Saturday 10th October was World Mental Health Day. 2020 marks a time in history where the human race has never needed this more. Not only has our collective physical health been threatened by the Coronavirus pandemic but, as study after study is demonstrating, our mental health has, and will continue to suffer.
I was part way through writing a blog about what we can do to be more proactive about looking after our mental health in the workplace. I was starting to explain how humility and vulnerability in leadership can start the shift towards a more open and supportive environment where it’s safe to share. How listening without judgement is one of the most incredible qualities one can nurture….
Then it hit me that there was a voice that I hadn’t given space. A voice that I had tried to squash, suppress, rationalise, offer solutions.
It just needed to be heard.
So I let the words tumble out like tears spilling from my eyes
Twisting bowels, tense, wrung out
Heaviness falls over me
A blanket cocooning, smothering
Extinguishing all light
Forced to navigate the dank tunnels blind
I stumble on without a compass
I see a rope of friendship thrown but I can’t quite catch it
It falls through my fingers like sand or the fleeting remains of a half remembered dream
I give in and yield to the softness
All my strength is gone
Catching sight of my ghostly reflection
Who am I?
My roots are gently loosening
Quiet rain on the earth, softening until it gives way
Slipping away from the safe, firm ground of what has gone before
Floating, oddly free
Yet this is where new life begins
Creativity and hope
Like a blank page in a new journal
Putting these words down on paper has been very cathartic for me. I feel lighter, like I have let something go.
You don’t have to write poetry (or reveal anything publically!) but journalling can be a useful addition to your tool-box of self-care measures. Thinking and feeling our emotions is one thing, but in committing them to paper we have to engage our rational brain, and this enables us to make sense of them. There are some great resources online. “It’s hypothesized that writing works to enhance our mental health through guiding us towards confronting previously inhibited emotions (reducing the stress from inhibition), helping us process difficult events and compose a coherent narrative about our experiences”.
I encourage you to give it a go.