Emotional Wellbeing in the Workplace

by Will Francis

Posted on Mar 31, 2023

We can never stop finding new ways to achieve that all-important balance between life and work, so in this episode host, ⁠⁠Will Francis⁠ chats with an expert on the issue, with unique experience and insights into dealing with modern work pressures.

Catherine Mooney works in the psychological health team at a multinational social media company in Dublin and deals daily with employees, and their challenges, all over the world. Prior to that, she worked with disadvantaged men and mental health issues, a very different environment yet she tells us of the many common issues facing people in any situation.

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Image of Will Francis and Catherine Mooney
Image of Will Francis and Catherine Mooney

Podcast Transcript

Will Francis  00:01

Welcome to ahead of the game, a podcast brought to you by The Digital Marketing Institute. I'm your host, Will Francis and today I'll be talking to Catherine Mooney, all about emotional wellbeing at work, better managing your balance between work and life, keeping well, effective emotional expression, and hopefully lots more. Catherine works in the psychological health team at a multinational social media platform. She worked for many years with disadvantaged communities on suicide prevention, especially helping men in inner city Dublin with mental health issues. So there's lots for us to talk about. Catherine, welcome to the podcast. Great to have you.

Catherine Mooney  00:38

Thanks for having me. Will, I'm glad to be here.

Will Francis  00:41

Absolutely. You. I think you're in a, I don't know if it feels that way, but you're in a very kind of hot topic, you know, you're working in a very hot topic at the moment, because certainly since the pandemic, mental health, mental well being at work, was already I think something that was starting to get recognized as important. But now, that's been amplified or intensified, I think. Is that how it feels? Does it feel you know, more important than ever to you now?

Catherine Mooney  01:11

Yeah, yeah, I suppose. I feel like when you when you put it like that, I think I might follow disaster. For some weird reason that when I was working in the community sector, I was always working at like, working with the most needy, the most stressed and found myself going into mental health. And I think mental health needs have been catapulted alongside the working styles of lots of people globally, into a new hybrid state of working. And with that hybrid state, we have lost a lot of our good habits, that would prohibit mental health issues, you know, and kept focused on the workload. So I think it's a conversation that's been had a lot more now, more than ever. Culturally, it's, there's a little bit more freedom for us to talk about it now. It's a little bit more accepted. So I think it's always been there. There's always been a need. But there's been this taboo around the freedom to say, I'm actually not feeling great today. Do you know. The worry and the concern about what is this mean? Am I other? Am I crazy? Am I am not the same Will I be, you know, taken out and not belong to my community anymore if I have mental health issues. So I think with this new wave, I suppose of acceptance, or understanding and learning and growth in mental health, it does shine a light on the need for more so but I think the need has always been there. But now it's nearly like, we're okay to look at it. And people are normalizing it maybe a little bit more.

Will Francis  02:58

Yeah, there's like so many of these issues. You know, I think some people kind of think mistakenly that a lot of these issues are new. They're not, they just haven't been talked about. And you could say that about so many cultural shifts, right, around all kinds of things in history weren't talked about as much. And on the more positive side for a moment, though, do you think that hybrid working has helped some people cultivate better self care and better kind of mental wellbeing habits? Have you seen much of that?

Catherine Mooney  03:33

Yeah, definitely. Like, like, even myself, like I am, I am in a position now that I can be remote two days a week, and in the office three days a week, I have so much goodness, in that, from the little things of getting all my washing done, which is nuts, to be in around for my daughter when she comes home from school and you know, we can kind of have dinner together. And so it's really a lot to do with your values as a person. And if your values then and your needs are being met with a hybrid model, and you're consciously working, living to your values, that's definitely going to increase your well being, your mental health, your positive outlook. And, but it's when you're in a situation where it's going against your values and you're just working because of a need that you have to fill, but you're not really aware of what you're doing, and your behaviors your habits are negative around hybrid work that's something that can impact your well being negatively. But  I definitely would say positives in it but it's about being aware of them positives, embracing them positives, enjoying them and getting the bost of, getting the best of both worlds, that when you're in the office, you're present or with your people, your colleagues d'you know, you're  there for your meetings and when you're when you're remote..

Will Francis  04:54

yeah, yeah, absolutely. So it It's I think you've you know, you've said that it's not a work life balance, it's work life integration. What do you mean by that?

Catherine Mooney  05:11

Good call out. So I suppose before we always kind of had like great work life balance. D'you know, you work your 40 hours a week and you have like your downtime and your activities in the evening, your family time and weekends off. Now that a lot of companies are gone global, like one big learning for me was when we went into when I went into the corporate world, is that they got a rude awakening of timezones and that things never stop. So when you're working global, you really have to consider not your work life balance, but how you integrate your work and your life together. So that may mean say, you're in England, and you're working with the west coast of America. And you know, you're you're going to be more in the evenings. What are you doing in the mornings? How are you mindingyourself? What like, what other things are being taken care, of whether that's your your family needs, your house needs, your social needs, that kind of stuff. And so it's about looking at how you work and integrating your needs together, rather than saying, actually, right there's a definite cut off. Because a lot of us, our phones are connected to us, like an extension of our body now, and it's constant information coming in, we're constantly available to do this work. And there's a whole thing about setting boundaries, haven't really good boundaries is a really good wellbeing tool to have. But we need to be realistic in a world now that we're constantly accessed, we're constantly, you know, looked for seeked for, and our thoughts are constantly with certain work, or practices.


