Getting Strategic On Mental Health

So much of our lives is spent at work that it is unsurprising to see increasing evidence emerge that shows it can have an enormous impact on our mental wellbeing. Just last month, a survey by CV-Library showed that over a third (35.2%) of the nation’s workers are suffering from mental health issues including anxiety and depression, with 43% admitting that their job is a key contributor to these feelings.

Of course, many of us will have emotional pressures from our personal lives too – relationship stress, financial worries, concerns about children or ageing parents, or simply the day-to-day burden of never having enough time.  It only takes one or two of these factors, either in the workplace or at home, to go awry, and we might find our mental wellbeing suffering.

The smart employer recognises this and seeks to address it – and the savviest are being strategic about it.  We are seeing a rise in the number of clients who are integrating mental wellbeing into their overarching strategy.

So how are they being strategic?   And can your organisation glean any ideas on how to go about it?

Creating A Super-Team

The starting point of a more strategic approach for many organisations is creating cross-functional teams to explore what is needed to support mental wellbeing in their particular workforce. Typically, the functions involved are HR, Health and Safety, and Learning and Development – the functions that are the most commonly affected by any dip in mental health amongst staff.

For HR, the impact is felt in sickness absence figures, which will often rise when mental health is suffering, and, of course, presenteeism where individuals are physically showing up to work but are mentally elsewhere because they are preoccupied with their troubles. Both absence and presenteeism take an inevitable toll on productivity, creativity and outcomes.  And, of course, HR’s place on the team is ensured because the function will almost certainly have existing involvement in organisational wellbeing because of its remit for managing human capital.

Health and Safety join the cross-functional team because accidents are more likely to occur if mental health is poor.  It may be that an individual is finding it hard to sleep because of their worries, that their preoccupation is such that they lose concentration on tasks, or that they are simply less able to deal with the day-to-day stress and busy-ness of a shift – all of these factors put them at increased risk of accidents or mistakes, which may harm their safety or that of others.  It is a concern that is common to the Health and Safety function in many sectors – manufacturing, the NHS, construction, and social care may be very different in nature, but accidents and mistakes can have catastrophic effects in them all.

Finally, Learning and Development is included because this team is expert in training, both from a delivery and strategic perspective.  The function will have a map of existing mental health initiatives that are being offered across an organisation and it may take on the provision of training in mental wellbeing.  That might come in the form of taking a lead with a specialist like The Wellbeing Project, who would deliver an initiative, or it might be the function participates in a ‘Train the Trainer’ programme so that any mental wellbeing activity is delivered in-house.

Mapping Out Provision

The expertise that sits in each of these functions is such that there is great value and power in pulling them together to focus on mental wellbeing.  In combination, they make up a super-team whose components have knowledge and understanding that complement one another and gives a deeper insight into what might be needed.

The next step is mapping out what the organisation requires.

For some clients, this is about making their mental wellbeing programmes more uniform and structured. In organisations that have already taken steps to support mental wellbeing, the provision can be patchy and disjointed – possibly delivered in an ad-hoc manner at some sites, but not others.   Taking a strategic view means that a programme is available to the entire workforce.

Strategy also involves considering the needs of that specific organisation, both in terms of delivery and logistics.

The content, language, pace, and format need to be right for their particular sector and company. The content and delivery that works for a financial institution is likely to differ from a construction firm, which will differ again from a public sector body.

Fine Tuning

In terms of logistics, it is thinking about how a mental wellbeing programme will be delivered.  If an organisation has opted to put in place mental health first aiders – existing members of staff who have been trained to offer timely support to colleagues who are experiencing mental health difficulties – then it is working out how many are needed.  Or it might be pinning down the number of workshops that are delivered to staff or managers and when they can be delivered to minimise disruption to business.

Some organisations introduce modules on mental health awareness to their induction programmes to ensure new starters have the right mindset from the outset.

The third element to an organisation’s strategy is to pilot their offering so that there is an opportunity to fine tune it.   This is where the delivery is tested in terms of content and format to ensure that it meets the need, and is appropriate for the culture of that organisation and sector.  It makes sense that an organisation which is investing significant time, money and energy in a mental wellbeing programme, will ensure the initiative is as effective as possible.

