Are you struggling? Let’s look at some things that might help you through

Today is World Mental Health Day and we understand that everyone goes through rough patches from time to time. Some of our team members have banded together to give advice on how to get through if you’re in a difficult period of life – or how to keep the good times going!

Time to read: 6 mins

Taranaki Business Advisory Services managing director Daimon Stewart

To help maintain one’s sanity, I subconsciously rely on a few key themes, a couple of which are unashamedly clichés!

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff – we have to remember to keep things in perspective. Whether it’s a personal challenge or work related, there is always a bigger picture. Where do we fit and how does this issue fit in the bigger picture?  Sometimes it’s a reality check when you have the opportunity to take a step back and realise this may not be worth the energy it is taking! 
  • Stress doesn’t help – we will all go through pressures and challenges in life. Managing our stress levels (sometimes easier said than done!) will help navigate through these moments.  Stress leads to emotive responses. Vision and thoughts can be clouded, and getting wound up tends to wind up others around you.  Stay calm! 
  • Shit happens – so important to recognise this. No matter how careful you are in life, or the systems/processes you have at work, something inevitably “slips through the cracks”.  The sooner we recognise that “shit happens” the sooner we can accept it, find a remedy/solution and move on….. while also giving thought to ensuring it doesn’t happen again. 
  • Eighty per cent is good enough – chasing perfection is chasing one’s tail. While it’s important we maintain high standards in our lives (and recognise this is subjective for every person), sometimes achieving 80% is actually okay.  The stress and time that can go into achieving the final 20% can carry little value and ends up being the “small stuff”.  Refer first point above!

The overarching theme is to just look after yourself and allow yourself to be rested. Bad days will happen, so let yourself just resort to survival mode so you can get through it without putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.

Hawke’s Bay director and lead HR consultant Andrea Stevenson

Being human by default means not being perfect. It is why leadership is so hard – it’s imperfect humans leading imperfect humans.  We spend so much time worrying and ruminating when in reality worry is usually just a conversation we are having with ourselves about things we can’t change. While I am all for accepting responsibility, if it’s out of your hands it deserves freedom from you mind.

Personally, I love the concept of Atomic Habits where it’s the small things – the 1% differences that we can make – that culminated together start to shift things over time. One of my favourite mantras is “things are the way they are because I’ve allowed them to be structured that way” (read that again). When we start making those tiny atom-sized changes (which at first we don’t notice), together and over time, they can make a huge difference. 

Positive psychology has offered insights into the thinking and practices of positive people. The positive relationship between altruism (helping others) and wellbeing is now well proven. Getting involved and helping others feels great, so prioritising doing something for a neighbour, volunteering or supporting a meaningful cause is a great way to simply feel better and put a smile on your dial. 

Wellington Business Advisory & Taxation Services partner Matt Bonner

As an accountant, I thrive on problem-solving! But I’ve learnt over the years that when a friend's going through a tough time, sometimes all they need is a listening ear, not a barrage of advice. When I'm feeling a bit low myself, the outdoors and quality time with a friend are my go-to remedies – whether it's a leisurely walk, a quick run or a round of golf. I try to remember that every challenge is transient – whatever's bringing you down won't last forever.

Taranaki Business Advisory Services associate Kylie Cronin

I have three approaches to keeping my mental health in check: Preventative – I prioritise having downtime with non-negotiable blocked-out time slots to ensure I give myself a chance to rest, recharge and clear the mind, as well as to exercise to stay healthy. Management – during busier times or stressful deadlines I use music to focus on my project and also   make sure I get out of the office for some fresh air during the day to stay refreshed. Repair – if stress creeps in and things get a bit overwhelming, I usually find it takes me a few days to recognise that I’m not being overly productive. Once I notice this, I book myself a day off. I use this day to get on top of the to-do list outside of work in the morning, then spend the afternoon relaxing on my own. By the next day I am back on my game!

National Technical director Nicola Hankinson

I believe in the theory of relativity – I think this helps to give perspective when times are tough. Just knowing that, yes, times are tough but there are people out there doing it a lot tougher, sometimes helps put things in perspective. There was a fantastic quote I saw recently (it’s attributed to Shakespeare, but I’m not sure whether he said it or not): “I cried when I had no shoes, but I stopped crying when I saw a man without legs. Life is full of blessings, sometimes we don’t value it.”

On the topic of shoes – one of my most valuable possessions from a mental health perspective is my running shoes. When everything feels like it is caving in, a good run in the fresh air (particularly if you can find someone to drag along for some company and a chat) does wonders in terms of improving my state of mind – the healing power of endorphins and the feeling that you have done something positive for yourself is incredible!

National Marketing and Communications specialist Jo Taylor

I read some great advice years ago: “Make your bed”. When people are struggling so much that simply getting out of bed is an effort, it can help to follow a routine that makes you feel like the day has begun: Make your bed, brush your teeth and hair, put on some clothes that make you feel good. Otherwise, putting on music is always an energy booster – with a covenant: Stay away from depressing songs unless they help you vent! Another thing to remember is the healing power of friendship and nature – visit people who make you feel loved and happy, go for a walk outside or do other exercise.

Whatever you’re dealing with – grief, trauma, stress, anxiety or depression, just take everything one step at a time. Stick to the basics, be kind to yourself and know that change is the one constant in life. There’ll be good days and bad days, but you’re going to be okay in time. It’s important to believe that. 

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