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International Men’s Day – Colleague Blogs

  • Friday, November 17, 2023
  • Posted By The Growth Company

International Men’s Day, 19 November, celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities.

At the Growth Company, we recognise the importance of putting the spotlight on men's mental health and normalising these conversations to ensure all colleagues can make informed choices to support their mental wellbeing.

Some of our colleagues from across the Growth Company have shared their own experiences and the things they do to maintain their own mental fitness and wellbeing.

Finlay Callender-Wood, Business Development Executive – Centre for Assessment

It’s easy to let this slide, but it’s so important to take care of your mental wellbeing. I really notice days or weeks where I’ve not taken care of my mental health and it makes the day-to-day stuff, even hobbies, more of a challenge. I’m a strong advocate for taking care of your mental health – just as much as your physical health.

Unfortunately, there’s a negative association with the phrase ‘mental health’ – and I’m guilty of automatically thinking of negative mental health conditions. The phrase ‘mental wellbeing’ however, reminds me of the positives, such as self-care and mindfulness.

Aside from getting professional support, self-care is a big one for me. I love running and hiking. Getting outside and moving in nature often clears the head with some added endorphins. Eating good nourishing food helps too! If I can’t work off a bad day with some sort of exercise, I’ll be looking to get a good meal in. Your gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’, so nutrition will have a big impact on mental health.

3 top tips to keep your mental wellbeing in check:

  • Sounding like a broken record, but self-care! Whatever your self-care is, baking, getting lost in a book, walks with a podcast, a brew with friends or family, it’s so important to make time for self-care on a regular basis.
  • Mindfulness is another useful tool to keep your mental health in check. I’d recommend trying meditation (many apps out there to use), yoga, breathing exercises or even incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities.
  • Finally, and most importantly, talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Keep in communication with friends, family, or your partner. Contact your GP and/or seek professional help through counselling or therapies. I cannot stress this last point enough.

Matthew Gale, Compliance Officer - Restart

There was recently a situation which had a negative impact on my mental health – I was unemployed. To better my mental health, I did some volunteering and I also did physical activities such as going to the gym, badminton and cycling – which I found really helped me.

Now that I'm back in employment, for me, taking breaks in my daily routine is important, especially going for walks. I've also personally found that going into the office more often to socialise with others, instead of working from home, has also helped my mental health.

It's been vital to look after my own mental health, because I've also needed to help my sister after her partner was diagnosed with cancer. I needed to make sure that I was in a strong place to make sure I was there to support her – by regularly checking-in with her and I helped support her during fundraise efforts at an event for cancer.

It's positive to see men's mental health about being talked more openly, with increasing more awareness – and that it's OK to talk about this. The events in particular, such as Andy’s Man Club and involving senior colleagues, is a good way to increase understanding throughout GC and are positive moves in our organisation towards this topic.

Chris Jones, Executive Director - Centre for Assessment

I find that my mental health has a circular effect – when I’m feeling positive then that seems to focus my thoughts on the things that are going well, and makes those inevitable setbacks seem more manageable, which in turn builds my positive mood. Conversely, when I’m feeling low, then life’s normal setbacks take on a disproportionate significance and creates a more negative circle.

If I can capture the positive circle and sustain it, then I’m often able to create a virtuous circle. For me, physical exercise (often outdoors), and being mindful about what I eat helps me gain and then sustain that positive circle. I try to spend time each week walking and jogging (although not everyone would recognise what I’m doing as that) outside. Being in the big outdoors seems to put me and my worries into context, letting me blow off steam while sorting my thoughts or thinking of nothing at all. In a similar way, I find that eating well makes me feel healthier and that in turn brightens my mood.

I’m not always able to keep up a good run of exercise or eating well. Sometimes, this feels like a failure and sparks the negative circle. Of late, I’ve tried to focus on the longer-term picture and not on those days, or weeks, when I’ve not been as active or eaten as well as I would have liked. I have had breaks getting outdoors, and then it can be hard to get back into a routine. But I always find that once I’m able to get a few walks or runs under my belt, the desire to keep up my streak acts as a positive motivator.

GC’s support and commitment around mental health has helped me maintain my positive circles longer and more often. I’ve especially found the increasing acceptance that taking regular breaks is a good and normal thing, supportive. One example I’m seeing more and more people is colleagues marking off time for lunch and exercise in their Outlook calendars – and I hope that encourages more people to do the same. It’s certainly given me the ‘permission’ to do so and actually use that time to get outside or take a little longer preparing a healthier lunch.

Dean Gibson - Internal Recruitment Specialist

Having existing stress and anxiety issues, I then lost my father-in-law during covid. Having family, friends and work colleagues who were willing to help me and listen, kept my mental health on the right track. Additionally, at the same time I had a detached retina, but knowing that I had the support of that circle of people helped me to remain positive – with an outlook on life which helps me not get defeated when I encounter setbacks.

During my own setbacks and also within my working life, I've worked with many colleagues who've had issues with health, stress and other difficulties. By offering my support, being a friend as well as a colleague, and being available when they need to talk – it's helped them to also find positives in a negative situation. Being able also signpost and direct people to additional support helps them to overcome their problems. It also gives me a positive and rewarding feeling and helps my own mental wellbeing.

To help me with my personal health and wellbeing, I always take time out of work on a daily basis to do regular walking, going to the gym and sport participation. Also, spending time with friends helps me relax and de-stress.

I work to live and I make sure that I rest and relax as much as possible.