Family walking through wind farm

5 Tips for Looking After Your Mental Health

So Energy

About 1 in 4 people experience some form of mental health problem each year in England, and this is steadily rising. At So Energy we believe in having an open dialogue around mental health to foster a more caring and pro-active community.

That’s why we recently joined our partner company ESB’s charity event Darkness Into Light. At sunrise, we walked into the light to help raise awareness around the impact of suicide. What started as 400 people walking in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2009, now takes place in over 15 countries across five continents with 200,000 people walking into the light, shedding the stigma around suicide and self-harm and spreading the power of hope.

It’s an amazing way for people to connect and bring hope to those impacted by such a devastating reality. We know it’s not just about tackling stigma - we need to encourage an environment in which people feel empowered to talk about their mental health and understand how to get help and support.

This Mental Health Awareness week we want to talk about ways to manage your mental health in the workplace and avoid burn out. At one point we all might experience some kind of crisis, and knowing how to get support is the first step.

1. Start your day more mindfully

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? If it’s reaching for your phone to aimlessly scroll through social media, you might want to rethink your routine. There’s already a lot of research into how smartphone usage affects feelings of anxiety and depression smartphone usage affects feelings of anxiety and depression- and it’s common for people to report feeling worse after scrolling social media due to thoughts of comparison and the dreaded FOMO that sometimes occupies our minds. Try ditching the phone and leaning into starting the day on a more positive note. This might mean 10 minutes of meditation or going for a short walk to connect with your surroundings. How you start has the power to set the tone for the entire day.

2. Know the support available - and use it

 Each role and workplace are different but if your workplace offers anything in the way of support, make sure you’re clued up. There might be additional services you can access for emotional support. Your manager may also be able to make reasonable adjustments that would enable you to get on top of things. At So Energy we offer different services for our staff that equip them with the skills to stay on top of their mental health. This involves access to a mental health coach and having on hand trained mental health first aiders. Your health is one of your most important assets. Give it the time and attention it needs.

3. Take time off and rest

 This one is self-explanatory, but unless you want to burn out, you should take off time when you can. Any holiday entitlement you have is yours to use and switch off from work. It might not always mean catching a flight to a sandy beach, sometimes you just need to take some time off to catch up on life admin, see friends and give yourself some R&R. Listen to your body because it really does keep score.

4. Set boundaries

 It’s essential to maintain a balance between your work and home life. When work is done, that’s your time to decompress. Depending on what type of work you do, ensuring work doesn’t spill over into your personal time allows you to maintain a healthy work/life balance. If you’re checking emails while out at dinner on a Saturday night, it might be time to set boundaries that put you first.

5. Get some fresh air

Sounds simple right? But if like many people your job involves looking at a screen for most of the day, getting outside for a walk in nature can do wonders for your mental health. Research has shown a link between access to green spaces and parks, with a reduced risk of mental health problems. For an added mental health boost, try mindfully taking things in, such as the smell of freshly cut grass or the sounds of the many bird songs.

We’re conscious of the many ways in which mental health problems can manifest and we believe that the first step in preventing or at least managing these issues is knowing how to find support. Our work with Darkness Into Light stems from this belief, and we hope to keep the conversation around mental health growing. Embracing these tips can help you be more pro-active when looking after your mental health at work and beyond.