118 – Lets Talk Mental Health

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening wherever you are in the world. I truly hope you're having an amazing week. This week we are, or I am, should I say, answering a question from a listener and it's a really good question. It's quite poignant. It has been Mental Health Week in the UK. This isn't airing during that week but it's something ...

One of the things I would say is I don't think mental health is talking about enough. I think they're making good headway and they're trying to make it something to be more aware of and not to have this stigma attached to it. There was a great interview, which we'll put on the show links, about some footballers and Prince William about mental health and what was going on.

It was a really, really interesting thing to listen about how the sporting professionals took about mental health and how they suffered from it and the thought of stigmas attached to it. It was quite an interesting thing.

Also, I've gone through my own journey of mental health. If I'm honest, probably most of us have gone through something of some sort and we all have mental health. We need to take a very good look at what our mental health is and manage it more effectively in order for us to increase our happiness, increase our fulfilment, and certainly from the performance and mindset side and manage that and make sure that is maintained to its optimal level as well.

Let's answer the question. The question is from Scott from Edinburgh. Now I had the great pleasure of meeting Scott at the Scottish Expo a couple of weeks ago but his email was, "Geoff, it was lovely meeting you last week and thank you for sharing your story. The lessons you have learned had a huge effect on me.

I'm suffering from anxiety and need some help but I'm afraid what people may say and I'm worried about taking medication. I own my own business, which has a team and, of course, I'm really worried what they may think if they know I'm suffering from anxiety. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated."

First of all, Scott, you don't really go into a huge level of detail about what it is but, first of all, just let me say a huge thank you for having the courage even to write this email and talk about it.

If we look at it from that point of view, the fact that I'm not quite sure what it is that you're doing, you're talking about the suffering from it, let's give you some general help with that.

There are two options. The first option is probably the best option for initially is to go to your GP, your doctor, and go and speak to them and talk about the issue that you have. I know you don't necessarily like medication and I'm probably on the same boat as you. I don't really like taking medication unless it's essential.

There is importance about being able to manage what is going on so you can still maintain that effectiveness that you need to as a business owner and as maybe a family man and everything else. I think there's an important element of making sure that you get that support as quickly as possible.

Now when you take a look at this what you've got to think about is it's about steps. You go to the doctors, you'll speak to them, they may give you some medication but also what they'll probably and hopefully advise you to do is go and speak to some sort of talking therapy or something like that.

Generally, NHS CBT I'm not honestly quite sure how they would treat it over in the States or other parts of the world but they will go down that. Now, unfortunately, the reality of it is that you may not get seen for a while for CBT. It very much probably depends on whereabouts you are in the country and what the waiting list is.

What I would also suggest is you just doing some research and finding out what counsellors are around, have a look on LinkedIn, see what they're doing, see what their testimonials are like, do some research about them before you go and see them.

Then when you see them make sure that when you're sitting down and you're talking to them you feel comfortable, you feel that you're getting listened to, and you feel that you can open up.

It may take a couple of sessions for you to find that information out but my personal thing would be if you're not feeling that by the second session have a look at finding someone else because you just need to be able to relax when you're having conversations with these people.

The good ones have a great way about them, they can make you feel at ease very, very quickly. Like every industry, there's some great ones and not so great ones. You've just got to manage that more effectively. That would be one of the ways to do that.

In fact, that would be the first way that I do that and then the other one is because I'm not 100% sure exactly what your challenges are let's have a look at a couple of other strategies to be able to help you. We'll go through quite a few and we'll break it down and just sort of allow you to see which ones suit you best and other people listening to this, if you're going through or if you run that pattern of anxiety then you can utilise these as well.

The other thing to understand is anxiety is fear. In some cases, fear is a perfectly natural process. The problem is when our anxiety kicks in ... Let's say, for example, you're doing something and it's different. You will feel anxious about it. That's perfectly normal because it's something you don't know. You're probably stressing out about it. Your body goes into fight or flight mode. All of the systems will kick in regarding that.

The question is when you start getting fearful over things that you maybe feel that you shouldn't have or the things that seem to be taking over unnecessary things then obviously that's a time when you need to go and speak to a GP and just take that moment out and give yourself a break. You're only human.

Truthfully, the sooner we get away from this being wrapped around what other people think about that what you've also got to understand, whether it's Scott or whether it's anybody else, you've also got to understand that no one is going to know.

When you go to your doctor's appointment you don't have to tell anyone why you're going there. You don't have to make a song and dance of it. You don't have to do anything of the sort. All you need to do is you just need to make sure that you're going and you're getting seen to and you're trying to solve your problem because that's the thing that's the really key thing.

It's not about worrying about what is someone going to say or for some reason ... I used to be the same. When you're going to see a counsellor or you're going to see a therapist of some sort all of a sudden is when you go in there you practically want to wear that [inaudible 00:08:16] and worry that all of a sudden you think Mi5 or Mi6 or CIA are watching you and it becomes like some sort of spy novel to get into the door without people seeing you.

Just go in, relax. These people are professionals. They're going to help you out. They're going to put you to ease. They're probably going to give you some really good strategies to start managing what is going on with you.

