Hi all! How are you feeling?
This week 18th May – 24th May 2020 is mental health awareness week. The theme for this year is kindness (Mental Health Foundation, 2020). Something I’m a huge advocate of!
Kindness costs absolutely nothing and to some people it might mean the whole world. One simple act of kindness can really make someone’s day. Not only that, but you don’t know what someone may be going through and that last piece of kindness could really change things around for someone. I was told a story once, many years ago, I think it was at school… but I have to share here. Warning this story may trigger some uncomfortable responses due to the sensitive nature of the subject and talks of suicide. Please feel free to skip past the story (You will see a quote starting with ‘I do love my job’ read on from there). But I am sharing as this is the story that made me think about always giving kindness no matter how bad my own day has been.
The waitress and the accountant.
There was a man called Dave, a 38 year old accountant. He had just finished his long day in the office. His day has been awful in fact; costumers haven’t been happy with him and he’s in need of a good drink before he goes home to his family.
Dave enters a restaurant / bar. Where a waitress called Laura tends to Dave. Laura is a 35 year old waitress, she’s just found out her boyfriend has been cheating on her, she’s been fighting with her mum and struggling with her mental health a lot lately. However, Laura, on the outside, appears happy, smiling and laughing. She loves her job, it’s her safe place right now; it’s where she can go and forget about her home life and escape for a short while. Dave orders his drink from Laura and takes a seat in the corner. Laura brings over his drink, however it was the wrong drink and Dave gets very angry about this. He swears at Laura and calls her incompetent of her job and that she needs training or even better… sacking!
Laura is so apologetic but Dave storms out and back home to his family. Laura is left feeling deflated, thinking ‘he’s right, I am an awful waitress’ – this was the last straw for her. Her world was crumbling around her and she couldn’t take any more. She’s lost her boyfriend, her mum and now she feels like a failure at her job. Later that night, Laura took her own life.
Now, let’s take a back step, reverse time and go back to that moment when Dave enters the bar, orders his drink and sits down. Dave has realised he has been given the wrong drink. However, this time, he’s aware of his own emotions and bad day. He goes up to Laura and says ‘I’m so sorry, but I think I may have someone else’s drink, it’s not your fault at all so please don’t worry’ – with a smile to Laura. Laura, apologises and get’s him his correct order. Dave finishes his beverage and leaves, leaving a tip for Laura on the table. Laura picks this tip up and smiles. She thinks to herself:
“I do love my job, I think I’m going to apply for that management position I always wanted. And when I return home, I’m going to make a means with my mother”
Dave’s simple act of kindness turned Lauras day and thoughts around. Can you see how the way you treat people with or without kindness really matters? Please, despite your bad day, always be kind to others, as you never know what someone else is going through. I fully understand that sometimes it will take a whole lot more than a simple act of kindness to help some people with a mental health crisis, but I wanted to give an example of how kindness can help others. Even if it’s not everyone, your one act of kindness could potentially change someone’s life.
Remember, you matter! Your health, whether it is physical or mental health, is so important. YOU are just as important as any of your patients, colleagues, friends or family members. So, here are a few tips from my heart to your heart if you find yourself struggling right now:
- Meditation – there are so many free apps for NHS workers right now. I have found this so beneficial for myself and I hope it helps you too.
- Breathing techniques – These helps to steady your breathing and heart rate and regulate that ‘fight or flight’ response going on right now.
- Getting outside – Talking a long walk, cycle, run, or some light exercise can help too. Although some days you may just want to hide under a duvet and cry it out all day, and that’s ok too.
- Listening to music – Music is great for relaxation and calming the mind. I have recently discovered 8D (and more) music! Put your headphones on, turn your favourite song up loud and enjoy!
- Hobbies / crafts – If you don’t have or do any of this, maybe it’s time to find something that you can fall in love with. I have started doing rock painting, clay making and resin art! It’s so therapeutic to me. Or maybe you could learn a new language or how to play an instrument? Give it a whirl.
- Therapy – This could be professionally, or just having a colleague, friend or family listening to you. It’s so important to talk about your feelings, be open and honest. Even if you want to write it all down, get it out! Even if you don’t know what to write, just get a pen / pencil, and some paper, and write… anything… whatever comes to mind, just start. And once you’re done, tear it apart, like you’re getting rid of all those feelings. It’s better to get them out of your mind than lock it up and avoid it. You will cause yourself more harm in the future doing this.
- Also trying alternate therapies such as Lavender on pulse points really helps too! It’s not for everyone and cautions must be taken if you have allergies. But research has shown it can help and even the NHS have added it to their website now, which is great to see! However, these therapies must never to be used as an ‘instead of’ solution. Seek medical advice from your doctor / nurse before stopping any of your medications.
This list is not limited to, everyone is individual and what works for me may not work for you. It’s about finding out what works for you and do more of that. Everyone will handle their emotions differently and a mental health crisis will look very different in different people, so it’s important to recognise the signs in yourself and seek help and advice where needed. And remember, you’re not alone in this, there are people out there that will listen and help you. There is a light ahead of you, despite not being able to see it right now, you will be ok, and things will get better for you.
So, I will ask again ‘how are you really?’