What is pleasanteeism and how is it impacting mental health at work?

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Are you hiding behind a mask of pleasantries at work?

What is pleasanteeism and how is it impacting mental health at work?

If I was to ask you, “How are you doing?” What would your response be? Now, imagine I’m a manager at work asking the same question – has your response changed?

There’s a new ‘ism’ in the workplace: pleasanteeism. This refers to the pressure many of us feel to conceal any stress, anxiety or low mood we may be feeling, choosing to hide behind pleasantries instead. This grin-and-bear-it workplace culture is on the rise, according to healthcare provider Lime Global. Surveying workers in the UK, in February 2022, Lime Global found that 75% of respondents admit to putting on a brave face at work, increasing from 51% in May 2021.

Looking at the causes of this rise, financial concerns and the cost of living were high on the list, with over a third of those surveyed saying they were worried about money. But, while recent economic shifts no doubt have a part to play, concealing negative emotions is something we learn early on.

“We’re taught to hide our feelings from an early age. To stop crying when we’re upset or in pain, to not be angry at people who hurt us,” burnout prevention coach Gaby Grzywacz explains.

“It’s no surprise we take those lessons into the workplace. While at work, we are expected to be professional – and we usually don’t see displaying our feelings as professional. So the thought of being open and honest about it doesn’t cross people’s minds.”

Gaby also notes that there is still a great amount of stigma surrounding mental health, with some fearing that they may be perceived as ‘weak’ – though she notes that it takes courage to be open about your feelings at work.

The fear that’s driving pleasanteeism may be palpable, but hiding your feelings isn’t the answer. Suppressing negative emotions can impact our mental health, affecting our self-esteem, and causing a rise in anxiety and depression. It can also harm our physical health, leading to increased blood pressure and memory problems.

So, how can we find that courage to be more open at work? First, let’s look at the root of the problem: workplace culture.

“If the company has the culture of pushing through all difficulties, delivering perfection, the whole ‘work hard, play hard’ nonsense, it’s unlikely that an employee would feel comfortable disclosing their feelings to their boss until they’re at a point where they can’t do their job,” says Gaby.

What is pleasanteeism and how is it impacting mental health at work?

Employers need to take the reins when it comes to preventing pleasanteeism, cultivating a culture of openness. “It starts with simple things, for example, a manager admitting that they have a headache, or are feeling a bit down, so they won’t be at their best that day,” Gaby explains. “That shows their team it’s OK not to be at 100% all the time.”

Increasing the company’s awareness of mental health and self-care is also key. This may include introducing mental health training, reminding people that they can take sick days for their mental he

Discover how to create a more joyful Instagram feed

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It’s time to put the fun back into social media

Discover how to create a more joyful Instagram feed

Ever find yourself tapping out of social media feeling worse than you did before? Bad news, comparison traps, and toxic trends can wear you down over time. So, follow these steps to take back control of your feed.

1. Focus on following pages that inspire you

What are the things that interest you, that really make you tick? It could be crafting, gardening, music, DIY, cooking, books, or film. Hunt down and follow accounts dedicated to sharing content on these topics. You’ll then have the chance to soak up inspiration, and you might even learn a thing or two as you go, meaning you’ll be leaving Instagram with more knowledge and drive than you went in with.

2. Make use of the ‘mute’ button

Social media politics is a real thing, and we all know the anxiety that can accompany making the choice to ‘unfollow’ someone you know. But if someone is posting things that you find distressing, or even which just rub you up the wrong way, the ‘mute’ button is your best option. It’s especially helpful when you know the person IRL, as you’ll no longer see their posts popping on your feed, but you’re still ‘following’ them, and so have the option to check in with them from time to time.

3. Turn off ‘like’ counts

If chasing ‘likes’ is something that causes you stress, or has you second-guessing what you should or shouldn’t share, now’s the time to turn them off. You can hide likes on the things that you post, and also on other people’s posts, by heading into the settings on the app. This eliminates a key factor in comparison culture, and also encourages you to share happy memories and special moments without the worry of how those ‘likes’ will add up.

4. Feed the algorithm

The algorithm appears to work in strange and mysterious ways. And while sometimes it can get things right and show us content that we want, it can also get things wrong and we might find ourselves face-to-face with something we could have done without seeing. If that happens on your ‘Explore’ page, did you know that you can let Instagram know it wasn’t for you? Simply tap the options button, and mark it as ‘not interested’. You can also feed it in other ways, by ‘saving’ and ‘liking’ the things that you really love.

Over time, your algorithm should learn what works for you, and if you’re employing other techniques for creating a more positive feed, it shouldn’t be long before your social media feeds start to blossom.


Sexy time: discover the secret to preserving intimacy in your relationship

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Could scheduling sex be the key to preserving intimacy in long-term relationships?

Sexy time: discover the secret to preserving intimacy in your relationship

I reach my hand across the kitchen island for the serving spoon, my husband’s eyes tracking each deliberate movement as I gingerly place my second serving of turkey bolognese on my plate.

“Don’t get sick, baby,” he says tentatively, as I savour the full flavour of carrot and thyme melting in my mouth, and put my fork down.

I know what he means. My husband is not a jerk. He is not worried I will get fat. He is worried that these extra few bites will lead to me feeling bloated and full, which will in turn result in me explaining to him, “I don’t feel pretty tonight,” when he reaches for me under the covers as we settle into bed.

I met him when I was 42. Eight years younger than me, he often gets mistaken for any number of Hollywood movie stars – think Bradley Cooper or a young Hugh Grant. But, despite this, I have rarely been in the mood for having sex since I hit middle age.

