Monthly Archives: May 2016

Dear-Stress

Learning to handle stress like a pro – techniques to avoid Professional Burnout

StressLast Tuesday we videoed a Mental Health Essentials Masterclass. One of the attendees asked, “How can we take care of ourselves when we seem to cop so many complaints within such a short time?”. She was concerned about being able to withstand the pressure. She was afraid of professional burnout.

Her concerns are well founded. No matter how much you enjoy your job, there are times when pressure or stress can start to take an emotional toll on you. It is important to be able to spot the symptoms associated with professional burnout.

Burnout occurs after a prolonged period of stress under which a person feels that their emotional resources are not good enough to endure or overcome the obstacle. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and a host of emotional and physical symptoms.

Let’s take a look at Jim, for example. Jim is a healthcare professional who is very committed to his job and genuinely cares for the patients he sees on a daily basis. His job is rewarding but he is also often witness to pain, confusion and sadness as his patients are often ill or dying. Jim works long hours and often takes work home with him or comes in on days off just to check in. Over time the emotional strain begins to build up until eventually Jim starts to feel exhausted, unmotivated, and helpless. He starts to experience sleepless nights, jaw clenching, and elevated blood pressure. His family and friends worry that he “isn’t his usually happy self.”


You can read more on workplace stress….


Jim is experiencing burnout caused by prolonged stress that he did not take the time to deal with properly. There are two important actions Jim needs to take: a) review his work and look for improvements where possible, and b) make sure he obtains relief from the pressure on a regular basis. There are several self-care actions that you can put into place before letting burnout take hold. Self-care is the practice of activities that individuals perform on their own behalf to maintain life, health and well-being. Jim was dedicated to his career and to his patients, but he neglected to take care of his own personal needs.

You can start by taking the first few minutes of each day and making them about you. Most people rise from their beds at the sound of an alarm clock and immediately start to “work.” They might get dressed, check e-mail, care for a spouse or child and rush out the door quickly. Instead, take the first ten or fifteen minutes of each day for meditation, or reflection. Spend time mentally preparing yourself for the day by focusing on positive thoughts.

Another way to practice self-care is to be mindful of your diet and exercise. Proper nourishment gives us energy and stamina to get through our day. Building a healthy body through wholesome foods and physical activity decreases the chance of sickness, improves sleep and makes us feel happier.

Limit the burdens you place on yourself. Do not take on more than you can reasonably do in a day and enlist the help of people that care about you when you feel overwhelmed. Do not stay connected to your technology all day long, occasionally take a break. It’s alright to be “unreachable” from time to time. Remember that by not focusing on your own needs and your own health you could be impacting your ability to do your job or take care of your loved ones. By practicing self-care you will become healthier, more positive and more focused than ever before.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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3 Occasions Managers Should Not Be Trained in Mental Health

3 Occasions Managers Should Not Be Trained in Mental HealthEven though there’s enough evidence now pointing to the fact that managers are key to an organisation’s mental health, and that having good mental health in the workplace actually contributes to the bottom line, this doesn’t mean all managers should be trained in mental health.

Granted, most managers would do well in getting specialised manager mental health training, but not in all cases. And here are 3 of those cases:

1. If the manager’s a dick

Yes, you heard right. Sorry I had to get rough. But I hear all the time from people how they’ve been hurt by a boss who didn’t care how their actions impacted on others. Or worse, how they seemed to relish hurting other team members. No amount of training is going to get someone to care when they enjoy hurting others.  If a manager has psychopathic leanings and actually enjoys making people suffer, then good mental health training is wasted on such a person. The most effective thing to do with this type of manager is to remove them from the organisation quickly.

Then the organisation should provide good quality, empowering mental health education for the rest of the people, to help undo the damage caused by such individuals.


Read more on workplace mental health issues….


2. If the organization is not committed

If an organisation’s CEO and leadership team are not on board with good mental health training and don’t see it’s impact on it’s bottom line, (or ‘mental wealth’ as we like to call it), then it’s probably not going to be as effective, since managers could be caught in the double bind of having more knowledge than their bosses but lacking the authority to act on it.

How this problem would be addressed is by someone in the leadership team championing the mental health cause. Preferably the CEO but usually the Director of HR or the Director of WHS. (PS. If you need help preparing for this or you would like to brainstorm ideas with me, please contact my office for a chat)

3. If the training is illness based

A lot of workplace mental health education is ‘illness’ based. It focuses on disability not ability. This type of message is not only wrong and unethical but it undermines the manager’s ability to manage and drive their team.

To improve a team’s ability to produce, and impact the bottom line, it’s mental wealth, the manager needs to know not just what to look for, how to identify mental health issues arising, but also how to utilise what’s coming up in their team effectively, and how to create a healthy workplace that will support the person to stay at work and build their resilience, rather than responding by sending the person away til they are ‘better’.

In the field of mental health, there are two overarching approaches to mental health – one that is illness driven, the other one is strengths focussed. You do the math. You decide which one will provide you with the best tools to lead your team.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

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