Managing Your Mental Health as a Manager
The Responsibility Faced by Managers
Managers face significant responsibilities within their roles. From handling budgets to meeting deadlines, and adhering to company policies, managers face significant pressures daily. Managers also face significant responsibility when it comes to supporting the health of their teams, including mental health. In addition, they are often seen as role models and problem solvers who staff turn to when they need guidance and support.
It is essential that managers take responsibility for their own mental wellbeing in order to effectively manage the wellbeing of those they lead. A manager’s ability to spot signs and symptoms of poor mental health in themselves or others can help prevent more serious issues from arising. This includes understanding stress and learning techniques such as mindfulness and relaxation to cope better with difficult situations.
Managers should also be aware of how their own actions can affect team morale and productivity levels. Research suggests that negative leadership can increase levels of anxiety amongst members of a team, leading to poorer performance overall. Therefore, it is important for managers to promote a healthy work culture by being supportive, approachable, and offering helpful feedback when needed.
In addition to managing individuals within a team, a manager’s duty includes taking responsibility for larger organisational changes which affect mental wellbeing across an entire business. This could include implementing policies which benefit employees such as flexitime or introducing new initiatives which provide support for those struggling with their mental health at work.
Stress when Line Managing a Team
The responsibility of line managing a team can take its toll, and it is important for managers to prioritise maintaining their own mental health. Stress is a natural part of life, but it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms so that you can develop healthy coping strategies.
When line managing a team, common causes of stress can include team dynamics, staffing levels or deadlines. Worrying about your performance as a manager is commonplace and normal, as is experiencing imposter syndrome. It is important however to recognise when your stress levels are becoming overwhelming and to be proactive in reducing this.
It may help to set realistic goals and then break these down into smaller, manageable chunks; this will help avoid any feelings of being overwhelmed by an unmanageable workload. Taking breaks and utilising them – whether to get sunshine, go for a walk, read, listen to music or time spent with others – can help you to problem solve more effectively and be less ruled by overwhelming emotions such as stress or anxiety.
Most importantly, it is key as a manager to create an open and supportive environment that prioritises being proactive in tending to mental health and wellbeing. As a manager you can lead by example and model the behaviour you wish to see. This can help to create an environment where people feel they can talk about challenges earlier, without fear of judgement or repercussions, such as if they feel overwhelmed with their workload. Having conversations openly about mental health creates an environment where people feel supported and less alone in their struggles which is key for maintaining good mental health in the workplace, and promotes positive wellbeing – making your life easier as a manager.
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The Relationship between Stress and Mental Health
As a manager, taking care of your mental health is essential to ensure you stay healthy and productive. It’s important to understand the relationship between stress and mental health, as it can help you identify when it’s time to take a break or reach out for help.
Stress is a natural part of life, and it can be positive or negative. Positive stress helps us focus and stay motivated, while negative stress can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion. Prolonged periods of unmanaged stress can have an adverse effect on our mental health, leading to issues such as depression or anxiety. A survey by Mind found that 34% of managers experienced high levels of work-related stress—higher than any other profession.
High levels of stress can cause changes in our thinking patterns which can impact how we react to situations. This can affect how we interpret information or make decisions, which may not be the most beneficial for us or those around us. It’s also worth noting that feeling stressed doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong; sometimes it is our perception of the situation that is causing us stress rather than the situation itself. Prolonged or severe stress can trigger other mental health difficulties, so it is imperative that managers monitor their stress levels and seek to reduce or manage these.
Having healthy coping mechanisms in place will help ensure that your own mental health doesn’t suffer as a result of managing tasks at work or home life pressures. This could include anything from getting enough sleep each night or taking regular breaks during the day, to speaking openly with colleagues or seeking professional help when appropriate.
Taking care of your mental wellbeing shouldn’t be overlooked – after all, managing yourself is just as important as managing others!
Boundaries in Your Professional Relationships as a Manager
As a manager, it is vital to maintain healthy boundaries in your professional relationships. Boundaries can relate to time (e.g. not working late with no pay) and conversation (e.g. what you will and won’t talk about with your colleagues and subordinates) as just two examples. Without proper boundaries in place, the line between work and personal life can become blurred, leading to feelings of stress and burnout. Taking the time to set boundaries can help you protect your mental health while still getting the job done.
When establishing boundaries with colleagues and other office professionals, be sure to communicate clearly and openly about expectations. Let people know what you are comfortable with and what tasks or requests you cannot accommodate. Being honest upfront can prevent any confusion or misunderstandings down the line. It is also important to remember that setting boundaries does not make you a bad or unprofessional manager—it simply shows that you value yourself and your own mental wellbeing.
It is equally important to create personal boundaries with yourself when managing others. It is easy for supervisors to take on too much responsibility, so take time to identify which tasks only need your attention and which can delegated or carried out by someone else under your supervision. Additionally, avoid overextending yourself by taking regular breaks throughout the day, allowing time for rest and self-care activities such as exercise or meditation.
