Today’s tradesperson knows that mental wellbeing is a key part of wider health and happiness and, unlike decades gone by, we’re no longer afraid to talk about it.
Yet in spite of our appreciation for mental health, the data suggests we’re still not doing enough to take care of ourselves. In a recent study, it was shown that the risk of suicide within the building and construction industry is 1.6 times higher than the national average – meaning there’s still much more we can be doing to protect ourselves and our colleagues.
That’s why electrical wholesaler ERF has teamed up with environmental psychologist and wellbeing consultant Lee Chambers to share five tips to help electricians protect and maintain their mental health.
Don’t be socially distant…
While this may seem contrary to current regulations, what Chambers and ERF are referring to here is the importance of social interaction.
That means making time for friends and family, even when you might be feeling busy, or, indeed, not busy at all and therefore lacking in motivation.
Simply chatting to people you care about is enough to improve your wellbeing. As human beings, we’re social animals and it’s those social interactions that help to release dopamine, the chemical known for making us feel happier. So even when you’re feeling down, isolated and times are tough, just picking up the phone for a conversation is enough to change the chemical balance in your body and make your mind feel better as a result.
There are also a number of Facebook groups which have been set up for electricians where you can discuss any work-related concerns you may have with those who are likely to have been faced with similar problems. If you aren’t part of any at the minute, Electricians’ Community UK and Electricians Network UK are two to check out.
Take care of your physical wellbeing
As tradespeople, we may think our jobs make us more active than most office based roles. Even if this is the case, it’s scientifically proven that physical exercise is one of the best ways to lift your mood – through the chemical changes it creates as well as the focus and motivation it gives us to get up and go.
This doesn’t have to mean signing up for the gym or subscribing to an expensive sports club. Something as simple as a walk or a jog around a nearby park or a few laps around the block can be a welcome relief from day to day tasks and a great way to improve your physical health too.
For electricians that spend a lot of time indoors, getting out into nature and sunlight is vital, especially in the winter months, so try to take at least some of your exercise during daylight hours, perhaps during a lunch break or, where possible, by walking between jobs.
As an electrician on the go, it’s easy to find yourself snacking unhealthily or stopping by the nearest fast food restaurant for a quick fix. But the importance of fuelling your body correctly cannot be understated; having a healthy, balanced diet, allows your body to function in the most effective way and gives you a clear and healthy mind too.
As part of a well balanced diet, we should aim to drink between six and eight glasses of water per day. Better still, if you’re travelling around, treat yourself to a two litre drinks bottle and work your way through that during the day. You’ll feel much more alert for it.
When it comes to snacking, the best way to avoid unhealthy options is to arm yourself with plenty of healthy alternatives. Fruit is an easy snack to carry around because in many cases (apples, bananas, oranges, pears) they come in their own handy ‘packaging’, while cereal bars, nuts and sandwiches are quick to grab even when you’re in the middle of a busy day.
Do something for yourself
You may feel – especially during busy periods – that you have no time to spare for yourself. But is this really true?
There are plenty of ways to create ‘space’ in your everyday activities. This can be as simple as practicing being ‘present’, meaning that you’re conscious of yourself in the moment and can put distractions out of your mind.
One simple way to do this is in the shower in the morning; rather than using shower time to think about what you have coming up in your day, try instead to focus solely on your own breathing and the feel of the water. Doing something as seemingly small as this can work wonders on your feeling of wellbeing throughout your day.
You can also get mental wellbeing benefits from spending time on things you enjoy and are good at. For example, if you find fun in playing sport, in hobbies like painting or even just cooking a good meal, spending time on those things can give you a mental boost that energises and supports you for the days ahead.
Be sure to make time for yourself, even when you’re busy.
Seek help from a specialist
No matter how big or small your problem may be, you should never feel you need to go through difficult times alone. Here are some of the services you can turn to:
Samaritans on 116 123 for 24-hour confidential, non judgemental emotional support
Your local GP and ask for an emergency appointment
You can also call 111 out of hours who will help you find the support and help you need
Although you may feel hesitant about contacting somebody you might not have spoken to before, just a quick conversation with a specialist can put you on the right track to recovery.