Maintaining friendships while stressing

Keeping it blunt- unfortunately, when stress becomes part of your life, your friends are not a priority. You need to think about your well-belling and focus on what is causing you stress and how to resolve it.

Maintaining friendships while going through stress, purely depends on you. Are you the type of person to take the stress out on others? Do you trust your friends? Once you’ve answered these questions, understand that your friends (if real friends) should either help you through your situation or allow you time to breathe and work it out for yourself. Your friends might have a big impact on how you handle your situation and might help you to understand it more.

Everyone reacts differently and your friends should understand how to approach you. When my friends are going for a tough time, depending on the personality I am dealing with, I could either say ‘let us talk about it’ or just give them space and check on them now and then. Your friends should respect your personality and work out the best way to approach you without coming across nosey or intrusive.

Sometimes it might be best for you to ‘ghost’ and make your friends aware you need time to work on you. If this is the case, your friendship should be strong enough to last. You don’t need to see or speak to your friends everyday/week to be labelled friends. If you need a week to yourself, your friends will be there once you’ve had time to do you.

As I said before, your friends might be able to help you through; whether they help to de-clutter your life or take the stress away from you. I have my go-to people and friends also come to me when they’re stressed or have an issue, and no matter how long it takes we will work it out together. Personally, over the recent weeks, I’ve been stressed over work and if I didn’t run on the treadmill and let my close friends know how I’m feeling I would have probably ended up having a breakdown.

To maintain friendships, think about how much you value each other and what friendship means to you.

Working with a disorder

Sometimes you want to handle things on your own and don’t want to let everyone know how you’re feeling; however, it is important to inform your workplace on any disorders or negative feelings you have. 2019 has been the year for mental health awareness and at a time like this, many organisations are coming up with strategies to better the workplace environment and be more ‘hands-on.

Find out and understand what your workplace has to order and make use of opportunities. If you have an intranet that offers well-being information, workshops, blogs, find out more. Some workplaces do mental health weeks which including inviting animals in (mainly dogs), social events, yoga, guest speakers and more.

Contact occupational health and get advice. Sometimes people are scared to speak to occupation health because it seems like a cry for help and people get worried that information might get back to their work colleagues or supervisor, however, occupation health is confidential, qualified and the majority of the time outsourced, therefore not directly part of your company. Ask them what could be done personally and professionally to support you whilst you’re working.

Mental health first aiders. As mentioned previously, my last job offered ‘Mental Health At Work First Aid’ as a course, whether you work with youths or adults (If you would like further information, please find me a message). These courses are different durations but I did the 1-day course and it is the most beneficial course I have ever done. If you are not coping or need further support whilst at work, go to the mental health first aider on shift. Bear in mind this is fairly new, so your workplace might not be at this stage yet, however, there’s no harm in showing your manager or training team this information and requesting for the course to be looked into. The course touches on a range of disorders, how to communicate with people and looks at a range of perspectives. Mental health first aiders are not professionals, which is sometimes a good thing depending on the person who needs the support. Sometimes its ideal to have a friendly face they can listen to you from time to time.


So taking this into account, don’t ever feel like you have to suffer in silence or have nowhere to turn. There is always help and there is always a variety which means of going to the well-being page on the work intranet doesn’t work, maybe talking to a colleague will.

Friendships: Why you shouldn’t settle

Its ok to outgrow people. Whether you’ve know that person 12 years or 12 days it’s acceptable and sometimes expected to cut people off or distance yourself from people whilst you are on your own personal journey. I have spoken to multiple people over the past few months (mainly men) who have left friends behind, so they don’t fall into a life of crime or worse. I’ve also spoken multiple people who have left friends behind because they’re at different stages of their lives. I have done this too.

If you’re someone who wants to focus on your career, education, setting yourself up for the future but you’re hanging around people who are all about lads holidays, lads night outs, lads waste money then it will either go two ways. 1) you might end up drifting away and joining people on your wavelength. 2) you may abandon your plans and stay with those friends out of loyalty, guilt or stupidity.

