BD Giving Notes #43 – ‘’Looking Out For Each Other‘’

Good mental health is necessary for fostering interpersonal relationships and maintaining productivity within the team. As a small team, any wrinkle in our team synergy can derail communication and throw us off balance.

In this Note, for Mental Health Awareness Week the BD Giving team shares their mental well-being practices.

As our last two Notes, 41 and 42, had an undercurrent of mental well-being, in this Note, we decided to unpack the theme further and describe the various processes we employ to maintain good mental health.

Good mental health is necessary for fostering interpersonal relationships and maintaining productivity within the team. As a small team, any wrinkle in our team synergy can derail communication and throw us off balance. Also, we have an open and intimate working environment where flux in people’s mood or mental well-being is easily observable. 

We all have an individual responsibility to be aware and mindful of each other, to maintain a healthy workplace. Each of our team meetings begins with a mental wellness check-in. As a team, part of our Learning and Participation strategies is a Reflective Practice where incidents are unpacked and we are facilitated to reflect on  and share our feelings on things we encounter in the course of performing our duties. 

Géraud shared some tips in Note 41, here is how the rest of us ensure we stay on track both personally and professionally.

Our Processes

Since becoming a part of BD Giving, I have experienced significant life milestones that have shaped who I am today, alongside the mental health journeys that came with them (Read here and here). The lessons learnt have been mostly about balance and trust.

While life is not short on curveballs to throw, here are a few ways I try to take them in stride:

  • As intense as it is in the moment, remember there is an end in sight.
  • Remember who you were before that moment.
  • Take a step back.
  • Breathe.
  • Eat properly.
  • Go for a walk.
  • At work, talk to your line manager and ask for some personal time off if it is needed.
  • Find a licensed party, such as a counsellor or a therapist, to help you navigate where you are at 
  • If you can’t find a licensed party immediately, I find that sharing with friends often helps to lighten the emotional load.

Since moving to London to embark on a new job at BD Giving, a lot has happened. While the change has been exciting, there have been some tricky moments which I’ve had to grapple with and face head-on. 

I’ve used the following as an aide: 

  • Clear your head by getting some fresh air. It’s important to get out of the house if you’re working from home. 
  • Do things you enjoy when you’re not feeling your best. If it’s during work, make your favourite food for lunch. 
  • Make sure you have a good balance between your work and social life. Putting up boundaries between them always helps. 
  • Never be afraid to ask for support. 
  • Rationalise your worries and ask yourself if, in a year, is this still going to be a concern? It may help to give you some perspective.
  • A challenge can be a positive thing but try not to let it become a burden or another obstacle. 

Quite a big part of my role over the last few years has involved facilitating difficult conversations and navigating sites of trauma and pain. 

It’s important for me that I have plans in place before going into facilitation mode so that I have processes to follow should anything happen that I need to digest and reflect upon. In this way, I can try and keep strong boundaries between my work and my personal life while acknowledging that this will often be difficult. 

To that end, this is what I have found to be most helpful:

  • Take yourself physically away from wherever you did the facilitation – one study suggests that as little as two minutes can reduce physical and mental fatigue.
  • Where possible, plan decompression time as part of your work day – don’t plan something to end at 5 pm and then just leave. Arrange in advance to speak to a colleague who wasn’t involved in the meeting to debrief.
  • Have hobbies that don’t put you in the driving seat so you get a chance to be supported and not always take on a supporting role. For me, it’s boxing and while I do coach occasionally, I also have three days a week when I am the one being coached.

I rely on mindfulness meditation, exercise, and caffeine daily and in that order. 

  • I could go on extolling the virtues of meditation; or, I could point you in the direction of David Lynch. Instead, I’ll recommend this talk by Mark Williams that started me on my journey.
  • I find it helpful to go from meditation directly into exercise in the morning. Even the littlest bit of exercise can do the trick. 
  • Coffee is my reward when the hard work is done and it’s always the best part of my day.

I’m happy if I hold to this routine for the majority of my week. I’ve occasionally fallen out of my routine for weeks at a time but I always try to come back to it. No matter your aspirations, you have to make allowances for the many aspects of adulthood that can get in the way.

How this impacts what we do as a team

In the vein of our Deep Democracy training, it is about lowering the water line and seeing what is under the surface. Being aware of our team’s mental health capacity and coping mechanisms allows us to better understand each other. 

This practice can foster empathy, and at BD Giving, empathy is critical to the work we do. It helps us understand the different communities of Barking and Dagenham and how we might be able to support them. 

How about you? What are your mental well-being practices?

BD Giving Notes is a bi-monthly blog aimed at sharing some thoughts on running a social infrastructure charity.

Each post focuses on things we have learnt or done; what’s gone well and what didn’t.

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