Tag Archives: Workplace Stress

How-Mindfulness-Can-Help-Reduce-Stress-In-The-Workplace

How Mindfulness Can Help Reduce Stress In The Workplace

In mindfulness workshops, most people raise their hand when asked if they have heard of the word before and are able to describe mindfulness as being more present and calm. So it’s safe to say, Mindfulness has become a widely familiar term.

While participants see the value in feeling less stressed and not getting caught up in thoughts about the past or worries about the future, they do not know where to start and crave practical tools and guidance on how to be more present and feel calmer. For those who have tried mindfulness meditation before, some have given up after feeling like they’re ‘not good’ at it.

How-Mindfulness-Can-Help-Reduce-Stress-In-The-Workplace

Participants are surprised to learn that there is no right way of practicing mindfulness; it can be practiced at anytime, anywhere and in a number of different ways. Simply taking a few minutes before going to sleep, or on your commute home and focusing on your five senses, rather than scrolling through social media or responding to emails to exercise your brain, to support your mental health and wellbeing could be the small yet essential change that is needed to help prevent burning out.

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”

– Viktor Frankl

Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to improve memory, focus and concentration, improve our immune system functioning and sleep patterns, decrease ruminative thinking, increase self-awareness and our ability to regulate our emotions, empathise and see things from other people’s perspectives. Most importantly – it reduces stress. Practicing mindfulness deactivates the amygdala – (fight or flight response) responsible for stress, anxiety and fear and depression.

How? Through a process called neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability to change and re-wire itself. Improvements can be seen in as little as a day however structural changes to the brain can be seen on imaging scans after only 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness is essentially brain training – the more we practice tuning into the present, the better we become. The more we practice emotional-regulation, the better we become. The more we practice taking a breath before reacting, the better we become.

All good reasons to train your employees to become more mindful, right? If you are interested in running our Mindfulness At Work course for your team, please contact us at admin@thewmhi.com or give us a call.

Author: Tania Young
Tania Young

Tania is an experienced Mindfulness Facilitator who has delivered training to organisations across Australia. Tania is also a Human Resources professional with almost 10 years experience working for medium to large corporate businesses across different industries in London and Sydney. Tania combines her a wealth of HR knowledge and experience implementing wellbeing initiatives, to support employee wellbeing, drive engagement, performance and productivity.

shit-happens-in workplace

Beat Post Holiday Blues With These 5 Steps

Beat-Post-Holiday-BluesThe holidays can be hectic. And, since even positive stress is still stress, they can wear people out. Even if the people on your team had only positive experiences throughout the holiday season, heading back to work afterward can leave everyone feeling let down. Productivity and mental health in the office can both suffer as a result.

How Can You Tell People Have the Holiday Blues?

It’s not as simple as someone walking around with a glum look on their face. Most of us almost automatically keep a positive or at least neutral demeanor at work, even if we’re not really feeling it. Instead, you may see post-holiday depression manifest in other ways.
Sometimes, someone who usually does stellar work will turn in stuff that just meets the minimum requirements. Others may take longer than usual to get things done. Still others may avoid chatting, come in late or call in sick more often.

No matter how people are showing that they are in a slump, you as their manager can help them turn it around to make things more positive going into the new year.


Read more on holiday stress and wellbeing…


How to Battle the Blues

Putting a few policies and actions in place to start can get people out of a funk and back to being engaged and content at work. A few things that can help battle workplace depression:

1. Leave the out-of-town messages on.

When people come back to the office after a trip or a few days off for the holiday, let them know it is okay to keep their away messages on on their email and voicemail for another day or two. This gives them breathing room to catch back up with work and to get back into their routine before they are crushed with new incoming messages.

2. Show empathy.

Let people know that it’s okay for them to feel down in the wake of the holidays. Instead of worrying about wallowing, recognize that expressing emotions allows you to properly process them so that you can move on and get healthy. If you are feeling a bit of post-holiday workplace depression yourself, confide in your team members. They need to see that you trust them enough to express emotions to them and that you understand what they are feeling, too.

3. Cut everyone a little slack.

It’s perfectly normal for people to work a little slower or to make a few mistakes when they are just getting back from the holiday festivities. Be understanding when it happens. If people are feeling high stress because they are getting called out on mistakes, that will only multiple issues and make them last longer. In fact, it makes sense to lower goals for this time of year so that you account for time people spend out of the office as well as the time it takes to get them back into the groove.

