Creating a culture of compassion.

I believe in work life balance. I believe in taking time to adjust. I believe in being happy with who you are. However, I don’t believe in giving up.

I’m hoping some of you read my blog called Being sectioned #TimeToTalk. I emerged from hospital in November 2019, and faced a group of advisers and supportive friends who said: “Be kind to yourself”, “It’ll take at least a year to fully recover.” and “Don’t expect to have your normal life back for around five years.” All of these people were being supportive. I appreciate all of their compassion.

But my mind said ‘NO!‘. In December, I realised that I was not prepared to wait a year to be well. I would not tolerate waiting five years to regain control of my own vision of my own life. And I was certainly not prepared to move away from my home, my friends and my work, to start again somewhere I did not necessarily want to be. My mind said ‘NO’ and my actions followed.

I met someone else this week who turned their life around from being homeless and an alcoholic, to someone who is now successful and contributes positively to society. They also describe a point where their mind said, ‘NO’. This is not what I envision my life to be, I am going to change it. And they set about this change with absolute determination.

I saw a post today about students being able to take ‘mental wellness days’. I’m worried. Taking a mental wellness day implies that their life and routines are somehow flawed. It implies that they need what used to be called a ‘sick day’ to cope. I do not think we should introduce mental wellness days for students or workers. I think we should build our daily routines, objectives and expectations to prevent people becoming jaded, or worse still, burnt out.

If the student timetable is planned appropriately, it will incorporate thinking time, sport or other releases from study, and the opportunity for students to make friends and build support groups. At work, if company vision and strategy through to the performance review and daily routine incorporates similar time to cater for basic human needs, then burn out will not happen. In both cases, the daily grind is not a grind but a well-balanced combination of thinking time, relationship building time, and actual work.

Let’s not push people to the point of a mental health episode, resulting in sickness, or worse being sectioned or even worse becoming suicidal. Let’s actually build a work culture which is balanced and allows for real people to live in a real way. I recently thought about the benefit of mental illness in a colleague being to create a culture of compassion at work. Let’s aim for this, instead of pushing people so hard they fall and need time off. Let’s just take a holiday when we need it and switch off our email notifications after 5.00 pm!

Love Ruth x

Header photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

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