Loneliness: It's Time To Talk

What is loneliness and how do we overcome it at work?

My personal experience with this subject is something that is incredibly dear to my heart.

It is important to build a culture that ensures those around us have the opportunity to have good mental health.

Mental health awareness in the workplace has improved, however, I am not convinced we are doing enough to make a meaningful impact, to allow people to speak openly and without judgment about how they are feeling, this is fundamental to our personal growth.

The 9th of May is the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, and we will no doubt see a lot of posts popping up about the support businesses are offering their staff. It is important to acknowledge that this support should be normalised and available not just during the mental health week.

This year the theme is ‘Loneliness’, it is easy to feel lonely even in a room full of people you are comfortable with, doing seemingly fun activities while having a smile on your face.

Loneliness is not confined to the physical aspect. If you are anything like me, you can often feel lonely in crowds of people or while being surrounded by your loved ones or colleagues.

We have all been told that speaking about our feelings at work is unprofessional and frowned upon, we keep quiet because we do not want to be judged or misunderstood. If you relate to this, my advice is: You must speak up, talk to someone. People are more understanding and compassionate than we give them credit for.

The only way we can trust someone is to simply try. It is not easy, but it is so incredibly helpful and sometimes we just need someone to talk to.

Loneliness can quickly turn into isolation; the barriers can come up quickly and we feel as if the World is against us. If you embrace these feelings and thoughts, it can be hard to overcome them. Taking the first step to overcoming your fears and speaking up about your feelings will ensure a much happier life. To get comfortable, you must get uncomfortable first!

Be kind to yourself by letting someone in, it could be a friend, colleague, or someone close to you. Seek out your Mental Health Aiders at work. You will soon realise that the thought of speaking to someone is much worse than the act of doing it.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE AS A BUSINESS

So what can we do as employers? If you notice your colleague not talking to anyone, not engaging, seeming detached, and not getting involved, take a moment to think why. Are they okay? Do they need a chat?

Don’t ask them why and do not make it about them. Instead, ask yourself if you have done enough to build a culture where no news is bad news? Do you initiate inclusive activities within your workplace that allows everyone to flourish? Have you sought professional advice on how to build a culture that promotes a safe place for people to talk about their feelings? Do you make yourself available to people who ask for your time?

If you create a positive culture that encourages complete trust and allows your colleagues to be their authentic selves, it will allow space for personal growth and unleash immense potential. People that feel happy and safe strive for success and their productivity will increase.

As businesses, we strive for high levels of productivity, stable teams, and low attrition. We throw money hand over fist at technical training to move the dial on these areas.

It is time to take a look at our investment in people's mental health and investing in our culture as we do our infrastructure. If we put half the amount of energy and time into that as we do the technical and physical infrastructure of our companies, we would see a lot happier and more productive workplace.

More importantly, we would see a lot more people like myself feel a lot more comfortable daily. Take this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to understand what your staff wants, what would help them and what role can you play in their personal and professional development.

Make a difference and build a culture that people will feel grateful for.

If you are feeling lonely if you are suffering from a low patch, why don’t you use this week to reach out. Get uncomfortable to get comfortable and see what happens!

If you don’t know where to start, I’m always here to listen!

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Phillip Wood
Phillip Wood

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