How we can all feel better on World Mental Health Day

Fantastic. We have another opportunity to talk about Mental Health and the importance of it not only in our workplaces, but in our lives in general. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now; that if so many of us are ‘affected’ by poor mental health at some time in our lives, could it just be that this is a normal part of being human?

I certainly think so. We are all sensitive, emotional beings. We are not robots. We feel! Every moment of every day, we are affected by people, places and things in our world. So that means we feel something in response to those things we interact with.

It’s my firm belief that ‘poor’ mental health often starts with the denying, negating, not recognising or taking care of how we – and other people – feel.

I noticed recently how great it is to just talk on a human level – to the neighbour, the stressed dad who was waiting at the school gate and the stranger I bumped into in the supermarket last week, who just wanted to talk about the biscuits she had discovered and was enjoying so much. Of course, it really wasn’t about the biscuits. It’s never about the biscuits. A bit like the underlying conflict at work is never really about the number of whip-rounds we’re all asked to contribute to or where we all go for this year’s Christmas Party.

There’s always the underlying ‘stuff’ that’s bubbling away, gently being ignored until the next time something similar rears its ugly head. That ‘stuff’ is the feelings-stuff we experience – it so easily gets pushed aside, kept under the carpet or neatly piled up onto whoever we see as the most annoying department (or person) in the group, organisation – or even family – so that the rest of us can all cope better with our own emotions.

Blimey, that’s enough to be dealing with every day as it is.

But what if we all had the capacity and inner space every day to notice and say how we really felt. And I definitely don’t mean spewing our guts out at Morning Briefing or plotting a raging rant at the upcoming AGM.

No. What I mean is a daily dose of ‘feeling words’ for us all to use, like it’s as familiar and comfortable as talking about the weather. Cause we all know how we love to do that. We really do that SO easily. I mean, so easily. It’s like falling off a log.

If the idea of this makes you feel just a little bit whoa or very, very queasy, I’d like to invite you to ask yourself why. Imagine how that could work. Just envisage it being a natural everyday thing. Just for a moment.

No? Can’t do it? Too much?

So, how about we start having fun with our feelings then – a bit like emojis have done with the online community?  Mix it up a little. You know, start talking about the weather as analogies of our feelings.

“I’m feeling like a tornado is brewing Jane. But I wanna feel more sunshine and rainbows.”

“Oh, I know Sandra, I was completely swept up and blown over by that unexpected gust of wind in there! Feel like I’m being tossed around in the wind and now the rain’s starting to come. If you fancy a coffee after work, maybe we can search for that sun on the horizon?”

Okay, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here as I know there are many, many feelings, circumstances and situations which cannot – and should not – be boiled down to a parallel with our descriptions about the weather.

But as human beings who feel, we are a lot like the weather. Our feelings come and go – and change, too – as quickly as the weather can change. And even things such as the deepest, darkest grief and suicidal thoughts which can lead to feeling so desperate that we cannot go on, can and often do change, when we acknowledge them, care for them and pay attention to what they might need.

But what we really need to help us through both all the major and the minor emotional times is each other.

When we listen, acknowledge and accept how we feel on the inside, we’re more like to listen, acknowledge, accept – and care – about how others feel on their inside. Thus, creating better relationships, more openness and trust, which naturally leads to improved (ta da!) overall mental [and emotional] wellbeing for us all.

If you or your organisation is curious about how you can include a more emotionally-based language every day from heroin – either in your own life or across the workplace – which includes the normalising  of saying how you really feel (without it turning into a therapy session) get in touch for a confidential conversation to find out more.

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