In the vast tapestry of human experience, a peculiar fascination with fear has endured across generations. From ancient myths to contemporary horror cinema, the allure of spine-chilling stories persists, offering a glimpse into our complex relationship with the unknown. The fact that horror films continue to captivate audiences worldwide attests to an undeniable truth—there is an innate attraction to the thrill of being frightened.

Indeed, the horror genre, meticulously crafted by filmmakers who excel in the art of inducing fear, continues to thrive. With each passing era, cinematic innovations have elevated our heart rates and quickened our breaths as we bear witness to fictional terror. Yet, for all their captivating narratives, these films remain a mere whisper in the grand symphony of fear conducted by the human mind itself.

For the human mind, the true maestro of terror, is capable of weaving narratives more intricate and haunting than any Hollywood production. Within the labyrinthine corridors of our consciousness, stories are spun with astonishing creativity. These narratives are culled from our experiences, our fears, our doubts—blurring the line between reality and imagination.

Unlike the fleeting fright of a movie, the psychological tales woven by the mind linger, crafting personal hells that people navigate daily. To an outsider—an acquaintance, a colleague, a loved one—these struggles may remain concealed behind a facade of normalcy. Over time, these stories morph into default modes of thinking, shrouding the individual in a suffocating fog of suffering, even as the casual observer remains oblivious.

THE STORYTELLER

The human mind is wonderful storyteller, and it can take the things that we have learnt, whether they are true or not, and create a compelling narrative.

These narratives can become an individual’s own personal hell which they live within everyday – but a casual observer; the friend, colleague or loved one may be completely oblivious to the suffering.

Overtime the narrative becomes the default and the person does not even realise they are suffering. It has become the way of life.

DILEMA

Anything from “I left the oven on, and the house will burn down” to “I’m not good enough” to “others don’t like me” are the thoughts that drive emotions which lead to behaviours that likely reinforce the thoughts – and the horror story continues.

Imagine the worst case and you can prepare for it – this made sense from an evolutionary perspective as it allowed our ancestors to live longer and keep the species going.

As we developed language and cognition our ability to predict multiple scary outcomes only increased. Then as the world became smaller our lived experience of the world became larger. Not many people were worried about how they might be perceived on social media 20 years ago.

When we overreact to a thought as if it is true and engage in behaviours to avoid or distract from the emotion the thought produces it causes our own fear amplification circuit to kick in. And now we are amplifying the overreaction – we have ‘proven’ to our minds, through our reaction, that there is indeed something to fear.

In the moment anxiety diffusion technique

THE STORYTELLER

The human mind is wonderful storyteller, and it can take the things that we have learnt, whether they are true or not, and create a compelling narrative.

These narratives can become an individual’s own personal hell which they live within everyday – but a casual observer; the friend, colleague or loved one may be completely oblivious to the suffering.

Overtime the narrative becomes the default and the person does not even realise they are suffering. It has become the way of life.

SO WHERE DOES THIS LEAD?

The horror stories that we run in our minds can hinder our lives and drag us into a struggle where we attempt to get rid of the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Our mind and body respond as if the stories are true, usually with limited or heavily biased evidence.

1.35 million people

According to a recent Sunday Times article there are currently 1.35 million people off work with Anxiety, Depression, or Chronic Stress. The horror story narratives that our minds run will continue to perpetuate and I would not be surprised that without intervention these figures will only get worse.

“These mental adversaries do more than just disrupt their daily lives; they cast their shadows over professional spheres, leading to prolonged workplace absences that are anything but voluntary”

Daniel Farmer

Where does this lead

UNVEILING THE HARSH REALITY: NAVIGATING THE IMPACT OF MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES IN THE WORKPLACE

The repercussions of these mental health battles stretch beyond the workplace, impacting the very fabric of an individual’s health and well-being. The interplay between mental and physical health is profound, with chronic stress, anxiety, and depression wreaking havoc on the body. The strain of absenteeism transcends professional ramifications, and can manifest as physical symptoms.

As the toxic cycle perpetuates, the very act of missing work can erode self-esteem and heighten the sense of isolation and hopelessness.

