Mental health tips from the team
November’s the month that shines a light on male mental health. To mark the occasion, and to get more men talking about their wellbeing, two men on the NABS team share their real-life stories and tips.
Steve Rowe, lead senior support adviser
For me, two things spring to mind for looking after my own mental health:
- Exercise. You probably guessed that one. I find I can go through a working day being a bit tied to the laptop, so a daily dose of exercise – be that a HIIT, or just a good stretch – always feels very mindful at the time and I get a recharge for the rest of the day. Perhaps most noticeable when I don’t manage to do it and emphasizes the importance of breaking up the day up with some movement
- Like a lot of people, I haven’t really been seeing many friends or family in person recently. But at the weekend, I saw a friend and to both chat nonsense as well as share some of our shared challenges (work, young kids, impact of COVID) was unbelievably powerful. I suppose it’s tapping into my tribe. Previously taken for granted when seeing people in person was the norm, but was a cool reminder of the power of talking and offloading
Lewis Hill, senior digital marketing manager
I’d always thought of myself as pretty stoic, but after months of not leaving the house due to shielding, I started to see patterns forming. Good days sometimes followed bad weeks and vice versa. I was discovering my mental health had a range, rather than fixed position. I pinned that thought somewhere inside and remembered it. When I was feeling low, I could stop and think – is this a crap day, or a crisis? When good days came, I basked in them a little more, knowing they weren’t guaranteed.
There are a few things that I do to support myself during the lower times that might work for others too.
First of all, I recognise how important it is to acknowledge my feelings. It’s typical of us men to plough on only to find ourselves despairing weeks or months later.
Then, I share how I feel with someone. At NABS we say ‘bring your whole self to work’. Despite not stepping foot inside the office for nine months, we’re pretty good at upholding the spirit of that. We often give ourselves a rating out of ten for how we’re feeling. That can be an easy way to communicate your state of mind, if you don’t feel like sharing details.
Then, I change up my surroundings to experience something different.
Short walks help me a lot. Last week I saw a woodpecker, this week the police towing away a neighbour’s car. Who knows what you might see? It can help break you out of a negative cycle. If you can’t get out, how about letting the metaphorical sunshine in in other ways? Watch your favourite film, listen to a podcast episode you loved, or a playlist that makes you smile. Or take a chance on some new content – the next album you listen to might be your new favourite thing.
Finally, I try not to get stuck in the cycle of comparing my situation to others, although it’s so easy to do this. Your mental health is your own, and how you feel isn’t relative to how anyone else might be feeling.
If lockdown has taught me a lesson about my mental health, it’s how to understand my own bandwidth. Like my wifi, my mental health operates within a range. Some days my signal is stronger than others. The important thing is to stay connected.