Let’s #GetReal about mental health

It was recently Mental Health Awareness Week and the whole world is getting a taste of what is a very real sense of some people’s day to day existence: Isolation, loneliness, anxiety.

This unprecedented moment is a rare opportunity to better understand the people around us and to support those people by changing both how we live our day to day lives and how we do business.

Did you know that a lack of strong relationships affects the risk of mortality in a comparable way to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day? Loneliness, or lack of connection, seems to be an epidemic even in this busy world of endless online connection. Connection takes courage and being real with people, reaching out and letting them know that you aren’t fine, that you need help or just someone to talk to.

Several years ago, I read a book called The Tyranny of Niceness. It talked about the little white lies we tell each other. Like, when we say I’m fine, instead of I’m hurting, or I’m lonely. It talked about how we can’t really have a connection with someone when there is dishonesty between us. It was then that I decided to be radically honest in my own life because I craved connection. I knew that I needed it if I was going to dig myself out of the deep hole of depression, I was in.

I wish I could tell you that I flipped a switch and that my radical honesty won me points and gave me the connection I craved right away. It didn’t. Most of the people in my life at that point were more comfortable with the lies and so when I started being radically honest there was a lot of disconnection. Little lies protect us from the hurt that can come along with being brave enough to risk connection. I didn’t stop though. I couldn’t. I knew in my heart that this book was right. It lead me to ask some really important questions: It made sense.

How could we really know and love each other if we weren’t really telling each other what was actually going on in our lives? If we weren’t telling each other the truth? One of the biggest lies we often tell each other is "I'm fine.".

There is a very strong movement in the world today to be more positive, which I fully endorse. Positive Psychology is an amazing tool to be used to help protect against depression and anxiety and to help relieve it. Being positive does not mean not acknowledging when you aren’t fine though. It means acknowledging that the "not fine moments" are temporary. It also means acknowledging that the "not fine moments" were not created because you are not a worthy human being. Focusing on what you are grateful for, does not exclude processing and handling your more painful emotions.

Duality is one of the most amazing concepts and I will be forever grateful to one of my classmates (you know who you are) for introducing it to me. You can be two things at once. Happy and sad. Grieving and hopeful. We are complex beings with a myriad of emotions. Every time I am reminded of this, I feel peace. I am not one thing; I do not just feel one emotion and it wouldn’t even be logical to think that would be the case. So, every day I meditate, reach out and do all the things I need to do to develop resilience so I can experience joy and help others do the same.

I’ve heard it said before that small business has the ability to save the world. I can see it so clearly in my mind. I was diagnosed with CFS/ME several years ago and as a result, I’ve had to modify the way I work and live my life. I feel blessed that I can do that with the skills I’ve developed over the years because I know not everyone in my situation can do so. I now am developing my business to be able to help others in the same position.

There is a local pet food store here that takes online orders and delivers locally. This has been a saving grace for me, especially right now. Imagine though, others who can’t make it out, or who could but that means they can’t do something else.

What small change can you make in your business to help support something that is important to you? Either through how you deliver your products and services, or through giving back, or both! If you aren’t sure, send a survey out to your customers with an open-ended question. What’s one thing I could do that would make a difference in your day?

Businesses are run by people and your customers are people. Whether you are B2B or B2C, we are all driven by the same human need for safety, security, and connection. By learning, opening up, and sharing your truth, you will be able to connect with your customers at the deepest level possible, something that will sustain your business and your mental health for many years to come.

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