Finally, seek support from friends, family members, or colleagues if needed—you do not have to do everything on your own! Connecting with people who understand the pressures of management roles can help make managing mental health a little easier.
The Emotional Impact of Supporting Others with their Mental Health
As a manager, you are responsible for ensuring that work is not detrimental to the physical or mental wellbeing of your team. Supporting others with their mental health can have an emotional impact on you, and so it is important to be aware of the emotional impact of that this may have on you, so that you can take better care of yourself during this process.
When supporting someone with their mental health, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions. It is natural to feel empathy towards them, and you may find yourself experiencing similar emotions as those being expressed by the person who is struggling. This is why it is so important for managers to stay connected to their needs so that they can remain present and secure even in challenging situations. Remember that it isn’t your job to fix or solve any issues; rather your role is simply to listen without judgement and offer solutions if appropriate.
It’s also important for managers to pay attention to any feelings of guilt or shame that may arise while providing support. Some individuals may feel ashamed about discussing their mental health struggles with another person, which can cause the manager to experience guilt for engaging in the conversation in the first place. It’s vital that managers be mindful of these feelings, which can help them offer more compassionate and understanding support when necessary. It may also be worthwhile seeking out mental health training to ensure you know how to manage yourself effectively.
Putting your Own Life Jacket on First
Managing others’ mental health requires sensitivity, patience, and self-reflection. It’s important for managers to take a step back from time-to-time in order to evaluate how they are feeling emotionally after offering support so they don’t become overwhelmed themselves. Taking time before or after supportive conversations relating to others’ mental health is necessary for you to regulate your own emotions. This time could be spent engaging in mindfulness, breathing techniques or journalling as just a few examples. This can help you to regulate your own stress levels and reduce the emotional impact on you and your own performance.
Supporting others’ mental health as a manager requires an immense amount of emotional strength and resilience – both qualities which require constant maintenance if they are going to be sustained over time. Self-care plays a big role here too; it’s essential that managers regularly check in with themselves in order to assess how they are feeling mentally so they can continue providing effective support without burning out themselves!
How to Support your own Mental Health as a Manager
Here are some tips on how to support your own mental health as a manager:
1) Make time for yourself – Don’t let work eat up all of your time and energy; set aside time each day to do something just for yourself. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk or even just taking 5 minutes out of your day in silence; make sure you make time for yourself and rejuvenate.
2) Talk about it – If you are struggling with any issues related to your mental health, speak to someone you trust, such as a colleague, friends or family. Alternatively, there are many online resources such as counselling services that can provide advice and support if needed.
3) Take breaks – Regularly taking breaks throughout the day and using annual leave can re-energise you both mentally and physically. Even if it is only 5 minutes away from work tasks; getting outside or having a quick chat with colleagues can drastically improve focus and productivity when returning to work.
4) Exercise – Exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels on an individual level by releasing endorphins which make us feel more uplifted. Try doing something physical such as going for a run or attending an exercise class at least twice per week – this could be the key to managing stress better!
5) Unplug from technology – Unplugging from phones/laptops/tablets every now and then can help clear our minds of clutter and allow us some headspace away from work pressures. Turn off notifications at least one evening per week as well as during weekends and holidays too!
6) Lastly, schedule regular wellbeing meetings for yourself – whether with your own manager, time alone to self-reflect, or with a therapist, scheduling this will help you to hold yourself accountable.
Modelling Positive Coping Strategies from the Top Down
No matter the size, workplace or industry, managers and supervisors are a key factor in creating a positive culture of mental wellbeing. A major part of this is modelling positive coping strategies that staff can follow when times get tough.
As leaders in the organisation, managers can demonstrate self-care practices and talk openly about mental health so employees to feel comfortable doing the same. This can range from simple activities such as taking regular breaks throughout the day, or more involved initiatives like participating in lunchtime yoga sessions or mindfulness classes. By leading by example and making it accessible for your team to do the same, you’re encouraging them to follow suit and make time for their own wellbeing.
It’s important that as a manager you’re aware of the different challenges, needs and even personalities of your team, and that you support them as individuals. If someone on your team is struggling with their mental health, let them know there are support systems available for them to use; both inside and outside of work. Managers should be able to recognise signs that their team members may be struggling and should be proactive in checking in with them and offering support.
This could include anything from co-creating wellbeing plans, offering regular wellbeing supervision, signing them up to employee assistance programmes or providing them with signposting for support.
It’s important that staff feel seen and supported by their manager when it comes to managing their mental health as challenges arise at work every day. By actively modelling positive coping strategies from the top-down managers will not only show their commitment to creating a safe environment for everyone, but normalise others being proactive in maintaining their own wellbeing, which is key for everyone.
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