I like to think I’m an optimist. The power of positive thinking and all that. If I keep pedalling, something good will happen.

Right now, though? Whoa! Things have been worse in the UK, but the headlines are alarming. Even accepting the journalistic preference for bad news (‘If it Bleeds, It Leads’, from a 1989 New York magazine article), it is hard to take a sanguine view of the coming months.

Cost of living crisis, multiple strikes, widespread commercial jeopardy, drought, crop failures, leadership vacuums, turmoil in the health system, poo on the beaches. The war in Ukraine and that, on 11th August, there were still 10,146 people in hospital with coronavirus struggle to get a look in.

Faced with this recipe for feeling overwhelmed (not to mention social unrest), as individuals we nevertheless need to crack on. And for this, our mental well-being is essential.

For many it will be difficult to generate the positive emotions typically associated with well-being. I therefore highlight the five practical steps recommended by our NHS for thinking healthily:

  • Be physically active – an amazing antidote to stress and the closest I come to religion
  • Learn new skills – a brilliant source of diversion, self-esteem, and new associations
  • Offer help – acts of kindness build self-worth, give a sense of purpose and reward
  • Be in the present – focus on now, create bite-size chunks, manage the manageable
  • Connect with others – functioning relationships provide vital emotional support

As a consultant specialising in business relationships, I would, of course, stress the final step. Quoting American psychologist Martin Seligman, from his much-lauded book Flourish: ‘Other people are the best antidote to the downs of life and the single most reliable up’.

The past two years have already strained relationships in the workplace. Greater threats may lie ahead. Zoom et al have undoubtedly enabled us to transact through the pandemic but video technology, like social media, does not alone establish or nurture meaningful partnerships.

To get the best from each other (the foundation for peak performance), and to serve our well-being at work, we must invest in each other. Time spent together, beyond the agenda, exchanging feedback, having fun, striving for understanding, to know and exceed shared expectations.

As for the bigger picture on well-being, I vaguely recall what the Dalai Lama said in an episode of Rick Stein’s India from 2013. In short, he suggested that many of the world’s problems would reduce if we could just “promote awareness of the oneness of humanity”. There’s someone who gets it.