Speaking at the inaugural WEFF executive briefing, Williamson (pictured) told the audience of delegates the build-up to what she dubbed her ‘meltdown day’.
After suffering from panic attacks, insomnia and other anxiety symptoms, the moment was “the worst day, but turned into the best day,” because it was the moment Williamson said she finally asked for help.
She asked the audience how many put their own wellbeing at the top of their priority list.
One in four will experience a mental health issue at any one time in their lives, statistics suggest.
Williamson said: “We cannot be the best, for anybody else, until we are to ourselves – and that really does include looking after our mental health.”
She was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and depression, and given help to deal with the illnesses.
Williamson added: “It was basically the best thing that ever happened.”
Looking after mental health
Williamson told the audience that “recognising the signs” of declining mental health are the key to taking precautions to stay well, healthy and happy.
Second guest speaker at the WEFF executive briefing, Karen Matovu, head of wellbeing and mental health training at Validium Group, provided the audience with tips and resources on how to look after the mental health of ourselves, as well as colleagues.
She said: “The perceived wisdom at the moment is there’s a real link between physical health and mental health.”
Matovu said staying hydrated, getting a good night’s sleep, having a colourful diet, exercising and relaxation are key components of maintaining physical, and therefore, mental health.
She encouraged everyone at the WEFF to think about one healthy habit they will try to instill following the talk.
Taking account of the core values that motivate us also helps people to understand what they want to do, and importantly, how they want to do it and how they negotiate it.
Matovu said: “When things get tough, what is it that’s really important to you?”
She also talked through how to manage stress responses and tap into the rational part of the brain, as oppose to the primitive part.
On the bright side
Matovu highlighted the importance of focusing on the positives, rather than the negatives, in our daily lives.
She said: “We’ve evolved to notice the negative around us, because that keeps us safe…
“We need to retrain our brains to have positive experiences and rehearse the good things.”
Keeping a daily gratitude diary has been proven to over time help defend against depression, Matovu added.
People also need a fundamental sense of belonging, including in the workplace.
Motovu said: “Just checking in with someone makes a huge difference to that person’s feeling that they’re seen and someone’s caring for them.”
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