4. Make healthy drinks and snacks available.

We all overindulge over the holidays. Whether it’s a bit too much to drink or suffering the effects of rich meal after rich meal, it doesn’t leave us feeling our best. Stock the break room with bottled water, seltzer, fruit and whole grain snack bars. People will appreciate the chance to keep themselves on post-holiday diets and to be able to forge healthy habits in the new year.

5. Make it possible for people to get out of work early.

When you’ve just spent a couple weeks at the beach or camping in the great outdoors, it can be hard to adjust to 10 hours a day in an airconditioned box, and an hour or two of public transport either side. If it is possible to offer a half-day here and there or stop work an hour early now and then, consider adding it. People will be grateful for both the extra free time and for the chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

The good news is that, after a while, people fall back into their normal routines. By making the transition back into work after the holidays easier, you can help people get back to normal faster and enjoy a healthier and more productive workplace.

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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women-with-mental-health-problem

Why 65% of people won’t get help if they have a mental problem

women with mental health problemThe reasons as to why people do anything, are many and complex. The research shows that around 65% of people won’t even seek treatment if they experience mental distress. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders. What about the many people in workplaces that don’t have a full blown mental disorder but are at risk? Here we look at three major reasons people have identified as to why they won’t ask for help.

It’s just stress. The most common mental disorders (anxiety and depression) tend to be insidious, in that they gradually worsen over time. Many sufferers don’t even realise they have a mental health issue, until it’s been months or even years since they’ve felt happy. It’s convenient for a sufferer to dismiss their situation as temporary or ‘just stress’. But there is a difference between ‘stress’ and something more serious.

Just suck it up. People tend to compare themselves with others, and if everyone else seems fine, then they don’t want to be the exception, or the ‘weak one’. People will compare themselves to their parents who ‘did it tough and never complained’. (The truth is that it’s likely they faced the same issues and felt the same way, it’s just that the conditions were less understood and there weren’t the resources widely available to assist.) It’s also very easy to feel inadequate when you’re seeing all your friends on social media, having a great time and appearing successful, when the reality is, that while few people share their fears and failures for all to see, they most certainly have them. When everyone around you seems to be coping and thriving, the act of admitting you need help and seeking it out can feel like you’ve failed somehow. And a lot of people would rather endure the symptoms than admit they need help.


Read more on workplace mental health and wellbeing….


Career suicide. Numerous surveys from Australia, the UK, US and Canada have shown that people with a mental health problems are unlikely to disclose it to their employer for fear of being treated less favourably. Even employment lawyers have been quoted advising employees to think twice before disclosing. Many employees believe that, if they disclose, they’ll be passed over for project and promotion opportunities, or that their ‘internal brand’ will be tarnished, or that the organisation will take steps to exit them.

As you can see, these are real concerns people have. There’s a need for management to take the lead and address these concerns lest them become part of the culture.

If you’d like Workplace Mental Health Institute to run the Suicide Prevention Skills course in your workplace, please Call us on (02) 8935 3885 or take the comprehensive self paced online course.

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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Peter-with-Lucas

A dummy in each hand and one in the mouth – values and the smart manager

Pedro Diaz with Lucas DiazToday I’m going to write a different type of blog. Stay with me. I had to share. This morning as I reached into my pocket I felt a weird, clunky thing. I didn’t know what it was but then it hit me, a dummy! My son’s dummy (“pacifier” for our international audience) How cute. It put a smile in my heart. I remembered that my son, Lucas, who is just a little over 2 years old, this morning had lots of dummies. Three to be precise. He had a dummy in each hand and one in his mouth. This morning he had to have all the dummies he could find. I found it interesting because he wasn’t distressed. So, I asked myself, why? and it dawned on me, ‘he just feels good with them’. He feels safe. But not just any kind of safe. These dummies make him feel safe emotionally. So much so that now, he treasures these dummies.He obviously doesn’t need that many dummies but he  appreciates them for what he feels they give him. Safety, peace, balance. Now, obviously the dummies don’t give him these feelings, he creates them out of association. And as a result, he also now feels grateful for the dummies. Lucas VALUES his dummies because, unknowingly, he values how they make him feel.


You can read more on workplace mental health and wellbeing….


Now I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of dummies for babies and children – this isn’t a parenting blog. But it made me think – what about us? Grown ups? Are we any different? Or similar? When most people think of work, their job, how do they feel? Most don’t look forward to going to work. Many even get anxious about going to work, like I did for many years. Why? If we let little people’s experience teach us, it’s because we have not linked the fulfillment of our values with what we do. We don’t think they are linked.

