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Communication is key

When it comes to mental and emotional health and wellbeing - communication is key.

For many of us it is all too easy to ignore the early signs of stress and burnout, especially when there are so many different responsibilities to juggle. The cumulative effects of the pandemic have added many additional layers of stress for the majority of us over the last two years.

If you are a business owner, leader or manager, then along with the stress and strain doing your own job, achieving targets and keeping your stakeholders happy; also comes a sense of responsibility for your team.

Wanting to appear strong and in control, fear of being judged, not wanting to let anyone down and not wanting to appear as weak, can all contribute to a state of silent suffering many of us is all too familiar with.

“Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy”
How to Look After Your Mental Health – Mental Health Foundation

With hindsight I can see that a significant contributor to my own struggles with anxiety and depression was me masking my feelings, not talking about my problems and buying into the idea that admitting to mental health problems was somehow a sign of weakness.

In the period leading up to my breakdown, I was a director of a large corporate business, working very long hours, driving hundreds of miles a day. Juggling those responsibilities and being a mother to 2 small children was not at all unique to me – millions of people do it. And like many, I was ignoring the signs that my wellbeing was suffering.

Each day I got up, put my game face on and ploughed on, acting like everything was ok but the reality was that everything was far from ok.

I felt afraid, alone, totally isolated and like I couldn’t talk to anyone about my feelings, for fear of being judged

Of course, putting on a mask every day and getting on with it, could only last for so long. One day, I arrived home from work and physically collapsed in a heap on the kitchen floor. I had reached my absolute limit.

It was clear that I had reached burn out, and had a breakdown, and I needed to stop and take care of myself. I ended up walking away from my career and into a year-long recovery.

Looking back, I wish I could have spoken with someone sooner about the way I was feeling. It was a huge lesson for me and since then I have learned to be more open and honest about how I feel, and what support I might need.

If any of this has resonated with you and you feel (like I did then) that you can’t talk to anyone or be honest about your feelings in fear of what others might think then please know that there is help and support out there for you.

“If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear”.
How to Look After Your Mental Health – Mental Health Foundation

The Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116123 or jo@samaritans.org

Finally, if this is not you but you are concerned about someone close to you then please talk to them.

A simple question ‘are you ok? are you REALLY ok?’ could make a big difference to somebody suffering in silence.

With Love, Claire x

 

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