Looking after our mental health is a fundamental leadership responsibility

Watch these quick videos for some simple advice on protecting and strengthening your mental health

Poor mental health = Poor performance

Focussing time, energy and money if necessary, on your mental health is an investment in your performance. Your ability to think clearly, solve problems, make good decisions, be creative, relate effectively with others and respond well to stress factors all require you to be mentally and emotional resilient.

Watch these quick videos for some simple advice on protecting and strengthening your mental health

No amount of knowledge acquisition and skills development will resolve poor mental health

It is a leader’s responsibility to role model the routines, habits and practices of strong mental health. You no doubt know what you should be doing, but are you doing it? are you doing it well? are you doing it consistently?

Here are some of the foundations of positive mental health

  • Quality sleep - 7-9 hours a night
  • Exercise - daily movement with at least 10 mins of something that gets you out of breath 
  • Gratitude - Even just a few minutes a day writing down what you have to be grateful for
  • Good nutrition throughout the day
  • Hydration - 2-3 litres a day - minimum
  • Mindfulness - Just 12 minutes a day can make a significant shift in health and performance
  • Social Connection - meeting with people where you can just be and not 'perform', ideally with some physical contact - not through a screen!

I recommend you consider each of these foundations and schedule yourself to focus on creating a new habit for each of them over the next 7 weeks.

Say for example you want to focus first on Social Connection.

Step 1 

What could you make a ritual each day to ensure you have good quality social connection?

This could be getting the day off to a good start by having 5 mins cuddle with your partner or children before getting up or going to work. Establishing meal times as a sit down around the table meal, without phones and reflecting on your day with those you live with. 

If you live alone, find someone at work who would like to have a daily walk with you or eat lunch together, again phones off for quality connection.

If you live alone and work from home, establish a time each day when you will leave the house and go to a cafe or have a walk where you might see other people. Make a point of talking to others in the cafe or on your walk.

Make your new habit a ritual

Step 2

Schedule a time for each new habit you choose. Put it in your calendar. Where possible schedule the same time every day and add this to your calendar as a reoccurring appointment, just like your daily or weekly meetings for work tasks. The idea is to make the habit something you eventually automatically do at this time of the day.

Success is in the planning

Step 3

Identify any friction between you and the new habit. What is likely to stop you from doing this new habit? For example: Bad weather might stop your daily walk to the local cafe for a chat with the locals. Make sure you have the shoes, coat and decent umbrella handy so that whatever the weather you can quickly go out and meet people without getting wet.

 Plan for the things that may stop your new habit.

Step 4

Implement the new habit. If something happens to prevent you from doing the new habit at the scheduled time, move it to another time of the day rather than miss it from your day. Remember keep your phone on silent or don't have it with you or near you when you are focussing on your new habit.

The phone can be an enemy to good mental health!

Step 5

Every day reflect on how practicing your new habit is making you feel and what impact is it having on your performance. Talk to others about what you are doing and how you are feeling.

Your actions may create a ripple effect of change in the mental health habits of others.