Those who take a strategic approach are likely to find that the return on investment (ROI) will be much greater than organisations that don’t – and that return is likely to be considerable.  An article published in The Lancet showed that a manager mental health training programme had a significant impact on absence, with a ROI of nearly £10 for each pound spent – and that is on absence alone, without considering returns on other metrics.

The business case is clear, which is why a rising number of employers are being proactive and focusing their efforts on being more strategic in this area. If it is not already doing so, isn’t it time that your organisation did the same?

For those who need help in setting a strategy or delivering mental wellbeing programmes, get in touch with us by emailing team@thewellbeingproject.co.uk or telephone +44 (0)800 085 6899 today.

 

Money, Money, Money…

Does your organisation see a spike in sickness absence towards the end of the month? If so, it’s a sign that employees’ financial wellbeing is far from healthy.

The Wellbeing Project’s money coach, Jo Thresher, says absence at the end of a month is a common sign of financial difficulties.  ‘People are not making it to payday and they can’t afford the bus or train fare or to fill up on petrol to come into work.  Or it can be that the stress caused by financial worries peaks at the end of the month and so does the illness ratio, with the level of duvet days increasing,’ she says.

It is a myth that financial worries only affect those at the lower end of the pay scale, says Jo.  In fact, financial wellbeing – and lack of it – cuts across every part of an organisation, regardless of salary level.  The CIPD’s Employee Financial Wellbeing report from 2017 showed that a fifth of employees earning £45,000 to £59,999 were so worried about finances that it affected their ability to do their job.

‘It can affect anyone at any time.  I’ve seen business people who have run up their company credit card with food shopping because they have run out of money,’ says Jo.

On the face of it, this is hard to understand. How can someone who is paid £50k per annum face financial problems in the same way that someone on £20k does?  Jo says that the causes for money woes may differ, but the symptoms of the resulting worry and stress can be the same.

All Salary Levels

Examples that have arisen for higher earners during Jo’s workplace sessions have included difficulties caused by paying for children’s private education, divorce, making poor investment decisions and lifestyle choices.

‘People at that level often feel they are expected to have and do certain things, such as go skiing twice year, have a new car or the latest phone,’ says Jo.  ‘There are always shiny new things to buy.’

Those on a lower salary face financial pressures for different reasons.  Jo says they are often good at budgeting because they do it so frequently, but they may find it hard to make ends meet because their bills outstrip their income and they are often unaware of help available.

‘They don’t know what they don’t know. They may not realise that moving a lot will affect their credit rating.  Or they don’t realise how much childcare vouchers will save them or how much benefit a pension will bring, because nobody teaches this to us. They are so busy thinking about the short term – putting food on the table and paying the bills – that they don’t think about the long term,’ says Jo.

The Extent Of The Problem

Whatever financial problems are being faced by individuals, a growing body of evidence shows that anxiety about finances leads to poorer mental, physical and social wellbeing, which can affect attendance and performance at work.

A report last year –  Financial Well-being in the Workplace: A Way Forward by the Financial Advice Working Group for HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority showed that 90% of employers agreed that financial concerns have an impact on workplace performance. Research by Willis Towers Watson in 2016 found higher levels of financial stress result in higher absenteeism – in Europe, nearly seven work days a year were lost to absence in a group with high financial stress, compared with three days a year in a low financial stress group.  The 2017 report from Willis Tower Watson finds that employees who are troubled by their finances are twice as likely to be in poor health as those who declare themselves financially ‘unworried.’ They also report considerably higher stress levels, more absence and presenteeism, and significantly lower levels of work engagement.

In total, financial stress costs the UK economy £121 billion and 18 million working hours in time off work each year, found 2016 research by Neyber.

Neyber’s The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2017 report revealed that finances were the biggest worry facing employees, with a third saying they had money concerns.  This is borne out by MetLife’s 2017 UK version of its Employee Benefits Trends study, which found that 39% of employee respondents are living payday to payday and 34% are distracted at work by financial concerns.

