happy employees

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Employee Wellbeing Strategy

The COVID-19 pandemic and multiple national lockdowns have once again highlighted the importance of employee wellbeing. One survey found that 36% of employees struggled with their mental health because of the way they were working during the pandemic.

11 million days a year are lost due to workplace stress, so this is clearly a pressing issue. Employee wellbeing should be a priority in any business, regardless of your sector. Employees who feel they are being looked after are happier and more satisfied with their job and their workplace. Happy employees are also more productive and loyal to their business.

If you don’t have a formal strategy in place and you’re not sure where to start, this article will guide you through implementing a comprehensive and successful workplace wellbeing strategy.

Understand what employee wellbeing means in your business

Wellbeing can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s the overarching matter of employees’ workplace experience, happiness, and satisfaction, and it branches into a number of areas. It feeds directly into the performance of the business and affects morale, staffing, and productivity.

For others, it’s a laser focus on mental health in the workplace and comes with the availability of counselling and mental health support. Some businesses focus on physical health support with healthy eating and activity initiatives. In reality, there is no one definition, but it covers many of these elements.

How a workplace and an employee’s role affects them personally is a key tenet of employee wellbeing. Initiatives to reduce stress and workload in the workplace are where many businesses start with their wellbeing strategy. This is especially important as work is the biggest cause of stress in the UK.

Gauge your employees’ baseline wellbeing

When creating an employee wellbeing strategy, it’s important to tailor it to your business and your people. Frontline NHS workers will have starkly different wellbeing needs than employees at an accounting firm.

Engage your employees to find out what they need support with and what they’d like to see from a wellbeing strategy. Many corporations will jump into this head-first and incorporate trendy initiatives like relaxation areas without consulting their employees when what they really want is more support for their emotional wellbeing.

Carrying out a confidential survey into the existing wellbeing of your employees is recommended because you’ll be able to identify trends, such as people struggling with anxiety since returning to the office. A further exploration of what your people want and expect from a wellbeing strategy will help you prioritise your initiatives.

Identify your priorities

Once you’ve received feedback from your employees, it’s time to put it into action. If most people would like confidential mental health counselling available to them, this should be your top priority. Establishing short-, medium-, and long-term goals will help you create a rounded strategy that incorporates all areas of wellbeing while prioritising the most pressing.

Your wellbeing strategy might begin with the introduction of a 24/7 confidential counselling support line, which is immediately available to employees. Then, three months down the line, you could look at rolling out an initiative focused on small healthy changes your employees can make, like taking more breaks away from their desks or offering free fruit as snacks. Longer-term, you could incorporate weekly workload reviews for all employees to help them prioritise and manage their tasks.

Offer a blended approach to wellbeing

By now, you should understand the most pressing issues facing your workforce and prioritise your actions. It’s important to offer employees multiple options when it comes to improving their wellbeing. While some may utilise your newly introduced counselling line, for example, others may prefer to seek support privately.

Introducing private health cover is a great way of allowing your employees to seek support in the way that suits them best. After all, if they’re not comfortable using a work-mandated support line, they may be put off from seeking support at all. Offering a health cash plan or private health insurance means they can seek their own support and claim the money back.

The great thing about these solutions is that they cover many options that you may not have considered, like physiotherapy and dental care. Giving employees the opportunity to address multiple health needs is a great way to make them feel valued.

Promote and measure your wellbeing efforts

A recent survey showed that 35% of employees don’t know or understand their company’s benefits. What’s the point of putting the hard work into a wellbeing strategy if your employees don’t even know it exists?

Hosting sessions on the support available is a great way to introduce both new and existing employees to your wellbeing offerings. These sessions can also double as feedback tools – your strategy should never stay static but should instead evolve around your people’s changing needs.

It’s important to promote this externally too. 80% of jobseekers would choose good benefits and support over a higher salary, so this is essential to your recruitment efforts too. In a crowded market, you’ll be able to stand out to prospective employees with your wellbeing initiatives.

We know that employee wellbeing initiatives offer a range of benefits for both your people and your business. Supported employees are happier and healthier, which leads to better productivity and increased loyalty. This ultimately translates to better productivity, which allows your business to perform better. Carrying out further confidential surveys will allow you to measure the success of your strategy.


Workplace wellbeing is now more important than ever after an especially challenging year. People who are unsatisfied and don’t feel supported at work are more likely to leave and will be less productive. Not only will creating a workplace wellbeing strategy help you to look after your valued employees, but it’ll also translate to improved performance for your business. By following these steps, you can put an effective, flexible strategy in place that’s tailored to your people.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash



How to be less uptight

It’s easy to be less uptight when you know how. Many of us don’t even realise how stressed out we actually are. Bills to pay, queues, all sorts of daily problems that many of us can’t avoid…what do you do? Sometimes when I lie in bed and focus on loosening my muscles, I realise how tensed up I am, especially in my neck and shoulders. Stress has become an inescapable part of life.

There are ways to be less uptight, some you can do instantly, and others will take time to get into the habit of doing.

Grounding techniques

When we are stressed, our bodies feel it. Adrenalin and cortisol are released, our muscles tense up ready for action. Our nervous system activates fight, flight or freeze response and relaxing becomes impossible. Grounding techniques help your body turn the panic alarm off, so it’s a good place to start.

Try taking deep breaths – what’s great about this is you can practise this anywhere, anytime. Box breathing is a good technique for helping you de-stress. Breathe in slowly counting to 4, then hold your breath and count to 4, breathe out slowly counting to 4 and finally, hold your breath once more counting to 4.

Get out of your head

Spending time worrying is the worst waste of time. All it does is increase anxiety when we go down the “what if” tunnel. We imagine all sorts of awful scenarios that might never happen. Focus your attention externally on the world around you. This takes practise but remember that the real world is out of your head – most of the ideas in your head aren’t backed by evidence and are up for negotiation.

Don’t believe every thought you think!!


Below is a list of questions to be used in helping you challenge your maladaptive or problematic beliefs. Not all questions will be as appropriate for the belief you choose to challenge.



