Retail & Mental Health

Working in retail this time last year, really affected my mental health. Having now experienced this year not working in a retail environment after 5-6 years of doing so, has made me realise how deeply it affected me. But you can get through this. Here’s how.

If you’re working in retail right now, you’ll be doing the Black Friday slog and the run up to Christmas. It’s peak time, you’ll be working more hours to keep the store running and obeying the inpatient demands of the general public. You’ll get the lovely regulars with a mix of extremely inpatient customers- but all in all, the magic of Christmas can be beautiful…yet for some, very hard to enjoy. 

Image by Suzanne Wright Photographer

Customer service is rewarding, and building those relationships can be some of the best parts to the retail world. Every job comes with its trials and tribulations, but when you work in retail- you don’t really have the option to take time off during the busiest part of the year, or the option to not smile and have a bad day. So when your mental health is suffering, what options do you have?

I loved where I used to work and I still love them. I have learned that my mental health deteriorated in the slope to Christmas, and even though the end of the year is always the most magical, it is also one of the most stressful and in my experience, the hardest to get through. I remember one specific night two years ago, leaving from a late night, and literally running and crying all the way home because I just wanted to curl up and have a day off.  It was raining, I was tired after getting a 2 hour commute home and I ran the last part home. RAN. Then I woke up at 5am the next day to do it all over again.


So What Can You Do?

Share your concerns with your Manager. Let one of your superiors know how you feel, whether that’s your supervisor, floor manager or whoever. Tell a colleague, but remember you need the right support from your employer. They’ll be able to see what they can do for you. Also remember, they are human! They are working in retail at the busiest and most stressful time of the year. Stick together and ask questions like, “Hey, I wondered if you had time at all this morning or later in the day for a quick chat?”, “I’d love to run something by you in private, if you have time today?”. Even if they can give you a quick 10 minutes in the back when it’s becoming too much- as long as they are aware…you’re in safer hands. Don’t struggle in silence.

If you need a mental health day…take one. To do a good job, be productive and also be a wonderful part of the team- you need to take care of yourself. Being at work and knowing you’re not feeling your best, isn’t helping yourself or any of your colleagues…that’s both physically or mentally. Try not to feel guilty (I’m with you on trying/failing at that!). Your best self is a cared for self. Take the time you need.

Christmas is a mush. Give your mental health some structure. You may be working long as heck hours, different shift patterns and days can pass in a stressful blur. Making a note of how you feel can be really important in trying to track what you’re going through mentally. Assign colours to different moods (blue- ok day, yellow-happy/smooth day, black- terrible day etc) and see if you can spot some patterns. The Mental Health Foundation have some great tools on how to support mental health at work. 

Know your rights. This is so important. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly by your employer, know that you have a right to challenge discrimination. Time To Change set this out clearly and can signpost you to the correct services, especially when it comes to legal stuff and action to take. Unsure of what the Equality Act covers? You can check out the types of discrimination here on Mind’s website.


It’s hard to keep happy during the Christmas period, just know you are not alone in feeling that way. Please check out Keep Real’s list of careline that are available.

Women in Power / Why Keep Real is for Everyone

71Fr2S+6pAL._SL1131_If there’s a documentary I couldn’t recommend enough, it would be ‘Miss Representation‘ on Netflix. Exposing how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.

Although I’m in the UK, sexism and under-representation of females in positions of influence or power exists. It has always existed, and continues to in every country in various degrees.

In the UK, women account for under a third of those in self-employment, and if women set up businesses at the same rate as men, there would be an extra 150,000 start-ups in the UK each year. Plus, for ever £1 a man earns, a woman earns 81p.

Nothing has really stopped me from starting up my own business, but I do wish there was a higher representation of successful women in the media. I’d like to think that we are becoming more aware of how the media influences us- and that what we see on our screens, isn’t necessarily something we have to take as the right way to see the world, or the right way to portray women.

However, those of a younger age, I believe do not have this awareness. When young girls are at school, they are constantly evolving, changing and growing as an individual. Girls are still trying to find themselves, and with the media being so accessible- is this making it harder for girls to find their identities?

 

This is why I’m starting my business. Keep Real stands for something good, not just in sustainability, it reflects equality as well as diversity as a brand. I’ve chosen the bands, artists or creatives to be involved with Keep Real; because they reflect a true representation of people. We’re not all size 8 for one. We don’t all have the same goals and aspirations, but that’s what makes us who we are. The media portray women (as well as men) as something that isn’t actually accurate at all. We are all on different paths, and it’s time to start portraying that more. Because people need something real. I know its corny, but Keep Real is something I truly believe in as a brand for everyone. It will continuously grow to reflect real people, and support folk’s wellbeing too.

The media portray women (as well as men) as something that isn’t actually accurate at all. We are all on different paths, and it’s time to start portraying that more.

There’s an extremely good article on how social media is harming the mental health of teenagers here, which I found so insightful. We’re changing the way we socialise and it’s putting so much pressure on teens, as well as everyone else.

It’s time we started making a difference to how the media affects us, and creating something for the people- not against.

 

Mental Health Attitudes Are Improving!

Slowly but surely attitudes are changing for the better. Time to Change launched it’s findings from the National Attitudes to Mental Illness survey. The survey shows that people are becoming more understanding of people with mental health issues. Nine inTTC RGB ten people (91%) agreed that we need to have a more tolerant attitude towards people with mental health problems in society, and 78% agreed that people with mental health problems have for too long been the subject of ridicule.

This is absolutely fantastic, a step forward in mental health! However, there is room for improvement, especially in the workplace concerning the stigma and discrimination of employees. Although 40% of people said they would be comfortable talking to their employer about their mental health problems, nearly half (48%) said they would feel uncomfortable.

Even though there is still a long way to go, 2.5 million people’s attitudes have changed. Change is happening!