Be well, work well

Each one of the Yoke team has faced their own trials and tribulations at any one time or another. So, that’s why we’re passionate about sharing a few of our own accessible techniques that have helped us and, in turn, will help you realise days that are far more creative than they are crushing.

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Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) has been and gone for another year.

This national campaign does a great job at empowering everyone who gets involved –providing the necessary resources to improve our own knowledge and understanding of mental health.

However, this still doesn’t put a complete stop to the persistent symptoms of stress, anxiety and, in worst case scenarios, depression we can all experience in our day-to-day lives.

Painting A Clear Picture

Be it Performance Anxiety, Catastrophising, Panic Attacks and even Analysis Paralysis – each one of us has experienced some sort of related affliction.

Perhaps there is a little peace of mind in knowing that those who suffer are not alone. Many people on planet earth have faced a mental health issue, at one time or another.

One recent compelling study from Champion Health concluded that in 2022 as many as 60% of employees were feeling anxious and just over half feeling low in mood.

In support of this, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) discovered from their own research that nearly 79%, which equates to four-fifths of responding organisations, reported some stress-related absence in the work place during 2022.

Colour In Your Life

Thankfully it’s oh-so apparent that attitudes towards mental health are shifting positively.

Consecutively, this helps empower everyone to remain motivated in a pursuit to change negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Below, we discuss a few accessible ways you can improve your own.

However, before we get intentional with our advice, we would like to just say that if you are reading this and living with anxiety, working with a qualified therapist can help you arrive at what will work best for you, when coping with any underlining condition.

In the meantime, we hope you find this resource of some use and comfort in times of difficulty.

Reframe Negative Thoughts

Number of thoughts per day experienced by one person seems to vary between 6,000 and 70,000 –depending on the source.

Regardless of whether one is truer than the other, when a large percentage of either of these are conditioned to be negative, an unruly mind can quickly form negative thought patterns.

These include (but aren’t exclusive to) Polarised Thinking; Emotional Reasoning; Labelling oneself and Catastrophising.

The secret here is to break this adverse loop, by applying new thoughts patterns that are self-reflective in nature. These will draw attention to the nature of the thoughts themselves.

By posing the simple question, “Are these thoughts useful? How do they behave?”, we create an internal dialogue that reveals clues as to how we can change these negative patterns.

It goes a little something like this:

Question: Are these thoughts useful?

Answer: No. I am just ruminating about things that have already happened and are keeping me stuck.

Question: How do they behave?

Answer: Like a worried child who doesn’t know what to expect next. 

Acknowledge Negative Feelings

It’s common knowledge that our emotions result in a great deal of feelings, which in turn manifest physically in our bodies.

Therefore, if our feelings remain negative – rooted in tension and worry (perhaps, let’s say, due to a few too many creative deadlines) then we force our brain into thinking we aren’t “safe”.

As it’s the brain’s primary function to keep us intact and free from harm, it becomes wholly counterproductive to resist these sensations.

Avoidance will only exacerbate any given psychopathology. Frequent consequences can include (but aren’t exclusive too) Panic Attacks, excessive worrying and Fatigue.

If we determine that these sensations are the enemy, then the body, by proxy, becomes the enemy. In a nutshell, we become constantly at odds with ourselves and unable to move forward.

Better to make friends with our stress and anxiety responses in the moment they occur.

The simple act of slowing and controlling our breath can send the message to our brain that we are safe. One way of achieving this result is through the 3-4-5 Breathing Technique.

It goes a little something like this:

  • Breathe in for three seconds
  • Hold for breath four seconds
  • Breathe out for five seconds.
When our outbreath is longer than our in-breath, we reduce the activation of our stress state and encourage our body to move into a thrive state.

Challenge Negative Behaviour

If unchecked thoughts influence feelings, the same can be said for unchecked feelings influencing negative behaviours – including (but not exclusive too) withdrawal from social activities, being confrontational and lack of interest.  

Such consequences are often pre-emptive in nature, as we look to avoid any uncomfortable situation.

When we focus on concerns outside of our influence, we only increase our stress and fall into modes of accusations, worry, anger, and victimisation.

However, behavioural experimentation is widely regarded as a powerful way to change our cognitions – dismantling unhelpful patterns and ultimately let us thrive.

Circle of Control exercise

A useful exercise is known as The Circle of Control, first authored by Stephen R Covey.

It is broken into three sections (Control, Influence and Concern) as a representation of things we can influence and things we just can’t control.

For example, we cannot control the rain, but we can control whether we carry an umbrella so that we don’t get wet.

By primarily investing our energy in the first two circles, we can influence our thoughts, moods, reactions, mindset, attitude, and work ethic – managing the stress and anxiety before it takes its toll on mind, body and soul.

Predict and compare exercise

Another useful systematic exercise everyone can do is as follows:

  • Write down a social experience that challenges you
  • Write down how you predict this experience will play out
  • Once experienced, write down a true account of what actually occurred
  • Compare notes.

Did it match your prediction? Was it different in any way?

Essentially, by using this exercise you have armed yourself with the ability to tangibly see evidence to the contrary.

Click here to print out and try your own Circle of Control exercise.

Move forward

So there you have it, our own accessible techniques aimed at offering you coping mechanisms to help manage your own stresses daily.

Once more, we hope you find this resource of some use and comfort in times of difficulty.

“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak”
Ma jaya sati bhagavata

Further Reading