And a 2017 white paper Employee Financial Wellbeing – Time To Do More by The Bank Workers Charity found that almost half of all employees worry that they will be unable to retire, given the state of their finances, and one in three loses sleep because of this. It also found that one in four workers say they have lost sleep over money worries in general.

An Emotional Issue

A large part of the problem is that people often stick their head in the sand. Jo says that our relationship with money is complicated and an emotional issue that many find it hard to address.

People find it scary and boring and there can be an element of shame involved.  The British often don’t want to talk about money and everyone thinks that everyone else is doing it much better than them.

‘Those who earn more often feel a lot of shame – they feel they are good at their job so should be good with money and often people don’t want to admit that they are in the same situation as those they are managing,’ says Jo.

There is also a reluctance to seek help because many are worried that the organisations they might approach for guidance or support would try to sell them something.  Yet they feel unable to address it themselves – Jo says that adults in the UK have an average financial numeracy of a 9-year old. Even those who feel they have the ability to tackle the problems often cite time shortage as a reason they don’t.

Finding  Solutions

All these elements combine to render individuals stressed, anxious and disempowered.  This is where Jo can help.  Her sessions provide strategies, tools, and techniques to get employees back on track.  They include guidance on how to make more of what you have, tackling debt, financial planning including for retirement, government or employer schemes such as childcare financial support, and how to get on or move up the housing ladder.  She signposts to reputable outside sources of help and cuts through the jargon for those who find financial language confusing.

‘It’s not about getting people rich quick; it’s about meeting the person where they are.   I’ll say: “Where are you on the ladder of money and can I get you onto the next rung?”. That might be out of debt onto zero or from zero to having emergency savings,’ says Jo.

Financial wellbeing is a problem that is not going to disappear anytime soon.  In fact, it is getting worse.  An internet survey conducted for the Money Advice Trust (MAT) found that more people will struggle with their finances this January than last year – 16% said they were likely or very likely to fall behind with their finances in January 2018, as a result of Christmas spending. That amounts to 7.9 million people, the MAT said, and compares with 11% in a similar poll last year.

Such figures suggest that, for those employers who are not already addressing the financial wellbeing of their workforce, now is a good time to start.

To find out more about how Jo and The Wellbeing Project can help support your workforce’s financial wellbeing, go to: https://thewellbeingproject.co.uk/ourservices/wellbeing-workshops-resources/financial-wellbeing/

Beating The January Blues

While January marks the start of a new year and a chance to ‘turn over a new leaf’, it’s also a month when the short days and long dark evenings can start to take their toll on our general mood. With a dismally low average hours of sunshine (54, in case you’re interested), our outlook can quickly become considerably less than ‘sunny’.

We’ve listed 5 top tips to help you beat the January blues:

  1. During the dark winter months, lack of sun can result in low levels of vitamin D.  Vitamin D is widely recognised as an important mood booster.  It helps keep bones and teeth healthy and supports a strong immune system.  Luckily we can easily top up by ensuring we include a few specific foods in our day-to-day diet – dairy, eggs and oily fish, not to mention fortified cereals, are all good sources of this vital vitamin.
  2. Dull, wintry days can leave us wanting to do nothing more than stay indoors, preferably hunkered down on a cosy sofa.  We tend to exercise less during the colder months of the year and this can result in us feeling slow and sluggish, our mood may dip and we could find ourselves more prone to stress and anxiety.  Shake off the negative funk by wrapping up warm and heading outdoors – even a brisk half hour walk at lunchtime can help us reset and re-energise.  Not to mention, we might even manage to catch some midday sunshine, if we’re lucky!
  3. If you’ve not already done so, review your calendar and plan how and when you’ll take your holiday through the course of the year.  Many people delay booking holiday into their diary simply because it feels ‘too early’ to think about it.  However, getting organised and scheduling some important downtime (even if it’s just a long weekend) means you’re more likely to spread your leave evenly through the year and you’ll be better able to plan your workflow around it.  Having something to look forward to in the calendar is a useful reminder that everything passes, even the most challenging of days.
  4. Consider the people in your wider support network – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours. These are often the people we rely on to help us in our day-to-day life.  Make a point of thanking them in person for the role they play in helping you juggle all your priorities.  This may sound like another thing to add to your To Do list, but you’ll be amazed at how warmly your thanks will be received and the positive buzz you’ll get from this.
  5. If the dark evenings are starting to all feel a bit ‘samey’ reframe them as an opportunity to do something different – read a new book, try out a new recipe, clear out a drawer or cupboard… Notice how it feels to do something new and different.  Winter nights don’t have to be dull and boring, they can actually be a time to learn something new about yourself!
Seasonal wishes

Seasons Greetings!