• Is it logical?
• Would a scientist agree with my logic?
• Where is the evidence for my belief? What is the evidence for and against this idea?
• Where is the belief written (apart form inside my own head!)?
• Is my belief realistic?
• Would my friends and colleagues agree with my idea?
• Does everybody share my attitude? If not, why not?
• Am I expecting myself or others to be perfect as opposed to fallible human beings?
• What makes the situation so terrible, awful or horrible?
• Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?
• Will it seem this bad in one, three, six or twelve months’ time?
• Will it be important for me in two years’ time?
• Am I exaggerating the importance of this problem?
• Am I fortune telling with little evidence that the worse case scenario will actually happen?
• If I “can’t stand it” or “can’t bear it” what will really happen?
• If I “can’t stand it” will I really fall apart?
• Am I concentrating on my own (or others’) weaknesses and neglecting strengths?
• Am I agonising about how I think things should be instead of dealing with them as they are?
• Where is this thought or attitude getting me?
• Is my belief helping me to attain my goals?
• Is my belief goal focused and problem solving?
• If a friend made a similar mistake, would I be so c critical?
• Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms: is there any middle ground?
• Am I labelling myself, somebody or something else? Is this logical and a fair thing to do?
• Just because a problem has occurred does it mean that I/they/it are “stupid”, “a failure”, “useless” or “hopeless”.?
• Am I placing rues on others or myself (e.g., shoulds or musts, etc.)? if so, are they proving helpful and constructive?
• Am I using words or phrases that are extreme or exaggerated (for example: always, forever, never, need, should, must, can’t and every time)?
• Am I taking things too personally?
• Am I blaming others unfairly just to make myself (temporarily) feel better?
• Am I confusing a habit with a fact?
• Are my interpretations of the situation too far removed from reality to be accurate?
• Am I thinking in all-or-none terms?
• Am I taking selected examples out of context?
• Am I making excuses (for example: I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to go out; The other people expect me to be perfect; or, I don’t want to make the call because I don’t have time)?
• Is the source of information reliable?
• Am I thinking in terms of certainties instead of probabilities?
• Am I confusing a low probability with high probability?
• Are my judgements based on feelings rather than facts?
• Am I focusing on irrelevant factors?


This is the only time you should spend inside your head – when you problem solve you look for solutions instead of ruminating. Brainstorm solutions to your problems and do your best to action the plan where possible. Know the difference between what you can and can’t control something and find a way to accept the things you can’t change currently.

Attitude of gratitude

This is an instant pick-me-up. Focusing on what is good in life can automatically improve your mood. Remind yourself regularly of what is good in your life – there is always something but our brains’ tend to focus on the negative things in an attempt to keep us safe. Do you have someone who cares about you? Are you healthy? Do you have a roof over your head? These are some of the pertinent questions to ask yourself.

Accept what you can’t change

There are things you can change and some you can’t. Resisting what you can’t change is futile and will lead to misery.

Care less about what others think

Dance to your own beat. Act dumb. Do whatever you have to but don’t take on board what others think. It’s your life, your decisions and choices. Others love to judge, and why should you care if they do? Only you define yourself, so let them be amused if it makes them happy. When you care too much about that others will say, you live your life for them and not yourself.

Stop taking life so seriously

We all end up in the same place so get some persepctive. Something that upsets you now probably won’t matter in a few days/moths time. Keep perspective and keep a sense of humour. See life as an adventure and stop catastophizing. It’s probably not as bad as you think it is.



Further reading:


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

happy staff

How to create a positive work environment for employees

The corporate world is focused on productivity and making money. Creating a positive work environment isn’t always a priority. The focus of the corporate world means that staff well-being often gets overlooked in the pursuit of profit. Research has shown that happy employees are more loyal, more resilient, and work far more effectively than unhappy, resentful employees. The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.

Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.


Studies on employee satisfaction

One study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. When it comes to salespeople, happiness has an even greater impact, raising sales by 37%. But the benefits don’t end there.

Happy employees are also good news for organizations: The stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” rose 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, while companies not on the list only reported a 6% increase.


Feeling valued is vital for employee happiness

It makes sense that wanting to feel like who you are matters (you want people to know your name), that what you do has an impact (that you’re engaged in relevant work) and you’re making progress (that your work is having an impact and leading you and your organization forward).

This should be easy, but all too often, employees don’t feel valued at all. Why not?

Too many companies are overly focused on what they do but they overlook and minimize who is doing the work, as well as how and why they are doing the work. While job security and financial stability are important to job satisfaction, so are opportunities to use one’s skills and abilities. The bottom line is that people need to continue to grow in order to remain engaged and productive.

Promoting Workplace Happiness

My personal mantra for over a decade has been that I want to do work that I love, from places I love, and with people I enjoy. I would argue that most people want this. The challenge is knowing what this means and how to pursue these opportunities. While I have been ruthless in my pursuit of this type of work, I have fallen flat on my face many times.

We all get stuck at times — in habits, routines, and relationships that don’t serve us well and even limit our happiness. All too often, we are unaware that this is happening because we don’t have the bandwidth to focus on what is and isn’t making us happy. Even when we are clear about what makes us happy, many of us don’t know how to find the bandwidth to bring about change.


A positive work environment

A Psychologist or Executive Coach in the workplace can make all the difference. This is where HeadScience comes in. HeadScience smooths over any conflict, assist with policies to improve employee well-being, and also offers therapy session/executive coaching sessions where necessary.

Never underestimate the investment in employee happiness – it will always produce positive results in the workplace Employees spend so much time working that it’s common sense to ensure they are as happy as possible.


HeadScience also conducts surveys to provide further feedback to management on changes needed. It’s a two-pronged approach: feedback from employees and an objective mental health expert to provide a comprehensive plan for the future.

Even if dedicating resources to happiness at work isn’t your thing, it’s still worth asking yourself whether happiness in the workplace is something your organisation should be paying more attention to.


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


office productivity

Loneliness statistics – understanding workplace anxiety in the ‘new normal’

It’s important to differentiate it from solitude, or ‘going solo’, which are voluntary conditions. Loneliness is the negative emotion we experience when we’re getting less social connection than we want or need.

It’s also common between all of us; something everyone feels at some point, like hunger or thirst, and we can usually fix it by seeking social connection.

Problems arise, though, when it’s a repeated or ongoing condition – and it’s getting more common in the modern workplace.

Do loneliness statistics show that loneliness is on the rise? It’s complicated.

The economic effects of loneliness are pretty difficult to measure. We know they’re significant; the phrases ‘epidemic’ and ‘public health emergency’ are frequently used to describe it. But defining exactly what loneliness is, investigating sequelae (the health effects it causes), and ascribing dollar values to it is quite a challenge.

A meta-analysis (study of studies) published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology reviewed 12 different studies on economic costs associated with loneliness and social isolation, and found that there’s more work to be done in figuring out the truth:

The paucity of evidence that is available primarily evaluating the economic costs of loneliness indicates that more research is needed to assess the economic burden and identify cost-effective interventions to prevent or address loneliness and social isolation.

As for 2020 and the age of social distancing, the answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might expect.

