Arianna Huffington: "At work, it becomes essential to take care of one's mental health" - The360 Lifestyle

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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

    Arianna Huffington: "At work, it becomes essential to take care of one's mental health"

    Arianna Huffington: "At work, it becomes essential to take care of one's mental health"

    Two years ago, the founder of the Huffington Post launched the global Thrive website. His credo: to evacuate the pressure of the world of work, taking care of one's mental health must become an assumed reflex and no longer a shameful taboo. 

    Where did this desire come from, this need for you to launch Thrive Global?

    Arianna Huffington. Two years after founding the Huffington Post, this news site that was one of my dreams, I literally collapsed from fatigue. I fell to the ground, and in my fall I opened my cheekbone to the point of finding myself in a pool of blood. It was a real wake-up call: I started to get burned out and made sure that the subject was treated seriously by the Huffington Post journalists. By the time I left the paper, by the way, in 2016, more than half of the articles consulted by readers were about well-being, health, performance. I think that we are very numerous to be more and more attentive to our ways of life and conscious of the limits which they comprise without really knowing how to change them. These are solutions that I wanted to bring with Thrive Global.

    Devoting all your time to these topics was a way to get up, but from a more personal - and daily - point of view, how did you go about getting over it?

    After my fall, I consulted many doctors to understand what had happened to me. And I had time - finally! - to ask philosophical questions about my own life that I had never asked myself. What is a successful life? Is this really the life I want? After what am I running? It pushed me to change a lot of things in my daily routine. I started to meditate, to sleep, to create in my schedule of beaches to recharge my batteries. To go well is to go through this examination: one must know how to identify the moments when one needs to stop, to recharge one's batteries. These are simple, everyday things that allow us to move forward, not necessarily new year's resolutions that we will never hold!

    Sleeping is one of the things you started doing again at that time. As you wrote in The Sleep Revolution (Ed Fayard, 2017), sleep is the key to a stable psychological state?

    Each of us should be wondering how many hours of sleep he needs! I know for example, with experience, that to be 100% effective and in a good mood, I need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. In reality, all human beings need this to hold, even those who claim otherwise, or they are bionics! Sleep is the gateway to all facets of well-being, and especially to our mental health. It's as important as our immune system. Good sleep makes us less sensitive, less stressed, calmer and more apt to make the right decisions. And I do not even get into the details about the dangers of lack of sleep: high blood pressure, obesity, anxiety, depression. If you read me, I beg you, sleep!

    What other things would you give to someone who wants to maintain good "mental hygiene"? Go see a shrink? Take days off? Play sports?

    It can be all of this at once! But again, all this is useless if we do not start with this simple enough thing, which is to stand back and "recharge". We are not machines. And unlike machines, we regularly have to "unplug"!

    It's a real challenge when our smartphones follow us to our bedside table and make our professional and personal lives more and more intertwined. Do you realistically believe that this is possible in 2019?

    It's a challenge it's true, but it's the only way we have to protect ourselves. Moreover, I do not think that it is necessary necessarily to oppose private life and professional life. Work and privacy, well-being and productivity must move in tandem. There is no question of choosing between a successful life and a successful career. There is this expression in English "work-life integration", almost untranslatable in French, which means: to adopt a way of life that, even in our workspaces, allows our humanity to express itself. is to realize that the activities, the occupations, the ways of being we cherish the most outside of our work are not obstacles to our success that need to be hidden or abandoned at the front door of the office or for which we should apologize, but they are part of us, fill our lives and make us stronger and able to face professional challenges.

    On Thrive Global, many articles are intended for "working mums", these working mothers. Do you think that the balance to find is even more delicate today for them?

    Absolutely! I know it because I was a working mother, lacked sleep and I meet every day. The society in which we live sends us contradictory messages that encourage both selfishness and total dedication. Working women are the ones who suffer the most from this constant tension. They should never ask themselves the question of making a choice between career and family may, the fact is that when you are a young mother, we are usually terribly lacking in sleep, we live exhausted while having professional responsibilities and a duty. Endorsing all roles is not sustainable in the long run, there will inevitably be a moment when we will explode in flight and become the one who needs us to take care of it. That's why mothers who work must be heard about the risks of burn-out, and + that companies are more aware, so that things move.

    What advice would you give to these women to avoid "exploding in flight"?

    I would tell them never to forget this message that is heard during airplane safety demonstrations (and that we never listen to): "Put the oxygen mask on your face first, before you worry about your neighbor! "Breathing themselves is the only way they can help the whole plane if they want! In their life it's the same: making their well-being a priority, they will be better able to take care of the dearest beings in their lives. That women are a little more selfish to take better care of others!

    The French government is preparing to restart the reform of occupational health. Do you think that mental health is an issue that depends on public policy or business?

    Governments clearly have a role to play when it comes to public health. And the way we define public health is changing. We now know how much stress and burnout can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. But all of this is very expensive for the state. Luckily, businesses are becoming aware of these cause-and-effect links, and realize that the well-being of employees is also good for them! So the government has a real role to play, including establishing bonds. But if you want real change, you need a real partnership between political power and the business world.

    Some companies push their employees to take an hour a day on their working time to relax (meditate, do yoga or even pray...) to be more efficient, and less oppressive for their teams ... Is the grail according to you?

    This is an incredible idea! And I love that it comes from "top management" (top of the hierarchy). The prescription may not be suitable for everyone - some employees may need something else - but what is important is the process. We urgently need this kind of mindset today!

    The process must also be completed individually...

    It's nice to have the best rules in the office, to change behaviors and codes, if, when they go home, people lie on their couch and spend two hours playing on their phone or scrolling Instagram, it's is done. It's not only the work that causes the burn-out, it's also the whole of our relationship to technology: the social networks and the self-regard they induce, the addiction to applications, games...

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