Mental Health Awareness Week – How Does the LID Team Spend their Wellbeing Days?
By Guest Contributors the LID team
Mental Health Awareness Week will be marked between 15-21 May this year. The theme for 2023 is anxiety.
To support the week, the LID team decided to talk about our ‘Wellbeing Day’ Initiative and share how we spend our wellbeing days. Since 5th March 2021, the LID team have had a Friday off work every month that there is no Bank Holiday to concentrate on activities that support and improve our Wellbeing.
Martin Liu – LID’s COO & Publisher
I try to divide my wellbeing days into two parts – an activity that requires some level of physical effort and one that is more focused on the mind – to vary the experience of the day. Here’s what I did during our last Wellbeing Day.
I have been reading a book given to me by a friend at last year’s Frankfurt Bookfair. Called I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokbokki, it’s by Korean author Baek Sehee. (Tteokbokki is a popular Korean street food and usually consists of rice cakes and fish cakes in a spicy soup stock – it’s heartwarming food and can be quite addictive.) Sehee is a social media manager at a publishing company who, on the outside seems to be leading a successful career, but inside has persistent anxiety and self-doubts. She begins to see a psychiatrist and the book is a record of the sessions and talks with her psychiatrist. The original Korean edition was a bestseller in South Korea, and at first, I did not quite get it. It’s part memoir, part self-help, and eventually I began to realize it provides a rather original perspective on and understanding of depression, as it untangles the author’s life and what led her to this cycle of negativity.
I have been going to my local indoor screen golf centre, in an effort to get around an 18-hole outdoor course later this summer without too much embarrassment. One thing I have recently discovered about playing golf is the importance of the rhythm and tempo/pace of your swing. If you look at all the pros, they have a particular rhythm and tempo that works for them. No matter how much you practice it (in my case, indoors mainly!), the main challenge is to maintain that rhythm and tempo for the whole round. Tiredness, pressure, hazards – these are some of the factors that can disrupt your rhythm and tempo. And perhaps that’s why many people say golf is both a mind and body sport. I was going to suggest that life is like golf, which would be stretching things too far, but making that one shot where you have rhythm of swing and see the flight of a well struck ball (even on screen)…life does seem very good then!
Clare Christian – LID’s Editorial Manager
Given the chance I will always spend my time outside rather than inside, so on a typical LID wellbeing day I will swim in our local outdoor pool first thing, ride in the morning, walk the dogs after lunch and maybe sit in the garden to read in the afternoon – if the English weather allows!
I really appreciate these days, and the permission they give you to spend time on yourself. There is no doubt that they improve my overall sense of wellbeing – and I believe this improves my focus at work too, so it really is win-win
Ben Walker – LID’s Head of Media
When the idea of wellbeing days was launched, I was initially slightly sceptical – I hadn’t heard of the concept previously and wondered whether staffers would use the days as they were intended – or simply use sink them into general life admin and schlepping around the supermarket, mundane activities that exhaust lots of ‘free’ time.
Yet when it came to it, it turned out that I was careful to devote the time to its purpose, doing things that enhance mental health and support wellbeing. For me, that’s typically been mountain biking, or taking a day out to spend with my wife, perhaps walking and visiting a country pub for lunch. It seems I was typical – hearing from colleagues, they also focus on creating purposeful days. It’s rewarding, you can feel the difference it makes. Maybe there is an element of nominative determinism here: because the days are called ‘wellbeing days’, wellbeing is the input – and, mostly, the output.
They have a similar benefit to bank holidays – because everyone in the company is off on the same day, there’s less risk of one colleague’s absence holding up the project of another. That can be liberating.
I’m one of the older members of the team. I have been in publishing for more than two decades. Maybe my age or length of service contributed to my initial scepticism. Whatever it was, it was unfounded. The wellbeing days have been a triumph. I feel better for them, and my sense is that colleagues do too.
Teya Ucherdzhieva – LID’s Communications Manager
When I first started at LID a year and a half ago, I was very surprised and pleased to hear about the Wellbeing Day initiative. I thought this was a great way to really focus on your wellbeing at least once a month. It gives you the mental freedom not to think about any work or personal responsibilities and do the things that really make you feel well.
When it comes to my wellbeing, it’s very important to spend some quality time with my family and closest friends and also take care of my physical health.
I started off our last wellbeing day with a well-balanced breakfast to make sure I nourish my body well. I don’t always find the time to make myself a healthy breakfast in the morning during the week, so I try to do so during our wellbeing days.
Then, I went on a day trip to Castle Coombe with some of my friends. I was very impressed by the beauty of this small village. On the way back we also visited Bourton-on-the-Water which I also enjoyed quite a lot.
The time spent with friends exploring new places really had a very positive impact on my overall wellbeing and made me feel very refreshed and ready for the new week.
I spent one of our company wellness day in Avebury around the megalith ‘power’ stones.
First of all, there is such a different feeling when you wake up in the morning and I know that you will devote this day to your health. You feel nice and relaxed. I have to say that the energy of wellness day is quite special. The brain can relax and stop creating plans, mental designs and other type of invisible work related ‘plotting’ that we know so well.
Going back to ‘Lockdown One’ – I made a commitment to add a non-negotiable item to my daily routine. It was a 30 minutes walk outside. I came across the idea of ‘non-negotiables’ daily activity reading one of the writeups on mental health (However, in my mind, I refer to mental health as mental fitness). It made such a big difference for both physical and mental fitness, that I have integrated this habit into my daily routine well after the pandemic was gone.
Being around the stones in Avebury is very special. The stone circle in Avebury predates the pyramids and The
Stonehenge monument. You can get very close to the stones, there is a seat which was carved out by nature in one of them. The huge sarsen stones are friendly and I never felt threatened by their presence.
It is a great place for meditative walks, contemplation, reflection, day dreaming. You can give your mind permission to wonder anywhere and beyond. Who built the circle? When? How did ‘they’ do it? What did ‘they’ use it for?
I spent the evening with friends eating out and having a bit of social interaction. Lots of laughter. The day was fantastic!
Caroline Li – LID’s Art Director