Then once you have that under control and you understand things you can come off the medication under the advice of your GP. You can explain if you're feeling better and everything else and that you have things under control. You come off your medication and then you jump back on and you keep going to see the counsellor to make sure that everything is maintained.

Let's give you some other strategies to look at as well. The first one is I think part of it is anxiety is, in some cases, this unnatural response to a certain situation.

Mine was just literally walking outside. As soon as I saw people I immediately thought that they were laughing at me, they were taking the mick, and everything was about me. The reality is they couldn't probably give a damn about me. Although, my one-inch shuffle walk was probably entertaining for them.

Many people do this, whether it's a generalised anxiety disorder. That's, as it says, you get anxious about a lot of things. My wife has suffered from anxiety. Again, it was really hard. One of the lessons I learned is that no matter what skills you have when your partner has that that she's suffering from or he's suffering from you don't know enough. It doesn't matter how skilful you are. Everything you are saying is rubbish and they should go and see someone else.

They may find like my wife found out, fist pump in the air, that what I was talking about I was right and we agreed on the same strategies as the counsellor. That's by the by.

Okay. Let's give you a look at some things. The first one is really, really simple. Make sure you're getting enough sleep. Sleep is so important. In our own wellbeing generally. What you may find is that because you are running anxiety over certain things it may have an effect on how you sleep.

Generally, what you find is the more stressed people get, the more frustrated they get, the harder it is for them to have a good quality sleep. What you need to make sure is that you're getting a good enough sleep. Make sure, I often teach, and I talked about, Scott, in the talk about bookending your days.

It's about making sure that you're preparing yourself for a good night's sleep, whether that's ... Which is another tip? Go and do some exercise. Get yourself moving, get some endorphins, get yourself nice and relaxed and help yourself really get to sleep.

It might be that you switch off the TV and stop all of the smartphone notifications and everything a couple of hours before you go to bed. That will help you get into a mindset as well.

Then there are other things like aromatherapy, white noise, all of those sorts of things just to help you get your sleep. As I say, I'm going to give you generalised ones, Scott, because I don't quite know what's going on and, also, just for the rest of the listeners as well this might be really useful for you as well.

Eating a well-balanced meal, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, those types of things. There's a possibility that alcohol or, limiting shall we say, a certain amount of alcohol and a certain amount of caffeine can actually aggravate anxiety, can cause more of a problem. You don't particularly want to go down that route.

You get enough sleep, you eat well, and you avoid the caffeine and the alcohol, limit that down. Or if it's causing you a lot of problems, the anxiety, I would cut it out altogether. It's just better doing that and getting it into check before.

The next thing is if we look at the stuff ... We've got exercise, we've got a balanced meal, we've got getting a good night's sleep, they're really easy to do. We all can do that. This is one of the great things about many of our symptoms is the strategies don't have to be difficult. They're quite simple.

The challenge is implementation. The challenge is doing something ongoing day in, day out in order to get whatever is going on, whether it's anxiety or something else, just to manage it more effectively. They are a really important one.

The other thing is with anxiety what we've really got to do is we've got to get you relaxed as quickly as possible. We really need to start relaxing you down so your anxiety isn't going into crazy mode. If you're running a business and you're going through that anxiety mode you might not be communicating properly, you're probably not processing information because your cognitive ability is probably reduced if you're not sleeping because of it that's going to have an effect on your energy and everything else.

There are two things. It's affecting how you produce work and how your performance is and what's going on at work. It may affect your leadership communication and how you are dealing with your stuff if you have any as well. What you need to make sure is that you really are managing yourself as best as possible.

One of the other things really to help you calm down is breathing. Breathing, we do it every day. Strangely enough. What you'll know is the more anxious you get, the faster your respiratory rate will get because your body is going into its fight or flight mode. It's going into a stress response mode.

One of the ways that you can do that is help control your breathing. Best thing, there's a couple of great apps. There's one called Breath. Now I know there's one on ... As I look, there's one on the iPhone as well. It's simply just helping you time your breath, slowing your breathing down.

The also is a great app, it's mentioned loads of times on the podcast, is Headspace and Calm. They've got some amazing platforms and amazing apps or amazing courses or whatever it is that they do. They have some amazing ones, specifically for anxiety. It just depends whether you can get used to it.

Self-hypnosis tapes, people have a love/hate with them. Some people like them, some people don't. My wife really struggled with them so we had to get rid of them very quickly because it just didn't fit her and how she was doing it. The other app is Calm. That's another good one. Take control as best you can.

Breathing is really important. There's different ones. To me, personally, if you either use the apps that you've got on your phone like the breath pacer or you can get the one on the Apple Watch and you can get Headspace and you can get Calm they're going to be able to teach you how to relax and get into the state.

Very simple. Take yourself for a walk during lunch and just listen to the track. Sit in the car and just go through the track if you don't want anyone to see you or think of anything or anything else. It just looks like you're having a kip in the car or it just looks like you're doing something that is nothing to do with work.

