This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year I wanted to share some of my top tips for leaders on how to manage difficult emotions at work and encourage a healthy working environment.

Experiencing difficult emotions is an inescapable fact of life – we’re all aware of that and it’s the nature of being human. Whilst experiencing difficult emotions is healthy, sometimes it can be unhelpful, especially as leaders where we have an enormous impact on everyone around us.

Emotions have a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. When emotions become overwhelming, and leaders fail to manage them appropriately, the negative impact can have far reaching effects through an organisation.

Building a habit to respond rather than react can be very effective in the moment. But, It’s also vitally important for leaders to invest in their mental health and wellbeing at work long-term, and there are some really simple ways to do this:

Normalise asking for help

Help create an environment in which asking for help is encouraged and conversations about needs are natural. Lead by example and demonstrate what it looks like to be vulnerable, teaching people how to ask for the support they need from the team and organisation.

Enforce energy boundaries

Protect and conserve your energy by setting personal boundaries. By setting energy boundaries for yourself, you can stay on track with your goals and avoid feeling overwhelmed, especially during heavy workload seasons.

Provide the right tools for your team

Develop emotionally intelligent leaders who have the ability to manage capacity, are empathetic, and who embrace their own humanity and that of others. Provide your team with tools and language they can use to proactively address signs of overwork, stress, and burnout. Good leaders honour the human being over the human doing.

Work smarter

Workload and expectations should be reviewed to ensure that they are reasonable based on the way you work now. Ask yourself: Is there a better way to manage this task? What could I delegate or outsource to lighten the load? Working smarter, not harder, helps you to feel more balanced and motivated.