Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 – How Body Image Can Affect Us
Each year we are making progress on talking more openly about issues that affect our mental wellbeing – from stress, to addiction, to bullying, to relationships, to life-long conditions. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is body image – how we think and feel about our bodies – and this can lead us to thrive or hide in the workplace.
While it may feel internal, it has always played out in how we want to ‘appear’ in the workplace, and it is intensifying with social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and the pressure to look a certain way.
Why is image so important, and how can we bring our whole selves to work and be proud of who we are?
Being ourselves at work creates diverse and inclusive cultures, uniting teams and empowering individuals. Having this acceptance and trust can improve our creativity, decision-making and ability to perform and progress in our careers.
This positivity may feel normal until mental ill health or the work environment stops us from being the person we want to be – when we become uncomfortable in our own skin. Then, the difference between thriving and hiding feels real, as it affects our sense of self and the image we worked so hard to build.
Body image can cause low self-esteem, vulnerability and isolation. These emotions aren’t left at home, they come to work too. It may be difficult to know how to help, but sufferers are the experts in their conditions and what support they need. Sometimes the best way of helping is to listen, understand and be comfortable talking about mental health.
Ideas that can help you!
Whether it is body image issues, anxiety or any other mental health condition, help is available. It is inclusive support, not intrusive support. Share what you need to share to get better and flourish. Here are some ideas to help you on your journey:
- Have a discussion with your manager on what support you need to resolve your stress or manage your condition.
- Chat to a Mental Health First Aider about how you’re feeling and what support is available.
- Join a network to discuss your situation in a safe environment with people who can empathise.
- Use your volunteering days to support a charity or cause that resonates with you.
- Make the most of flexible working to attend counselling, meet your career coach, or de-stress through exercise and mindfulness.
- Prioritise your happiness and wellbeing by designing an action plan on how to feel good about yourself and fulfil your potential.
- If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, or you’re worried about someone you know – help is available. You’re not alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.