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Suite 305 - Queens Dock Business Centre

67-83 Norfolk St


L1 0BG

Like a dog not just being for Christmas, talking about and raising awareness about mental health should not be kept to one week a year. It does not in our business as it is something we are passionate about promoting meatal fitness for the team and also about effectively managing mental fatigue and issues. This year’s focus is on anxiety, and I wanted to put something out around how I manage my anxiety or more importantly how I manage my mental health to handle anxiety better.

It is doing something we can all do…….NOTHING!

When we have lots on, most of us have a tendency to work like crazy till we have got the job done. We tap away frantically on our laptops, complaining to anyone who will listen about how stressed and busy we are… and when we are finally finished, we might feel a fleeting, strangely unsatisfying relief. That is just how it goes when you are busy, right? Wrong. As tempting as it is to plough through work without stopping, in order to be truly productive, you must allow yourself enough downtime.

Here is how it works:

  • Slow down to speed up in our hyper-connected society, people equate productivity with busyness, but in fact they are two quite different things. We can be “busy” all day – pinging off emails, rushing from meeting to huddle, helping colleagues out with urgent work – but achieve very little in terms of our own productivity. And in contrast, having a truly productive day can mean just having a few hours of deep work. We resist breaks when we are busy, even if we are tired.
  • We talk of “powering through,” forgetting we are not machines. Even if we were machines, we could only run for so long before needing to refuel. And we mistakenly think that “fuel” for people means coffee or a quick bite. It does not. Fuel means downtime: quality rest where our brains can switch off for a while and recalibrate. When we work without breaks, we find ourselves reading the same sentence over again without taking it in; no matter how many emails we reply to, new ones keep flying in: we get nowhere. Sound familiar? You are not alone. A survey of 1,700 white collar workers in the U.S., China, South Africa, the U.K., and Australia found that most workers spend over half the day receiving information rather than using it do their jobs. A further half said they reached a point where they simply could not process the constant influx of data. And when we continue to work like this for days on end, we burn out.

We reach this breaking point when we deny ourselves downtime – but we should never let ourselves get to this stage in the first place. We must slow down to speed up. Breaks stop us from getting bored and unfocused; we simply were not built for hours and hours of uninterrupted work, and a brief interruption is all it takes to get back on track. We need to change the way we view our attention as boundless reserve… because it is not. Our attention span is a limited resource – there are only so many things we can take in and process at any given moment, and to keep running on high-alert is cognitively expensive for our brains. Multiple studies state – very clearly – that in order to learn something or focus powerfully, we need to take breaks.


When it comes to learning, the human brain needs down time to process new information better. It does not have to be a long time – five to fifteen minutes can be enough – but even a brief amount of downtime allows our brains to consolidate and organise. It is all about finding the balance – in order to maximise our complex mental processes, which help us deduce meaning from new information and distinguish clear narratives, our brains also need time where they are not focused on any immediate activity. Think of the times you forgot a word; it is on the tip of your tongue, yet no matter how hard you rack your brain, it will not come. But as soon as you move onto something different, it springs into your head. This is one example of the brain recovering. Jonathan Schooler, professor of brain sciences at the University of California, calls these “A-ha!” moments, and his research suggests they only happen when our minds are free to drift, and that “mind-wandering may foster a particular kind of productivity.”


The (lost) art of doing nothing the problem we face – both as individuals and as a society – is that doing nothing just is not seen as acceptable, let alone desirable. In a culture where we compete for “who’s busier” or “who’s more stressed,” we do not want to believe that in order to be truly productive, we must give ourselves enough rest and downtime – even if that requires scheduling it in. More often than not, when we do allow ourselves a “quick break” from work, we do not actually relax. We pick up our phones and scroll through social media, we read the news, we even check emails. The art of doing nothing, let alone peacefully reflecting, has been lost. We are overloaded with information and interaction; there is no space for introspection. We all need to change the way we think about downtime. Rest and relaxation are vital for inspiring creative thinking, so we must learn to embrace it, respect it, and actually protect time for it. “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice,” Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times; “it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”


My doing nothing is not actually nothing but it is doing things that help me escape the pressure for me, which is running a business, recruiting, and coaching senior leaders. The below is NOT AN exhaustive list but my go tos and thing I can recommend which quells the bubbling of stress and anxiety.


  • Running – not for everyone I know but for me it is me time – switching off to just think about my breathing or listen to house music and not being told off for doing so!
  • Rambling – I love to put the hiking boots on head to the lake district, North Wales or even the local trails closer to home and just be outdoors.
  • Music – plugging in the headphones and going down rabbit holes of tunes from old favourites or getting down with the kids in new music.
  • Reading – it has and always will be an escape for me – I find nothing better than getting engrossed in a book and I am not fussed on the genre as long as its enjoyable
  • WWE – yep, I treat myself and the 10 year old Stu who still inhabits my sub conscious from time to time by watching my guilty pleasure of pro- wrestling, it is silly, it is exciting it is exactly the entertainment that gets into a happy space.
  • Golf – not that I am any good and I am ok with that! For me it is the fun of being outdoors, usually with friends and having the only pressure of seeing where a little white ball goes.
  • Liverpool FC – As I have got older, supporting a football team (the best football team in the world) has changed from being one of the most important things in my life to just being fun and a form of escapism.
  • Hanging out with my daughter – as she has got older and her interests have changed, I am lucky that she wants me to do things with her, from music, to tv, to technology, to reading, to games, to the love of dance and singing. Being involved in passions allows me to concentrate on other things not in my sphere but floods the senses with joy because she loves it.


So, for this week and the rest of the year to support you own mental health from time to time DO NOTHING and make sure that doing nothing is just for you!

For more advice on managing anxiety please see below.

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