Why good mental health has little to do with a 4-day workweek

Mental health issues have been knocking on doors for some time, but for years most organizations have preferred to pay little attention to it – until the pandemic turns our lives upside down and forces them to respond to related needs. the mental well-being of employees. at.

This might not be an opinion people want to hear, but most of the advice for dealing with stress at work is dominated by lazy nonsense centered around the need to make your life easier and not worry too much. . It does not solve the problem and does not result in mitigation. While many may need professional help and intervention, there are ways to manage and perhaps even prevent work-related anxiety and stress.

Each individual has different triggers and tolerance limits for anxiety and stress. If you know your triggers, you can be better prepared and take corrective action before the event. For example, one person may feel anxious before a review meeting, while another person may feel anxious whenever they need to have a crucial conversation, such as providing unpleasant feedback to a very strong team member. efficient and ambitious. Some others may face an existential threat when they receive feedback from their manager. You will never like to do what you deeply dislike, but preparation, practice, and rational thinking can help reduce your anxiety levels.

Some situations are beyond your control, but the way you react is largely in your control. Most people worry about what is not under their control and do not spend enough time refining their answer. Author Stephen Covey calls it “the circle of influence” and stresses the importance of staying focused on managing and responsive response to events in your circle of influence. The circle of influence is basically things that you can do something about, and as you act to make positive changes to things under your control, your circle of influence grows over time. It may seem easier said than done, but it is a habit that can be developed if you put in the effort. If successful, it translates into a strange calm of the mind and a sense of equanimity in the face of the joys and pains of life.

The positive side of any adversity is that it provides an opportunity to examine your priorities in life and discover your true self. This is almost impossible in normal times when everything is going well. So, when adversity strikes, don’t forget to quickly put a course of thought. Instead of feeling anxiety and stress, you will feel the opportunity to develop your resilience.

I have found that the best way to deal with anxiety and stress is before it hits you. Good habits are built in good times, not bad. The problem is, most people start to think about developing good habits after adversity – after the first heart attack, after the first job loss, or after a break-up. Good habits can be as simple as having stable sleep patterns, having a good circle of friends with whom you can unload and take off all your masks, exercise regularly, and relax (through meditation, reading good books , listen to soothing music).

Good habits can also be making the right strategic choices in your life, such as choosing a job, a life partner, and friends. I have always said that a few strategic choices can make or break a business and this is also true of individuals. With the wrong strategic choices (often under pressure from society and the overwhelming urge to comply and appear successful) anxiety and stress are inevitable and there is little you can do to cope with it.

Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha and had access to all physical comforts. Yet anxiety and stress haunted him at every stage of his life. He eventually gave up everything – kingdom, parents, wife and newborn – and set out in search of answers to life’s questions. After submitting to extreme deprivation, he realized the futility of this approach and quickly discovered a deep truth: neither self-indulgence nor self-deprivation is an answer. He proposed the now famous “middle way”. The middle way is not a compromise as one might conclude. It is a negation of “extremes” and somewhat similar to Aristotle’s idea of ​​the “golden mean”, where one or the other extreme is a vice. The mother of all golden means is the beautiful balance between “dreaming” and “being anchored”. Dreaming creates the right imbalance and the imbalance essential for growth. On the other hand, to be grounded is to realize that endless quests can be dangerously unsettling; and an imperfect fit is better than an eternal search for the perfect fit.

In short, good mental health isn’t about making headlines like four-day work weeks. It’s what you do with your life during the week that makes the difference.

TN Hari is an author, angel investor, and advisor to several venture capitalists and startups. His most recent book is From pony to unicorn: developing a start-up in a sustainable way.

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