“Stress is an adaptive and natural response. We’re supposed to have it. It’s good for you and healthy in performance,” says Jimmy Westerheim. What elite athletes look to achieve is the optimal stress level, which differs from individual to individual. But go beyond it and the outcome is the same no matter who you are – burnout.
“There’s nothing wrong in being close to burnout at certain periods of your life, because this is not Disneyland,” he assures. What’s important is learning to recover.
Create a safe space
In the workplace, mental health can be boosted by creating a psychologically safe space. Jimmy Westerheim defines this as a space where people are allowed to learn and to not always be at their best. For example, a colleague should be able to decline projects because of his mum’s recent cancer diagnosis without feeling like his career will suffer for it.
In the day-to-day, “the best indicator that somebody is struggling with poor mental health is when they are not themselves over a period of time,” he says. An introverted colleague may become talkative; a usually talkative person may suddenly become quiet; a gentle personality may turn snappy.
“What builds a company is not the name, history, or numbers. It’s the human beings and what they can bring into the office every day – they are the bottom line. Some people are able to bring more than others, but if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that all of them will be able to bring more than they do today, if you challenge yourself as a leader or a colleague (in creating a positive space for mental health).”
Jimmy Westerheim is Founder & CEO, The Human Aspect
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