Ahead of our Talking Anxiety virtual event we chatted with Inspiration mental health speaker (and ex-desklodger) Nick Elson about how he has used his own mental health experiences to create a brand new career for himself helping other to cope with anxiety and mental health issues during and after lockdown.
What made you decide to become an inspirational speaker on mental health issues?
Following my own mental illness and mental health challenges which came to a head in 2012 - I didn’t see anyone, especially a man, sharing their experiences as inspiration for me to help my recovery - so I decided to step up and do it myself!
What can we expect from the Talking Anxiety event?
Talking Anxiety is my signature Keynote Seminar that I deliver worldwide. For me, it’s where Mental Health meets Personal Development.
I have been described as a ‘BIG man, BIG heart, BIG story, BRUTAL honesty!’
I share my own lived experiences on not just what anxiety is - but most importantly - what anxiety does. How it affects the decisions we take in life, the opportunities we go for, even the relationships we choose and choose to stay in.
It’s a powerful session delivered to engage, inspire, empower and even make you laugh too!
A lot of people suffer with mental health issues without realising. How can we become more aware of looking after our wellbeing?
I say to audiences that I deliver to,
‘We have all the answers we’ll ever need, we just don’t ask ourselves the right questions. If we do, we very often don’t tell the truth’.
The way I raise awareness with people is to showcase areas of our personal and professional lives, then for them to feel what resonates with them and engage them to consider that comfort zones aren’t always comfortable. To clearly distinguish the difference between mental illness and mental health.
How can mental health issues stop us from being productive and achieving our goals?
Like any aspect of health - physical, emotional, spiritual - mental health needs to be exercised, it needs to be nurtured, to build a toolbox of techniques to use to keep resilience high.
When we struggle with mental health, we sacrifice the one thing that we truly have...choice.
We cannot control the uncontrollable and the pursuit of doing so will only create extra anxiety. The only thing we truly possess is how we choose how to go in to each and every day.
Why is there still such a stigma about mental health issues?
I deliver my talks globally - in the UK especially we have generationally and culturally been taught that self-care is selfish.
We will very often feel guilty about looking after ourselves, taking time to do what we need to do to recover, recharge and go again strong tomorrow.
Even at the (relatively!) young age of 42, I was brought up on the ‘man up’, ’stiff upper lip’ thinking, so it’s no wonder it’s taking so long to break the stigma as it can still be perceived as weakness.
It’s great that you link mental health issues with empowerment and positivity, what gave you the idea to link these - often seen as opposite - outlooks?
Without my adversity - I would not be doing something as exciting as I am doing today. It takes the same energy to destroy us as it does to act as a catalyst to fire ourselves forward.
In life, in business, we can either let our challenges define us negatively for the rest of our days OR we can CHOOSE for them to forge something better, something exciting, something beautiful that wouldn’t have existed in the world without you having that challenge. Then, it all makes sense!
That’s why I named my Speaking Coaching business ‘Forging People’ - it came from a line in my talks.
Is there a way to help with reducing anxiety in the workplace?
BIG question this!
I think the best thing we can do right now is to be human. To show vulnerability - to increase the depth of the conversations we are having. However, as Humans - vulnerability is the thing we fear most.
I believe when we practice vulnerability on a daily basis, not only do we become ‘bulletproof’ but we have a great immersion in our lives - personally & professionally.
For me, that is the seed of culture change in any environment.