Kasley Killam reports in Scientific American:

According to several recent studies, loneliness has not only leveled out but, in certain cases, actually improved. Social distancing has made us recognize the importance of our relationships, which influence health and mortality as much as factors such as smoking and excessive drinking.

One of the main problems is defining what counts as loneliness. Are you lonely because you haven’t been able to meet your friends at the bar much in 2020? Or are you just missing the beer?

How long do you have to go without human contact to be defined as lonely? And what medical conditions are definitely caused by loneliness? There doesn’t seem to be conclusive answers to these yet, but we can learn a lot from individual perceptions shared via surveys.

Employees want more connection in their jobs

An employee outlook survey was performed by the UK’s Chartered Institute for Professional Development. It investigated the cultures and structures of businesses that the 2226 respondents were employed by.

55% of respondents said they’d prefer to work in a company that had a ‘family feel’, but only 25% of them said they currently work at one that fits that description.

Looking for an employer that’s ‘held together by loyalty and tradition’ was equally desired, meaning it’s not just the family-style connection people want – it’s the job security. And the two often go hand in hand.

While the survey was conducted in 2015, it’d be interesting to see how opinions change in the post-COVID world, with increasing remote work and employment disruption seen across the globe.

Many remote workers struggle with loneliness.

All-remote SaaS company Buffer were one of the pioneers of remote work. Working with a globally distributed team, they’ve done some significant research into remote work culture, culminating in 2020’s State of Remote Work report. Data was taken from a survey of over 3,500 remote workers around the world in early 2020 (prior to the pandemic).

The survey found that 20% of respondents name loneliness as their biggest struggle with working remotely.

But the analysis wisely identifies the fact that while remote work is linked to loneliness, it doesn’t necessarily cause loneliness:

Remote workers feeling lonely is also an accurate reflection of a larger-scale societal struggle with loneliness. In the U.S., loneliness has been labeled an epidemic. In the U.K., almost one-fifth of the population has reported that they are “always or often lonely.

According to the Remote Work 2020 report by, which surveyed 331 remote workers from various distributed companies, 27% of remote workers are unable to separate work from their personal life, leading to a further deterioration of mental health.

When your work isn’t specific to a location, it can give a great sense of freedom. But the downside is losing out on that psychological barrier between work life and home life. If you’re answering work emails late at night from your bed, boundaries have been crossed in an unhealthy way.

Loneliness statistics linking to depression

Knock-on effects from workplace isolation can have significant effects on your mental health.

Loneliness statistics have revealed that loneliness can increase the amount of cortisol (often known as the stress hormone) circulating through the body, putting stress on the immune system and increasing the risk of a range of illnesses.

A meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry studied 88 different studies on the topic and found that loneliness has “a moderately significant effect on depression”. That’s about as strong a link as you could ask for, given that both loneliness and depression are complex conditions with lots of variables affecting them.

And as published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, loneliness is something we should all be wary of: “Loneliness is a common experience with 80% of the population below 18 years of age and 40% above 65 years of age report loneliness at least sometimes in their life.”

Being in work can reduce loneliness

Two findings from in the Loneliness and the Workplace 2020 US Report by Cigna show the links between being out of work and feelings of loneliness.

They polled 10,441 adults in the United States, investigating their feelings on the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Results on this scale range from 20 (not lonely) to 80 (very lonely).

Americans who feel as though they work less than they want (49.6) are almost three points lonelier on the UCLA Loneliness Scale than those who work more than they want (46.9), and more than six points lonelier than those who feel they work as much as they want (43.5). These findings suggest that being out of work is a lonely existence – especially for those in precarious employment without a guaranteed amount of hours each month.

(Remember there are other socioeconomic consequences of not having enough work; not just a reduced opportunity for meeting new friends and connections through the work itself, but having less disposable income to spend on social activities outside of work.)

What’s more, people who report that they don’t have good relationships with their coworkers are lonelier than those who do (53.7 vs 43.7). This isn’t surprising – if you don’t get on with your colleagues, you’ll feel less socially satisfied.

Causes of workplace anxiety change with increased remote work

Three telling statistics were revealed in Perkbox’s 2020 UK workplace stress survey:

Work-related office politics’ (37%) are the most common cause of work-related stress, followed by ‘lack of interdepartmental communications’ (34%), and ‘the work performance of others’ (33%).

Changing from office-based work to remote work will disrupt each of these:

  • Office politics will operate quite differently without watercooler conversations and canteen gossip. Conflicts, dramas and troublesome romances will have fewer opportunities to flourish.
  • Rethinking communication channels between departments will occur more frequently when teams are distributed, providing more opportunities to get things right.
  • With colleagues less visible when we’re not sat next to them all day, we’re less likely to feel envious of their performance.

Does this mean working from home will cause a reduction in work-related stress? Possibly, but it’s complicated. While these will contribute to a less stressful working life (along with the absence of unpleasant commutes), other factors will have the opposite effect: taking care of children at home, lack of work-life boundaries, precarious economic conditions, and increased loneliness.

Has workplace anxiety gotten to scale?

In a single word: absolutely. A few years ago, Groupon (of all places!) commissioned a study about work stress. It found that 20% of respondents worked 10+ hours a day, 50% said workload was preventing them from work-life balance, and yet 53% said that, despite how much they were working, they still had significant financial concerns. When the amount of work is not in line with the rewards from the work, there’s usually misalignment resulting in workplace anxiety.

Now, a few years later, the context around workplace anxiety and stress is significantly higher. Harvard Business Review has called what many of us experience right now “the anxiety-distraction feedback loop,” whereby you feel anxious about Covid-19 and its implications on your work and your family, so you look for distractions.

That typically works for a minute, but then you feel anxious again, so you again seek Instagram or some such, and the loop persists. Productivity is not necessarily the cousin of workplace anxiety, no.

Frontline workers have, logically, reported increased stress and anxiety. As areas of the world “re-open,” there are increased searches for safety precautions in offices. Parents are nervous about what’s going to happen with childcare.

Into this whole mess, we need to introduce another wrinkle: remote loneliness. Twitter and Square, two Jack Dorsey companies, are going “WFH permanently.” Other companies are letting employees decide, or not reopening their HQ until September, or “reconsidering everything,” i.e. Barclays.

We know that extended working from home is probably going to be good for the environment, but what of the human condition? Commuting from your kitchen sink to your couch is cool, and millions of people were doing it daily around the world before Covid-19, but if you’re not used to that model … how do you stay sane and connected?

Offices have drawbacks, yes. But offices are also areas of random and beautiful energy, new ideas, different conversations, and personal and professional growth.

So when we add remote loneliness to the bigger workplace anxiety context, we have a pickle. We can’t necessarily escape the pickle with “more happy hours on Zoom.” What now?

