How to promote mental health on your teams

Aug 10, 2022
How to promote mental health on your teams

Let's start with a definition:

According to the World Health Organization constitution, health is “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 2006); and mental health is a state of well-being in which a person realizes their abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and is able to contribute to their community (WHO, 2004).

The pandemic brought the conversation of mental health to our kitchen tables. It got personal. Living and working in the age of Covid put us all into a stress response. Two years later, the ripple is still felt by many. It challenged us all to look outside for help, and inside for implementation. We became open to trying new approaches and looking for a cure. The well-being industry got a considerable upgrade.

At The Zone, we have spent the last 20+ years supporting humans and teams to thrive at work. When we are permitted to be authentic and vulnerable and align to a shared set of values and behaviors in pursuit of success, we can creatively solve the challenges we face not only as teams but as a species and planet.

We know too well that when things get tough, it can feel unsafe, reactive, or even abusive. In team settings, we know that when we add positional power, lack of sleep, a sense of overwhelm, burnout, etc., the team's potential is not optimized for performance. The discipline of using healthy group processes that support alignment, collaboration, and accountability needs to be learned and applied. Working under pressure in a team for a long time needs specific ways of engaging that look after our mental health – both as individuals and as team members.

How can you achieve a sense of wellbeing at work?

1. As a leader: Be curious and show interest in your team members' wellbeing. If you get signals that worry you, don’t look away, shine a light on it. Trust is built, not given. Share your own stresses and vulnerabilities; an imperfect leader gives permission to be imperfect as a team member – more than ever we need that to be normalized. Prioritize and role model alignment and accountability. The team members will look to you for evidence that this is important and a priority, not just lip service and another fad. Create a safe space, step into it and invite others to join. If you feel out of our depth, reach out for support.

2. As a team: Talk about wellbeing. Make space to reflect on what is working for each of you and what you are struggling with (use our GUBA tool to give the reflection exercise a clear structure). Ideate how to improve your team culture to support the mental health of the individual. Once you have an agreement in your team, you can apply our 3 Golden Rules to keep you on track.

At The Zone, we teach and apply the 3 Golden Rules to help guide us towards better wellbeing and sustainable mental health:

Rule #1: Get yourself into the zone. The more time we curate the sweet spot of our lives personally and professionally, we activate flow, it feels great, and we achieve more in less time, less stress, and seemingly less effort. Knowing who you are – your unique combination of what is important to you – and the opportunity to live it authentically and congruently is a gift. Our whole person is turned on, and our attention is not on ourselves but on service to the greater good. When working with individuals and teams, we honor the whole person within us and give it safety and space to be seen, heard, and felt.

Rule #2: Help someone else get into the zone. Do it deliberately and notice how you feel. The power of oxytocin, the neurochemical of love, of care, is the altruistic high. New research on gratitude practices indicates that just remembering the act of helping someone else is enough to activate results.

Rule #3: Spend more time in the zone together. We all know how stressful it can be when even one person in our group – at work or home – is out of the zone. We feel the ripple, which can activate our flight, fight or freeze mechanism. We defend or attack, ignore and leave, or stay, not knowing what to do. New research on this says that women do this differently. There is another response to threat called, ‘tend and befriend’. These references are also Western culture-specific. For example, in some Eastern cultures, a default reaction to stress is to fall asleep.

3. As an individual: Personally, I take responsibility for what is in my own control. The foundation for my mental health starts with the BIG SIX—sleep, nutrition, movement, hydration, time in nature, and social interactions. I have good days and not-so-good days in pursuit of these areas. My overall goal is kindness in the pursuit of progress. Currently, I am experimenting with mini moments of presence. Every hour I consciously disconnect from the ‘doing’ and enjoy the present moment. For example, conscious breathing while waiting for the washing machine to complete its last 1 min cycle before the door unlocks; 5 mins on the rebounder; a quick play with Rocky, my dog; or a walk around the block while on a conference call. The ROI on these activities is big. I feel better, focus better, and my productivity increases.

Do you have your own mental health practices that work? We would love to hear about them! Send us a note to [email protected]

Corina Roobeck

Join 'The Zone ' Newsletter

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

© 2023 The Zone

get in touch: [email protected]