Just because you cut someone off at a certain point in your life, doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. There might be a point in life were they friend is on your level and you are now able to let them in again. I myself had friends but grown tired of your immaturity during times where I was grow professionally. After finishing University and continue with further education, whilst working I have friends still acting like teenagers and I thought ‘I don’t have time for this, I’m too grown for the stories and the drama’ and I cut them loose. I’m still on my professional development and taking care of my mind, body and soul so I’m still at a point in which I don’t need those people back in my life and I’m ok with the fact I never will. I still have my memories and life experience and in terms of not settling by having certain people in my life, I’m happy with that. Since then I have met amazing people, on my level that I consider as good friends. Making friends as an adult is very difficult in comparison to making friends in school however it is very beneficial. When you keep hold of friends you have known for years they hold you in a certain light and no matter what happens they will still see you as that child they met years ago however, making friends as a adult, what they see if what they get. No judgement or knowledge of you before them and you connect on a different level. Whether it be through work, another friend or an unexpected meeting as adults we have more ability to say whether it was nice to meet that person and I hope they have a good life or I like that person it would be nice to hang out with them more.

We group physically and mentally, we change our views and beliefs and sometimes they are not the same as the people to keep company with, that’s ok. Friendship too can change and over time you can go from seeing someone every other day to hearing from them of special occasion but that too is ok. Change is expected in personal development and take could mean changing who you confide in and who you label a friend.

In a previous post months ago I should able leaving negative energy behind. We all stan loyalty but what if you are loyal to someone who is no good? Don’t settle for keeping people in your life due to how long you have known them think about whether you want that energy in your life and if your mental health has any healthy benefits from knowing that person.

Warning signs at work

At work, it is so easy to stay in your own bubble or to stay close in a tight ‘work squad’ and forget about other people. Do you ever take time to think about the people around you?

That person you think is being a ‘bitch’ or that person who’s always negative or quiet might be going through something whether in their personal or professional life. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t cost you anything to ask that person if they’re ok or if they might want to join you for lunch sometime. People always think what if and think they could have done more when it is too late. If you see signs that someone isn’t doing well, don’t stand back and wonder, step in and ask. A common sign would be a change in behaviour or someone becoming standoffish. Another common sign could be someone who is usually loud or constantly talking as that could be a coping mechanism; a way of taking their mind of what is happening in their life. People who suffer from mental health or have difficulties may keep things hidden especially at work. If you are someone who is not comfortable approaching someone that you don’t know, you can send them information via email of any mental health awareness news, posts or events that are coming up at work.

Distance yourself from bad vibes

Sometimes with mental health we tend to distance ourselves from people; usually the ones who care about us the most. We’re too fixated on our worries, stress and negativity to think about whether the people we do keep around are the problem.

I’ll happily admit I’ve cut close friends out of my life purely because I recognised they were no good. Friendships & relationships needs to work both ways. If you’re with someone who doesn’t ask how you are doing, calls just to check up on you or only talks about themselves, you need to question what’s the purpose of this. Depending on where you’re from, taking me (a British) for example, we don’t always like confrontation, dealing with frustrating situations or not being liked however, if you have someone in your life who isn’t bringing food to the table, simply send them away from your house (not literally but I think you get the point). I’ve had friends, even an ex who were so wrapped up in their own world and superficial behaviour that they didn’t realise I too was generally going through situations in which I needed support. When we are depressed or anxious we don’t want people to worry or feel sorry for us so we don’t make a big deal or say ‘look guys I’m depressed’ but someone real and meaningful in your life should be able to see a shift in your behaviour or even in your expressions, lifestyle and appearance.  Due to this, if you see a friend that is usually dressed to the nines and suddenly stops caring about their hair, or getting dressed up for a night out, just sit that person down and have a 1 to 1; see if they open up to you and trying to have a heart to heart.  

