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How Vizlib supports mental health

How Vizlib supports mental health

Most of us have felt anxiety in some form or another, whether from financial pressures, relationship troubles, or other day-to-day stressors outside of our control (just to name a few).

In a personal capacity, I have dealt with anxiety throughout my entire adult life, beginning at university a little over a decade ago. It has followed me ever since – in those little, panicked moments caught up in central London crowds, and in more pivotal experiences such as being made redundant at the end of 2022.

As we spend so much time at work, it is inevitable that feelings of anxiety can bleed over into the workplace and affect our concentration, performance, connection with colleagues and even our ability to switch off in the evenings.

So, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week last week, I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve found helpful for managing my anxiety at work, and ways in which Vizlib provides a supportive and flexible environment for its employees when it comes to mental health.

Sharing openly

I’m going to start with an obvious one – but it’s quite often the hardest to put into practice.

One of our core values here at Vizlib is to ‘Share Openly’, and the team fosters a safe space in which to do so. If you’re struggling with your mental health at work, the single biggest thing you can do is reach out to a trusted colleague to talk about it.

Ideally, this would be your direct manager, who will not only be the most informed about the professional context surrounding your situation, but will have power to put in place any modifications needed to help you. If you’re not comfortable with speaking to your manager, try approaching a friendly face in HR or one of your teammates to get the ball rolling.

After your discussion, it’s always a good idea to stay in touch with your manager or HR to keep them updated about your circumstances so that they can make further considerations as necessary.

Working flexibly

Being a Graphic Designer is sometimes unpredictable and requires me to balance a heavy workload during busier periods affecting the wider business. Consequently, there are times when I must ensure I’m working somewhere that provides me optimal focus and comfort. For me, that’s my home environment (although for you it might be the office, a local library, or somewhere else).

As such, I try to align my WFH schedule with days I know I need to concentrate the most, so that I can do so without external distractions and stressors. Similarly, I’ll arrange my office days to align with the times I need more face-to-face collaboration with colleagues.

I’ll admit that I’m not much of a morning person either, so on days where I am particularly struggling, I work around Vizlib’s core hours of 10-4 in a way that suits me. Didn’t get much sleep? Come in a little later. Want to catch a gym class after work? Leave a bit earlier. No big deal! It seems pretty simple, but it has a huge impact on how I can manage unexpected external challenges on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that encourages flexible hours, hybrid or remote working, definitely take advantage of the control it gives back to you as an employee. Everyone’s situation and preferences are unique!

Offering benefits

Always make sure you’re familiar with the benefits your company offers, to ensure you’re utilising them in a way that supports your needs.

A healthy, balanced lifestyle has long been touted as one of the most straightforward ways to boost your mental health and your overall mood. Discounted gym memberships, access to therapists and GPs, employee assistance programs (EAPs), wellbeing tips and more are often covered by health insurance providers, including Vizlib’s provider, AXA. In addition to this, employees are also encouraged to participate in Vizlib’s cycle-to-work scheme and group Boxing/HIIT sessions twice a week at lunchtimes. 

Smaller benefits hold weight too. Things like providing a fun and engaging office environment, snacks and drinks, freebies, vouchers, local discounts and merch all make employees feel valued, and can make office days just that little bit more positive.

Facilitating breaks

Giving your brain space to process things and keep perspective when you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious is very important. Be sure to take regular breaks throughout your working day. I like to take a short walk to combat brain fog, or a longer break outside during my lunch hour to give myself the chance to step away from my desk. You’ll also see me raiding the breakout area in the Vizlib office to grab myself some of the aforementioned snacks and drinks (or maybe even an ice cream 👀).

We also need to take longer periods of time off to relax and centre ourselves sometimes. Don’t be afraid to take regular holidays away from your 9-5 to avoid burnout and experience new things.

If you’re running out of holiday allowance, some companies like Vizlib offer the option of ‘workcations’, allowing employees to travel abroad whilst partaking in the usual office hours. This can provide a welcome change of scenery and a mood boost without being too detrimental to the sacred holiday calendar.

Enjoying the ride

Getting to know your colleagues through team-building and social activities allows you to better connect with them while you’re at work. Yes, as an anxious introvert, I find attending events with people I don’t know very well quite overwhelming at times. But if you step out of your comfort zone, they can be very enjoyable. This is especially true of my time at Vizlib, where the HR team and the social committee put in every effort to include fun icebreaker activities like quizzes, competitions, and even a game of Mario Kart on occasion!

If that’s not your cup of tea, why not ask your manager to arrange smaller, team-only activities to get to know each other on a personal level in a less overwhelming environment? There have been plenty of those during my time so far at Vizlib, too.

It’s important to bear in mind that socialising can sometimes be the last thing you want to do if you’re struggling with your mental health. That’s okay too – don’t put yourself under pressure.

Making mental health a priority

It’s no secret that life at Vizlib is fast-paced, meaning we pull out all the stops to deliver the ‘wow’ our customers want and expect. However, in my tenure here, I can safely say that it provides one of the most supportive and accommodating environments that I have ever had the pleasure to work in. As a result, I am able to challenge myself, deliver to the best of my ability, and most of all have a lot of fun while I’m doing it!

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