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and all the best to you and your families for a happy New Year.

Thank you to all our clients for inviting us to contribute to their programmes – 2017 has brought many new and exciting projects and we’ve enjoyed every single one of them.

The Christmas and New Year break provides many with an opportunity to press pause and switch off from the drumbeat of working life.
We hope you return after your break feeling refreshed and ready for all that 2018 has to offer.

Our office will be closed from Saturday 23 December, reopening Tuesday 2 January.

Our diary for 2018 is already filling up, so if your ideas for next year are taking shape, please get in touch to find out how we can support you.

With best wishes for the festive season,

The Wellbeing Project Team

How to Talk to the Top Team About Wellbeing

When it comes to wellbeing at work, one of the obstacles facing many organisations is how to get the message through to those who hold the purse strings and wield the most power. Persuading the executive team that wellbeing is important can be a tough sell.

So how do you do it?

A good starting point is to think about what is important to them and place wellbeing in that context. Clearly, this will vary depending on the culture of the organisation and the priorities of the board.  For example, persuading the top team of a charity to invest in wellbeing may require a different approach to that of a legal firm. If board members are focussed on certain goals, such as profit, then make the business case accordingly.

All organisations need to make the balance sheet work so using evidence that shows a return on investment will help. Statistics and reports can help executive teams to take it as seriously as they undoubtedly should.

For example, when the government-commissioned report Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers was published in October 2017, it made headlines, and rightly so. The independent review of mental health and employers, which was carried out by Lord Dennis Stevenson and mental health charity Mind CEO Paul Farmer, revealed the extent of the problem facing workplaces. It says that stigma persists around mental ill-health and it prevents open discussion on the subject, which results in the UK facing a significant mental health challenge at work.

Evidence

The Thriving at Work report is packed with figures that can help make the case. For starters, the large annual cost to employers is between £33 billion and £42 billion, with over half of the cost coming from presenteeism – when individuals are less productive due to poor mental health in work – with the rest of the cost coming from sickness absence and staff turnover.

More valuable evidence for helping to persuade the top team that they should invest in the workforce’s mental wellbeing comes in a separate piece of work from Deloitte. The report Mental Health and Wellbeing in Employment was carried out as part of the Thriving at Work report and it analysed the return on investment at organisations that had put money into improving wellbeing at work.

The analysis shows that those who do this consistently see a positive return on that investment.

On p24, Deloitte sets out in detail how much ROI was achieved. The smallest return was 8:1 and the largest was 10:1.

Another piece of work published in The Lancet revealed the same.  It showed that a manager mental health training programme had a significant impact on absence with an ROI of nearly £10 for each pound spent.

Mind Your Language

Another approach in helping to convince the top team that they should support wellbeing initiatives is to talk in their language. Words such as ‘wellbeing’ might be too intangible and perhaps even fluffy to some senior management teams – so translate it into language they understand. Identify any words that might be off-putting to the top team and edit them out of your communications.

Of course, a strong awareness and understanding of the language used within an organisational culture will also be fundamental in designing a wellbeing campaign, so it is work that needs to be done anyway.  Doing it early should help you secure the funding required for any initiatives, so study the turns of phrase the board or top team use on a regular basis in its communications, either written or verbal, and make use of them. For example, the board may want to the company to have ‘a competitive edge’ and be ‘results driven’ and be ‘an employer of choice’ – all of these can succeed or fail depending on culture and the workforce’s health.

Again, use any reports or evidence to build the case.  For example, The Mental Health at Work report 2017 by Business in the Community talks about there being a gap between the vision for mental health in the workplace and the reality (p9) – the savvy organisation will see that gap as an opportunity to secure a competitive edge.