In whatsapp group chats there is usually one person in the group you’re closest too, or the loud one, the one with all the banter, the one with the gossip, the one who replies every 5-7 working days, the meme one and the one who reads but ‘forgets’ to reply. It’s very easy to act okay and to have a good time together but there’s no harm in opening a direct conversation with someone in the group if you pick up on something they said within the conversation that didn’t sit well with you. Sometimes people in group conversations can be indirect or like me quite passive aggressive. Check on your strong friend.

The thing with certain friends, especially the loud or the gossip is that you may question their intentions. The gossip could easily spread your business and the loud could easily make the situation about them. If there’s someone in your circle you don’t trust or can’t rely on, cut them out. If there sometimes there, sometimes not- cut them out. If you feel you’ve out grown the friendship- that’s right, you cut them out. Sounds harsh and rude but honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air to get rid of bad vibes. I’ve known people for many years and have outgrown friendships and acknowledge I’m better off without them. If I can’t confide in you and rely on you to help me get out my bad mood or to at least support me as a distraction then there’s really no time to entertain this. Sometimes it’s the people you’ve known for less time that become really good friends and its usually down to maturity and the stage in life you’re at.

Its not always friends that could be a problem. In the black community, especially within older generations (our parents, grandparents, more on) they don’t acknowledge mental illness as a thing. You must get up and continue with life, no point crying over spilled milk. The older generation believe we’re just lightweights and that they’ve been to hell and back so whatever we are going through isn’t that bad. Truth of the matter is, this world hasn’t become easier, everyday they’re constantly struggles. Culture sometimes stands in the way of treatment. In addition, seeking professional help, statically its hard to find a black professional in this field or if you do go to a Caucasian professional, would they truly understand your issues? It really depends on their experience.  I don’t think my professional understood that you can’t always just walk into a black household, sit down and openly talk about your feelings. In addition to family, your partner could have an impact.  Not everyone will have the most supportive, affectionate or understanding. How they help you deal with your mental health will determine whether they deserve a place in your life; unfortunately, you may love someone but its not always enough. Toxic behaviours and love could be one of the reasons you are feeling worried or stressed or depressed in the first place. If this is the case there are multiple reasons why you may not want to let go: fear of being alone, thinking you’ve found the one, thinking this is what you deserve, embarrassment or ending a relationship, the list goes on. However, when it comes to doing what is best for you, you need to be selfish and what’s best only  for you. Bearing this in mind, picture your life without the emotional and mental affect of this person. Think about the benefits of losing that negativity. You won’t automatically start feeling better, but you develop as a person and get to a stage in life were you will wonder why you put up with them in the first place. If you have to tell someone in your life to take a step back or to leave you for good, do you and maybe with maturity and time they will understand why.

Is this the road to recovery?

When I met with the professional, from beginning to end I was encouraged to think about recovery (clinical recovery). I did not agree with this at all but I carried on with what was required of me to complete the sessions. Clinical recovery is what professionals see as the end goal, it’s them acknowledging that they’ve helped you with your mental illness and think you are healed enough to continue in the real world without their assistance anymore. Over a year later I decided to do volunteer work within mental health; we discussed recovery and as a group of people who have all experienced some type of mental health issue, we overall agreed recovery does not exist.

There’s clinical recovery but there’s also personal recovery which is defined as building a happy and healthy life around mental health. That is doable but I say recovery doesn’t exist as I would define that as development. Not everyone goes back to being the person they once were and not everyone wants to be the person they once were. Due to bad memories or a negative outlook on life, why would someone want to go back to that headspace? Professionals never look at our goals simply as us wanting to be happy and healthy- that is it. We go to therapy, try new things, try to get out of negative environments in order to become a ‘new person’, the person we wanted to be the whole time. If someone suffers from anxiety and doesn’t like to leave their house, with help from my service, family, friends, anything that helps them change when they begin to make progress, this is not recovery. If anything I would consider it as a rebirth. The old, negative, stay at home you dies and the new, trying, motivated, getting out the house you begins to live and has a different perspective on life.

