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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

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    James Acres

It's Mental Health Awareness Week, so I thought I'd get involved and share some of my own thoughts and resources I find interesting.

I've experienced both burnout and anxiety, mainly back in 2014/2015, and have found various things which help with both of these, and what doesn't help too. So I'm sharing some of these this week below.

I recommend reading Happy by Derren Brown. It criticises the self help industry which often causes anxiety leaving you end up feeling anxious about being anxious. Instead the book focuses on Stoicism. It covers Stoic advice about how we can only control our thoughts and our actions and not to waste energy on what we can't control. The stories we tell ourselves in reaction to events, is what causes happiness or unhappiness and it's our responsibility to reframe the response to our advantage, i.e. being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Reframing Stress: Stress can be both good and bad, this is a really great infographic good-stress-bad-stress-infographic-image.png. This also relates to "I want to do something" vs "I need to do something".

Reducing anxiety: Anxiety can often be reframed as excitement, rather than trying to avoid anxiety or relax, acknowledge it and try thinking "I feel excited" rather than "I feel anxious". I also recommend trying this Mindfulness Meditation Body Scan, it brings your attention onto the present reality and helps you let go of thoughts and worries. I also recommend reducing caffeine as the side effects can cause anxiety.

Avoiding burnout: My advice is to avoid being a superhero and flying solo, this puts too much pressure on one person, creates a bottleneck and single point of failure when you inevitably crash and burn. Instead, work as a team on small incremental goals, mentor and share knowledge. Being a high achieving perfectionist can also lead to burnout and anxiety. Applying the 80:20 rule and focussing on the top 20% of priorities which leads to 80% of the outcome, rather than trying to achieve 100% perfection by focussing on lower priorities. I recommend listing 3 priorities each day, and working to a Makers schedule - a.k.a focus time, to avoid context switching, limit distractions and get stuff done.

Hope you find these resources interesting and potentially useful!