Why looking after your mental health and wellbeing is critical | The Association of Corporate Treasurers

Why looking after your mental health and wellbeing is critical

We know some members of our treasury community have been deeply affected by COVID-19 in terms of their mental health and wellbeing, and we want to keep talking about this, and ensure we are doing our best as a membership association to support people as best we can.

One of the challenges is that people don’t always realise that they are becoming unwell – they rationalise their feelings as normal, they retreat because they find things and people too difficult to deal with, and they get to a point where they are unable to help themselves before they realise they are there.

We have a wealth of information and advice on our website in the career hub and other areas, but we understand that it may not be your first thought as you wake up in the morning to go there and look. But maybe the question is: why not? Why not structure your day so that you do something for your own health and wellbeing before you sit down at your virtual desk? It will absolutely pay off in the long run. Perhaps at the moment you are going for a walk or run, or getting out into the garden or local park – but certainly for some climates we are heading for short, dark days where lack of sunlight will have an impact on people’s health, and we need to ramp up our efforts to be more resilient and look after ourselves, our loved ones and our colleagues.

So, some top tips coming out of my discussions with treasurers around the world, to help you – though the key to all this is, as always, whether you are prepared to help yourselves, and take your head out of your day-to-day pressures and allow your mind a break to consider these important points:

  1. take mini breaks through the day, to focus on an object, get a coffee, walk around, to break the pattern of continuous focus
  2. find ways of separating work from home life – whether a specific other activity before and after work (walk, exercise, puzzle, book) – and set some rules as to when you will stop at the end of the day
  3.  watch for other people withdrawing, and check in on them regularly
  4. watch out also for yourself – check-in and ask yourself how you are really feeling, and whether you need to take some specific actions
  5. think about your resilience – make sure you: eat healthily; drink lots of water; are refreshing your brain by learning new things, even if just reading about something you’ve always been curious about; are in contact with at least three family or social groups on a regular basis; think about giving to others, whether of time or money – it helps; take exercise of some form, on a regular basis; focus on being in the present
  6. if you note your mental state is worsening, and/or you feel at risk of burnout, then seek advice and help – this is no longer a taboo matter (strangely, one of the positive things about COVID-19’s impact, perhaps)
  7. reflect on all you have learnt over the past months, and consider keeping a small logbook you can look back on
  8. train your mind to think positive – see my podcast on ‘mind or event’ on our website
  9. remember always: ‘tomorrow will be another day’ (as per the movie Gone with the Wind); things may seem impossible today (though see my podcast on the Zone), but the sun will rise tomorrow and we may see things very differently.

As Sydney Wechuli said in our conference earlier this week ‘Time is all we have’. This is indeed a period when we can gather our thoughts and reflect on what is important to us, and how we want to spend our time in the future. We are learning new things about ourselves perhaps, and that the only certain thing in life is uncertainty. We knew this before, but somehow it’s taken COVID-19 to drum it into us.

I’ll close with another comment from Nairobi, this time from Hillary Oonge: ‘We speak risk but think hope’.  Let’s keep our minds focused on hope as we move forwards together into an uncertain but tangible future.


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