FIDI39 Club

Getting the balance right on mental health

As more businesses make improvements designed to protect the mental health of their employees, FIDI 39 Club Board member Sonja Tuomela speaks to movers about what prospective staff expect from their employers today

In today’s fast-paced world, the lines between work and personal life often blur, leaving many individuals grappling with the elusive concept of balance. Amid this juggling act, mental health emerges as a critical cornerstone, influencing our wellbeing, productivity and overall satisfaction. 

As we delve into the intricate interplay between mental health and work-life balance, it becomes evident that fostering a harmonious balance is not a luxury, but a necessity – for individuals and for their companies.

One of the FIDI 39 Club’s goals is to address the stigma surrounding mental health in professional settings. We want to be advocating for a culture of openness, empathy and proactive support. By fostering a climate that prioritises psychological as well as physical wellbeing, organisations not only enhance employee morale and retention, but also foster creativity, innovation and sustainable growth.

With this goal in mind, the FIDI 39 Club hosted two online micro-events this spring, with a focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace. The sessions were led by talent management professional and mental health coach Christina Kasiraja-Lebrun. 

These events took place in the lead-up to the annual FIDI Conference in Edinburgh, where the Club took another deep dive into the topic. Inspired by these, we have included several comments from our FIDI 39 Club members in this article. Gabriela Humeniuk, from Lift Van International Argentina, says: ‘There is no work without health and there is no health without mental-health awareness.’ 

We believe this industry is unique and that its people make it even better – at the industry level and within individual companies. The dedication of the people to their work and to this industry is hard to match. We are all different, and by talking about this topic we hope you can find new perspectives on mental health and self-care. 

After attending one of our micro-events, Rebecca Krot, from Intermove Germany, says: ‘I knew fairly well what I needed for self-care before the sessions, but now, I feel I have adopted a different perspective. Instead of seeing my “quirks” as concessions to laziness, I now view them as active and necessary contributions to keeping myself reliable and resilient for my employer and for me.’

With people the key component of this industry, we have new generations joining the workforce with fresh expectations of their work-life balance. It is important for companies to be aware of what these generations are looking for. As Rebecca points out, this is one of the first things she will look for in a possible employer, asking: ‘What is the company’s commitment to facilitate self-care and active interest in work-life balance?’

This balance is increasingly important for the younger generation when choosing a place of work. It means that, if companies want to retain talent, they need to look at their work culture and processes, and ensure their employees are thriving in this demanding industry.

We often expect our employees to be flexible to get the job done – but have we forgotten that this should be a two-way street? 

This might be a revelation for some, but work should not be the most important value of our lives – and that can sometimes be hard to remember. 

Laurynas Mandravickas, from Hasenkamp Germany, says: ‘In our industry, we could be working 24/7 and the work would still not be done. I find it important to spend time with my family; therefore, I have to prioritise my daily work accordingly’.  

José Luis Tabuenca Rivera, from SIT Spain and newly elected FIDI 39 Club Board member, says: ‘I believe the key to leading a fulfilling and rewarding life, where we care for and love others better, is first to love and accept oneself. Above all, knowing oneself makes you almost invincible, as you set your own schedules, limits of effort and goals to improve each day.’

Of course, this issue doesn’t only sit on companies’ shoulders: we have individual responsibility to take care of ourselves. However, companies can and should play a key role by providing a framework for a healthy work culture and the opportunity for their employees to thrive in their jobs. 

Key to a healthy work culture is realising we are only human. One of my favourites is trusting your team to take care of their responsibilities – and with this trust there should be freedom to find best practices for them, within company guidelines, of course. 

Psychological and physical wellbeing go hand in hand. It is a well-researched fact that regular exercise – both aerobic and resistance training – has great benefits for reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. 

While not all stress is bad, there are many ways to deal with the ‘bad’ type of stress. Throughout the discussion at our micro-events, several participants mentioned sports and exercise as one of the main ways to maintain self-care and reduce stress. 

For José Luis, sports play a pivotal role, and he aims to follow the 8/8/8 rule in his life: ‘8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, 8 hours of family, sports and leisure. This is what I strive to maintain to stay balanced and not to lose control.’ 

Laurynas has been inspired since the micro events to pick up jogging again, together with other sports such as tennis and riding a bicycle – and nice spring weather in Germany has given him an extra push. 

Gabriela also mentions sports, alongside ‘singing, studying, cooking, and taking time every morning to appreciate life, to say thanks for being able to live another day and breathing calmly before getting up to deal with everything that my day might bring’. 

Following Gabriela’s example on gratitude can make a world of a difference in our lives, with our stressful schedules and daily tasks. 

Gratitude is another great stress relief, with short-term benefits being improvement of mood and reduction of anxiety, and long term ones – when practised regularly – being changes in our brains, making us more grateful overall. 

Together with gratitude, exercise, nutritious food and taking small breaks to stretch, move your body and de-stress during work can make a world of difference to your day. 

The important thing to remember is that there is no magic trick, or one-size-fits-all way to manage our wellbeing and mental health. The issue is complex and there are as many variants of what works as there are people on this Earth of ours. 

We hope that this article has given you some new ways to think about your overall health, work-life balance and wellbeing. These are quite basic tips we can all start to incorporate into our lives today, just a little step at a time. 

Please remember that, if you struggle with this topic, there is absolutely no shame in seeking help from professionals. We hope that everyone will take responsibility for their own mental and physical health, but also help if we see someone around us struggling. Let’s respect each other and be human to human. 

‘Mental health is either unimportant or urgent. By keeping working to change this mindset, everyone wins in the long term,’ says Rebecca Krot. 


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