Instability in employment and work hours during the pandemic, along with other factors including a lack of social support during lockdowns, has contributed to a dramatic rise in mental health problems in Australia, according to research from Black Dog Institute.
Mental health challenges are not only restricted to certain segments of the working population. Even leaders deal with them, given the pressures of their job. How do they manage their emotions and take care of their own mental health, while ensuring their teams are performing at their best?
Leaders don't have to be perfect. Let's break this stigma. To help us shatter misconceptions about the well-being of executives who rise from the ranks, Australian business and talent leaders share with us their take on mental health.
Managing stress and vulnerabilities is a team sport: Sally Bruce, Chief Operations Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Culture Amp
“I am a pragmatist when it comes to stress and mental health. I know none of us are immune, and it lands when we least expect. I am always managing mine as I never know what is around the corner. So my very practical approach is to actively manage my rest, nurture my relationships and where I find love and support, be available to help others and practice gratitude as the free way to increase endorphins and build resilience. When the heat is actually on, managing stress and vulnerabilities is a team sport. I lean on those around me for support and love. I also over index on sleep, avoiding alcohol and burning off nervous energy through exercise.”
Built-up adrenaline is not good for anyone – dance it off: Shuey Shujab, CEO & Founder, Whitehat Agency
"As a CEO and entrepreneur, it's essential that I'm able to manage my own stress so that I can model that behaviour to my team. I make sure I talk about the strategies that work for me and my own mental wellness with the team, so they make it a priority too. To start off my day I do yoga and meditate, and then I'll have a cold shower; it makes you feel totally invigorated and energised. During the day, I find that the breathing exercises I practice during meditation really help me to keep calm when stress levels are high. Then if I find I'm running on adrenaline from dealing with a stressful situation, I hit the gym or the dance floor to shake it off. Built-up adrenaline is not good for anyone, so you've got to get it out somehow!"
Routine, exercise and maintaining human contact have been nurturing: Maria Halasz, CEO, Cellmid Limited
“Following my daily routine was a life saver. Getting up early, running, having coffee with family and hitting the home office desk at 8 a.m. made the experience almost normal. Watching the sunrise while running around the Botanical Gardens, hearing the birds and breathing in fresh air connected me to nature. Maintaining human contact, even if on zoom, has also been nurturing. Even work calls have been just as much about sharing personal stories about pets, kids or how we feel than business. On the best days, it has been possible to ‘go home’ after closing the office door and taking an evening walk.”
Simulating a morning and evening commute maintains normalcy: Harshu Deshpande, APAC Lead, Slalom Build Australia
“Particularly during the pandemic, it's been difficult to separate work from home, given your workspace is your home. To de-stress, I have found it most useful to simulate a morning and evening commute, by doing a workout in the morning, changing into work clothes before work and, in the evening, changing clothes and taking a walk to separate the start and end of your work day. Continuing to have a regular exercise routine (at least an hour a day), be it a walk, run or resistance training is extremely important not just for physical but also mental health. I have found this to be the most effective at relieving stress.”