Yeah, absolutely. Talk to me about that, you know, with  phones and devices, right? So yeah, you're right, I see. I think I've gotten quite good at switch notifications off, and things like that. But I see other people are just, their phones are constantly buzzing. What advice do you give people to better manage their digital devices? Do you have a like a list of go to tips that you're always kind of reeling off to people?

Catherine Mooney  07:11

effective wanting to mention with hybrid working, we can have digital overload, and we can get sucked into that. And it can just happen to us. Or like what you've done, you become aware of actually, I've been like heavily involved in digital active towards my phone, whether you're on social media, whatever. And you're making conscious decisions of how you want to spend your time when information is getting into. So I would say one tip that I'm constantly barking on about is for you to be aware of the amount of time you are being exposed to anything digital, whether that's social media, whether that's like the telly, whether that's at work, whatever it is, and see how you are in that moment. Are you giving energy? Or are you getting energy. So sometimes, you know, if you're scrolling on social media, you don't know what's coming next, and you don't know how it's gonna affect you. So you could be really engrossed in something and then see something shocking. And then you're, you know, you're being activated, you have that cortisol rush, and you're not sleeping at night, you have your blue lights on in the room, you're not getting good sleep, then either. So the go-tos around self care with digital information is really have your boundaries, we're all different, have your limits of what you want, and what you don't want. And I think one of the factors or negative implications of watching so many things digital, is it going to have a knock-on effect on your sleep, and your sleep is so important. So one of the key things I would say to people is try and remove the phone from the bedroom, I know it's so hard to do. But even if you can do it, like if you can't do it now or before, maybe a half an hour before, where you start to get into that rest mode, and you get a proper sleep. So it's just really, limit what you're watching, be conscious of what you're watching, and make purposeful decisions of how you engage. And when you engage. And a lot of people as well, it's the first thing in the morning, it's like you're not even awake, your foot is not even on the floor, you're still in bed, and they go check the phone, and their projection or their their day is going to be all set on how we start our day. So whatever we see on social media are things to do, because we're getting activated are starting to go and we're getting that rush again. So it's just to be mindful of what it's doing to you.

Will Francis  09:31

Yeah, that's right. It's been more deliberate I think about using digital devices, isn't it and using them as a tool rather than just picking them up without really kind of thinking in a kind of measured way? Why  am I doing this? You know what I mean? It's so it becomes a reflex doesn't it? Like say the first thing in the morning a lot of people pick up their phone and look at it without really knowing why. And that, you're right, there's another thing there- at the beginning of the day, the way you start the day it sort of sets the tone for the day, doesn't it and starting the day in a more deliberate way that is focused on your kind of self care and mental well being would be good. And then the other thing you touched on Yeah, I think I hear that a lot about you know, don't look at screens and taking that blue light for an hour before bed. I think that is a really hard one to do. I mean, even I'm quite strict about that. But I listen to podcasts as I go to sleep, I just don't look at the screen. You know, I just start the podcast, put it down and sit,

Catherine Mooney  10:29

have another timer. So it turns off and you know that that's that's, I

Will Francis  10:33

do. Yeah, I'm asleep timer on that. Yeah. But okay, so it is just taking control and us sort of ruling the tech and don't let the tech rule us, I think that's the overall thing there isn't, isn't it? That's it.

Catherine Mooney  10:47

Yeah. And I think to be aware of our automatic habits that we have. So we have an art but Matic pilot that runs most of the day, that gets us kind of through the day that feeds us, that kind of gets us into action mode of of things that we do, but a lot of our habits, our energies up and are taking energy from us. And like if you were to count consciously how many times you lift up your phone, a lot of time, you're not purposefully lifting up their phone, it's just a habit. So it's just being aware of your habits, and trying to change them habits can be very beneficial to us. And then one of the things as well as like making a conscious decision in the morning to potentially practice gratitude. So when you're waking up in the morning, you're not, you're not going with your thoughts that come, you're taking control of those thoughts. You're saying to yourself, actually, you know what I want to start my day with, like, being grateful for this lovely bed, that I have this job that I have that lovely shower, I'm gonna have that lovely cup of coffee, it's starting to have that mindset of gratitude. But you're taking control of your thoughts, again, rather than letting them habitual thoughts come in, of what I have to do have to this, you know, should have done this,

Will Francis  11:59

I'll come back to some of that, I suppose the you know, the most obvious intrusion into our mental well being in modern job roles is these devices. So just to park that for a minute, there's some less obvious things that can kind of really impact your mental well being in the modern workplace. And because you deal with this, like, this is your job. What are the recurring themes that come up? Because I think they, I sense, they might be a bit less obvious to me.

Catherine Mooney  12:32

I'm amazed that how previously I was working in the community, what issues that were there, and now that I'm working globally, what issues that are coming up that the similarities of how we speak to ourselves, how hard we are on ourselves, how much pressure we put on ourselves, it just seems to be an underlying theme across the board, that we are so hard on pushing ourselves, and we expect so much more of ourselves. And we speak so badly to ourselves that we would never speak to anybody else like that. That it's sometimes it's changing that inner monologue of bringing in self compassion, that that can be so helpful, or that can hinder us and add to our struggles greatly. And so that's one thing I've noticed.

Will Francis  13:18

But how do you do that? Because I suppose it's so we're so wired to be self critical. And you're right, you're absolutely right. We, we treat ourselves in ways we wouldn't do with other people. But I've heard this sort of technique where you sort of think, well, what what what would I say to someone else? And you try and try and objectify yourself a bit, and then try and follow that a bit more rather than being so harsh on yourself. But how can I practically get better at that?

