Today’s blog comes to you straight from my bed...not because I’m bedridden with some infectious disease, but because I’m in the middle of an massive anxiety attack (don’t worry, this isn’t a sob story), and I thought it’s time to be honest.
This morning I woke with a feeling of dread and panic, not for any particular reason, but just about the general concept of having to face the day. This is not something new to me, or to many others who suffer from the shit-storm that is anxiety.
Running a business can be incredibly stressful - the constant pressure to succeed for yourself and those who rely on you, ongoing uncertainty over cashflow and sales, and the blur of work and home (especially if you work from home). I thought I was alone in this, but in an SOS txt to a couple of friends/business owners, I found that even those who really look like they have their shit together, more often than not, don’t.
This got me thinking about how we focus so much on the hazards we can SEE potentially hurting us at work, but often in Health & Safety we ignore those hazards that are invisible. Stress & anxiety are commonplace in every workplace and can often be more crippling than many physical injuries...I can speak from experience here under my duvet.
Recently we amended our sick leave policy in our OSHbox employment agreements to include ‘mental health days’. Feel like the only thing you can face today is a bowl of carbs and a Netflix marathon? Take a sick day. Need to head to the beach for some sea air and sun on your face? Take a sick day. If it clears your mind & brings you joy, do it. No judgement, no medical certificates, no pressure.
Let’s face it, you’re going to call in sick anyway (with an awful far too detailed story of explosive diarrhoea, or a Shortland St grade performance of talking with a head full of flem)...but by taking away the need for that, we end up having an open discussion around how we are actually feeling and through that, how we can try to avoid constantly feeling like ass.
So I urge you to start looking at the causes of stress and anxiety in YOUR workplace, or even outside influences on you and your team. Look at what conversations you could start having, what policies you could amend, what initiatives you could put in place. Don’t wait to do something until you find yourself still in bed on a Monday afternoon.
So...where does that leave me? I’m going to listen to my own wise voice, pull myself out of bed and spend the rest of the day doing something that brings me joy and get rid of the guilt. I’m taking a mental health day.
And...tomorrow I’ll feel energised & motivated enough to then follow the instructions of one trusted anxious friend who txted this gem today: “just get the fuck up and deal with it, cause no one else is going to”.
- Angie Williams, Director of OSHbox