Towards the end of 2018, Lin began to notice that stress levels appeared a little high in the team that she was working in. There were pressures on targets, not enough staff and people seemed to feel they were caught in a “hamster wheel.”
World Mental Health Day was on 10th October and a “Tea and Talk” event was arranged. Unfortunately, and ironically, due to pressure of work, it was shelved.
So, in December, Lin organised a lunch time session where colleagues could come and find out about managing stress at work. She had also asked colleagues to send her the answers to 4 questions prior to the session:
- How do you see yourself at work?
- How do you think other people see you?
- What do you do to unwind at the end of a ‘not-so-good’ day in the office?
- Name something you don’t think your colleagues know about you.
The answers were anonymous but the session provided the opportunity for people to talk about themselves, and some interesting discussions ensued! In an evaluation after the session, the element that people found most helpful during the session was that they no longer felt alone with how they were feeling; that feeling anxious and overwhelmed was something they all shared and could support each other with.
And so, Mental ‘Elf was born – the ‘Elf being related to the session being at Christmas time, and it kind of stuck! After this, there were sessions aimed at making life at work a bit easier and people practicing some self care; small things like moving away from your desk, going out for fresh air during the day, going for a walk at lunch time, not eating at your desk and making sure you drink enough during the day. It was surprising how much of a difference people found that this made to both their physical and mental wellness. Mental ‘Elf sessions continued every couple of months or so and then Covid hit. Everybody had to work at home and for a lot of people that presented big challenges mentally, physically and environmentally.
Lin started running Mental ‘Elf sessions on a weekly basis, giving the people who attended the chance to catch up with colleagues they weren’t seeing anymore, and explore coping strategies for this new world we were all living in. The sessions became a bit of a lifeline, especially during the two big lockdowns. They continued weekly until March of 2021, then fortnightly until May 2021, when people were more able to gain support from their usual networks. Since then, the sessions have run monthly, some with a specific theme, some as just an opportunity to catch up and talk with colleagues. Sometimes Lin doesn’t have to say much. Other times, she will offer a perspective on what people are talking about and prompt a discussion which might help people to re-frame a particular situation, or their negative thinking. One framework which was particularly helpful was the Control, Influence and Accept/Adapt model, which Lin also took forward in more detail during her Personal Resilience Programme.
For further information on Mental ‘Elf, or if you are interested in hiring Lin to run the programme with your team, get in touch today!