As I sit here writing on a Saturday morning of March 2020, it feels like we’re really living in a strange world, or strange times. And I say this, as I am trying to ignore what’s happening “in the rest of the world”. I just spent 20 minutes dancing to disco music in my kitchen and that definitely lifted my spirits.
Still, I felt the need to write a short blog post because our mental health is going to be (if not already) impacted by the events, and we have to take care of ourselves and each other.
When it comes to good mental health, hopefully by now you know the importance of looking after yourself. This will look different for everyone, but I believe it’s a key element to staying on top of your sanity and being able to give your best in all areas of life. But as I was having conversations with friends and family over Christmas the question dawned upon me: is me-time selfish? Spoiler alert! In my opinion: absolutely not. Me-time is of utmost importance and is practically sacred.
Not a day goes by that we don’t hear the word resilience mentioned in some context. So what is it? Often it’s linked to the concept of recovering or bouncing back from setbacks. You might think of people going through incredible hardship and coming out the other side, or athletes going through an injury and coming back to compete.
While I certainly think this is part of the definition, I also find it a bit narrow. We all know life has ups and downs, and for some these are more extreme than for others.
Back in November 2019 I attended the Women in Tech Regatta and was inspired by several of the talks I attended. One of them was around “Integrating career and parenthood” and as I was sitting there, I felt that it touched upon some of the tensions we face in the workplace when battling with our mental health regardless of whether we are parents or not.
This got me thinking of the work-life balance again, and how we can create work environments that are favourable to managing the different roles we have in life.
There’s a lot of information out there about burnout, but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? What is the message being sent to you from your mind and body when you burn out?
We can talk a lot about the circumstances that lead to burnout and in fact it’s easy to blame others, particularly employers. They overwork us, they don’t see us for who we are, etc. etc. But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what the burnout was trying to tell us. This is something we don’t talk about so often, and yet it’s crucial if we want to be better able to understand and prevent burnout.
Welcome to my new blog and platform, “That’s mental”.
For those of you who may not know, the name is a play on words. Often people will say “That’s mental!!” and it can either mean really cool or super crazy and weird… I chose it because I like the fact that it can be both, and of course the reference to “mental” for “mental health”.
Or should I say, the last time I burnt out. I really hope it was the last but you never know, these things creep up on you… Nevertheless, I’d like to share the story with you and I took to video again to do so.
Once again, it was the the usual “end of year breakdown”. Sad that’s actually a thing, but it was. And I’m sure many of you can relate, in most industries Q4 is pretty intense.
In October 2019 I attended the Women in Tech regatta, and was super excited to take part in 2 very interesting panels that inspired me to write.
One of those was called “Hiding in the bathroom: emotions in the workplace and how to manage them”. It was moderated by the wonderful Lara Manqui and included other people whose work I already enjoy following such as Vivian Acquah and Kevin Groen.
Call me crazy, but it was only during this panel that the penny dropped: holy shit! Emotions in the workplace are so connected to our mental health. How have I not talked about this before?
As some of you may know, when I’m not sitting behind a desk as a marketeer or communications professional, I’m most likely to be found dancing. It’s my number one passion, and a huge part of my identity.
Over the past year I have gone through a journey, developing as a dancer. I started to realize a lot of the mental barriers I had, and codes that had been passed on to me over the years that were holding me back. A lot of this has got me thinking about how mental health relates to dance or vice versa, and I wanted to share this journey as I think people will be able to relate.
Today on the blog, another real life mental health story. This time from yours truly. ☺️ For a while now I’ve been wanting to talk about the bigger picture of my journey with mental health, not just my most recent experience.
Of course, my most recent experience (starting in 2012) is what triggered this blog and turned me into a mental health advocate. But if I look back, the truth is I’ve been dealing with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. It’s important that we realize how present mental health is in our lives, and that issues could have been there before we even developed awareness of them.
In previous blog posts or videos, I’ve talked a bit about a toxic work environment. And while I worked at Impraise, I got to study a lot about what makes a good company culture. Yet it only occurred to me not so long ago that there is more than one type of negative or toxic work environment, which is what I’d like to talk about today.
I used to believe that a toxic work environment was the classic “Devil wears Prada” or “Horrible bosses”: people getting yelled at, intimidated, and whole bunch of fear tactics.
In my last two blog posts I’ve been talking about our relationship with work and how it affects our mental health. Generally speaking, the workplace has a huge impact on us – including our mental health. Working in a negative environment can be really detrimental. If everyone around you is demotivated or unhappy in their jobs, or if everyone is extremely stressed… no matter what it is, it will affect you.
For the longest time, talking about mental health at work has been a taboo. Have you burnt out? Don’t mention it or people might think you’re weak! Seeing a therapist? You must have something seriously wrong with you!
In general conversations around mental health have been taboo, mostly because there has been a big misunderstanding around what it is. If people don’t understand depression, or view OCD as “quirky”, it makes it harder for them to empathize with those who are experiencing an issue. There has also been a stigma around mental health, with people being viewed as “crazy” or good to be booked into the psych ward. But the truth is, mental health is not as black or white as it’s portrayed.