Catherine Mooney  13:46

Really good question. So I suppose when I started practicing mindfulness, and there was a lot of self compassion that was brought into the mindfulness it was sitting and becoming aware, becoming aware is the first step, okay, of how you're actually talking to yourself.

Will Francis  14:02

So just listening to that inner monologue a bit and kind of assessing it

Catherine Mooney  14:07

Look, like even when I'm coming down here today, I'm like, Oh, my God, this is gonna go wrong. I'm gonna say something terrible. I'm gonna curse. Just like all the stress going on, I'm actually, Catherine calm down, you know your stuff, you know what you're talking about so it's kind of like, talk to yourself with kindness more than you listen to yourself with harshness. And that starts with becoming aware of how you are in a moment. It's not to think about the week, the month, the year, it's just catching yourself in a moment and remembering to be aware. And then making a choice. And like with a lot of mindfulness, you could think about it like, there's a there's a stimulus and there's a response. And like everything, there's something that happens outside or if we get a thought, and we have this automatic habit of how we're going to respond, but instead are how we react instead of react and we can choose to take a breath and decide how we're going to respond. Decide how you're going to respond to your inner monologue, decide how you're going to react to a pressure of like you hear a ping, I'm going to go and answer that email or I have to do this or, you know,  you see your diary and it's back to back and you should be better Catherine. It's making a conscious decision of how you want to treat yourself. Because the more we treat ourselves with kindness, the more we flourish, the more we grow, the more energy we have. When we're layering ourselves with these stresses and extra shame and guilt and stress we're taking too much on. And that's where we kind of lead to burn out, you have this apathy, we have this languishing, and there's just, it's just too much heaviness. It's making decisions to just be that little bit kinder. And it starts in every moment by just remembering to be aware of how am I bringing a bit of kindness to yourself?

Will Francis  15:52

Yeah, it's interesting, when you talk about this stuff, you reference yourself a little bit, it sounds like you've kind of gone, you've applied a lot of these things yourself.

Catherine Mooney  16:02

Oh, yeah, you have to walk the walk, I think I think they catch me out in here, or they definitely catch you out in the community, the lads that I used to work with, and it was all in suicide prevention, and you wouldn't get away with anything. These were burly lads that were unemployed through the recession of 2008. They were taking no messing. And unless I was in there doing the same work as them with them and doing the same actions, you know, they wouldn't they wouldn't stay with you. And I think people are right, if you don't have somebody in front of you that's actually doing, putting the work in putting the hours in, and having difficult conversations making difficult choices, you're not gonna listen to them d'you know. But I love this stuff. I love all the self care stuff. I'm like, Yeah, massage, any day. Mindfulness any day, a bit of yoga!

Will Francis  16:51

That's good. It's good, isn't it, but what you're talking about is all internal work, which absolutely we all need to do. But when you talk to people, you know, in your, what you're currently doing, which is helping people in the modern workplace, you know, there's only so far we can improve ourselves internally, and do you sort of find yourself wanting to say to people, you know what, you need to get out of this job mate. You know, your boss is not nice, you need to get out of your job. Is that sometimes the brick wall, you come up against?

Catherine Mooney  17:20

What I do in that situation, which I've come across in all of my jobs, 100%. It  comes in anywhere, everywhere, every culture, every country. I ask the person to talk about their values, talk about what's important to them. Because if we're in a job that's not aligned with our values, that's not aligned with our non negotiables. We're not going to be happy that we're not going to thrive, we're not going to be the best version of ourselves. So if they choose after having an understanding of their values, and their purpose, and what they want to do with their life, and to move on, you know, all power to them. Let's get that person. I'm interested in the person's needs, the person's well being, you know, and I want to help them thrive no matter what they decide to do.

Will Francis  18:08

Yeah,  so you would, you would say that to someone, you know, you would say, Look, we're doing a lot of great work here. But you're in a toxic workplace, and I can't help you with that.

Catherine Mooney  18:18

Best thing I could do is get them to say that, you know, I would kind of ask the questions explore.

Will Francis  18:23

Oh, yeah, cuz you get them to articulate their values and say, right, and so where you work, does that align with that? And you get them to go? Eh, no.

Catherine Mooney  18:31

Yeah, but there's a lot of mirror work going on. There's a lot of like, I would repeat back. Okay, so this is what I'm hearing. And this is what you're saying? How would you? What do you think now? Because often, even when you're in therapy, what the therapist is doing is, they're feeding back to you the information that they're seeing, because when you hear it from somebody else, one you're being purposefully listened two  you're being validated. And three when you hear it back, it's like you nearly know the decision as soon as it comes out of your mouth of like, okay, this is not a good situation, I need to move on. And maybe for some reason, they have an attachment to not being in a good environment. So then that's more therapy, and you understand that kind of, you know, where's that coming from what need is being met there. But I'm I'm very much day to day work. I'm kind of what can we do today. And if there's deeper stuff that needs to be done, I'd be recommending certain type of therapies to them.

Catherine Mooney  19:22

But it is a hard decision and it's in any sector.  If you're not happy in your job, I would say to people don't make the decision when you're angry, or when something big has just happened. I would say take time off, get proper rest, journal, get out, learn a little bit about yourself, do kind of some kind of personal development and then come back with fresh eyes and say okay, how am I going to make the best out of this situation? Do I change my boundaries at work do I change how I am in work? Do I you kind of create a different model of working in work or do I change the employment So it's kind of giving choice.

