What to do when things get too much.


This week, I was interested to read the news reporting on the fact that Caledonian Sleeper staff have voted for industrial action (strikes) in a dispute over appalling working conditions.  According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)  ‘Work-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health that can cause severe physical and psychological issues for employees’.

The RMT union has been quoted as saying that members have suffered workplace stress and mental health issues following the introduction of its new fleet.   This new fleet was going to offer a ‘hotel on wheels’ experience.  Mismanagement, it would appear, has led to poor staffing levels and insufficient training which contributed in turn to a complete breakdown in industrial relations.  On the other side of the coin, passengers have also lost out due to the defects in the new system, which will also have been stressful for them.   Pretty much a lose-lose situation.

The problem with stress is that it is usually insidious – the need to keep going with our responsibilities, be they job/family/fill in the blank can take a toll on us that frequently isn’t apparent until it is too late.   Who hasn’t kept going, until they reach a point where they find they can’t keep going?  For those with strong mental health, or who have found coping strategies, it is manageable, so long as other players, such as management, play their part.

This point was brought home when I attended the mental charity MIND’s workshop on mental health, including resilience at work recently.  This is something that all our staff are encouraged to attend.    MIND’s five-point strategy for wellbeing are; Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.

In an industry where we give a lot of ourselves to helping others, it makes sense to give ourselves the time and care we need.     I’m off for an active weekend of appreciating the countryside.  How about you?

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