Mental Health Awareness Week
As you might have all heard this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. For Auckland, especially with the lockdowns, and the challenges on business owners, this has been a tough year, economically and mentally as well. The Auckland Executive Club’s last meeting had Michael Barnett (the CEO of Auckland Chamber of Commerce) discuss a survey that was run by the Chamber for business owners to see how they have been coping with the lockdown, 80% of them concurred that they had been struggling mentally. The survey was done for over 1000 business owners, so these stats were definitely alarming. The challenge was around the fact that the focus for these business owners were around their employees and not themselves.
We definitely talk about the pandemic of Covid-19, but it begs the question what about the pandemic of mental health? How are business leaders, and the rest of society been prepped to deal with it? What has been interesting to see is whilst there are resources available for discussing mental health, nothing specifically directed at the business leaders or executives. Is this because this is an area that is generalised? Or not enough research has been done in the area?
The reason this topic resonates with me, is because as a business owner myself, I know that mental health can be a massive issue that we deal with. It’s the fact that the focus is on taking care of the employees in the business rather than ourselves. One of the founding concepts I have followed around health and wellbeing from my uni days is the Te Whare Tapa Whā model by Sir Mason Durie. This is the house with a four walls concept. The walls represent taha hinengaro (mental and emotional), taha tinana (physical), taha wairua (spiritual) and taha whānau (family) well-being. The foundation of the whenau (land) forms the connection. Once these are all balanced, we thrive.
So how do we take care of our mental wellbeing? Some of the tips that I believe can help include:
- Keep active - take walks and make sure to take little breaks.
- Eat a balanced diet
- Stay hydrated
- Get enough sleep – try half an hour before bedtime to not be looking at any screen.
- Stay connected – talk to friends or family every day. Just check-in.
- Seek to connect with practices that connect with you spiritually or culturally (could be as simple as looking at creating your own traditions)
- Decompress from the day with a hobby – t.v show, movies, books, art or even cooking
- Breathe - practice mindfulness or meditation
This is definitely a tough topic to be discussed with business owners during this period, however, change needs to happen. It is great to see the progress we have made so far, but there is so much more to come hopefully over the next years. Resources, workshops and even conversations are needed to help move this in a positive direction.