Let’s be honest, most of us would argue that there’s not much to love about January. I don’t know about you, but my wallet is really feeling the ramifications of Christmas. I don’t even need to mention the weather – it’s cold and damp, and as I write this at 3:30pm, it’s already starting to get dark. You can see why motivation, emotional batteries and energy levels might be low.
The third Monday in January, today, has been given the name Blue Monday – supposedly the saddest day of the year. I know what you’re thinking – yes it’s probably a PR stunt, an opportunity for brands to push their self-care product lines and self-improvement agendas.
The point is that you are bound to come across a post in your social feed or an article in the news today that highlights how people might not be feeling their best. We should absolutely be checking in with our family, friends and colleagues throughout the year, and these issues shouldn’t really be tokenised or commercialised for one day only. But as I see it, talking about mental health is never a bad thing.
At work, you might be experiencing a culture of fear and silence around mental health. Starting a conversation about this doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some easy ways to take care of your colleagues, today and throughout the year:
1. Reach out
It can be hard to talk about feelings at work. If you have colleagues you can talk to, or a manager who asks how you are, it can really help. If you’ll be seeing the people that you work with in person this week, why not sit down for a coffee, go out for a walk or grab some lunch together. If you connect with your colleagues virtually, rather than getting straight to business, you could take the time to check-in. Remember to ask twice – when asked “how are you?”, how often do you tell the truth? A second ‘how are you?’ can make all the difference.
Listening is often more important than talking. You might worry that you won’t have all the answers, but just listening can make a big difference. An open ear reduces fear, and all you need to do is show that you’re taking on board what they’re saying. You don’t have to fix it, just being there will mean a lot.
3. Keep in touch
Think about how you might support your colleagues in the long run. Are there ways that you can ensure that the workplace is a safe and pleasant place to be? Remember that the best expert on a person’s needs is themselves – if there is one golden rule for supporting a colleague, it is never to assume and always ask.
I hope that you have found this helpful, and that you take the time today to check-in with the people around you. If I can help at all, please do get in touch anytime.