Workplace anxiety and team motivation dynamics

We’ve been studying these concepts for years at F4S. Here’s what we’ve broadly come to: there are employees who thrive in group environments, and those who thrive in solo environments. Sometimes, the same individual may thrive in both, in different contexts.

Group Environment

Someone who thrives in a group environment needs to have people around them, and engaging with their work and ideas, in order to be productive.

They love on-the-spot questions, and are not afraid to interrupt others (and usually don’t mind being interrupted). They are driven by the energy of the mix of personalities and approaches to problem-solving constituting an office.

Solo Environment

Someone who thrives in a solo environment needs space without auditory or visual distraction to get things done; this is partially why you saw the rise of “pod” spaces in Silicon Valley offices about 10 years ago, because many programmers fit this mold.

Once the zone is breached, it can take a solo environment person a long time to get back into said zone. While they can appear reclusive or distant to some other employees, especially the group-focused ones, this is less an issue of introvert vs. extrovert and more an issue of preferred productivity style.

Many solo environment employees would be super fun at happy hour — but to maximize their workflow, they need that cone/pod context.

How can managers use those two dynamics to reduce workplace anxiety?

The first step is the same first step as any other managerial process: talk to your people. Understand them. Get to know what makes them tick, how they think about work, how they like to work, how they like to be productive, etc.

You do not need to be best friends with your employees – it’s a common managerial fear – but you do need to understand their work styles, because without that knowledge, it’s hard to manage them.

In and around Covid-19, a solo environment employee probably has an inherent advantage in terms of productivity.

With solo environment team members, you want to make sure:

  • Their workspace at home is set up in the best way for them.
  • You are not inundating their schedule with video calls. (Give them 3-4 hour blocks of time to work unless the calls are urgent.)
  • You are including them on Friday “happy hour” type calls, or more social initiatives, so they feel connected to the team at a high level.

Now, the group environment crowd is going to struggle more with remote loneliness and workplace anxiety right now.

With group environment team members, you want to:

  • Talk to them consistently about how they’re feeling.
  • Include them in more video calls and group calls, even if potential task productivity may decline a little bit in the short term. (I say short term because in the long term a group environment person’s productivity will drop if they don’t have these types of opportunities.)
  • Encourage them to do virtual meetups with fellow employees for a coffee, etc.
  • Create a brainstorming channel or something similar on Slack, in G-Docs, or wherever so that people can pop in and chat on ideas, interesting articles, etc. It’s not the same as office bump-ins, but it can be a digital manifestation of that idea.

One of the hardest parts about work, and especially about organizations scaling up, is that a lot of advice about communications or management are a “one-to-many” approach, i.e. an Intranet board, an employee newsletter, or the like.

But people are individuals, and every employee has a different connection to the work, to the purpose of the organization, to their own working style, and more. Management needs to be more one-to-one, especially in trying times.

What about dealing with workplace anxiety in “The New Normal?”

We don’t know exactly what “The New Normal” might look like, and it will vary by industry and organization. But there are some general rules we can follow in terms of stress and anxiety:


  • Consider doing a split schedule (“A Team” and “B Team”) to limit the amount of people in an office at a given time.
  • Have wipes and soap and other sanitary products readily available.
  • If people would like to WFH more, allow for it. (The tech is there, and we’ve only underscored that recently.)
  • Create physical distance in-office in terms of cubicles, tables, spacing in conference rooms, and the like.
  • Create an internal website or Slack channel regarding local health data, phone numbers to call, what the company’s insurance has posted or said about testing, and more.


This is a weird time business-wise in part because some industries are collapsing and contracting, and some (think user-generated content brands) are exploding.

If you have increasing or decreasing workload, that can be a source of anxiety and stress — those with decreasing workload will begin to assume they’re on the layoff list. When someone has decreasing task work, give them longer-term, strategic projects to work on. Prepare for a wave in demand that way.


If you are doing layoffs, do them in a humane way. Have the manager do the layoff, with HR on the flank. When people’s friends and co-workers get laid off in a third-party, questionable way, those remaining begin to feel anxiety (and resentment).


If you are growing, consistently communicate about the new workload, explain what types of new hires you are working for, and provide either increased compensation or an incentive/bonus structure for current employees. No one wants to take on lots more work without some type of monetary adjustment.

Social events: 

The conventional model of workplace social events, i.e. happy hours or bowling or concert attendance or a baseball game, might be shifted for the next six months or more.

If you’ve been having success with virtual happy hours, keep it going. If there’s a way to do bake-offs or potlucks in a central office location where the food and the food line can be spaced out, also go for that.

At all-hands meetings, virtual or IRL, have a lengthy kudos and acknowledgements section. People are feeling stressed, anxious, and a tad lonely (they are not seeing their friends as much!) in this time. Getting a work kudos could be a huge aspect of their day.

Buddy system: 

Some feel this concept is cheesy, but it works in numerous organizations. Especially if you’re growing and bringing people onboard during a very different time for your business, assign buddies.

These aren’t necessarily mentors, as peer relationships can work fine, but they are employees who check in on other employees to chat about things like:

  • How are things going?
  • How’s the workload?
  • What issues are there?
  • What could be addressed more?

It’s almost a de facto managerial role, and might be good for those who want a management track in their future. It allows managers to focus on their deliverables (while also checking in with their people, of course) and have some help on the anxiety temperature-taking, which is just as important as the fever temperature-taking right now.

Leadership style:

Previous F4S success on leadership styles has shown that roughly 4 in 5 employees are motivated by goals, whereas the other 20% is motivated “away from problems,” i.e. by challenges. This applies to leaders too, and when people become leaders, their motivation methodology carries through — so if they were motivated by goals, that’s how they drive others.

The “away from problems” (challenges) model can work, but in a high-stress period of time like a pandemic and concerns about returning to work, the “goals” model of leadership is likely to be more effective.

If you are a leader who drives others around challenges and problems – we see this in tech often, as the underlying goal of tech is commonly to fix some inefficiency – it might be better to take a softer, step-by-step, goal-rooted (“let’s accomplish this for this week”) approach for the near-term.

The bottom line

Even before Covid-19, mental health and stress and anxiety were coming to the forefront as organizational issues. In late 2016, Wharton was writing articles titled “The Pursuit of Happiness is Making Us All Nervous Wrecks.” The former Surgeon General of the U.S. had been saying that 2 in 5 American adults felt “chronically lonely,” even though we live in the most-connected era in human history. And the “biggest threat” facing middle-aged men, who tend to hold lots of decision-making authority in companies? It’s not smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.

