When "Fine" isn't Fine
Updated: May 11, 2022
As Stress Awareness month kicks off, we acknowledge one of the most debilitating factors in our overloaded lives. At Untapped AI, we recognise, understand and support those who struggle with the fallout of stress.
6 WAYS TO KNOCK BACK STRESS
• Someone saying everything is okay doesn’t automatically mean it’s true. Take time to go back and ask again; give others another opportunity to open up.
• Instigate regular catch-ups. Give them the platform, rather than control the conversation.
• Encourage your team to take regular breaks – whether that’s an hour for lunch or a long weekend once in a while.
• Look out for the warning signs of pre-burnout: regularly working long hours and not taking breaks, working at weekends and not being able to switch off. Someone who finds it hard to do things in a new way, plugging away at strategies that don’t come to fruition or a colleague who consistently seems or talks of being overwhelmed. It could mean a lot more than simply being disinterested or distracted.
• Model good behaviour and the ripple effect will influence those around you.
• Allow mistakes. Perfectionism is the stimulant of stress. If people feel they can experiment - and possibly mess up at times - they are more likely to be innovative and daring.
How many times have you asked someone how they are and their reply shoots back, “Fine!”? According to research, carried out on behalf of Walkers and Comic Relief, we Brits say we’re fine 215 million times a day but 38% of the time it isn’t true.
So what’s the reason for defaulting to this ubiquitous response? Unsurprisingly, the answer is not straightforward. In many cases, folk don’t want to come across as negative, especially to their managers. Others find it easier to retreat into the shadows and bat away the exposure of deeper, more difficult, feelings.
Of course, there are occasions when it’s absolutely ‘fine’ to say you’re fine as a short term solution. You might not have the headspace at that moment to confront what’s going on, or your instinct about your inquirer tells you they are not receptive to your internal story. In fact, the research revealed that when people did ask the how-are-you question, just over half (55%) were truly interested in what the other person had to say.
But in these fragile times, with the threat of the pandemic/financial insecurity/global unrest, we should be pushing ourselves to be more curious about the wellbeing of others. And are we doing enough to pick up on the cues that alert us to the fact that a seemingly flippant retort is really a cry for more attention?
Over the past couple of months, on our Untapped AI platform, we have noticed a spike in people’s anxiety levels, and what’s become even more apparent, is the indication of pre-burnout. The World Health Organisation has identified burnout as ‘chronic work stress’ but our data tells us there are more complex offshoots to this now. As people return to their offices after lockdown, they are feeling the shackles of routine, and lost confidence is corroding their abilities. Align that with what is going on in our unhinged world, and there is a hefty load on the proverbial shoulders of our workforce.
Burnout is often identified by signs of depression, exhaustion and heightened mental detachment from the task at hand. Pre-burnout is more difficult to detect, but our expertise at Untapped AI understands that when people are continually exposed to anxiety and feel constantly overwhelmed they numb themselves from their feelings by saying they’re ‘fine’ and trying to carry as on as usual– they need to engage in deep support to unravel the underlying problem
At Untapped AI we want to discover what’s behind the ‘fine’. Then, in our confidential and supportive online environment of one-on-one conversations, we unpack with the client what is going on and look at the specifics which will support the individual. We believe it takes around 30 days to make a simple behavioural change, and the process of regular contact, self-reflection and the sense that an expert is alongside every step of the way is empowering leverage to establish a different and more positive way of being. And while stress is intrinsically impacted by outside influences, we help individuals to be more open about their own responses so they can build coping strategies and confidence. Our data proves we can increase people’s well-being by up to 20% within three months.
And while the long-lasting sustainable change in a user’s behaviour is extensive overall, we encourage our Users to harness the power of noticing and fostering continual incremental change – however small – in their lives. The benefit of knowing that even the little things have deep roots and help to shape the ultimate outcome is often nothing less than life-changing. Recent feedback from our Users has been consistent. We hear, again and again, affirmations of this way of working: “I couldn’t have got through this awful time without this support”, “I am stronger and better equipped to cope”, “I am modelling to my team how to open conversations make people feel valued and empowered”. That’s definitely a step up from fine.