When did you last start a conversation about mental health?

Are you a talker? Do you like to share how you’re feeling or what is going on for you? Some of us do, some of us don’t. Sometimes, I think, there can be an element of feeling as though we shouldn’t complain, that we’ve got it pretty good and therefore we can keep our problems to ourselves and try to muddle through.

I always think in relation to this, that everything is relevant. And, whilst someone else might have some really tough stuff going on, it doesn’t diminish the fact that you may be struggling with something in your life. Starting a conversation with a trusted friend, family member, colleague, or perhaps even a coach or therapist, can go a long way. It allows you to acknowledge how you feel and release the tension and emotion, rather than pushing it down.

Living through hard times

Currently we are all living through some really hard times. Our lives are very different to what we know. And the longer it goes on, the harder it’s becoming for many of us. One of the biggest issues seems to be feeling isolated. Even if we have family around us and are not physically alone, we can miss the contact we would usually have, especially close friends or family.

This winter lockdown is taking its toll. This may in part be due to the weather – no walks and bike rides in the sun. But also the fact we’re on our third lockdown, so patience is wearing thin. Realising we all have mental health, and that we need to look after it in the same way we do our physical health, helps us understand we should be paying attention to how we’re feeling in our heads, our thoughts, and that sometimes we need an outlet. A need to start a conversation about mental health.

Support is out there

Our experiences over the past year as women running businesses ourselves, and with our members who are all working alone, have shown us that support is one of the greatest things we need to help us keep going and to thrive. 

With it being Time To Talk Day today, we thought we would share some things that we know might help, that you might appreciate when you open up about how you feel, and that you could also extend to others should you be able to get them to have a chat about how they’re feeling. In short, for when you start a conversation about mental health.

1. Listen, and don’t feel like you need to fix the problem.

Sometimes we just need to be able to have a chat. If someone does open up and talk to you about how they’re feeling, or something they’re struggling with, resist the temptation to be a fixer. You may want to jump right in with advice and options to make it better. But instead, try to find out if that’s what they need, or if they just need to offload a bit and feel their feelings.

2. Show understanding and compassion.

You may not fully understand a situation, or even agree with it, but allowing that person to be who they are and share their thoughts without judging them will be so welcome, and will encourage them to open up more often and therefore protect their mental health.

3. Let them know you’re there to talk.

Keep in touch with people, even if it’s just a quick message that lets them know you’re happy to listen if they want to talk. Also, by opening up to them and chatting, they may feel more comfortable to do the same.

4. Keep things to yourself

… meaning not sharing their information with others. If someone confides in you and shares personal feelings, keep it to yourself and protect that trust.

5. Share your own experiences

If you have any experiences with looking after your own mental health, struggling with it, finding ways to talk, or if you know of good ways to help yourself, share them. Not in a “you must do this way” but more a “I tried this and it was really helpful”.

As a final message, one way we believe really adds to preserving good mental health is to find people to hang out with who lift you and raise your vibe. Find your tribe, your cheerleaders, whatever you want to call them and share your ups and downs. You’re likely to feel more connected and more able to just have a chat. If you’d like to try out our warm and friendly community for women running small businesses, join us for a free trial for a month and see what you think.

But either way, start a conversation about mental health this Time to Talk Day. A small conversation really can make such a big difference.