HBR did an entire 2017 cover story package on “Work And The Loneliness Epidemic.”

These concepts were out there. Discussions were already being had. People were reconsidering their connections to work, to how they want to be managed, to where they want to work from, to how they want to interact with co-workers, to acceptable workloads, to what they want from their careers.

As we’ve heard on a few fronts, Covid-19 is an accelerator. Brick-and-mortar retail and higher education were models that needed a shift; Covid-19 will likely accelerate that shift. Workplace anxiety, loneliness concerns, and stress are another area where Covid-19 will accelerate our approaches to dealing with mental health and the emotional well-being of our employees.

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Fear of fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself- Franklin D. Roosevelt 

The Root of Fear and what it is? 

Let us first look at what is fear? If we can understand the problem with desire then we will understand and be free from fear. ‘I want to be something’ – that is the root of fear itself. When I want to be something, my desire to be something and my not being that something creates fear, not only in a narrow sense but in the widest sense possible. So as long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear.   

Observing this root of fear 

Can the mind possibly observe fear? Your fear: fear of death, fear of life, fear of loneliness, fear of darkness, fear of being nobody, fear of been hurt, fear of been deceived, fear of not becoming a great success, fear of not being a leader,  fear of so many different things. First of all, is one aware of it? Or one tends to lead such a superficial life, only talking about something else and so one is never aware of oneself, of one’s own fears.   

Then if one does become aware of those fears, at what level do you become aware? Is it an intellectual awareness of them or are you actually aware of your fears at a degree of deeper level that is in the hidden recesses of the mind? And if they are so hidden, how are they to be exposed? Must you go to an analyst? But the analyst is you; he needs to be analysed too! 

So how do you uncover the whole structure and deal with the intricacies of fear? This is a tremendous problem, not just to be listened to for two or three minutes and then forgotten but to find out for oneself whether it is possible to expose all fears, or whether there is only one central fear that has many branches.  

When one sees the central fear the branches begin to wither away. If the mind can understand the root of fear then the branches, the various aspects of fear has no meaning, they wither away. So what is the root of fear? Can you look at your fear? Please look at it now, invite it. Naturally you are not afraid now, sitting here, but you know what your fears are: loneliness, not being loved, not being beautiful, frightened of losing your job, etc. 

By looking at one fear, at your particular fear, you can then see the root of that fear is the root of all fear. You will observe and see for yourself that through one fear you discover the very root of all fear. 

There is no illusion greater than fear- Lao Tzu 

So can you observe your fear like a tough nutThrough one fear trace the very root of all fear? Let us understand that ‘The self is the root of all fear. To inhibit or suppress fear is not to transcend or surpass it; its cause must be self-discovered then understood and finally dissolved. To understand consciousness, one has to be really free, totally, of fear. It is only with direct contact with fear that you are free. 

Fear has two meanings: ‘Forget everything and run Or Face everything and rise’ 

We have to understand fear and be completely free of it, right through your being that is the goalParadoxically, you can only do it when there is no escape of any kind. When you understand this, you are directly in contact with fear. In that contact there is no time interval, there is no saying, ‘I will get over it,’ or ‘I will develop courage,’ when you are frightened. We are dealing with facts here, and we cannot deal with what is if there is any form of escape, conscious or even unconscious. 

When you come directly into contact with fear, there is a response of the nerves. When the mind is no longer escaping through words or through activity of any kind, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed as fear. It is the mind that is escaping that separates itself from fear. But when there is a direct contact with fear there is no observer, there is no entity that says, ‘I am afraid.’ So, the moment you are directly in contact with life, with anything, there is no division and it is this division that breeds competition, ambition and fear. 

If you seek a way or a method or a system to be rid of fear, you will everlastingly be caught in fear. But if you understand fear, which can only take place when you come directly in contact with it then you do something. Only then will you find that all fear ceases – we mean all fear, not fear of this kind or of that kind in particular. Because out of the freedom and the understanding and the learning about fear comes intelligence, and intelligence is the essence of freedom. And there is no intelligence if there is any form of conflict, and conflict must exist as long as there is fear. 

Conditioning is the very root of fear, and where there is fear there is no virtue. To go into this profoundly requires a great deal of intelligence, and we mean by intelligence the understanding of all influence and being free of it. 

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown- H.P. Lovecraft 

The Physical and Emotional Effects of Fear 

Without fear, an individual’s chances of day-to-day survival would likely diminish. In this way, fear can be healthy; it helps people keep away from dangerous or harmful situations by triggering a “fight or flight” response. Fear often affects people physically and emotionally. 

Fear may cause someone to experience an enhanced perception of space and time, or their senses of sight, hearing, and smell may be heightened. In life-threatening situations, fear can also reduce the ability to notice fine detail while increasing the capacity to distinguish large or blurry objects. These adjustments in perception can increase a person’s chance of survival in a dangerous or savage situation. 

You may experience a variety of physical responses when experiencing fear, such as: 

  • Temporary paralysis or an erratic heartbeat 
  • Stomach pain, head pain, or nausea 
  • Dizziness or fainting 
  • Sweating 
  • Muscle tension, twitching, or trembling 
  • Crying 
  • Stuttering 
  • Erratic sleep patterns 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Rapid or shallow breathing 

Psychological effects of fear can include intrusive or distracting thoughts, loss of focus, and confusion. People may also experience a variety of emotional effects, including terror, anxiety, anger, despair, numbness, or helplessness. 

Here are 12 ways to try and overcome fear:  

  • Understand fear and then embrace it   Embrace fear as instruction and let it inform your actions, but not control them. 
  •  Don’t just do something, sometimes just stand there!  When fear strikes consider whether the correct action might be to analyze the options and make a wise, well thought out choice rather than jumping to what seems right in the heat of the moment. 
  •  Name the fear and focus Sometimes merely stating what your fear is gives you the strength to deal with it. Say your fear out loud, write it down, or focus your mind on it. When you try to ignore your fear, it grows. When you face it, it shrinks. 
  •  Think and consider long term   If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be afraid you won’t make the next payroll. But what’s your three month outlook, or the outlook for three years from now? Thinking about the long term won’t fix your short term problem, but it can help you think about it more objectively and come up with the right solution. 
  • Educate yourself to the core We are afraid of nothing so much as the unknown. If your fear is based on a lack of information, then get the information or knowledge you need to examine the situation based on facts rather than mere speculation. 
  •  Prepare, practice, role play and repeat If your fear is related to your performance in a certain activity then prepare, practice, and role play and repeat the same till you hit perfection 
  •  Utilize peer pressurefor your good Peer pressure, like fear, can be positive or negative depending on how it’s displayed. Surround yourself with people who will push you to overcome the fears that are holding you back from what you want. 
  • Visualize success for greatness Athletes may imagine the successful completion of a physical task thousands of times before achieving it. This mental mapping ensures that when the body moves, it’s more likely to follow its pre-decided path. 
  • Gain a sense of proportionfirst How big of a deal, really, is the thing you are afraid of? We sometimes get so caught up in the success or failure of a particular quest that we lose sense of where it fits in or not with everything else we value.  
  • Get help if need be Whatever you’re afraid of, is it something you have to do alone? Can you find a mentor or support group to help you through it?  
  • Have a positive attitude for your own good Would you keep working long after others would have given up? People who have positive attitudes are successful because they keep trying after others give up. 
  •  Be willing to turn on pivot If you’re afraid to do something again because it didn’t work out the last time, figure out why it didn’t work, and try something different before you give up trying altogether. 


