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Managing your Mental Health as a Leader

January 26, 20234 min read

Manage your burners:

Leaders in business are continuously bombarded right now with the changes in hybrid working, employee retention and ‘the great resignation’ and managing the overflowing stress buckets off employees and clients.

As if your own stress bucket is not enough to deal with you have the added pressure of dealing with employees and clients stress buckets too.

The analogy of the gas hob works well in explaining this. Imagine a gas hob with 4 burners on it.

Each burner represents a different area in your life:

  1. business/work

  2. family

  3. friends

  4. health/mental health

At all times we need to have equal levels of gas burning through each area. (Think cooking Sunday dinner and wanting it ready at same time)

As a leader in business all your energy and attention are taken up with managing the business, employees, and productivity. Often without realising it all the gas is flowing towards business/work. The gas towards the other three drops and it is always burner 4-health/mental health that takes the biggest hit and is the first to loose gas.

On top of that imagine a full stress bucket sitting on top of the gas pipe supplying the hob, squashing the supply. Even less gas can get through to all the burners.

Without realising it your mental health can reduce showing up as anxiety, stress, anger, low mood, emotional eating, OCD, overwhelm and burnout.

Your stress bucket is filled with negative thinking. Any worries, judgements, criticism, negative self-talk, opinion of others all goes in and fills your stress bucket.

Overflowing neuroconnectors:

When your stress bucket is overflowing your neuroconnections in your brain automatically wire to the primitive limbic part of the brain.  This is the part of the brain that gives you three parameters of anxiety, anger and/or depression. This part of the brain is also negative, it will always see things from the worst possible perspective.   Its also an obsessional brain playing the same thoughts, worries and negative thinking over and over on repeat. The effect on sleep for leaders in business can be greatly affected by this because the mind keeps you awake or causes you to wake up during the night. You need to be prioritising a full night’s unbroken sleep. It’s the most important thing that leaders can do right now to make sure their mental health is a priority.

It is during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that the mind empties the stress bucket. It’s the brains natural way of moving any emotions and negative events from the day from the stress bucket and the primitive limbic brain up into the Intellectual mind and left pre frontal cortex where they have less emotion and meaning. However, REM sleep only accounts for 20% of your night time sleep pattern. When you don’t get enough sleep, wake up during the night or wake up too early due to morning anxiety your stress bucket is not being emptied. You then begin your day from a place of anxiety, anger and/or depression depending on how it shows up for you. When you have a full stress bucket you can not access the Intellectual mind and you spend all day stuck in the primitive anxious, angry and depressed part.

Develop your intellectual mind control:

Intellectual mind control allows you to be motivated, calm and able to deal with what new events and challenges your day will bring. As a leader you need to be operating from the intellectual mind where your mental health is good and where you able to rationalise and not allow other peoples negative thinking, worries and criticism to fill your stress bucket.  Organisations are full just now with everyone operating with full stress buckets and the primitive negative part of their brain. It is a recipe for increased blame culture, the cause of low retention, poor performance and absenteeism due to mental health.

Understanding how your brain and your mind works is key in being able to manage your own mental health and show strong leadership.

The two most important things you can do right now is :

  1. Get a full nights sleep

  2. Learn how to manage your own mind and stress bucket

If you would like to know more about supporting your leaders with my 'Now Step®' method then please feel free to see HERE or get in touch.

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Lyn Penman

GLOBAL LEADING SOLUTION FOCUSED MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT Founder of The Now Step Method | Best Selling Author | Psychotherapist | Mindfulness Expert | Cold Water Therapy Practitioner

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