As we confront this daunting reality, the urgency for proactive intervention becomes undeniable. By championing the concept of psychological flexibility, companies can not only support their employees in their challenges with these internal adversaries but also bolster their own productivity and innovation. It’s time that, as society and within business, we acknowledge the true cost of mental health struggles in the workplace—a cost measured in both human suffering and the untapped potential of individuals yearning to contribute their best.

Consider Sarah

Consider Sarah

An accomplished marketing professional.

With the onset of Depression, the once-vibrant Sarah found herself grappling with overwhelming sadness, sapping her motivation and capacity to engage in her tasks.

Each day became an insurmountable uphill battle, with even the simplest work-related duties feeling like colossal challenges.

The weight of her condition robbed her of her ability to contribute effectively, leaving her with no choice but to retreat from her work environment.

Consider John

A software engineer faced the relentless grip of Anxiety.

Simple tasks like responding to emails or participating in team meetings became insurmountable obstacles as his mind was consumed by an unrelenting barrage of ‘what-ifs’ and self-doubt.

His Anxiety amplified to the point where attending work felt like an impending disaster.

The culmination of these feelings led to absenteeism as John felt paralyzed by his mental struggles.

Consider John
Consider Alex

Consider Alex

A diligent project manager with a promising career trajectory. As chronic stress crept into his life, every task became an insurmountable mountain.

The once methodical and organized Alex found himself drowning in a sea of deadlines and expectations.

The relentless stress chipped away at his focus and efficiency, leading to mistakes that he once considered unthinkable.

Over time, the weight of his stress-induced challenges forced him to take prolonged leaves of absence, as his ability to contribute meaningfully waned under the constant barrage of internal turmoil.

Consider Maria

An accomplished sales executive who seemingly had it all together. Yet, beneath her confident facade, she battled the relentless grip of anxiety.

The prospect of meetings and presentations triggered a whirlwind of worry, causing her heart to race and her thoughts to jumble.

Each morning brought with it a paralyzing fear that her colleagues would witness her struggle, which only further intensified her anxiety.

This fear eventually reached a tipping point, leading to unexpected and unexplained absences that isolated her further from her professional community.

Consider Maria

Physiologically, these conditions can weaken the immune system and increasing susceptibility to illnesses. Moreover, the vicious cycle of absenteeism, fueled by the corrosive power of mental health challenges, perpetuates the strain on an individual’s sense of self-worth. A sense of isolation may deepen, and a person’s confidence in their ability to fulfill their roles both professionally and personally can erode, resulting in a self-perpetuating cycle of deteriorating mental and emotional well-being.

As we confront this daunting reality, the urgency for proactive intervention becomes undeniable. By championing psychological flexibility, companies can not only support their employees in their battles against these internal adversaries but also bolster their own productivity and innovation. It’s high time we acknowledged the true cost of untreated mental health struggles in the workplace—a cost measured in both human suffering and the untapped potential of individuals yearning to contribute their best.

The urgency for proactive intervention in these narratives becomes even more pressing. By fostering an environment of psychological flexibility, organisations can not only provide a lifeline to employees caught up in their personal challenges but also unleash untapped productivity and creativity. It is crucial that we recognise the true cost of mental health struggles in the workplace—a cost measured in terms of both human suffering and unrealised potential.

LONG TERM ANXIETY TIP

The temptation, when it comes to anxiety, can be to avoid or distract from the thoughts and emotions in some way.

Doing this can lend credence to belief that there is something to fear and the anxiety will tend to come back stronger in future; a vicious circle.

It is often our attempt to control thoughts and emotions through behaviour which can make the exacerbate the problem. Imagine being in quicksand; the temptation is to struggle to escape but you only sink deeper.

This stems from the conditioning that our mental health challenges are a battle. Consider the phrase ‘fighting your demons’. Like struggling in the quicksand this is often an unworkable approach.

By defusing from the thoughts and being with the emotions without judgement we make engagement in unhelpful behaviours less likely so leading to virtuous circle of less anxiety.

Doing this also creates more space to engage in valued actions and behaviours, which again feeds in the virtuous circle.