Fears are nothing more than a state of mind- Napoleon Hill 


Author: Trishna Patnaik

Trishna Patnaik






About the writer: 


Trishna Patnaik, a Bsc (in Life Sciences) and MBA (in Marketing) by qualification but an artist by choice. A self-taught artist based in Mumbai, Trishna has been practising art for over 14 years now. After she had a professional stint in various reputed corporates, she realised that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion, that is painting. Trishna is now a full-time professional painter pursuing her passion to create and explore to the fullest. She says, “It’s a road less travelled but a journey that I look forward to everyday.” Trishna also conducts painting workshops across Mumbai and other metropolitan cities of India. Trishna is an art therapist and healer too. She works with clients on a one on one basis in Mumbai.























Featured image:

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

The world of work – have we got it all wrong?

We spend most of our time at work, so it goes without saying that we should enjoy what we do. The sad reality is that most people don’t enjoy their work. The logical conclusion to that suggests most of us spend a large portion of our lives doing what we don’t want to do. Chronic, long working hours can have a major impact on mental and physical health because people’s resources are drained and not adequately replenished by rest.

According to research, British men have the longest working week in Europe-47 hours, and British women work 43 hours. A third of fathers of young children in Britain admit to working more than 50 hours a week. The average man in the US spends just 25 minutes a week with his kids, yet American fathers place their children at the top of their list of priorities.

In his bestseller, “The man who mistook his life for a job”, Jonathon Lazear, a successful New York literary agent, argues that people who work to excess are just as guilty of social delinquency as the deadbeats who don’t work at all. The number of clients who have come to see me due to relationship issues with current partners is staggering. Most of these clients struggle due to a lack of connection with their parents. Many feel abandoned and as a result, their attachment styles are damaged. Children who grow up feeling neglected tend to end up with anxious adult attachment styles instead of stable attachment styles. This insecurity can play out over a person’s entire life.

Where did the notion of work as the central focus of life come from?

The ancient Greeks saw work as a tragedy. In fact, for most of history, paid work has been sniffed at by anyone with the rank or intelligence to avoid it. Only in the 16th century did the Calvinists begin to talk up the notion of a “work ethic”, which was held to be both pleasing to the Almighty and improving development for mankind.

The most ‘overworked’ city:

In 21st century Japan, they have a new law called “Karoshiin” (from the term: Karoshi), which means that if you die of overwork, your boss goes to jail! The Japanese are among the hardest workers in the world.

Here’s an eye-opening example: In July 2013, 31-year-old Miwa Sado, a reporter for Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, was found dead in her Tokyo apartment. She had died from heart failure. It was later revealed that Sado had logged 159 hours and 37 minutes of overtime at work in the month before her death. Sado’s death was officially designated as a “death from overwork”. According to recent studies, Japan was deemed to be the hardest-working city in the world, but despite being notorious for long working hours, cities in Japan have relatively low productivity levels.

According to recent OECD data, Japan is the least productive country in the G7; the US is roughly 59% more productive. This is despite the fact that Tokyo residents work an average of 42 hours a week and have the earliest start time of all cities at 8:57 am.

The hardest-working city:

The Swiss bank, UBS conducted their own research and found that Mumbai was the hardest working city, clocking up the longest average working hours of 3,315 per year per worker. But as with the case of Japan and other cities, working long hours does not necessarily equate to high productivity.

Not only do we work crazy long hours as adults, but we also expect our children to adopt this way of life. Children, like adults, are expected to be actively pursuing something for most of their waking hours. Children often feel under pressure because their parents over-schedule their lives, enrolling them for countless activities such as French, German, computer courses, and music lessons. Children are missing a lot of things we would associate with a normal childhood, such as being bored and messing around in the garden doing nothing.

This is where creativity comes from as well as the skills to manage a busy mind (when doing less) and enjoy life in the moment. Children these days cannot self-soothe (they aren’t being taught how to do this) and seek out achievement as a way to achieve this. Many children are conditioned to believe that achievement brings with it a sense of self-worth and happiness. This concept is back-to-front and causing excessive anxiety and depression in young people( especially teenagers and young people in their twenties).

Excessive pressure on younger generations

Last year the children’s charity, ChildLine, received 783 calls about exam stress from under 16’s. One in seven was aged under 13. At the same time, the UK government has introduced early learning goals for children as young as three and this generation of school children are the most tested ever. From a psychologist’s point of view it would seem that the more unhappy and dissatisfied we are, the more we want our kids to excel and do better than us. This clearly isn’t the way to go about achieving this aim.

Most people who work long hours tend to be unfocused, putting far more effort into things than is necessary. Perspiration spells pressure. Never forget that there is only one of you yet the company you work for will continue after you’re gone. Keep your effort in perspective. Trying too hard never works. Companies play on people’s insecurities and foster a mindset that encourages working overtime and sacrificing personal time. Believe in yourself and do not let your company exploit your need to do your best and then put in extra on top of that.

Work has become a great excuse for almost everything else. I can’t have a social life because I have to work or I know that my marriage is in trouble but this work project needs to be delivered on time. Talk about skewed priorities-what the heck is going on here? Perhaps the Covid-19 lockdown is a blessing in disguise? Reduced working hours during lockdown has shown clear evidence of how less travelling and working from home is good for the natural environment. I’m liking the sound of reduced working hours more and more.

Fewer working hours – the outcome

Reducing the length of the working week has been proven to boost productivity and efficiency. In Japan, Microsoft trialled a four-day week and productivity increased by around 40%. An organisation in Melbourne found a six-hour working day forced employees to eliminate unproductive activities, such as sending pointless emails, sitting in lengthy meetings, and randomly surfing social media sites on the internet. British businesses that have successfully implemented a four day week include Elektra Lighting, Think Productive and Portcullis Legals.

How can a better work-life balance be established?

Don’t buy into the ridiculous notion that there is something wrong with you if you don’t fit the 9-5 mould. Sacrificing your main priorities and values will absolutely lead to a miserable existence. Downgrading your family, friends, and free time to pursue your passion will most likely result in many regrets when you look back over your life one day. Money is a means to an end – what is it that money can bring to your life? Is there any other way to achieve these goals that don’t involve working yourself to death? Think outside the box and read books on how to live and work more flexibly. One that I recommend is called “The Four Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris. It offers ideas on how to break away from the traditional world of work. Thankfully, changes are now starting to happen since the Corona Virus pandemic with more people working from home. Subtle shifts are taking place that encourages the emergence of a more flexible working population.

Switching off from work (physically and mentally) is essential to ensure mental and physical health and a happy and fulfilling personal life. Plan holidays and short breaks through the year in advance; use mindfulness to help you switch off; practice self-compassion and prioritise self-care.

Ever since taking my Sociology Degree and my studies on Karl Marx, I have always wanted to escape the traditional world of work where the minority owns the means to production and the majority only have their labour power to offer. Capitalism has a lot to answer for when you consider all the greed and corruption that abounds. The higher powers want us to be good, well-behaved citizens who work long hours and pay our taxes. This is despite evidence that suggests working fewer hours can have a positive impact on productivity levels. Overwork continues to plague many cities but perhaps when we all shift our mindsets, real positive changes will emerge leaving us a happier and more fulfilled society.


Mandy X

Reference/Sources: The 10 Minute Life Coach – Fiona Harrold,a%20half%20weeks%20a%20year.


We spend a great deal of our lives working, and often our place of work can feel like a high-pressure environment. While deadlines, fast-paced work and demanding hours can have their positive sides, they can also cause stress, anxiety and other mental health issues that not only affect your ability to work – they affect your whole life outside of work too. It’s in recognition of the damaging effects of high-pressure work that this article looks at de-stressing methods in the world of work. By following the tips below, you’ll be taking better care of the mental health of the people around you, and yourself.


The first thing you should consider if you or someone close to you is suffering from the stress imposed by a high-pressure job is where a support network might lighten the burden. Support networks can be personal – involving friends and family – or professional, with bosses, colleagues and HR professionals at hand to help stressed individuals depressurize following a difficult period at work.

If you are suffering from stress that you feel is leading you to destabilized mental health, start looking to your support network for help. If you know someone close to you is experiencing high levels of stress, have a conversation with them in which you suggest they engage with their support network. Sharing problems and ranting about work can do a world of good, while other people will be able to offer their perspective and advice, which can serve to change your own outlook on your predicament.


This strategy is for those who feel they’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too long – and would benefit from a short break from the job that’s getting them down. The first thing to do in this situation is to talk to a superior about your problems. Approach a boss that you trust and ask them for a private, one-on-one conversation. Tell them that you’re struggling with stress; they’re obliged to help you get better.

There are various ways in which stressed individuals can soothe themselves in the wake of a difficult period at work. You might consider one of the following:

* Taking a long weekend to go to a spa for some relaxing, luxurious treatments

* Asking to work from home for a period of time – and enjoying the benefits of working in your pajamas from your couch

* Taking a period of unpaid leave and concentrating in this period on relaxing activities that you know bring you calm and joy

* Taking an impromptu holiday with a chunk of your paid leave; there’s nothing like a cocktail on the beach to help you unwind

Even a few evenings in a row spent indulging in leisure pursuits, relaxing with friends, or watching your favorite movies or TV show can help you start to process and leave the stress of your job behind.


Sideways career moves are another helpful back-up for those who’re stressed in their current position. If your role is a particularly stressful one, and you feel that you’re going to burn out if you continue in it for much longer, you can always talk with your employer about relocating to a different department. Failing that, you’ve got the world of work at your fingertips thanks to internet job sites. Make some applications and see where they lead you.

Then there are those moves that require additional education. After many years working as a nurse, for instance, the long hours and high-paced atmosphere of attending to multiple patients might become too much to bear – especially for those entering old age. It’s at this juncture that a master’s degree in nurse education could provide a new lease of life. Walsh University’s MSN in nursing education online program is the perfect place to get this qualification. With plenty of exciting opportunities presented by online courses, it’s a great way to move into a role that involves less stress. You can spend your time teaching others, instead, and can be a most natural career move.


Seeking professional help is thankfully becoming a more accepted and encouraged action for those suffering from stress, pressure, anxiety, and other mental health ailments. It’s an option you should always consider on the table – there for when you feel that your stress is getting the better of you and that you need some help in talking through and processing your problems. You can find counselors and therapists online, or you can go to your doctor who will be able to refer you to local services as and when you require them. You may also have a dedicated workplace therapist if you’re working within a large company. Don’t be afraid to book yourself in for a chat – you’ll find that talking about your problems will help reduce the pressure they create in your life.


The final tip for those looking to reduce the stresses they encounter in their place of work is to make sure that regular work social events allow for bonding and problem-sharing with your co-workers. If you consider yourself to be in a high-pressure role – whether as a nurse, a lawyer or a fireman – you will likely have little time on the job to chat and relax with colleagues who likely share in your levels of stress.

During these social events you can complain and laugh at your positions at work, and you’ll form the social bonds with those who work around you that’ll help make your working life a whole lot more bearable. Make social media groups and shared chats so that you’re able to organize things quickly come the weekend. Encourage your bosses to put some company money into social events. Take the initiative and become social secretary for your company or workplace, taking the time yourself to get people together in a range of fun pursuits – from nights in bars through to team-building events like paintballing and sporting fixtures.


These tips are provided to help workers who’re suffering from extreme and disruptive levels of stress in their working life. By enacting one of the above five strategies, you’ll be able to de-stress in a constructive and sustainable way. Stress is temporary, it’s important to remember. Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t allow an extended period of stress to damage other parts of your life, if you can help it. By being assertive and proactive, you’ll be able to bust your stresses, banishing them to your past to make way for a brighter future.

Mandy X


If you have hankered to be your own boss for some time but are unsure if taking the leap is the right decision, please consider this: there can be a number of health and wellness benefits that come from working for yourself.

As for how and why this is the case, check out the following points:


If you work full time in a traditional job plus have along commute to and from work, you might find it difficult to find the time to work out during the workday. Then, once you are home you are probably too zonked to head to the gym or even walk your loyal pooch. If you are your own boss and working from home, you will no longer have to factor in commute time to your day—instead of hopping in the car to drive to work, you could use that time to head to a local gym for a Zumba class or time on the elliptical, or you could “commute” to work by walking around the block a few times with your dog.


Another main benefit of being your own boss is getting to set your own schedule. You no longer have to answer to a company manager and spend 40 hours in a building at specific times—you can set up a nice home office and work hours that fits your unique body rhythm. For instance, if you are a devout early bird, you can get up at 4 a.m. and put in a few solid hours before taking the kiddos to school, and then finish up by the time you are ready to pick them up.

If you love the idea of a flexible schedule and being an entrepreneur but are understandably nervous about opening your own business, you could always start by working for an established company that will support you along the way. For instance, if you like sales-related jobs, you might try working in direct sales for a business like Amway. You can still set your own schedule and work from home selling Amway products online, but you won’t be completely self-employed or alone in your work. The company will also teach you how to sell Amway products and offer tips and advice on becoming an Independent Business Owner.


If working full time makes you feel stressed out and guilty as a parent because you don’t see your kiddos as much as you would like and always have to pass up chances to chaperone field trips and volunteer in their classes, being your own boss may alleviate these negative feelings. The flexible work schedulethat comes from being your own boss means you will be able to adjust your hours to meet your family’s needs along with personal and life responsibilities. Not having to pay for costly child care or after school programs may also help to lower your stress level.


Yes, setting up your own company takes time and determination. But in the long run, it can definitely be worth it for your physical and mental health and well-being. From taking better care of yourself and enjoying a flexible schedule to ditching the guilt that can come from spending 40-plus hours away from your family, being your own boss may be the ticket to a healthier you.

Mandy X

Mental health maintenance kit

Life is so challenging and day to day challenges can leave us feeling drained and exhausted. I have created a mental health maintenance kit to help maintain emotional wellbeing. It’s a quick and easy way to keep yourself balanced and can assist in coping with stress and anxiety.
This mental health maintenance kit has been created after doing research on what works and many of my clients have reported that this has helped them to overcome difficult times in life. Of course it can’t solve everything but it’s a great checklist to remind you of positive things you can do each day to keep yourself on the straight and narrow,
I use it daily and try my best to make sure I have used each one of the seven strategies to help me deal with life, especially when I feel vulnerable or know that my thinking is ‘off’. When we feel especially emotional about something, our thinking can be affected by these intense emotions and this is when we should accept that our thinking may not be accurate.
When we’re emotional and in a vulnerable place it’s a good time to implement the mental health maintenance kit too, it can be used as a preventative measure or to help us during tough times:
In short, the mental health maintenance kit is based on the acronym: IMAGINE
I = “I” for self care
M = Mindfulness
A = Acceptance
G = Gratitude
I = Interaction
N = Nurture fun/playfulness
E = Explore


It’s a good idea to engage in self care daily. Looking after yourself involves many different things. Some are basic such as brushing your teeth and showering. Other forms of self care: hand creams, face creams, moisturiser, getting a massage, going to the hairdresser etc. Try to improve on self care over time. If you currently can only manage to brush your teeth, then try to brush teeth and shower. If your basic hygiene needs are met, perhaps put body cream on or a face mask. Prioritise self care as it does wonders for emotional well being and has many psychological benefits.
Examples of self care: getting your hair done, going for a massage, any forms of self improvement, eating a healthy diet, exercising.


Several times a day, it’s good to practise mindfulness. Even if you can only manage 5 minutes each time, try to focus on the present moment. Focus on what you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Being mindful takes our focus away from our worries about the past or the future and gives our minds a well needed rest.
Good examples: a meal with a friend, watching television, playing with your children, meditation


Ask yourself if there is anything that you are resisting when you need to accept it? Are there things out of your control that you fight against? Acceptance can take a lot of strain off us. Resistance can lead to unnecessary anxiety and/or depression. Regularly look at your life and learn to accept the way it is at the moment. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to want things to change but acceptance frees up our energy to focus on what can influence and change.

Example: I went througha breakup a while back and found it hard to accept. I kept resisitng and hoping we would get back together. Once I accepted the status quo I healed much quicker and was able to move on.

Ask yurself: What am I fighting against that I actually have no control over? Accepting what is can be very liberating.


It’s easy to focus on what isn’t right in our lives. The grass can seem greener on the other side and it’s common to want what we don’t have. It’s a great mental skill to practise gratitude as it can instantly help us to feel happier.

Think about what is good in your life, no matter how small. Some people even keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily.

Our default seems to be quite negative and it’s a good strategy to remind us that things aren’t always that bad.

Each day focus on what went well – it could be something as simple as the fact that the sun is shining. We activate different neuarl pathways in our brains when we focus on what is good and this leads to longer lasting levels of satisfaction over time.


Spending time with others can often bring us the most joy. Being with others releases the feel-good hormone called Oxytocin. Being with others helps us to feel connected and involved. If you find you are avoiding others, it’s important to figure out why. Of course we all need time out but if you systematically avoid people, you are missing out on many happy opportunities.


Make time to be silly in life. Laugh often and always maintain a sense of humour. We often take life too seriously and seeing the funny side can lessen the emotional impact if it’s negative. Watch comedies, play games, go skiing, do things that make you smile.

Get in touch with your fun childlike side again.


This involves looking a little deeper into your patterns of behaviour. Identify what your ‘mental diet’ is – that is, what thoughts are you ‘feeding’ yourself? The thoughts we accept and ‘buy into’ will affect our quality of life. Are there any unhelpful thoughts leading you off course – such as mind reading, catastrophising or being self critical? (see the list of unhelpful thinking). If you struggle to understand your behaviour and find that it is causing you issues, Cognitive behavioural therapy could help you uncover deeper issues.


Mandy X

Copyright mandy kloppers/thoughtsonlifeandlove/ 2019

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Recognising Stress Being in paid work is generally a positive experience, however an estimated ten million working days in 2011/12 were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Stress can manifest in a few ways, physical, psychological and behavioural and affects people differently. Work-related stress is the harmful reaction that occurs when people have excessive work demands or expectations placed on them. Recognising when you are unable to manage your stress and when to ask for help is really important. You don't need to cope with stress alone. Here are some general things you can try: Recognising the signs of stress and the causes is a good place to start. Work out what you find stressful and helpful in the workplace. Once you know what works for you, talk to your employer about this. They may be able to make some changes to help you. Try different coping techniques to use as soon as you start to feel pressure building. Everyone is different, it may take time to find a method that works for you. Try the Stress Management Society website for ideas. Try mindfulness. Focusing on the here and now can help you to create space to respond in new ways to situations. The Be Mindful website has tips on how to do this. Look after your physical health. See our pages on physical activity and food and mood for more information on how this can help your mental health.