The smart manager will pay attention now. When people feel their values are being met in what they do, they become passionate. They are at peace with themselves. Happy. In short, it’s good for their mental health. Makes sense, right? So why isn’t this happening everywhere? Why aren’t managers helping people link their values to what they do? This is going to make them mentally healthy and more valuable employees, right?

The problem is, most managers don’t know this, and if they do, they don’t know where to start. The values conversation has been relegated to something the company does every couple of years that doesn’t mean much to anyone else but the leadership team. And it’s only a conversation about the company values, not the individual employee’s personal values. That’s what we need to change. We need to make values relevant to all our employees. We need to help them see how the values of the company relate to their individual values. We need to meaningfully engage them in the process of clarifying their own values, the values of the team and the values of the company. And then, the effective leader, will speak of them often. Regularly. Because these values have become your ‘why we do things the way we do around here’.

That makes for good mental health.

By the way, Lucas held onto the dummies until we arrived to childcare. And when we arrive he knows they go in his bag, where he can get them anytime he wants. But he’s usually having too much fun to think about them through the day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had as much fun at our workplaces as kids do at daycare?

PS if you want help to start a mentally healthy values conversation in your workplace, give me a call and I’ll get my team onto it.

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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Bullying in the workplace

Beware Declaring War on Bullying

Bullying in the workplaceA common mistake people make, especially at work, is to assume that it’s ‘others’ who are being a bully. And that bullying is an abuse of power by some other people more powerful than I. But this is self deceit. Many bullies don’t realise they are being a bully. It’s like having snot in the middle of your face, you are usually the last person to find out, right?

The same with acting like a bully. Ask yourself, ‘can I think of times when I’ve acted like a bully?’ before you answer rashly, think about this ‘do you like to be right?’ if you are not right, does it upset you? do you like rules? (but only your rules!)’ then it’s quite probable that, at times, you may have acted as a bully to others, even if you didn’t mean to.

Or think about it this way, have you ever taken it out on someone else? and you knew it wasn’t their fault but you had a go at them anyway? and what’s more, did you secretly enjoy it? (even if later you felt guilty about it) I think most of us have. By the way most people do. It’s not that we are bad people, it’s that we all have the potential to try to force our thoughts, actions and will onto someone else. It’s usually a response to our own fears and uncertainties.


Read more on workplace bullying….


One of the common scenarios we see in workplaces goes like this – someone doesn’t agree with a colleagues’ idea, opinion, or direction. For some reason, they feel it’s personal. They feel hurt, upset, disappointed, or frustrated. Now they start to see their colleague differently. As a evil, bad, some kind of bitch or bastard. A villain. And it’s ok to stop perpetrators, right? Don’t we have a moral obligation to stop them? …and the reasons for judging, labelling and attacking keep coming.

By the way, this is completely normal and to be expected when you have a group of people coming together to work on something. But if the person is not aware of what is going on, it may not be too long before they start to feel they are being bullied or victimised. And in response, they launch an all out attack on the colleague. Does this sound at all familiar? Now who is doing the bullying in this scenario? The wise person will catch themselves in this.

We need to be careful before we react, to make sure that we ourselves have not become a bully in response. This means a certain level of self awareness and self honesty is required. Rather than declare war on bullying, check to make sure you are responding with compassion, kindness, understanding and assertion, not aggression.

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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Post-Holiday-Downers

Warning – Post Holiday Downers About!

Post-Holiday-DownersA dear friend of mine called me two days ago. He said, ‘Peter, I haven’t been feeling too well (mentally). I think it’s because I’ve decreased my meds’. The interesting thing is, he’s not the only one that has expressed this. Maybe not in the same language, but the same kind of idea – stress, fatigue, exhaustion, “I need a holiday to recover from the holidays!”… that kind of thing. So what’s going on?

What’s happening is post-holiday-downers. No, it’s not a new diagnosis or symptom. It’s simply physics. We’ve pushed ourselves emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially onto the high of Christmas and New Year and now our bodies and psyches are returning us to our ‘normal’. But, physics being what they are, it demands that for every positive action there is an equal and opposite reaction – of the same impact. And that’s what people are noticing.

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So, no need to panic. It doesn’t mean you are developing a mental illness. Or that you are relapsing. Quite probably, if you get plenty of rest and water, you will be back to your normal within a few days. In the meantime, don’t give your thoughts and emotions too much authority over you. No need to give them meaning and analyse them. Remember, your body is just doing what it needs to do, getting you back to normal. It all works beautifully. Just breath deeply, be patient and ride it out.

By the way, I’ve spoken to my friend since, and it wasn’t the meds it was his diabetes. With all the eating, partying and drinking, his diabetes had gone haywire. Makes sense.

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:
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