterns: negative thinking and overthinking. Having a thinking pattern of negative thoughts leads to feeling stuck and anxious. How will we ever be able to grow our business if we always see the negative in everything? 

Another common learned thinking pattern is overthinking. We want to have success and are so scared of failure that we think and plan for every possible scenario. It’s a way that we try to control the outcome. But in doing so, we create more stress for ourselves.

Instead focus on being intentional with where you engage your brain. One way to do this is to practice mindfulness. Try sitting quiet for a few minutes each morning, before bed, or when you catch yourself feeling negative or starting to spin on an idea. Remember, sometimes you need to slow down to speed up, and that includes slowing down your thoughts too!

The ego has a job to protect you and will take over if you let it.

When you are stressed and in survival mode, you identify as someone who needs to be protected. Your ego will even start to say “no” to doing the things you enjoy because your ego sees it as one more thing being added to your plate.

Your body is designed to protect you and maintain your sanity. For example, if you’ve trained yourself to check your emails every two seconds and you decide to break that pattern, your ego says, “This isn’t you! Go check your emails.” You have good intentions to break a habit that’s causing you distractions, but your ego doesn’t see it that way. Instead, it’s detrimental because it takes your focus away from something else that’s more meaningful or productive.

Toxic positivity: Don’t be fake.

When you’re out of alignment, you might have the mindset to “fake it til you make it”. And if you’re not feeling mentally healthy, this can be a recipe for disaster and lead to a breakdown. Instead be honest and realistic with yourself and others when things are not okay. 

Lately there has been this movement for manifesting positive things into your life. While manifestation can be great, you also have to be realistic. For example, if you’re not financially well, you can intend to manifest wealth, but your bank statement may tell a different story. 

Have a plan to take action but be realistic in the present. Don’t blow your savings because you’re so confident that your money manifestation will bring you millions. You might just end up completely broke, which leads to feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Don’t identify your worth based on what can be manifested or not.

Toxic negativity: Don’t be a “Debbie Downer”

The opposite of toxic positivity is toxic negativity, aka being a “Debbie Downer”. This is best described as someone who masks the pain they are feeling but never looks to make it better. They have a hopeless existence.

In the same financial example as above, someone experiencing toxic negativity has a mindset that they will never be able to afford what they want, and they can’t take the action to make the changes. Unfortunately they associate their value and worth with not being able to do the things they want. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Mental health in the workplace

In summary, if you’re not taking the time to address mental health issues in the workplace, you’re setting your company up to take a big hit. We are all subject to sanity issues and it’s better to do our part to be mentally healthy before something worse happens. When you can create a culture where your employees feel safe to address these issues, everyone wins.

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