Day 7 of #MHAW22 – Avoid!

Today sees the final day of Mental Health Awareness Week. This week long event has run for 21 years.

Most of my tips this week have been around self care.

Today, I end with an indirect tip to enhance our wellbeing by reducing our negative impact on those around us.

How often do we automatically start a sentence with ‘you’? Examples: ‘you didn’t put the rubbish out’ or you are late’ or ‘you didn’t meet the deadline for that project work’.

I don’t doubt we’ve all been on the receiving end of a ‘you’ statement. How did you feel? Angry, frustrated, sad, defensive, worthless – none are positive feelings.

My final tip of the week is something we were taught as children. ‘Think before you speak’. I’ll add something to that. ‘What is the possible impact on the person you are going to speak to?’ If there is any chance it will be negative, can it be said a better way?

Absolutely. First, can what you are about to say be said in a better way? Second, play it in your head and check how you would feel if it was said to you. Thirdly, try to NEVER use ‘you’ statements.

Usually, when we think about it, we can say the same things in a kinder way. A way that doesn’t automatically make someone feel they’re under attack.

Example for lateness:

“I felt so frustrated when you didn’t arrive on time. I made your favourite meal. Now it’s ruined’.

As #MHAW22 draws to an end, let’s think about the tips shared this week, the importance of investing in our own daily self-care and our impact on others before we speak every day of the week. Every week of the year.

Be kind to yourself is a strength that enables you to be kinder to those around you.

Day 6 of #MHAW22 – Self Care – Do You Prioritise?

Don’t get self-care confused with hobbies – i.e. going for a walk or a run a couple of times a week.

Our minds are powerful tools that have to be trained and nurtured or they can become destructive.

Looking at the segments in the picture above, are you really doing your best every day in all these areas?

We can only run on auto-pilot for so long. Prioritising daily, non-negotiable self-care is the only way to thrive and be there for everyone around us at home and work.

Day 5 of #MHAW – Top Tip

Empathy not Sympathy….. Is there a difference?

Yes, and it’s a big one in my view. Sympathy makes everything worse. Why?

Sympathy is about ‘fixing’ someone’s painful emotions. Actually, it does the opposite:

  • It devalues someone’s emotional pain
  • Makes them feel no one hears their voice
  • Deflates them – it takes massive courage to overcome self stigma and ask for help

Empathy means ‘feeling with’ someone and is absolutely the right tool to use because:

  • Enables the person to feel valued
  • Shows the person their voice has been heard
  • Feeling with someone enables them to identify their own solution – not your solution
  • Creates a cohesive environment to build honesty, trust and confidence
  • Empowers you as you see the positive impact made on the person that really helped them

In ‘Sympathy’ sentences usually begin with ‘at least…..’ or ‘I know exactly how you feel’. These and similar examples are completely unhelpful, shuts the conversation down and may prevent the person reaching out to get the help they need elsewhere.

The conversation’s spotlight should only be on them. You cannot know how they feel. Everyone’s experience of emotions are unique and individual.

Validation, identifying, collaboration – key elements of ‘Empathy’ that deliver a more positive outcome for all.

“That must feel overwhelming”. (validation) “I see your strength and courage sharing this with me “(identifying) “I’m here to listen to you. Can you tell me more about this? Maybe together we can consider some options?” (collaboration)

Next time someone shares their pain with you, remember how much courage and strength that took before answering with EMPATHY.

Day 4 #MHAW 22 – Challenge – Are you Up For it?

How often do you challenge your thoughts?

Do you ever ask yourself “is this feeling or fact”?

Why is this important? Our minds are powerful tools designed to protect us but there’s a key flaw.

The flaw is this. Our mind amplifies risk without any rational on whether the risk is real or not.

Example: Think of the last time your were in a car driving on the motorway and another driver cut in on you. What were the thoughts within the car you were in? Calm or angry?

99% of people would say anger.

There is no reflection about the intention of the driver who cut in. Were they being a thoughtless driver? Or did they have a sick child in the car they needed to get to hospital?

How often do we challenge our thoughts and ask ‘is this fact or feeling’?

What would happen to the emotions in your car if when a driver cut in you challenged your mind and said “is this thought or fact”?

We have the power to train our minds to challenge our thoughts and not accept feelings as fact.

Are you up for the challenge?

Day Two – #MHAW22

My tip for today is raising your awareness of change in you and those around you.

Before we can support others, we need to check where our head is at. Taking a moment to think ‘how am I feeling today?’ is important for our own self-care and critical to increasing our resilience.

When it comes to those around us – family, friends, loved ones, neighbours, community as well as workplace connections – peers, line management, senior management, support staff, customers – raising awareness to notice the subtlest of changes in someone enables us to start a conversation which could literally save a live.

The earlier we start a conversation, the earlier someone can get the help they need.