Will Francis  20:02

That's good advice that for sure. Yeah, I think. I don't know, I'm no expert on this. But I think over the years, it still doesn't seem clear to what extent people's mental health is down to the circumstances that they're in. It's very hard to unpick that. That's my take on it. A just completely amateur read on that. You know, I think that because circumstances clearly play a role. But then there's all this other stuff, your you know, the way that you've been molded through your life and the trauma and experiences that you've had that play a role and I think unpacking that it can be difficult. And I can imagine that's a challenge when you're sat in front of someone, right?

Catherine Mooney  20:41

Yes, yes. So you have like, going back to the nature versus nurture d'you know, are we born traumatized? Are we predisposed to certain kind of mental health issues, you know, our family environment growing up? Even if it's perfect, and you had one trauma, how does that impact us, you know, on choices that we make? So it's, it's hard to, to pinpoint, you know, and where mental health issues stem from, but I think the difference with working with community sector and socio-economic disadvantage to, to kind of more corporate world where people have way more resources is that the community sector is layered. There's so many issues that from not getting the support to deal with, like, say, childhood trauma, and you know, they could be full grown men at that age, addiction, abuse. There's so many issues that are going on, that it's only a tip of the iceberg when you're working with them. But I think if you're working with somebody else that has a lot more resources, and can articulate things, and comes from a family or a community where wellbeing was standardized, the mold was placed or developed quite well as a child and they did sports, they got involved, they had a good school, they had good teachers, you know, they were fed well, in, they were very healthy, any health issues were sorted straightaway. That's a different kettle of fish, not to say that stress is stress and issues or issues and addiction is across the board. And there's many issues that can have an impact on our mental health and that can be across the board. But I think when we're coming to a position of support, that it can be a little bit quicker when you're working with somebody that has resiliency options, that has support options available quicker and better. And that has family supports and has foundational, you know, kind of habits that are built in: they know that when they go to the gym three times a week, or they go hiking, or they go swimming, or they talk to their friends, they know that this is good for them. Some families never knew, that never got the opportunity to know that because they were, you know, they were struggling, they had other priorities at that time.

Will Francis  22:58

Yeah, and disadvantage, you know, in those disadvantaged communities, it's a kind of vicious cycle, isn't it? I can imagine that, you know, having one issue often leads to another, like typically addiction, you know, through self medicating, with substances and what have you, right? And that can all kind of spiral out of control where you'd like to say someone who's from a different background, got all those advantages and is just, you know, stressed in work. Yeah, that is different.

Catherine Mooney  23:25

And it's not to minimize those families and that. This was working in the in community sector for such a long time. I once said, I started like, when I was about 15, or 16, and doing research work with a pilot program. And I was out in the community and asking young people what they think about community resources. And that, like, I remember, I worked with a young person then. And by the time I was leaving the community sector, that person was a grandparent. And like, there were 38 year old grandparent, and they had addiction issues from the time they were a child, their child had an addiction issue and their grandchild now was in this chaotic family do you know, and only unfortunately, you would see, there's probably going to be more and more issues there in the family. So me being in that just for 20 years, you could see intergenerational trauma and addiction going on. And you know, just that lack of, I suppose real support that's given that can kind of stop that intergenerational issue continuing on.

Will Francis  24:26

It felt like you could probably make more of a difference. I don't know in those previous roles to some extent, certainly working in more challenging environments, more challenging cases, perhaps, or am I simplifying it?

Catherine Mooney  24:38

No, no, no, no, make more of a difference. I think there's a collective that's needed when you're working with socio economic disadvantage. There's a number of different agencies that need to

Will Francis  24:48

because different support services have to work together kind of thing.

Catherine Mooney  24:51

Yeah, definitely. It can just be one. Whereas I feel that working with somebody that doesn't come from that background. It doesn't have that longer term trauma, that potentially you can have a really good impact with just you know that that one bit of support. But there's Yeah, there's definitely like a whole load needs needed. And that's I suppose it's very under resourced in the nonprofit sector.

Will Francis  25:15

Of course, ya know, I can imagine. Hello, a quick reminder from me that if you're enjoying our podcast series, why not become a member of the DMI so that you can enjoy loads more content from webinars and case studies to toolkits and more real life insights from the world of digital marketing. Head to digitalmarketinginstitute.com/aheadofthegame, sign up for free. Now back to the podcast.

Will Francis  25:41

Right, so you're working in a corporate environment. But are there certain types of role that seem to over index a bit in terms of knocking on your door? Have you noticed any patterns there?

Catherine Mooney  25:53

and I could tell you a genre. So I would find more of the issues that are coming to me, it would be the demographic would be a younger person that has moved across the world that has landed themselves in a different country, their supports are gone, that they are really intelligent, and they want to really succeed, they have excelled in like, education-wise, in previous jobs, they have gone to really prestigious colleges. But they burn fast, and they burn out. They are used to this standard of work that they are the best of class. And and then when they land themselves in a bigger pond where everyone else is best in class and everyone else is ridiculously intelligent. It's like, oh, hang on a minute, who am I? I need to double down here, I need to work twice as hard, I need to show up and make myself feel a little bit normal in the way I used to be. And they're working 12 hours a day, there's no kind of there's no best practices of hybrid work. And there's no best practices of working in this corporate environment. It's just like, I can give it my all, 100% for months. And don't say no, always show up. And and then like some, three or four months, they go, Oh, this is too much. Others 10 months or a year, and then they hit that wall and they're like, I can't do this. And like, no human can, you know, the expectations there are crazy that they put on themselves.

