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How to Protect Your Mental Health If You're Being Bullied

Written by Dr David McLaughlan for International Stand Up to Bullying Day


1. MINDFUL PROCESSING

Take some time to reflect and process the situation.

What are your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and behaviours?

What are your triggers?

What are your reactions?

What are your coping mechanism?

Understanding your situation can be empowering and help you know what to do next.


2. MENTALISE

This might sound counterintuitive, but try to imagine what your bully is thinking or feeling.

*Often bullies are quite insecure and unhappy people. Understanding them might help you process their behaviour and help empower you to establish a healthier relationship.


3. SET YOUR BOUNDARIES

This can be an empowering experience.

If you can, talk to the bully with a neutral third party present. Let them know:

· Which specific behaviours are problematic

· The impact of their behaviour on you.

· How you’d like their behaviour to change.

· The consequences if their behaviour continues. Eg. Formal HR involvement.


4. KEEP A RECORD

If setting boundaries informally doesn’t work, you might need to explore more formal route.

Keep a diary with dates of incidents, witnesses and a record of evidence such as emails.


5. PROTECT YOURSELF

Habitual avoidance behaviour isn’t good for your mental wellbeing long term.

However, in the short term, it may be necessary to avoid toxic people, places or situations which are damaging to your wellbeing.


6. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Talk to a trusted friend or colleague.

It can help you to explore and process your feelings when you talk about.

You don’t need to suffer in silence or feel alone.

Get it off your chest.


7. SEEK FORMAL SUPPORT

If it’s happening at work and informal measures haven’t ended the bullying, consider raising it with :

· Manager

· Human resources (HR) department

· Trade union representative

· Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

Acas helpline Telephone: 0300 123 1100 Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm


8. PRACTICE SELF CARE

Show yourself some kindness and allow time to do something which is good for your physical and mental wellbeing.

Eg. Go for a walk outside

Do something creative, like drawing, baking, or singing

Make some screen free time and read a book

Light a candle and run a bath

Do an online workout class


9. POSITIVE SELF TALK

Remind yourself of 3 things you like about yourself.

You could write these down somewhere private so that it becomes tangible and real.

Eg. “you are smart, you are kind and you are worthy.”


10. BREATHE

If thoughts, feelings or physical sensations become a bit overwhelming, take a moment to stop and try a mindful breathing exercise.

· Breathing in for 3 seconds,

· Holding the breath for 3 seconds,

· Then breathing out for 3 seconds.

Focus your attention to your breath in the present moment. This rescues you from negative thoughts from the past or anxious thoughts about the future. At the same time, your diaphragm sends biofeedback to your brain, shutting down the flight or fight mechanism and helping you to feel calm.

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