blog 2021 7 min read

Rethinking mental health at disguise - Top tips from our global team

At disguise, mental health matters, not just on Mental Health Awareness Week but on every day of the year. We caught up with disguise’s Chief People Officer, Lorna Bains as well as various disguise team members around the world to open the conversation and see what we can all do to build our mental fitness and protect our own mental health and the mental health of others.

Why does mental health matter?

“I think we've all seen the hashtag. There is no health without mental health. And I think that's true, isn't it? You can be financially well, you can be physically well, but without being mentally well, none of that matters,” says Chief People Officer at disguise, Lorna Bains

Lorna continues: “on a personal note, mental health and being able to talk about mental health matters, because I've dealt with anxiety for a long time. Working in an environment where it's okay to talk about that is really important for me, and it's really important to create that for all people working at disguise”

How can we help improve our own mental health?

We reached out to team members at disguise to learn how they improve their everyday mental wellbeing. They had the following tips:

1. Regular exercise

Exercise is always a good way to both keep the body strong and the mind well. 

Technical Solutions Specialist Jack Horsfall says that exercise is his main escape: 

“I know by going for a run or playing a sport it keeps me in a level-headed state, and the endorphins that kick in afterwards bring a huge sense of happiness and natural spring in my step,” says Jack.

UX Designer James Knox adds:

“I like to exercise three to four times a week, walk around the woods with my boy, and make or listen to music and read,” says disguise UX Designer, James Knox. “Here’s a fun fact: staring at a landscape and engaging in wide vision combats the narrow vision and stress we gain from looking at screens all day (which seems to work in my case). I also once did meditation every day for a year which did wonders for my anxiety.”

Phil Cooksey, Global VP of Sales, helps his mental health by running:

“Exercise of all forms helps flush oxygen through your brain, helps you process the day and think about how to overcome challenges or be creative,” says Phil.

Phil’s other tips for mental health include drinking water, laughing a lot and sharing love. He believes there is nothing like human contact to brighten your day. 

Project Manager, Federica Bifolchi, loves being out in nature and extreme sports:

"Being in the sea and riding waves gives me a feeling of peace and empowerment at the same time. Anytime I can, I fill the car with surfboards, climbing shoes and skateboards and I go off with my partner for a road trip trying to catch the best waves.”

Content Marketing Manager Joni Lindes, also enjoys walks and treks in nature:

“I like to be in nature and go on long walks to destress. One of my latest and most memorable treks was up Mount Snowdon - a challenging but ultimately very rewarding experience,” says Joni.

2. Engage in hobbies you enjoy

Some disguise team members help their mental health by doing hobbies they love. Bob Millington - Software Delivery Manager is one of them:

“I love, love, love baking and find it gives me time to spend in my own head while kneading/proving/mixing. It's all very lovely and you get to eat it as well! Fun fact: years ago when I worked at Splash Damage, my baking got quite popular and ended up generating a bit of side income. I used the moniker "Bob's Bloomers". I like making the things I know well as is, but also trying new recipes and techniques fairly regularly. Doughnuts were my last conquest,” says Bob.

Director of People Emma Rudd gardens to help her escape:

“I love spending time in my garden - here is where I come to chill out and take a few mindful minutes out of the day for my mental health. I also love escaping into other worlds by reading, watching films and going to the theatre now that it is back,” says Emma.

People Operations Coordinator Rahat (Hatty) Choudhury feeds his positive wellbeing by doing creative things. Some of these include painting abstract canvases, photography, and taking ice baths. “I’m a big Wim Hoff fan”, he says. 

3. Manage your time wisely

disguise Chief of Staff Abi Bowman says:

“My tip for mental health is to actively manage your time. Monday morning, look through your calendar and plan your time. Block out (one or two weeks in advance) chunks of time to make sure you don’t end up drowning in Zoom calls all day and instead go for a short walk.

“I love walking,” she adds, “I get up a bit earlier than needed and go for a 20 or 30 minute walk before I sit at my desk and then I go for another one at the end of the day to decompress. Sometimes that one ends up in a pub!”

4. Take a break

Principal Product Engineer Joss Gray recommends taking a break from work on the weekends. 

“My tip is to not look at Slack or work emails at all on the weekend and actually take a 48-hour break from work. I also try to go camping or places where there is no signal as much as I can and not think about the past or upcoming week.”

5. Spend time with animals

And there are some of us who enjoy the company of our four-legged friends:

Senior Marketing Executive, Doris Retfalvi says: 

“My two dogs are my biggest source of joy! Whenever I feel stressed, overwhelmed or upset I go cuddle with them or take them out for a walk. Even a short walk around the block for some fresh air in their company can reset me immediately. I am a big animal lover so just the sight of them sleeping or running around the garden can fill me with happiness.”

What is disguise doing to actively help their teams’ collective Mental Health?

Here at disguise, we encourage an open conversation about mental health across the board and we have trained buddies to help our team deal with mental health.

“We trained up six mental health buddies last year and we're going to train another six this year,“ says disguise Chief People Officer, Lorna Bains. “We are also relaunching our yoga sessions on Monday which include desk yoga and meditation so all employees can start their week well.

We have provided free access to the app ‘Calm’ for all disguise employees so they can take advantage of the vast library of content on sleep, meditation and dealing with anxiety.”

Many disguise employees have been enjoying the Calm app:

“My favourite thing to listen to get to sleep now on the Calm app are their narrated train journeys across beautiful landscapes like Ireland and Scandinavia - Erik Braa and Cillian Murphy's voices are so soothing!” says Director of People Emma Rudd.

“I love the short morning stretch and evening wind down sessions on Calm. I never realised how beneficial these quick routines are to getting me ready for a new day or taking my mind off work in the evening,” says Senior Marketing Executive Doris Retfalvi. 

Lorna thinks that the stepping stone to good mental health is talking about it and listening to others:

Look after yourself, and look out for those around you. And if you need help, if you need to talk to someone, then talk to someone. There is no shame. There is no judgement. So please do reach out if you need to.
Lorna Bains, Chief People Officer

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