Will Francis  27:31

That's interesting. And to what extent are those expectations shaped by the culture into which they've arrived? Is it very competitive?

Catherine Mooney  27:39

Yes, yes. And but you can choose to opt in and opt out, you can choose to say, Okay, this is what I can give, and I'm okay with this. And I want to go long. So what I would say to people is you can go short, you can burn bright, and you can burn out, or you can go easy, and you can go longer, and you can start to say no and it may be uncomfortable, you might not get the rewards as much as everybody else. But you will stay here longer, you know, by putting best practices in place, by putting your boundaries in place, by minding yourself. And you'll get to see year three, year four, year five, you won't be gone in two years.

Will Francis  28:16

Wow. That's that's very interesting, isn't it? Yeah. And when you say the, you know, people are, they're kind of sprinting early in the marathon? Is it because, what kind of rewards are they after we talk about job promotions and are just like a pat on the back from management, you know, and just that recognition? I mean, what is it that people are chasing?

Catherine Mooney  28:36

It'll definitely be job promotion, around performance. And they don't give themselves a minute to start. They don't give themselves like a minute to realize you've just changed country, you've to find a place to live in a place where it's very hard to find accommodation. D'you know you should find your grounding in here. Give yourself a minute, you're only starting and they come in and say no, I need to be the best. There's a fear, there's an anxiety, there's a worry that they won't belong, they won't stay. And of course, you have your six month probation period. And there's an internalized kind of anxiety around, I need to be the best in class. I've always been the best. So there's a lot of pressure people put on themselves that they don't need. But I understand why they have it like they may have it culturally at home, they may have always been the best in their family, in their community. And it's like they can't be vulnerable. They can't take time off. They just say just internally they just can't do it.

Will Francis  29:39

Yeah, no, I get that. I do I do. I've seen that myself, you know, working in media and advertising and what have you and I've probably been guilty of that in my 20s. Because you're trying to make the most of that time. You know, it's, you know they're the years that are going to shape the rest of your career. And so, you know, you kind of have to make hay while the sun shines and get ahead and you know, every  age milestone that's coming up, you're like, I've got to do this before I'm 30. And then I got to do this before I'm 35 and before I'm 40. And you know, it's, I do understand that. And it's very good advice that you give by the sounds of it. I like that that idea of just, you know, being the, winning the race, it's the tortoise that wins the race, I suppose.

Catherine Mooney  30:19

But don't get me wrong as well. Like, it's fun. Like, this is an amazing opportunity for a lot of people and to get into a position that they're in. It's really, really good. D'you know, so the law, that it's mixed, it's layered, it's complex, you know, it's not kind of quite easy to say, I'll say no to this and say, yes, it is. So that's why, I suppose how intelligent that they are, they still burn out because it's not clear cut. Do you know.

Will Francis  30:44

There's a great piece of advice. It's from someone quite famous, I can't remember who, but it's basically --  the quote is "that how well you do is in direct relation to how many difficult conversations you're willing to have". And I think that's very true. And I think that in people in particularly in their earlier career, they are kind of, and I was definitely you say yes to a lot of stuff, because you're talking about saying no. And that kind of uncomfortable feeling of saying no, I'm sorry, I've got to go home at five o'clock. So I've got a yoga class, or I need to just run a bath and like get, you know, chill out for a bit. And younger people aren't, don't feel like they've got license to say that. But I do think the more you can just embrace it. And that discomfort of just pushing back a little bit. That that in the long term, I think just you know, prepares you in lots of ways for sure.

Catherine Mooney  31:38

The disease to please, that we have this need within us, for people to like us and for acceptance. And with that is just saying yes, no problem. Absolutely. You know, and certain genders in certain cultures, it's unheard of that you say no, you know, you just show up for work, you just do what you're asked, you don't say no.

Will Francis  31:59

Oh, interesting, right? So people arriving from different cultures, maybe that are more strictly hierarchical, or where there's certain expectations of certain kinds of people.

Catherine Mooney  32:08

Yes. And then it's what we're doing, again, is showing them that mirror going, okay? You're making the decision to say yes, here. So you're making yourself uncomfortable. You're the one that's putting pressure on yourself, by not having that uncomfortable conversation. And we will practice uncomfortable conversations because they are hard. I like don't like do on them, nobody knows. But it's like, you can either keep going, the way you're going and you lose. Or you can have that uncomfortable conversation. And there's a win win. You can't be everything to everyone all the time, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, and then cater for everyone else.

Will Francis  32:43

That's true, very true. You know, the majority of our listeners are actually women. And I'd love to know, what kind of things, are you finding yourself specifically giving women certain types of advice?

Catherine Mooney  32:59

And I'd say, I am currently 50/50? Weirdly enough, and

Will Francis  33:06

but I mean, are there certain types of advice you find yourself given to women?

Catherine Mooney  33:11

Yes, I think that it's similar advice now, but I think women, this is terrible, but women that have children are often the one that's organizing the childcare minded the child when they're sick. Unfortunately, now I definitely do now think it's changing, and this is not for all women. So I think the advice, especially if they're hybrid... oh the biggest thing that comes up is removing that guilt, removing that shame of not being 100% there for the kids and not being 100% in work, taking a day at a time. And because again, as I said earlier on is having that layered worry and that layered stress, it's like dealing with them as they come. And then women as well, it's a lot about articulating your needs, finding your voice, in a way that can be heard, because it's still like, there's domination here by the male perspective. Like it's intertwined. You know, we're nowhere near where we should be in equality. But it's seeing them little behaviors that we take on as women that we do on unbeknownst to ourselves sometimes of like, why did I put my hand up there real quick to answer that, why did I you know, just take that job? Why did I assume that I'm the one that has to take the notes here in this meeting? It's just kind of having a little bit awareness of self and making choices then again, how you want to be. But there is I think, culturally, and maybe as since we're  small I suppose, how we behave and how we have seen other women behave that we need to start kind of changing up a little bit.

Catherine Mooney  33:11

Yeah, I think you're right, I think the hybrid style of working has definitely, because it's brought more of a mix between family life and work life and both pull at you. You know, that's the same for all parents, you know that to some extent, same from I feel that as a man. But I know that my wife feels that more keenly, there's something deep within her that really it's a deeper thing within her definitely that irks at her about and it is a guilt. You're right, it' a shame, actually, you put it .Yeah. The not fully being there for the kids. So what advice would you give? And I'm gonna pass this on to my wife, let me say? What, what advice would you give to someone?

Catherine Mooney  35:36

Well, this one is to drop the shame, drop the guilt. If you catch yourself in a moment on a day that the kids are not well, you have an apartment meeting to do, you know, you're just going to be loaded with guilt and shame and worry and stress, it's to kind of be in and put that down for starters, until it's to have the conversation if you have someone else at home, that is a partner. Talk about partnership, talk about equality, talk about the the jobs at home are not male versus female. They're not kind of like, you know, certain worries or concerns. They should be shared out. They should be having it, you know, you're nodding, they're like, oh, yeah, yeah, you've had this conversation.

Will Francis  36:12

I think a lot of men, a lot of men, I know, just they need to be just given that task, you know, not asked about it, they just need to be told you're doing the pickup, you know, I think, see, I

Catherine Mooney  36:24

would have a little bit of a problem there. Because then it's still the female being the captain. It's still like, like, just me and my husband right now. It's not perfect. But I would still kind of Alright, these are the jobs, you have to do this. And he's happy with me telling him what to do. And it's like, Why do I get the job? to divvy up the jobs? Why do I get the job to remember everything to you know, coordinate everything? Can you handle that coordination, and then you tell me, you don't take torrents maybe of coordinate now that like, so it's, it's, but it's that in itself, I think there's areas for growth massively in both genders and all genders. And whereas women, you know, kind of articulate needs, and not being afraid to say, look, this is what I need from you, this is what you know, where I need you to rise up to to be an equal partner, and for men to be aware of the fact that women tend to take all the responsibility of the childcare needs, the house needs, and the work needs. And so it's just kind of saying, Okay, I'll take this, you take that, and let's have a real partnership, you know, but again, it's an uncomfortable conversation, especially, you talked about the molds, like women, we have had molds of women that just took care of all the kids and took care of all the house needs, and you know, did all that job, and then men have millions of the dads just don't go to work and come on back. It's like,

Will Francis  37:45

especially in more traditional cultures, again, that that's cultural, definitely

Catherine Mooney  37:50

2%. And so it's hard to break the mold. And it's difficult, and it's challenging, and people get attached to who they are. And they feel like they're, you know, the wife is coming at them. And they're nagging all day, and it's like, this is not killed. This is not fallen, sick, nobody wants to. But I think it's together both saying, Okay, how do we mind each other in this? How do we both show up for each other? And how do we both have uncomfortable conversations, where we both can hear what's going on, because I suppose in my work, I've worked with men and women. And I suppose the lovely piece of work that I was doing with the men that was to suicide, as I got the opportunity to see the real issues of men, whereas I've only had my experience as a woman and kind of, you know, kind of listen to other women in the issues and being a murderer, knowing the ins and outs of that, but I never really got the insight of how men hold shame themselves of, especially if they're not working of, you know, not being good enough, and not knowing the standards. And when they don't show up per se, they hold that in. And

Will Francis  38:58

that's another traditional expectation that, you know, if a, if a man doesn't have a job that pays well and puts bread on the table for everyone, that's a source of shame in itself, isn't it for, for men, that's keenly felt by them.

Catherine Mooney  39:10

And there's statistics there that show that like when men are unemployed, that there's an increase, they're in suicidal ideation, because it's nearly like they attribute who they are, their role in the family in the community to be the worker to be the provider. And when you take that away, it's like Who are they walk? What are they? And then you can bring in all the other issues that are going to happen. So it's, it's it's a layered conversation. I think it can start with just being a bit kinder to ourselves and articulating our needs. Is

Will Francis  39:38

this something that a partner can do if their partner is suffering from stress at work? You know, I'm thinking about the home being quite a good place to soak up some of the pressure or in some way help us you know, mean, so if there's people listening who have partners that have really stressful jobs, what what could they be doing?

Catherine Mooney  39:58

Yeah, I suppose to provide It space to be present and to listen to you know, there's there's one being available for them and recognize that it's not like just say, just say my husband has a really stressful job. And he comes home every evening, and he's having a pint or whatever. And he's just stressed. And he's not the best person instead of me assuming that this is about me, and just to kind of have that conversation, I notice you're doing X Y, Zed, how do you feel about that, you know, to be there to Vicent, not to nag, not to, to give out not to kind of say, This is what I need from you. Or think about your own needs, well think about your own IDs in a minute. But if you know that you have somebody that has a very stressful job, get them to an environment where you can have a clear, communicate a clear talk, good dialogue. And that could be in a space where it's not too invasive. I noticed before when I'm working with lads, I tend to call it if we could do something together, the conversation is a little bit easier. So if you're bulk and working on something, or you're going for a walk, or there's something that you're not kind of like directly face to face. And so if you get to a space where you can be open and hear them and reflect back, you asked, like I see your behavior is not, it's not what you want to be, is this what you want out of life? Is this where we want to go? What can I do to help you get there, but also, I would another recommendation making sense. The other partner that's not stress is to have God fundamental practices on well being. So you're going to gym, you're doing your mind, if you're going to a therapist, be open about it, you know, talk about how you relieve stress, what works for you when you're stressed, Janelle, and you can have that extra connection of like, we all get stressed, this is what I do. What do you do? You know?

Will Francis  41:47

Yes, good point, isn't it? You don't need to be just adding more stress to their lives by nagging them and say, Why are you so stressed? And why have you fallen into maybe slightly unhealthy behaviors? So you know, why have you eaten all the chocolate or drinking all the beer or something?

Catherine Mooney  42:00

saying, Yeah, you had me chocolate, if you eat the chocolate, there's no going back. But it's again, going back to that putting that wedge between the stimulus him not showing up for you, or on a channel, not for you? And apparently you want and your response. So you want to kind of just make sure take a breath, just go, how do I want to get the best out of this situation? How do I want to help my partner in this moment? What does he need from me right now,

Will Francis  42:23

which takes a level head,

Catherine Mooney  42:24

that's why get your own fundamentals in place forced, you know, doing your exercise, getting rid of all that cortisol general and getting good sleep or having the basic stuff in place. So you are in a space to hear this and you won't be as reactive?

Will Francis  42:38

Yeah. So taking jumping back into the workplace. If you were the CEO of a massive tech company, you know what, let's say to just one of the tech companies headquartered in Dublin there, what would you what would you change about the workplace and its culture?

Catherine Mooney  42:55

I would not like that job. When it's for profit. You have to have your for profit, you're in it for money, you know, you You're there to make money, of course, but

Will Francis  43:05

you're also there to, well, maybe I don't know, are directly expended to do various, isn't it? But in some way, the culture comes from the top. And I suppose what what, you know, if you look at the big tech companies, you know, the free the free dinners, and the, I don't know, brown bag lunches, and the training budgets, I don't know that the things that they offer staff, right, away days, and all this kind of stuff. But are there specific things that you would do more or less of if you were completely in control of one of these big companies,

Catherine Mooney  43:38

I think it actually mentioned that while I was thinking around culture, and the biggest impact in here, are were in different types of kind of global companies. I think it's culture. So you can have a top down approach to change culture. So for an individual at the top, to really promote mental health well being and actively kind of put boundaries in place and kind of, you know, walk the walk of what we want other people to do, I would think that will trickle down. Because you can have all the shiny things in the world, but the culture will make you not engage with that shiny stuff. Because I want to be a part of this team. I want to belong, I want to be the best of put a few had somebody at the top have shown the benefits of how you can succeed and be successful by mind and yourself by putting the dimensions of wellbeing in place. That will I would say would have a big impact.

Will Francis  44:35

Yeah, no, absolutely. You are right. It can't just be some, you know, it can't just come from people like you it needs to then be adopted from the top down because everything trickles down from them. That's absolutely right. So a lot of people you work with, I would imagine we're are part of teams that that span the globe. So what advice to give to people who are working with people in those kinds of time zones.

Catherine Mooney  45:00

And yeah, it happens a lot. I it's difficult and we're learning in here is, I suppose the time zones, you could be working every hour of the day, constantly, no problem. And as always, somebody's looking for something. But one is to set your boundaries book an hour in your week to set your plan of what times you are working on what times you found work, and make sure the times you aren't working you include things like social things like family, things like house maintenance, you know, all that kind of stuff. And and stick to the boundaries as best you can.

Will Francis  45:35

But how do you actually watch that? Where are those boundaries? You mean, like actually booking it in your calendar that you're

Catherine Mooney  45:41

Yes. And even do with your wife as well like that? It was like sit down and kind of say, right, this is my work shift. This is what I'm doing on the week, that God communication as well as coming in handy. And saying, right, what do we need for this week? Where's my self care? How am I mind myself? Where's my exercise? What's the story nutrition this week? Who's doing the shopping for the field? Who's doing the dinners? What are we eating, because a lot of the times, you know, you kind of pick up the takeaway is and you know, we slept. And another impact as well as when we're working late, when we're walking with the West Coast, what tends to happen is delay or your work, you're more activated, and your sleep is impacted. And that's huge. So you want to kind of have a transition period from work to sleep where you have that downtime, you have that relaxation, so you get that better sleep. And then another thing that actually comes up a lot is that because we're working niche, we're not focused, we're not kind of fully present when we're there. So you can do things like like binaural beats, do you ever hear them? And you kind of listen to that, and like, say, five minutes to 20 minutes before your meeting or brown, white pink noise, I haven't listened to them cold water exposure, the caffeine, it's kind of just to make you back into that new circadian rhythm. Maybe I've been focused, because we have our daily rhythm. And then if it's going to be upset by the work schedule, like our new work life integration, and we need to be mindful, okay. When when we focused on when do I need to relax? So it's just again, another awareness and putting things in place for you to prepare to be the best version of yourself at that time.

Will Francis  47:18

Yeah, well, that's that's the thing, isn't it? That. So there's a couple things to say there that we are, we're all we all have different rhythms like, you know, I'm I'm very active in the morning, and in the evening, in the afternoon, bit slumpy for me, so that's tend to swap. We're doing this in the afternoon, because I've been doing meetings, try and put the meetings in the afternoon. And then deep work morning and evenings. Not everyone's like that. How sympathetic so if I went and got a job at a big corporate, and I said, yeah, guys, I really want this job. But just so you know, I'll be around in the morning, the evening afternoon, you won't be able to get hold of me. Or if it's for as really mindless stuff like a meeting, that's fine. You know, I would they react to that. It does

Catherine Mooney  47:57

happen. I'll be honest, it really, really, really does happen. Where people blocked their calendars and say I'm available for this meeting that meeting. No, obviously, there's some times you have to say, well, actually, no, I need you at this particular time. Of course, yeah. But if you can set your boundaries, and you can say right, what I'm available because of the way we're working, because it's global, because you have to be sometimes on from nine in the morning at seven.

Will Francis  48:19

So there's nothing wrong with working in the evening. Really, what you're saying is just be clear about it upfront, predict it, put it in the diary, be okay with it, make sure everyone's bought in like your partner at home and your employer. And the time that you've said, You're not working that you ring fence that you switch your notifications off, and you don't let work invade,

Catherine Mooney  48:38

that it will be okay with it. Because we have been conditioned to be available nine to five, we've been conditioned to be available to work, you know. So there's always that little part of even though you're not on, you're kind of thinking about being on or you're feeling guilty, or there's FOMO there's something going on. So it's catching yourself again, don't actually I need to detach here to get the best downtime. So I can be 100% Then when I am on walk, and to say when we go on holidays and saying you know in your reaction, you need that PTO, you need that kind of big chunk of self care. It's like there's no point in going on holidays. If you're going to be constantly thinking and worrying about work, we need a place to put work when it comes up and hold it maybe in your notes in your phone. And then kind of come back to that relaxation that rest because we do all have our certain rhythms we have certain times a day like I my focus time is the more I will get more work done from seven in the morning till 12 in the day and then the rest of the day, like a moderate at the mountain but normally three o'clock I'll be like,

Will Francis  49:41

yeah, no, that's, that's true, I think is just fine. It's just finding that out and being okay with it. And yet, like I say, shaping your schedule around it. I've got one more question to ask you. There's in in the corporate world, particularly in the tech world, there's been a lot of news of layoffs and change we do seem to be entrants I'm sort of transitional period generally, I think, in sort of corporate life, in lots of ways. So how is this kind of manifest? How are you seeing this manifests? Are people becoming anxious about their job more with talk of recession and lots of talk of layoffs? And what do you say to them?

Catherine Mooney  50:21

Yes, yeah, I do see this and the manifestation is anxiety is worry and concern and the negative implications not just for themselves, but where they live. Some people have moved country, their their residency is aligned with their, their job, some people are sending money back, and you know that they're supporting other people at home. So it can have a drastic ly negative implication if the job loss was to have an individual. So it's a wonder that anxiety is unwanted where we like. So when I would speak to somebody, first of all, it would validate and say, look at Europe, you're completely right. In your we said it's concerning to think about, but we would move on to your circle of control, we would move on to Okay, right? This is a maybe over here that potentially may impact you. Let's talk about what you can control in this situation. And what you can't control in this situation. And then it is we try and kind of like get into practicalities. Okay. So do you want to update your LinkedIn? Do you want to kind of start a new education start a new course in UCD, and digital marketing? Here's brilliant. Do you want to do you want like, what do you want to do? Like, is there is there a practical steps that you can take that if in the case that this does happen? Nice, you have your ducks in a row, or you can bounce, you can kind of move jobs, you can kind of like, look what else there and then making a decision to pocket. This is not in my control, the layoffs that are happening, it doesn't seem to be easily understood. Who's gone, who's staying, it's not simple as lastin first out in some scenarios, so it's making that conscious decision to say, I can't control this, this is what I'm gonna do. I can't control that. And at the same time, validate feelings, and maybe be aware of the emotional distress and is there something else that needs to be put into place? Because it's, you know, will be triggering for them something that's going to happen in their in their previously in their life that they need support from as well. So there's a few things that you can do.

Will Francis  52:15

If you can't change it. Don't worry about it. If you can change it, change it.

Catherine Mooney  52:19

Yeah. Yes, I've been doing for

Will Francis  52:22

it is but it is age old and wise advice that fantastic. Well, look, I think I feel like I've taken so much your time. I do have one last question for you. Sorry. It's just where can people find you and connect with you online?

Catherine Mooney  52:38

I'm on LinkedIn. Yeah, you could find me on LinkedIn. I'm actually catching catching me when he can. We must get that in for the husband.

Will Francis  52:46

Well, Catherine, thanks so much. I feel like I've learned so much in our very, very interesting, I could talk to you all day about this stuff, obviously, because it's so so fascinating. But yeah, thanks very much. Really appreciate it. Thanks for having me on. It's been really interesting. Yeah. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And for more information about transforming your marketing career through certified online training, head to digital marketing institute.com Thanks for listening.

Will Francis
Will Francis

Will Francis is a recognized authority in digital and social media, who has worked with some of the world’s most loved brands. He is the host and technical producer of the DMI podcast, Ahead of the Game and a lecturer and subject matter expert with the DMI. He appears in the media and at conferences whilst offering his own expert-led digital marketing courses where he shares his experience gained working within a social network, a global ad agency, and more recently his own digital agency.

Connect with him on Twitter (X) or LinkedIn.

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