Happy New Year?

Emily Blain, Fintel’s HR Director, speaks of speaking up if you’re struggling

I’m sure that, just like me, by the second week of January you’re sick to the back teeth of saying, and hearing, ‘Happy New Year’ in every single interaction! In addition to getting tedious quickly, the traditional new greeting is also not entirely accurate for everyone, as the festive season, and start of a new year, can bring its fair share of challenges to our mental wellbeing.

The stresses of Christmas – whether financial, familial or due to the impossibility of trying to have ‘the perfect day’ – can wreak havoc on even those with good mental health, and be extremely damaging for those who are already struggling. And, whilst adverts trying to sell us gym subscriptions and nicotine gum may suggest that new year is a joyous time of shaking off the past and striding off into a sunlit future, the truth is that reflecting on the successes and failures of the previous year isn’t always an easy process.

So, with potentially a lot to already deal with mentally, comes another step which very few of us relish – a return to the workplace. No matter how much we enjoy our jobs, there is a nearly always a degree of regret about losing the freedom we’ve enjoyed during time away from work, seeing loved ones or being able to unwind.

Grumbles about a return to work, and references to ‘Blue Monday’ are fairly commonplace, and generally innocent. However, if you do experience this drop in mental wellbeing, it is important to properly understand if you are facing a fleeting case of the ‘back to work’ blues, or potentially a more significant and longer-term mental health issue connected to your work.

There can be numerous indicators of poor, or deteriorating, mental health, and it’s important to remember that they’re different for everyone. However, I believe it’s key to measure the impact your work life has upon your wellbeing. If stress or worry about your workload, environment, the way you are treated at work, or any other employment related issue is affecting your sleeping or eating patterns, causing you distress or anxiety, or proving disruptive to your ‘real’ life, then I would urge you not to ignore it.

In future articles, I’ll be looking at issues around managing mental health in the workplace but, if I could leave you with one key point, it would be to be honest with yourself and your support network about how you’re feeling. Unlike that box of After Eights you shoved to the back of your cupboard this January, it’s unwise to leave your mental health to sit patiently and quietly gathering dust until next Christmas!


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