putting the well in being
The new normal for the NHS team needs to include self-ISH-ness.
After continued weeks of Zoom meetings, remote client sessions and homeschooling, I’ve come to realise (again) that taking care of myself is harder than I’d realised.
The biggest challenge in self-care is noticing that you have needs when they don’t scream out at you… and let me tell you, being ‘informed’ is not a protective factor, wellbeing is a way of ‘being’ not thinking.
Four years ago, after an extremely stressful series of clinical and life experiences, my own GP told me, “You’re not working now, for 6 months… no discussion, Doctor’s orders”. I didn’t see it coming and it took months after to realise that I was in recovery. My GP told me I was depressed and I scoffed, a Clinical Psychologist… depressed? …I think I’d know it, if it were true!
I’ve come to learn, that there is a lot I didn’t know about myself and how to stay well.
I am now the CEO of Project5.org, leading the delivery of mass-scale wellbeing support for the NHS staff team — in an effort to provide early intervention support to my vocational peers in the hope that early support can scaffold the team to survive and thrive. I face the greatest challenge yet, how to raise the awareness of being well (at work), or as it is better known “wellbeing”.
The word ‘being’ is interesting as it is both a noun and a verb. I can be described as a well being (mentally, physically and socially well) or I can be well being, as in acting well in how I act, feel and think. This is problematic, as I think that most of us consider that we are well unless there are signs that we are not — without the skill needed to monitor, notice, review and adapt.
Few of us regard wellbeing as a process of living that may need support when the world around us gets in the way. We have narratives about fighting on, beating disease.. but rarely about stopping and accepting that the best you can give to a crisis, sometimes, is to give to yourself.
I’ve spent years working with 1,000s of clients who arrive at the end stages of poor mental, physical or social health. Very rarely did any of them seek any help until it all fell apart or a helpful GP intervened, much like my own story.
I have spent hours wondering how being well can be encouraged in the lives of those who are working tirelessly, under stress, without it looking irrelevant or for somebody who is in more need.
Our website currently talks about support and help, for wellbeing. The language makes no sense to me, but I am at a loss for better words. I have never felt the need for support or help when I’ve been stressed in my clinical work, I have always felt it was just what the job entails.