How to be a mental wellness hero who can lead others?

How to be a mental wellness hero who can lead others?
19.05.2020

The stress, anxiousness and burnout risk that comes from the isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic, as well as the current problematic economic situation, leaves many workplaces and employees paralyzed. Instead of taking action, people wait. 

The  COVID-19 pandemic is pushing us to notice the shortcomings of our own mental health — especially when it comes to dealing with inner pressures that are created from integrating our life and our work.

May is the Mental Health Month in the US, where mental health has got less attention in workplaces than in the UK, where the Royal family and many charities have been focusing on the topic for several years now. So in case of mental health, the US employers can learn a lot form the UK, where the Mental Health Awareness Week will take place 18-24 May 2020.

The campaigns are great

… but only if you “take action” like watching the video below
 


As the pandemic accelerates mental health issues, you need to notice what is the fundamental problem that creates your pressure, your stress and your anxiousness. External conditions are here something that is easy to blame, but the truth is, it is your inner reactivity to those problems around you that triggers your worry, your stress and your burnout process. Outside stressors lead to problems only when the “seed” hits the fruitful ground.

Just imagine that you could be calm and see that things around are in the turmoil, this inner calmness allows you to notice what to do and what to avoid. Imagine that you can focus on what you need to focus upon, even when markets go down, people face economic and health problems.

Would such inner calmness and ability to give focus be sympathetic to your employer? Would it leave others the impression that you are unshakable and dependable? Indeed, and all workplaces love people who are calm and focused professionals. So professional skills alone do not matter if you are worried, stressed and anxious inside you cannot apply what you know. And here is the benefit of practical and applicable intrapersonal skills that formulate the foundation of mental wellness. You can say that intrapersonal skills are crisis-proof practical self-leadership skills that make you a hero when others freeze.

With every crisis, there comes an opportunity

Every crisis has two sides, on one side there is the downfall and on the other side, there are huge shifts that allow a focused newcomer to make changes that are difficult in stagnant situations. This newcomer can be a calm and focused professional that takes over the job of a nervous stressed, burned out, or anxious person or it can be a new business that challenges old ones by more efficiency. People tend to blame the newcomers, but often forget that their own false inner reactions during the unfolding crisis left them vulnerable in the first place.

Our schools, universities and workplaces have in general lacked the proactive mental wellness approach and have thus far dealt with mental health only reactively. Like, provided counseling or given sick leaves when people are already too tired or unhealthy to work. Such an approach is not sustainable. You lose, your employer loses, even the health-care systems fail as there are too many people with (mental) health issues and too often people seek help too late, especially as the stigma around mental illnesses is strong. But guess what, there is no stigma attached to wellness or fitness.

Mental wellness and mental fitness make you a hero

People are not afraid to reveal that they go to the gym or jog. People are proud of their physical fitness. 
 


But in contrast to training our physical body, we have not trained our minds. How do we then hope to stay well, by luck? By hoping that there never will be any external crisis? This hope is not real as the economy has cycles, businesses have cycles and monetary systems born and die. 

The status quo is what we dream of, but never achieve. In nature the change is constant. No animal or bird is afraid of changes. Humans are. 

Why?

We falsely believe that we can create something constant and enjoy it as it is forever. But no situation is permanent, you always have a new work task when one is complete, your family life changes as you have kids and they grow older, your body changes, your life patterns change even your friends and living place may change. But somehow we do not embrace that change.

And that is the problem, instead of normal economic cycles and free markets that filter out solutions that lack efficiency we try to print currency that is supposed to secure constant growth but instead robs us out of our wealth. GDP based growth-focused economy is not sustainable, it is like constantly trying to eat 7% more each year and hoping that it lacks any consequence to our body. By clinging to status quo central banks have created the biggest economic bubble in our lifetimes. The uphill was fun, but now a black swan event in the form of a global pandemic triggered a free fall.

What is your parachute in the case of mental health?

When you jump out of an airplane without a parachute it is suicide. When you face a crisis with constant inner reactivity then the outcome might be in the best-case just constant stress or burnout, in a mild case causing ending up with serious (mental) health problems (such as anxiety or depression) and in worst case… the most feared mental health problem – suicide.

So, what is your parachute in the case of your mental health?

Your parachute consists of practical intrapersonal skills. When you are aware of what is going on inside you, you can respond adequately and stay calm while others panic. 
 


Every catastrophe movie has a hero – a calm person who knows what he or she is doing. You should learn to be that person.

In airplanes, they say it well, put on your oxygen mask first, and then help your child(ren). Why. If you faint, no one is there to help your loved one(s). But in case of mental health, we live without any mental fitness training and mental wellness lessons and therefore lack practical intrapersonal skills. That makes us passengers in the stormy weather without and means to escape when a disaster hits upon us.

There are no physical “things” in your inner domain.

Learning intrapersonal skills while you are well is the best option, learning intrapersonal skills in the early phases of a starting turmoil (like now) is the next best thing, and even learning those practical skills in the middle of a crisis is way better than hitting the wall with a high speed of false inner reactivity. 

No app or no external system will never replace our awareness and intrapersonal skills, as there you can only apply self-leadership

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who is known as a just ruler and passionate self-developer, stated it well: “We have little power to choose what happens, but we have complete power over how we respond.” 

The questions you should ask from yourself are:

  • Do I respond adequately in today’s crisis?
  • Do I know how to stay calm and reduce my own inner reactivity?
  • Am I prepared to staying calm and focus on solutions?
  • Am I prepared to act purposefully while others freeze?
  • Do I understand how my inner domain functions?
  • Can I lead myself?
  • Can I lead others?

​It is time to take responsibility for your life. 

It is time to focus on your mental wellness. It is time to focus on how to secure the mental wellness of others around you. This gives us true power to notice what and how to do. This makes us masters who can use the constant change around us creatively for the benefit of our mission, business and family life.

Your intrapersonal skills are the parachute that always secures you a soft landing or even makes you the hero with the “mental superpowers” in real-life and work-related situations.

If you passed the video earlier: