Why It’s Important To Talk To ‘Quiet’ Colleagues

Today is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is mental health in the workplace.

As a sufferer myself, working in a demanding and stressful job can make the job itself ten times harder than most people around me. But, recently I have been getting rather annoyed at how colleagues with physical disabilities are treated with extra care and everyone in the team are made aware of their difficulties. Why can’t it be the same with mental health? Why are we still ashamed of being open about it?

I always envy my colleagues who seem so confident because I wish I was like them. The ones who are so loud and talkative. They’re the ones who get noticed. I am someone who is known to be very quiet, mainly because every single day, I battle with anxiety and intrusive thoughts led by my eating disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Sure, it has gotten better with putting myself out there and my medication definitely helps. But, there are those days where my anxiety gets very bad at work and I end up getting angry at myself. I tend to isolate myself because that’s where I feel most safe. Being alone.

On bad days, I have to pluck up the courage to ask someone for help on something. It can take a while. I might not even do it because I am that scared. Actually physically talking to someone can makes me very nervous some days. So on those days, I avoid it. I just stay in my comfort zone. Afterwards, I regret it.

I used to do that at school. If I needed help, I would stay silent. Years of treatment taught me that by avoiding things you fear, it will only get even more bigger and scarier. So just do it. But that is easier said than done. Sometimes, you need a bit more support and encouragement from those around you.

On those days when I’m struggling at work, what I would like is more support from colleagues. But because I have isolated myself so much due to my mental health problems, I have failed to build close friendships with colleagues and so it is incredibly hard to know who to go to and who to trust. It gets me down a lot because I always see colleagues laughing and talking to each other, and I’m just there fading into the background. As a child, I felt invisible and sometimes at work, that invisibility feeling comes back. I feel worthless a and useless.

If there’s someone in the office who is quiet, why not approach them? What’s the worst that could happen? Talk to them. Build them up. Help them. Praise them on their work. It’s those little things that can help them in such a huge way.

We can get so preoccupied with work itself and forget about some of the colleagues around us and how they could be feeling. Work will always be there but your colleagues might not. So, why not start a conversation today?

5 Ways To Reduce Academic Stress

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Sometimes, I suddenly go through a writer’s block phase and I do not know what to write about. Usually, it is because I am stressed with university work. Academic stress is certainly something a lot of you are going through at the moment. A lot of people tell me they are surprised when I tell them I am stressed because apparently I am one of the most organised person they know. Well, I am stressed but I do cope with it pretty well I suppose. Here are my top tips on how to cope with stress…specifically academic stress.

1. Work-life/Social life/Study Balance – What I find that stresses out a lot of students is when they have other activities on their mind, such as a job or socialising along with their studies. For me, that would be such a stressful thing because not only do I have to worry about getting my assignments done on time but I also need to balance my work-life. I am lucky enough to not have to worry about that but I know a lot of people aren’t. If you can manage, I would say for now, reduce those commitments, so you have time to study. Of course, you need to socialise now and then. Please do, otherwise things will get on top of you. All work and no play is certainly not a great way to go about things.

2. Study Plan – I know a lot of people dread this but I find that keeping a study plan keeps me very organised and it actually satisfies me because I know exactly what I have completed and what I need to do and by when I need to do it. It keeps me grounded. A study plan is a very good way to reduce stress. List all your subjects and modules that you need to complete and by when. Then, give yourself a limited time to do it in. Do it one by one – going in order of deadline. This makes it more easier and clear for you to follow.

3. Keep Calm & Breath – Do some light exercises. Yoga and Pilates reduces stress and keeps you calm. Along with exercise, you must make sure you are eating well and getting enough sleep. Get at least 7 hours sleep a day. I would NOT suggest pulling all-nighters. I don’t know how people do it. Sleep is very important to reduce stress and prevent illnesses.

4. Ask For Help – This is something I find a lot of people struggle with. They don’t like to admit that they are stressed and actually need some professional help. Universities and colleges all have counselling services. A lot of people go to them during the exam period. It will be an extra way to reduce stress if you can talk to a professional about your worries because they are the ones who can help you manage your academic stress. Do not be afraid. Ask for help if you need it.

5. Lower Your Goals – It is easy for you to say you want the highest grade but make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure. The worst thing you can do is targeting yourself the highest grade, stressing yourself out to get that grade and in the end, failing to get it due to the pressure of it all. Be realistic. Set a goal that you will be satisfied with and is achievable for you. Look through your past grades and think about if the grade you want is achievable for your academic level.

 

How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

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We often underestimate the benefits of sleeping well and most of us do not even get a good night’s sleep which can affect our mood and skin. A lot of things can get in the way of our sleep, mostly stress. I know how tough it is to toss and turn all night. Even when you are tired, you just cannot seem to fall asleep and it is so frustrating because you find yourself feeling overly tired during the day.

There are things you can do to fall asleep.

No Technology – This is something I have been told many times, which is to turn off all technology an hour before bed. This means no TV, no iPhone, no laptop. When we are so focused on screen after screen, our brain is still alert and when we go to bed straight after, our mind is still focused on that. Give yourself an hour before you go to bed to switch off all technology, until the next day.

Tidy Your Bedroom – I say this all the time. A clean and tidy bedroom constitutes to a good night’s sleep. It is amazing how the environment you are in can affect your mood and sleep. Give yourself some time at the end of the day to make your bedroom look nice and cosy and also, make sure the temperature of the room is perfect. You do not want a really cold bedroom or a very hot bedroom. Try and find that perfect temperature, which will in turn make you feel rather relaxed and hopefully make you fall asleep easier.

Read – Reading is something that I often do when I switch off my technology an hour before bed. Make sure what you are reading is rather positive though. You would not want to read a negative book before bed because that can affect your sleep. I like to read motivational or self-help books before bed.

Journal – What I like to do at the end of everyday is to write in my personal journal. It could be about anything. Writing down about how my day went at the end of the day is like ticking the day complete and it is like saying I am ready for the next day. I write everyday and if writing is something that you like, before bed is a really good time to write, as it is relaxing and reflecting on the day, good or bad, makes you feel so much better.

Hypnosis – This is very optional but what I find works for myself is listening to medication or hypnosis audios in bed. I am really into self-development and so listening to positive audio’s makes me feel rather calm and sleepy. I really love Joseph Clough‘s Hypnosis app and I listen to his podcasts every night to make me fall asleep. He has great hypnosis for different issues, so if you have an issue which may be holding you back in life, have a listen to some of his podcasts. They help immensely with looking at life in a different way and sleeping too!

Sleeping Schedule – Finally, get into a sleeping routine. If you go to bed at different times every night, your sleeping will definitely be out of whack. However, if you go to bed at the same time every night, you will sleep much better and wake up at the same time. I go to bed at 10pm every night and wake up at 6am every morning. So I get a good 8 hours sleep every day, which is what most adults need.

My Pamper Evening Essentials

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What I like to do every week is to have a nice pamper evening to relieve stress and just have some ‘me’ time. I know how stressful you can get when you have studying to do, a job or kids to look after. That does not mean you cannot treat yourself now and then. A break is what you need to recharge your batteries. In fact, pampering yourself does wonders to your physical and mental state and makes you feel so much better. I always like to have my own pamper evening once or twice every week and this is what I usually do…

DSC00822Relaxing bath –  A pamper evening always should include having a nice relaxing bath. It will not be a pamper evening if a bath is not included because that bath is what relaxes and soothes you the most. Recently, I have been buying bath bombs from Lush because they are amazing and makes you feel fresh and lovely. You need something special on a pamper evening. My favourite bath bomb is the Avobath made with avocado, olive oil and lemongrass and it smells amazing.

Exfoliating Face Mask – An exfoliating homemade face masks are the best for a pamper evening. My favourite is definitely my Manuka Honey and Sea Salt mask. Great for acne-prone skin.

DSC00785Candles – I love candles. I burn them while I study too. They put you in a rather relaxing mood. Yankee Candles are expensive but they last a long time and get the whole room smelling lovely. I was looking for the Christmas Cookie recently but they were all sold out, so I settled for the  Strawberry Buttercream instead. It is absolutely gorgeous. I burnt it only once and everyone says it got the whole house smelling nice let alone my bedroom. Scented candles are a must for a pamper night.

Clean and Tidy Bedroom – Along with that, I always make sure I have a tidy bedroom and some fairy lights turned on. It just makes me feel so much relaxed and cosy. Below is my bedroom – well half of it anyway.

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Book – I love cosying up in bed with a good book. I am currently reading Madness by Marya Hornbacher for the second time.

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Nail Polish – Something rather girly! A pamper even will not be a pamper evening without painting your nails. My favourite is the Essie ‘Fishnet Stockings’. A lovely deep red. It looks beautiful on. 13249384

I think I will have a nice pamper evening on New Year’s Eve. Perfect way to end 2013 don’t you think?