We all know that work can take it out of us. We can struggle to achieve what we set out to, we can find ourselves in conflict with our colleagues or customers, and we can buckle under financial responsibilities.
Stress can be what keeps us at it, and brings us success. There’s no doubt that stress can be a motivator, giving us the energy and drive to work extra hours, and have quicker reflexes. But long-term or chronic stress is a problem. If you allow it to dominate your work-existence, it can have a powerful effect on your physical and mental health, increasing the risk of heart disease, depression, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, in fact impacting on your whole life.
As the founder of welldoing.org, a platform devoted to matching people with the therapists most suited to them, I have observed that many people cite work-related stress as the prime reason for seeking a psychotherapist, counsellor or psychologist. They have noticed how the pressures are building, their enjoyment of life is diminishing, and usually their effectiveness in business is also affected.
Many people are terrified by the idea of talking to a stranger about things so private that they may never have discussed them with anyone before. But therapy can actually be a great choice for business professionals, if they find the professional who is right for their needs. Here’s why:
Get breathing space outside of the realm of work
By setting up to see a therapist for weekly sessions, you are breaking away from the belief that everything important is to do with work. Just taking a respite from constant focus on productivity and the bottom line, you are breaking out of the cycle of constant self-examination and blame. It can put problems with work into perspective.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can set boundaries and goals without adding pressure
Cognitive behavioural therapy is recommended by NICE for mild to moderate depression and some types of anxiety. The idea is that you are encouraged to understand that your thoughts are not the same as the reality of your situation. You will then be taken through a stepped programme which includes exercises that can be incorporated into your post-therapy life. CBT courses are usually short and are often available through the NHS.
Identify the issues from your past that may still hobble you
Some of you may decide you want to work with a psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapist. These are the ones who go back into your early life and family history to try to help you understand the way you approach problems or communicate with others. This form of therapy is often challenging, but works well for the person who feels that they are continually coming upon the same struggles with emotions or relationships.
Help you overcome specific fears
Counsellors can help you develop confidence, but some hypnotherapists specialise in dealing with phobias such as public speaking, being away from home, flying, fear of failure and so on. Hypnotherapy is usually more expensive than other types of therapy, but requires fewer appointments.
A mental health professional is seeing you regularly
Sometimes, in the bustle of everyday life, people can lose touch with what is normal or average. If you are often over-stretched or distracted, a therapist can notice and help alert you to physical and mental needs: from sleep to good nutrition to taking a break when you really need it.
Louise Chunn, founder, welldoing.org
Louise Chunn is the founder of find a therapist platform welldoing.org. She is a former editor of Psychologies and Good Housekeeping, a founder member of networking and campaigning group Women in Journalism and a judge in the Mind Media Awards 2017.
Mental health in the workplace
The IoD is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, with a particular focus on opening up the conversation for small- and medium-sized businesses. We have created a hub packed full of helpful advice, best practice and useful resources, as well as shared experiences from business leaders.
Go to IoD mental health hub