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World Mental Health Day: ‘One thing’ for the workplace #WMHDay

10 October 2017

We were delighted to find that workplace wellbeing was going to be the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 #WMHDay. To participate in the day, we invited some staff around the university to tell us ‘one thing’ that they do to tend to their mental health in the workplace. Here’s what they said:

“I take a daily cycle ride to Blackweir which links Blackweir Fields and Pontcanna Fields. I take a seat along the river Taff and absorb all its surroundings. It gets busy with commuting pedestrians, dog walkers and cyclists. I never get tired of watching the river flow down the weir, watching the great cormorant diving under water catching fish, swans, and ducks which are regular visitors to the weir. I listen to the breeze rustling the leaves as it passes through the trees.  This all helps me to collect all my thoughts and reflect on things in life that really do matter.”

Steven Philips, Staff in Student Support, Heath Campus

“I maintain a basic planner of all expected work, Gannt-style. It helps me plan my time and more importantly, it limits the things I worry about. I struggle with anxiety and I used to worry about unknown quantities of things biting me on the backside. Now, I know what I should ‘worry’ about, which is far more manageable!1 Thing

Tip: Keep it simple, and put those tasks into Outlook so they are there for others and myself to see and keep an eye on.”

Chris Habberley, MIS Manager

“I use a journal diary to help plan my week and each day following seeing the idea in a supermarket magazine. This enables me to dump my thoughts, stuff that is playing on my mind and also tasks/meetings that I need to do and attend. It enables me to clear my head of the constant buzzing of thoughts. The diary works over a two page spread so I can see the week in one glance. I add to it each morning and then with great satisfaction tick tasks off as I go. I also use it for things that I need to get done outside of work. The journal diary (or planner) can be as creative and elaborate as you like with tasks being carried forward to the future. You can also plan a whole month or even year with work and personal goals and tasks. It helps me a huge amount with my wellbeing. It is much more organised than my previous ’to do’ lists and  having scraps of paper all of the place which ends being disorganised and cluttered. I think that seeing the tasks in an organised way, helps me to organise thoughts and worries concerns at the same time. I would be happy to show anybody how it works – it is very simple and helps me out.”

Dr John Evans, School Manager

My number 1 thing that I find helpful is to have colleagues in work who I can talk to when I’m feeling stressed. In general, we tend to have a 5 min coffee break each morning where we ask each other how things are going (with work and in general). It sounds a lot like common sense but I’m not sure this happens in all workplaces, and it helps to feel less isolated and manage work stress!”

Katie Lewis, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences 

“My role like everyone else’s is very busy; I am involved with a lot of strategic and long term initiatives as well as shorter term projects but working in HR I also have multiple clients and have to be able to respond reactively to issues that come up with short or no notice.

My one top tip is to manage my diary and time effectively. I try and work a week ahead to anticipate where my time needs to be spent and provide myself with enough time to prepare as to limit the ‘last minute panic’. I try and protect an hour or two here and there to either catch up with myself (and undertake actions that lie with me), to have a coffee with a colleague or as a safety net for any unexpected issues that arise.”

Kathryn Davies, HR Business Partner

I am very fortunate to live in Cardiff and therefore I either cycle or walk to work.  I find that both forms of exercise help in terms of thinking time whilst away from the desk, as well as keeping me reasonably fit.  I also make a conscious effort to achieve 10,000 steps a day, by walking to work or between cross city meetings, if time allows.  I think it’s important to have a lunch break, or be away from the desk, as not only does it take you away from your workspace it keeps crumbs from your keyboard.”

Philip Rees-Jones, Deputy Director – Commercial

“I try not to sit still, I stretch at my desk, take walks around the office and I use yogi breathing to calm my nerves and clear my mind. The most effective one for me is to inhale to the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4 and then holding for a count of 4 before repeating. This steadies my breathing, calms me and because I’m counting it helps me to take my focus inwards an after a few rounds my perspective of the situation is clearer and any anxiety is released. Also I can do this at my desk and no one knows!”

Georgina Evans, Student Systems Support Manager

“As a team, we are always careful to have a healthy work/life balance. This means that, whilst we are always willing to be flexible, we generally make an effort to be away from our desks at lunchtime, and to be leaving the office at our normal finishing times. Of course, there’s always busy periods when a bit of extra work can make the difference, but it is important to make sure this does not become normal.”

The Positive Working Environment Team

I try to connect with other people. I arrange a few wellbeing activities such as a weekly group walk to Bute Park, yoga and meditation.  This encourages not just me but others to take time out doing something healthy for body and mind whilst spending time with other people.  It’s very rewarding to see people connecting when they may not have had the chance to get to know each other otherwise. I also have a close network of people I can talk to when I need to.  It helps to have someone to confide in or to have a laugh with particularly on rough days. Talking to people helps me to put things into perspective.  Doing this when doing a physical activity, such as the weekly walk to Bute park helps us to step out of the work environment for a short period and get some head space.  It also helps to connect with others.  The physical activity gives me some extra energy so I feel refreshed when returning to work.”

Claire O’Connell, Building Facilities Manager – Facilities

The Staff Wellbeing Team