Affecting as many as 1 in 4 adults every year in the UK and 1 in 5 in the US, mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, and depression are the invisible issues we still won’t talk about. At work we put on a brave face, a stiff upper lip, but inside 25% of us are suffering, often in silence.
For companies, the financial cost of not supporting employees who are suffering mental health issues is enormous. Particularly if you consider the fact that they are the number one cause of workplace absence, let alone a direct hit on productivity. The UK alone loses 105 million working days each year due to stress, costing UK employers £1.24bn!!
So why do we have such a hard time talking about these problems when they affect so many?
How much energy do you waste through the week feeling stressed, frustrated and over reacting? These fight or flight responses, which are meant to be short lived and sporadic, are not only exhausting if felt for a prolonged period of time, they damage our performance and they stop really good people from becoming outstanding leaders.
Neuroscientist Dr Matthew Lieberman of UCLA, has found that when we suffer prolonged stress, we experience a deficit in our problem solving similar to a 10-15 point drop in our IQ which impacts our “higher level” thinking, such as logic, decision making, creativity and judgement.
So how do you manage your emotions when the pressure is high? Here are some of my top tips.
I’m fortunate enough to have spent my career working with some incredible leaders. These leaders have truly appreciated the significance of their role as the emotional steer – the person who sets an emotional climate where people can thrive. They have been the Chief Emotions Officer of their team.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having a manager who creates a negative climate, where fear, uncertainty and stress are the norm. Hopefully we have also worked for a leader who exudes enthusiasm, passion and warmth and who can only be described as an emotional magnet. These emotionally intelligent leaders, or Chief Emotions Officers, are the ones we want to stay working for and to whom we will give our best effort.