Recovery could be perceived for someone who has had a tragic experience, suffers from low moods and slowly but surely recovers back to their old self, however, after a tragic experience no one is truly the same and ‘back to normal’. When volunteering we were made to look at the Recovery Tree and think about all the elements in life that could help us improve. This is looking at strength, peer support, dreams, choices and many more.  Then we looked at relationships, hobbies, all the things we do and don’t do or would like to do. For example, I may like culture and history but not go to Museums like I would like to do. That is a relationship and social tasks I could work on in order to build on myself (confidence, anxiety, stress). The Recovery Tree is more of a development cycle.

In conclusion, don’t think of recovery as the end goal, think about what you want to achieve as the main goal. My personal opinion is we shouldn’t use the word recovery. It’s not a thing. In conversation, you wouldn’t say “Tom was depressed but he has recovered now”. I’m most likely to say “Tom was depressed but he’s out and about, looking better, eating better and I’m happy for him”. That’s not recovery, that’s healing and making way for a change…development.

Work-Related Stress

“If it wasn’t for my team I don’t know how I’d survive”.

That’s a saying I’ve heard from so many around me and I’ve said too many times myself.

Whether you are part-time, 9-5 or a manager of your own company, we’ve all experiences work stress at some point but the question is, how has it affected you?

When I am worked to the bone I keep going for months then all of a sudden I’d wake up one day and say “I can’t today”. I’d lay in bed for 40mins thinking about how drained am I. My body shuts down; I get flu-like symptoms and the thought of getting up and going to work makes me sick. After 2 days I’ll feel back to my usual self and re-energised. This happens once or twice a year due to the busy environments I’ve worked in. I am not alone. I’ve known people to gain acne, rashes, sleepless nights and much more due to the pressures of working life. On top of work stress, we sometimes feel judged for taking annual leave or taking a sick day; adding more stress to the situation. Work-related stress creeps up on us in different ways, however, it’s about how we deal with it.

I was stressing over a role and industry I had no interest in. The stress of my manager, other employees and the daily tasks overall was unbearable. On top of that, I was putting pressure on myself to move jobs and begin my desired career. Due to putting up with this stress for so long I decided to stop working completely, for a month; enough was enough. Bearing in mind I’ve been in constant work since I was 17 and now I’m 25, it was hard to switch off and just do nothing. I got into part-time work that allowed me to pick my hours and I took up volunteer work. I stopped applying for jobs and looking at job sites. From this break I can honestly say I’ve never felt better; I became more focused on me and my health. Yes, I was anxious to wake up every morning without a job but I was also relieved and excited because I was open to opportunity and change.

Recommendations:

  • Try to leave work at work- As soon as you leave work, focus on you. If there’s work you have not completed, don’t dwell on it; work is not the end all. Go home, run a bubble bath, connect with friends/family/partner(s) and deal with it tomorrow.
  • Fight for your annual leave- Sometimes it’s a struggle to get the days you want or you are unable to take annual leave due to a busy period at work however don’t let this stop you. Read through your contact, speak to HR if needed and make sure you make use of what work offers and make sure you know your rights in terms of annual leave and working hours.
  • Unwind- Don’t be someone who gets into the pattern of work and sleep. Being outdoors whether you are casually walking around town or cycling around the park has huge mental health benefits. If being outdoors is not your thing…do what you love. If you love spending your weekend playing video games, watching movies, cooking; make sure you put time aside for this.
  • Talk about it- Sometimes we love a good rant. I literally feel a weight lifted off my shoulders when I rant. I strongly advise you don’t rant to your manager or anyone you work with but, talk to your friends/family/partner(s) and let off some steam. Never bottle up your feelings otherwise you may turn into a walking timebomb at work. If the situation at work is bad and you want advice, talk to HR or occupational health, they are there for a reason.

Work is a replaceable element, always put your health first!