Sometimes the same thing seems to pop up again and again within a short period of time. It might be coincidence, or it could be that I am just particular aware of that thing.
At the moment that thing is about help – especially help in connection with mental challenges.
Two weeks ago, it was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in England, and a lot of tweets appeared concerning this.
This is an area that matters a lot to me. A lot of people living with mental health problems including me, and in many cases, it is a taboo; we don’t talk about it as if it disappears when we don’t talk about it.
In fact, it might get stronger.
By talking about it and being aware of it, we can start addressing the problems and taking care of the people, who suffer from problems. And equally important, we can start working on good mental health.
I talk about taking care of others, and I believe, we can all help each other. We also need to take care of ourselves, but boy can that be hard. It is so much easier to take care of others; to see how others can help themselves and care for themselves.
I am getting better at it; I have not worked much this year as I was getting exhausted last year doing too many things; awesome things, but never the less too many.
I am not that good at saying no to awesome things 🙂
So, this year I mostly rested, try to eat healthier, drink more water; I might even start this exercise thing.
Still, I have fluctuated a lot and have felt quite down at times. Doubting myself, and my abilities as an agile coach and as a person. Feeling lost, feeling exhausted despite sleep, and I am struggling to find my energy and my joy.
And then I ask for help. Sometimes the help I need is that someone listens to me, sometimes I need something active I can do, some advice. Like when I asked on Twitter about how other people find energy.
Mostly I need someone to care enough to listen. I am in the lucky position to have a bunch of good friends who help me. Who encourages without judging and who cares for me.
One of my friends sends me pictures 2-3 times a week; pictures of his two cats sleeping to encourage me to rest 🙂
Another place where mental health popped up was in conversations with friends. At the moment I have a few friends, who are in a fragile mental state and who have been wise enough to reach out.
So, I also help people. Since I suffer from depressions, struggle with self-worth and imposter syndrome, not to mention had two burnouts myself, I know a lot about what not to do, and what to do to prevent it. Or at least I know what works for me, and some tips & tricks besides that. Some need me to listen, some need encouragement, and some need advice.
Not only because they are stressed, but also because they may have had a shitty day at work, a lot of things on their mind, lack of confidence, etc.
We all need emotional support once in a while <3
A specific tool I use is something I call “Getting permission from someone else.”
As mentioned earlier we often know how to take care of other and not ourselves. And part of that for me is to allow myself to do the thing that would help me right now. Often that means saying no to someone or something, and I have problems doing that as I begin to feel I am being a bad person.
For example, when I am really stressed, I do see the signals, but I am not yet able to stop. And luckily, I have a friend, I can call and say “please give me permission to cancel x.” Like in late 2014, where I had to cancel a talk at a conference. It was almost two months before, so the conference had plenty of time to find a new speaker, and still, it felt like I was letting the conference down. So, I got his permission to cancel.
I don’t really need his permission, as I am a grown woman – but it helps, and that is what matters.
At the moment, I am one of my friend’s “permission slip.” We talked about her taking breaks and taking care of herself. Saying no to meetings, and pulling a bit back at work. She knows it is necessary and yet it feels hard.
I so know that feeling; it feels like you are not doing enough, almost like you are cheating.
So, when she feels bad, I am her safety line. She calls me and gets permission to care for herself.
Most of us know we need to take care of ourselves; when we fly, the staff say, “remember to secure your own oxygen mask before aiding others.” Yet we find it hard to do.
We need to take care of ourselves, and sometimes asking for help is the best way of doing that.
When was the last time, you asked for help to take care of yourself?
You are worth it.
This is a guest post by Gitte Klitgaard. Gitte is an agile coach, hugger, friend, and much more. She lives and loves agile. She took the oath of non-allegiance. Why fight over methods when we can use that energy to help people? Gitte wants to change the world by helping people make the right product, doing it right and very important: have fun doing it. She has a great interest in how people function, how the brain works, what motivates us, how we can feel better about ourselves, how to be perfect in all our imperfections. She is a geek and passionate about a lot. 🙂 You can learn more about Gitte on nativewired.com