In search of the silver lining for Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been re-reading a little bit about Positive Psychology lately – something I’ve been interested in and use as part of my job as a counsellor, but also personally in life comments Hobie Walker, AML Head of Wellbeing.

I’m reminded of how helpful it can be to try and foster a positive mindset. Especially now, when we are faced with not knowing what it will be like going ‘back to the office’.

When we went into lockdown there was no choice – we had to do it. So there wasn’t time to worry – we had to face the consequences straight away.  Now there is lots of discussion about when exactly to go back into the office, for how many days a week, and what that will look like.  We have choices.  And although having a choice is nice, it can also feel a little stressful.

As an advertising agency we are probably looking at some sort of hybrid model.   However, I know that there are various reactions to what it might be like.   Some people may be fearful about timings – when will they go back, when will they feel ready and safe enough to go back, will they feel ‘forced’?  Can they face or even manage the commute and office dynamics again?  Will they lose the flexibility and autonomy they’ve gained whilst wfh?  So many questions and worries, and unknowns.

Facing these unknowns with a positive mindset might help.  That doesn’t mean pretending that everything is great, and that we don’t have any negative feelings or concerns about things. It just means trying not to assume there’ll be a negative outcome, or dwell on the negative aspects.  It means trying to look instead for the positives in whatever happens – looking for the silver lining.

Fostering a positive mindset involves:

  • Optimism – a willingness to take a chance, make an effort and believe in a positive outcome
  • Acceptance – acknowledging that things don’t always turn out like you’d like, but learning from your mistakes
  • Resilience – bouncing back from disappointments instead of giving up
  • Gratitude – continuously appreciating and noticing the good things in your life

For example, one of the concerns of coming back to the office for some people might be having to commute again.  Downside – it takes a long time, no-one is pretending it doesn’t; upside – you can listen to music or read a book and it is a clear boundary for the start and end of the working day. Working in the office with colleagues – downside might be that your work keeps getting interrupted; upside is you exchange some great ideas or spark good conversations (and you can go for a drink after work!).

Thinking of the positives gets us moving away from feeling stuck and feeling fearful.  It enables us to face better what is coming and helps us to act with the knowledge that we will be able to manage.

To a certain extent, returning to the office is exactly what we used to do happily enough every single day. A positive mindset would tell us it could be like that, but with the massive bonus that working from home is no longer viewed with suspicion but proven to be highly effective.

Rather positive, I reckon.