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Minding your mental health

Jun 11, 2018
Working under stressful conditions, as accountants are wont to do, can seriously affect your mental well-being. As Neil Hughes, Managing Partner of Baker Tilly Hughes Blake, explains, minding your mental health is an important part of living the best life possible.

Just like we all have physical health, we also all have mental health. Mental health is everyone’s responsibility – it is a fundamental part of who we are. It determines and influences so many aspects to our lives; how we view ourselves, our relationships and our work, to name a few. But how much do you really know about your mental health and how to look after it? Here are some steps you can take to mind your mind.

Healthy diet – eat yourself healthy

One of the most obvious, yet under-recognised factors for good mental health is the role of nutrition. The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. 

As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems. Nearly two thirds of those who reported they do not have daily mental health issues eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, as compared to less than half of those who reported poor mental health. A balanced mood and feelings of well-being can be protected by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water.

Get active – get going

Being active is great for your physical and mental well-being. Statistics show there is a link between being physically active and good mental well-being. 

Being active doesn’t mean you need to train for a marathon. You need to find a physical activity that you enjoy and can fit into your routine. This may be a daily walk to the shops instead of taking the car, a weekly gardening session, some yoga, swimming or a weekend walk.

Scientists confirm physical activity can help maintain well-being and good mental health in a number of ways. It helps with mild depression and evidence shows being active can protect people against the onset of depression and anxiety. Physical activity can bring about a greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge – all of which help improve well-being.

Work-life balance – get it right

Finally, it is imperative to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Work can have a positive impact on our mental health and well-being. On top of the obvious financial reward, a person's work can also give rise to a person's self-esteem and status, and provide companionship. Healthy and motivated employees can have an equally positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of a business. Motivated employees go that extra mile.

However, employers and employees alike need to keep their time in the office in check. Responsibilities in the office often spill over into the evening time once you've left the office. Be sure to give yourself the time you need to decompress after a long day at work by going home and forgetting about the papers on your desk for a while.

It's important to remember that personal well-being involves a need for social support, health and safety, and employees are increasingly looking to employers to help them achieve this. Employees with good mental health is as beneficial to an employer as it is to the employee.

Reach out

As difficult as it can be to take the step of initially reaching out to a friend, family member or trained mental health professional for help, there are many options available in Ireland and internationally, no matter what your budget or level of free time. Be sure to reach out for help if it's needed.

Neil Hughes is the Managing Partner of Baker Tilly Hughes Blake.