Again, it keeps it private. It just helps to put your headphones in and just do it. Go for a walk at lunch if you can. We're in the summer now ... Well, almost the summer. [inaudible 00:16:21] you wouldn't have thought it from the weather we're suffering from. It just allows you to get out there and go for a walk and listen to it while you're walking to help you relax.

Those sort of things are really simple to implement and I much prefer to give you the simple things because everyone can do that then possibly more of the challenging things.

The other thing is one of the techniques that I learned and wasn't very good at first but I eventually got very, very competent with it is specific visualisation techniques where I'm visualising great memories that I've had that have made me feel good.

By doing that, what I'm doing is I'm taking the control of the situation, I'm controlling the thoughts that are going in my head, the words that I'm thinking, and I'm bringing myself back down. Dead easy. Look at photographs, speak to your partner or your kids or stuff where [inaudible 00:17:26] great things that they've done and just sit down on the settee or lie in bed, close your eyes, and just remember that memory.

What those memories will do is they'll also string a load of great emotions to you. What I always say is when people are doing visualisation make sure that your visualisation is clean. That doesn't mean dirty. That means clean. What I mean by that is I mean by making sure that when you're choosing a memory it doesn't have a negative memory attached to it.

An example was I had a lady once we were working with. She needed to reduce her anxiety in order to help her ... Ultimately, she was the CEO of a company and she needed to manage stuff more effectively. One of the things we were doing is we were teaching her to take control by using a visualisation technique.

When I was going through that she came up with a memory, she did the exercise and then burst into tears. It was simply because the dog that she was walking in that memory had died about three months ago and it was still quite painful for her. She'd had it since it was a puppy. You don't want to pick memories like that because they're not useful.

They're useful once that grief has passed but they're not useful in the situation that we require them at that moment in time. Make sure you look at that as well.

I think another thing is you've got to remember anxiety is sometimes an irrational thought. Part of that is also to challenge what the thought is. If it's you're really scared of making the call, you make the call. You challenge it. Generally, what happens is it's the buildup that's worse than actually doing the thing.

You know, it's public speaking is one of those things. It's the buildup, it's the buildup, it's the buildup and then once you get doing it, as long as you've practised and everything else, it's brilliant once you've done it but there's always that nervous anxious feeling beforehand. That's part of the process.

A lot of it is do the things and challenge the things to check what is going on. I think that was certainly a big lesson for me but, again, it very much depends on the type of anxiety you're running.

What you've got to also make sure is you've got a good support structure. You've got to make sure that when you're going through the challenges, let's say you're going through some zone of mental health, whether it's mild or severe, you've got to be careful of the people you're talking to.

The reason being is our family and our friends aren't necessarily always the best choice. Friends can take the mick and not really understand. Family can just think, "Oh, well, you've always been like that" and not being the most supportive. Sometimes they just blatantly don't understand what it is and that causes more pressure because you seem to constantly try to explain what's going on.

You've got to make sure you've got a great support structure. Now that may be ... For me, I've got my mastermind group, I've got my coach, I've got a great group of understanding friends. Luckily, my wife does understand it because she's been through it with me and she's always monitoring me and watching me and checking.

Even my kids, just sitting down and talking to my kids. I'm able to manage an awful lot of things simply because of the relationship I've got with my kids. Obviously, I've got a huge amount of people who I know who are in this type of industry who I'm able to reach out to and speak to about and stuff. Of course, there's books, online courses and all sorts of stuff to help you manage your anxiety more effectively.

I'm hoping, Scott, that ... Oh, while I forget, Scott, there was something that I've just remembered that I'm doing. I've just ordered it in order to have a look and give it a review, which will be shortly. It's called the Mind Journal. It's specifically aimed for men around mental health to my knowledge. It's called the Mind Journal. I'll put a link on the show notes as well but that could be a really useful thing for you to do as well.

Journaling is a great process. It's a great thing to help you. You've just got to find the right journal to help you. If you've never journaled before, as usual I always recommend the five-minute journal, but this Mind Journal might be something that might be able to help you as well. It looks really good and the guy who created it went through some mental illness challenges as well.

Hopefully, that is everything that will give you some ideas of what you can do and anyone else who is suffering from any other different sort of anxiety or just would like to know some strategies to help them improve their resilience. Those sort of strategies are really, really useful.

Yeah. We have come to the end of this show. I hope you've found it useful. I hope you are going to be able to challenge that and do those things. Don't forget, if any of you are interested in joining my community, my closed group, then all you need to do is jump on Facebook and search for Success IQ Alliance.

What we're doing now is we're doing all of the training and webinars on there in order to help the people who are interested in the stuff that I do. All you need to do is jump over to Facebook and apply and we'll get you in. It's a closed group so you're not going to get any spammers or anything like that.

The other thing, please keep sending your questions. Anything that you want to ask me about resilience, mindset performance, productivity, all of those cool things I would love to be able to answer those questions live on the show. Well, not live on the show. Pre-recorded on the show should I say? All you need to do is email me at Podcast at Geoff Nicholson dot co dot UK, which the email will be on the notes as well on the thing.

Wishing you a truly amazing day. Wishing you the greatest success. I'll catch you next week. Take care.

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