In my early 50s, I first chalked up my declining libido to needing more of an emotional connection before intimacy. We tried sharing compliments with each other before hitting the pillow, and finding time for walk-and-talks during the day so we could discuss the ups and downs of our lives. And while I felt appreciated and connected, it did nothing to rouse my lust.

Then came menopause. I took supplements I saw advertised online, supposedly designed to provide hormone-free support to enhance libido. Nothing happened. I ultimately got on hormone replacement therapy, and while my night sweats stopped, my desire for sex continued to stay muted.

On a long walk one day through the desert landscape with one of my besties, I confessed my situation. “We aren’t unhappy,” I said. “Despite the usual bickering and what my therapist friend calls ‘normal marital hatred’. I love spending time with him, so why my case of the blahs?”

Could it be that even though I am a relationship and life coach, an issue I thought I had conquered through a support group, years of therapy, and a seven-day personal development retreat was still wreaking havoc with my self-esteem? Did I really think that my innate worthiness was directly tied to how I sexually satisfied my husband? Did that make me a ‘good wife’? Or even a ‘good woman’?

I thought hard, trying to remember the last time I had felt genuine sexual arousal. It was many months before, at the Watershed Music Festival my husband and I had attended. In my short shorts, I had pressed my body against my husband’s as we made out while Tim McGraw crooned in the background, reminding me to “live like I am dying”. I couldn’t wait to get my adorable, attentive husband into bed that night.

What had been so different? Well, at the festival he didn’t expect me to “do” anything. I was just being me on my own terms, and I felt sexy and confident. I knew there was an answer here but I couldn’t quite see it... Yet.

It wasn’t until I was working on putting my weekly plans into my organiser that I realised while I had been crushing my goals at work, having great life balance, enjoying good friendships, and living my purpose, the one area I had put the least effort into week after week, month after month, and year after year was my romantic relationship with my husband.

Then, a woma

10 new things to try in September to benefit your wellbeing

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From an honest and inspiring documentary to lessons in sustainability, and a podcast that will help you find your mindful moment, try something new with our enriching suggestions

1. Page-turners

10 new things to try in September to benefit your wellbeing

Waste Not Everyday: 365 ways to reduce, reuse and reconnect by Erin Rhoads

For those of you who want to live more sustainably, and take your first steps towards a zero-waste lifestyle, this beginner’s guide covers all the basics. Author and advocate Erin Rhoads is on a mission to help us pursue healthier lives with her daily tips on how to reduce and reuse.

(Hardie Grant Books, £10.00)

2. Out and about

Go trig bagging

If you’ve ever been on a hike in the countryside, you would have noticed concrete pillars that mark the highest point of the area. What was once used as a device to map Great Britain, now paves the way for an outdoor adventure. Explore the countryside, challenge yourself to find as many as you can, and make sure to capture a photo of each one that you spot.

(Visit trigbagging.co.uk for more information)

10 new things to try in September to benefit your wellbeing

3. Act of kindness

Cadbury x Prince’s Trust #GiveADoubt campaign

Cadbury chocolate has collaborated with The Prince’s Trust in a campaign to encourage open conversations around self-doubt. By sharing your doubts, this simple act of kindness can give a young person the hope and confidence to overcome their own and begin believing in themselves again. Everyone has doubts, what are yours?

(Visit giveadoubt.cadbury.co.uk for more information)

4. Lend us your ears

‘The Mindful Minute’ by Meryl Arnett

If you’re a beginner when it comes to meditation, you’re in good hands. Meditation teacher Meryl Arnett knows exactly what she’s talking about when it comes to the practice, and she’s here to help you find stillness in your busy routine with her guided meditation sessions and expert advice.

(Available on all platforms)

5. Plugged-In

Dustin Poynter

Calling all introverts who are in need of a good chuckle! Dustin Poynter sheds light on what it’s like being a male introvert through his entertaining and completely relatable video content. Schedule some alone time (we know you want to), and give it a watch!

(Follow @dustinpoynter on TikTok)

@dustinpoynter

Which one have you expeirenced the most? #introvert

Young people's mental health referrals hit a record high

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New data collected by the NHS reveals the number of young people referred to emergency mental health services rose by 37% in May this year. With NHS waiting times still climbing, Young Minds are asking the government to step up

Young people's mental health referrals hit a record high

This week, it was reported by the Independent that 982 under-19's had been referred to crisis care teams in May 2022. This reflects a 37% increase in referrals from the previous month and is the highest figure since pre-Covid.

At the same time, open referrals to young people’s mental health services reached 457,387, which greatly exceeds the record-breaking numbers seen in March of this year.

This information comes as the result of a recent report from Young Minds, which revealed that 26% of young people have tried to take their own lives due to the long waiting times for mental health support.

Young Minds are determined to change this and are asking the government to tackle this crisis in their ten-year mental health plan. Olly Parker, Young Minds’ Head of External Affairs commented on the issue, stating; “We urgently need to see a reversal in climbing waiting lists. The government must urgently equip the NHS to deal with the immediate pressures services face”.  

Accessing support for young people

Crisis support

If you or someone you know is struggling to cope, you can contact Young Mind’s messaging service, Shout, for free 24/7 support. ​​Text YM to 85258.

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If you are in immediate crisis and are concerned for your safety, contact 999 or go to A&E.

If you want to talk to someone anonymously, the Samaritans are available 24/7 to listen to you and your concerns. You can contact them on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

Mental health help and advice

There are various services available to young people that offer free advice and support for a range of issues.

Mind offers advice Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm (except on bank holidays). You can call 0300 123 3393 or email info@mind.org.uk

Childline offer

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