Keeping It Real

Where possible, use real examples within the organisation to show the board how what matters to them most – their business goals – are being affected. Are there hot spots of high absence or complaints? If so, there is a good chance that stress is high and presenteeism is a problem.

Translate the national statistics into relevant figures for your organisation. The Mental Health at Work report 2017 found that 20% of those studied had experienced mental health issues in the last month – how does that translate into the effect it might have on one business area? For example, a factory employing 150 on the manufacturing floor means that 30 individuals have had problems within the last month.  Those problems may not resolve themselves of their own accord – what impact might that have on productivity?

Educate the top team where it’s required. Gaining and maintaining a competitive edge means fostering a growth mindset to create a sustainable high-performance culture. Challenge and pressure will not disappear and the constant flux surrounding organisations – such as economic shifts, political change and Brexit uncertainty – means they need to be consistently adaptable if they are to stay ahead of the game and their competitors.

Helping a workforce to do this might involve teaching them techniques and strategies to remain resilient when faced with change and challenge. Holding on to that invaluable growth mindset allows individuals and teams to remain motivated and engaged, being able to implement new ways of doing things while also being able to identify emerging opportunities in the midst of flux – and then moving quickly to take advantage of those.

TWP has a range of mental health resources that can help an organisation to teach employees strategies and techniques that will enable them to stay resilient and maintain their mental wellbeing.   Get in touch to find out how we might be able to help you.

Promoting Wellness at Work

2017 has seen wellbeing gain traction on the boardroom agenda.  While absence from work effectively creates a ‘gap’ in your pool of talent, presenteeism can have an equally destructive impact, draining productivity and stopping growth and innovation in their tracks.  So, it’s very encouraging to read Peter Simpson’s article on promoting wellness at work.  As CEO of Anglian Water, and chair of the BITC’s wellbeing task force, for Peter it wasn’t just a case of reducing absence, but also about tackling the growing costs of medical benefits offered to staff.  At Anglian Water the choice was clear – it was time to think differently about keeping people well at work.

To read the full article, click here. 

October Special Offer

In this month’s newsletter, our special offer is 20% off our 5 Pillars of Resilience Masterclass, for a cohort of up to 12.

For a chance to be one of the first 5 to register and qualify for this offer, please get in touch, quoting code NL10, by emailing team@thewellbeingproject.co.uk

 

Can Digital Tech Aid Wellbeing?

For better or worse, digital is integrated into the fabric of modern society, both in our work and personal lives. On a single mobile device, the fusion of professional and private is evident; many of us will receive work emails on our phones as well as having wellbeing apps, perhaps for fitness or productivity.

Digital tech can be a real boost to wellbeing, but, when there are so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. So what do those in the know favour when it comes to wellbeing apps? We asked our team members to share the tech they like best and why

  • I have used the Headspace app, MyFitnessPal and also often use Runkeeper. – Becky Tilney
  • I use Endomondo for my fitness and wellbeing. It’s really easy to use and accurate. It’s also free from the android play store. – Helen Brown
  • I use Map My Walk so I can keep track of ‘proper’ walking that I do in a day. It gives me map of where I’ve been, gradient, distance and time. It’s very useful and, I think, better than a step counter, which doesn’t differentiate between brisk walking and pottering about the house.  Jo Fielder
  • I do home yoga practice with an app called ‘Find What Feels Good’. I highly recommend it.  Helen Beckingham
  • The biggest change I have made is moving the phone charger downstairs and buying a cheap alarm clock on Amazon. This makes it hard for me to surf social media in the evenings, and creates the space to read. I am usually in bed and reading by 2120 and lights out 2140. If I don’t get into that routine, getting up at 0530 becomes difficult. I’ve developed that routine using the Productive App.  Roderic Yapp
  • I use the ‘Productive’ app as a way of tracking habits I am keen to build. You can personalise it and use it as a check to see how you’re measuring up against your ‘intended habits’. – Roderic Yapp
  • I use Headspace for Mindfulness, which is good but not free once you get past the first area. The Fitbit app is great, but you need to purchase a Fitbit to get the best out of it. The Calm app is good for relaxation. – Jeanette Pratt
  • I use my Apple watch for tracking/counting my steps. It reminds me to stand up and walk around if I’ve been sedentary for too long, which I find really helpful as it can be easy to lose hours glued to the office chair. – Gemma Walton
  • I use Headspace every day. Otherwise, I make a conscious effort to switch off from phone use outside of work time. – Jo Houchin

It is not only individuals who can benefit from apps. We shared this article on our LinkedIn company page recently about how apps are helping HR and employers to approach wellbeing at work.

