Bushfires, floods, interest rate hikes, inflation and of course Covid 19 – is there any wonder there has been a rise in the instance of mental health issues over the last few years?
In fact, a 2021 survey found that 58% of Australian GPs identified fatigue and burnout as one of their top challenges, while in a 2022 survey, 79% of primary care nurses felt burnt out during the pandemic. Another study found that nearly 60% of Australian healthcare workers experienced high rates of anxiety, over 70% experienced burnout and 57% experienced depression.
The Covid-related pressures of the last couple of years form an extra layer on top of the ongoing stresses we often feel day-to-day, leaving many at breaking point.
These include a lack of downtime, high workloads, excessive connectivity and the need to compete with others for validation through achievement at work and at home.
October is Mental Health Month and finds much of the country in the grips of a flood emergency while simultaneously bracing into the economic headwinds of a higher cost of living, staff shortages and global uncertainty.
So, given the ongoing external pressures on our mental health, it seemed the perfect time for Executive Health and Wellbeing Coach Camilla Thompson to share her extensive experience and understanding of mental health strategies with the Wavelength team.
Camilla’s philosophy draws on the wisdom of the Dalai Lama who said “The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.”
Camilla adds to this. “By shifting the focus to who you are, what you’re doing and what you’re achieving, you remove the feelings of inadequacy that come from comparing yourself to others.”
On top of all the major events we’ve had to deal with in the last couple of years, many of us have continued to apply pressure on ourselves to keep up, compete, or be the best.
Camilla explains that by bringing our thinking back to ourselves, we relieve the need to compare ourselves to others, and are better placed to deal with some of these large, traumatic events.
In the workplace, and on social media we often bow to pressure to be the best, to prove our worth and to show that we are going above and beyond. Besides being exhausting, it induces feelings of failure as we compare our lowlights to others’ highlights and find ourselves falling short.
A recent study conducted by Microsoft found that 62% of Australian workers are experiencing burnout – far higher than the global average of 48%. During the pandemic, we worked harder than ever, taking fewer breaks while at work and taking fewer holidays. We also blurred the lines of our work day by working from home, or by being available all the time via video meetings or phone calls.
The result? We’ve set a cracking pace of productivity in an effort to stay on top of the workload and expectations during Covid-19 and now need to address the effects of this on our mental health by taking the time to slow down, reassess and recharge our batteries.
Thankfully, Camilla had a number of strategies to share to help us take small steps towards improving our mental health.
“Firstly, it’s about betterment. We’re a work in progress, try to be a bit better each day,” Camilla said.
In addition to that, it’s the need to put ourselves first, “Put “me” at the top of your to-do list. You have to look after yourself before you can look after anyone else,” she added.
Strategies suggested by Camilla include:
- Take breaks – harness your Ultradian rhythm by alternating 90 minutes of activity with a 20-minute break,
- Unfollow – stop following anyone on social media that does not make you feel better about yourself,
- Stop comparing – drop the need for perfectionism and comparison with others and focus on becoming a “better you”,
- Adopt a hope mindset – believe that things will get better, despite the doomsday stories in the news,
- Understand macro stress vs micro stress – macro stress is caused by “big ticket” items such as divorce or financial difficulty. Micro stress items often fall within your control, or can be more easily solved such as your technology not working properly,
- Undertake a daily self-care checklist – spend a few minutes observing how you are feeling, what you need to take care of yourself, and how you are feeling out of 10.
- Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and remember to have fun!
Camilla’s visit is part of Wavelength’s ongoing commitment to contributing to the conversation around mental health and the wellbeing of our people, our doctors and our community. If you are struggling with your mental health, we urge you to reach out for help by speaking with friends, family or colleagues, or seeking medical assistance.
More about Camilla Thompson:
Health & Wellbeing Coach, Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker, Wellbeing Consultant & Strategist
Camilla has been coaching for over 12 years with expertise in health, wellbeing and behaviour change.
Her business Select Wellness specialises in the design and delivery of bespoke mental health and wellbeing programs to organisations. Camilla’s style of coaching is solution focussed and transformative through motivating and empowering her clients to make sustained behaviour changes to better their lives.
Camilla delivers her own keynote talk ‘A Better Me’ to organisations across Australia, she is a speaker at health retreats and also facilitates group wellbeing sessions as well as her one-on-one coaching programs.
Camilla has been fortunate to work with clients like Canva, PwC, Westpac, Dermalogica, Microsoft, Atlassian, Unilever, Hermes, Wesfarmers and Mediabrands to name a few in her portfolio.
 RACGP, Why Australia needs a systemic response to burnout, https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/gp-opinion/why-australia-needs-a-systemic-response-to-burnout..
 www.news.com.au, Australian workers suffer most burnout in world: Microsoft Work Trends Index, https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/australian-workers-suffer-most-burnout-in-world-microsoft-work-trends-index/news-story/b2e047251cf1009b57c9de4b3d30f95f.