 

Mental Wellbeing – Bridging The Workplace Gap

Many organisations believe that, in their own workforce, mental ill health is not much of a problem. But this isn’t usually the case.

Traditionally, evidence has shown that that having no job was a factor in poor mental health because being in employment provides structure, purpose and focus, but increasingly we are seeing peoples’ mental health being jeopardised by work.

Last summer, the CIPD published a report that highlights trends in mental health in the workplace.  As the report’s infographic shows here, the CIPD found that the number of employees who say they have experienced mental health problems whilst in employment is on the up – in 2011 it was at 26%, but last year it had risen to three in ten.

The causes are not solely work-related – 7% have problems at work, with 37% saying their mental health is affected by worries in their personal life.  For 54% it was a combination of problems at work and personal life causing them difficulties. Irrespective of the cause, the net result for organisations is the same – performance and productivity suffers.  As the CIPD highlights, 85% stated that it was difficult to concentrate and 64% said it took them longer to complete tasks.

Speaking up

Whilst the number of employees who said their organisation supports staff with mental health problems well has improved since 2011, the increase has been only minor. Similarly, the number of people who say their employer deals with it badly has only gone down by a tiny amount, from 21% in 2011 to 20% in 2016.

Perhaps it is unsurprising then that there has been no change over the past five years in the proportion of people who would disclose stress or mental health problems to their manager or employer – 57% said they would keep it to themselves.

These statistics show that it is no longer viable for an organisation to say that there are no mental health problems in their workplace. Those issues are present; the question is, to what degree? Poor mental health is affecting employees and their performance – it may be happening beneath the radar, but it is happening nonetheless.   If it impacts 31% of employees as the survey suggests, think about what that means for your organisation.  How many people make up a third of your workplace? And what steps will your organisation take to tackle it?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to mental wellbeing – a workforce will have different pressures outside and inside work, depending on their role, life stage and domestic set-up. So, rather than try to force a solution that may not fit, many organisations opt to run a mental health programme with the aim of getting people to talk about it.

Once employees feel they will be supported, in whatever form that might take, they will speak up. Looking after the wellbeing of employees benefits everyone – no matter whether you have a mental health issue, or not.

Please click here to read more about our Mental Wellbeing suite of workshops.

 

Top Tips for Good Mental Wellbeing

What’s the best way of maintaining mental health?  We asked some of our team to share what works for them.

  • “I tend to manage my mental wellbeing by noticing and acting on early warning signs or symptoms of a dip in my mood or behaviour. For example, if I’m angry or frustrated, I try to consider how important any worries or concerns are in the wider scheme of things; is it actually important, especially when there is often so much to be grateful for? If it is, I schedule some time to consider how I could respond helpfully to the situation. If it’s not important, I make a decision to forget about it or let it go. If I feel tired or sad and there isn’t anything of real significance that I’m worried about, I know I need time to recharge my batteries. This could be as simple as making sure I get some extra sleep, or it may mean the opposite – perhaps going out with some friends who make me laugh and fire up my mental and emotional energy and wellbeing. Above all, I tell myself that moods/feelings are not fixed, they change like the wind, so I try not to over-analyse the situation.” – Sam Fuller
  • “My tips are exercise and meditation – done first thing in the day so they’re never missed.”  – Roderic Yapp
  • “I find the best thing for my mental (and physical) wellbeing is to go for a walk. This is something I have only been doing for 6 months or so, but I find a good 1.5 mile through the woods before I sit at my desk is incredibly beneficial. If I have the energy to do the same at the end of the day, I do. I’ve spent time NOT doing this, and the difference is quite marked.
  • Secondly, I have a regular chat with myself when the guilt starts to kick in about spending time away from my desk. Is the world going to fall apart if I disappear for 30 mins, one hour, or even half a day? The answer is always no. And I use this time to do something I really enjoy, which is normally jumping on a horse.” – Jo Fielder
  • “Reflecting is fine but anything more isn’t helpful to me.  Using the Mindfulness app still helps me do this or at least gives my brain a reset.
  • I’ve also been experimenting with trying to be actively kinder. Last week, I saw a woman struggling to get her car out of a space and I got out of my car to help her avoid a wall.  Interestingly, she didn’t appear grateful but that wasn’t the point – I felt better.  I’m working up to paying for someone’s shopping bill in the supermarket queue but that needs a bit more courage and explanation!” – Rob Wheeler
  • “I love taking a walk or a run outside.  Luckily, our dog loves this too, so it has become easier to make a habit out of getting into nature, and getting away from screens and calls.
  • Also, finding and savouring at least three moments of joy every day.  For me, these include a cup of really good coffee, my daily fix of the Archers (preferably while in the bath) and enjoying the scenery as I drive around. It’s a mix of mindfulness and gratitude and really resets my mood.” – Clare Moore
  • “Without regular walks, I would go stir crazy!  I value the time for physical exercise but also thinking.  I often ‘prime’ my walk with a question or thought – e.g. if I have a particular challenge with a client – and just allow the connections in my brain to happen ‘off-line’.
  • I try to start my day with 20 minutes of Yoga, using free YouTube videos called Yoga with Adriene, who is brilliant.” – Helen Beckingham
  • “Getting out in nature helps me.  Walk, swim, cycle, or picnic, it doesn’t matter as long as I experience fresh air, fresh smells and reset my brain.
  • I also have gadget-free time every day – turn off that phone and tablet, concentrate on the here and now, and who is with me at that time. And I aim to laugh – a lot!
  • I have a faith so time spent in prayer is also very important for my mental wellbeing.” – Helen Brown
  • “My top tip is gratitude. Everyday mental wellbeing for me comes from being thankful for what I already have. If I ever feel stressed or that things aren’t going quite my way, I make sure I take some time to appreciate the good things in my life that I would usually take for granted, like my health, my comfortable home, having enough food to eat, or even tiny things like being able to make a hot cup of tea! By recognising those positives that not everyone is lucky enough to have, I naturally feel happier and more energised through the day.
  • Also, I find that spending time around animals really helps to put stressful situations into perspective and aid my mental wellbeing. Pets generally have very simple needs, and so are brilliant at reminding us of what’s important in life.” – Gemma Walton
  • “I pause every evening to watch my kids sleeping. It centres me and reminds me what really matters. And every day I pay attention to, and notice, something going on in the world around me. It might be the smell of summer, a kid laughing, or listening to the birds – often, it’s connected to nature.” – Becky Tilney
  • “Caffeine control.  Over the years, I’ve learned that coffee can be a false friend for me and I now ensure I limit the caffeine I take on board, particularly after midday. Switching to herbal teas and water has seen me become calmer and less prone to fluctuating mental energy levels and emotions.
  • Making sure I have enough sleep is another tip.  Sleep has always impacted on how I feel about life in general and too little or poor quality sleep makes me prone to more negative thinking.  I tend to be up most week-days around 6.30am, so I’ve identified an ideal regular bed-time and work back from that to ensure I’m starting to relax and prepare for sleep through the evening.  It’s not always possible to achieve this, but if I can get four good nights’ sleep in a week, this helps ensure I keep things in perspective.” – Desiree Ashton

A common thread amongst these top tips is that most of them trigger our ‘reward’ state, which is the opposite of the ‘threat’ or stress response.  If regular rituals can be built into a busy life to trigger reward – even if they are small – then they offset the stress response that so many us face in meeting day-to-day challenges.  These habits re-centre us and minimise the risk of occupying the ‘stress’ space as a default setting, which is one of the dangers of an ‘always on’ 21st century lifestyle.

Each of us have different ways of achieving this, as is evident in these tips.