(~4.5 minute read)
Today, our guest blogger is Diana Nazemian Pour, who shares that “it’s ok not to be ok.” While originally written a month or so ago, her messages are still very relevant today.
In her own words …
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed,
it can only be changed from one form to another.”
Last night, I decided I’m taking a Mental Health Day tomorrow. It felt weird, it felt uncomfortable. I spoke up about it to my team and to my boss. I told them I was taking a Mental Health day to rest and recharge. I felt guilty, yet it felt liberating. Was it the right decision? I guess I’ll find out soon. One thing I realised as I made this decision was that it takes courage to speak up and out. It takes courage to be vulnerable and to let the people around you know that sometimes you’re not ok … and THAT is perfectly ok. We are human with our own unique energy systems. How you manage yours is a choice only you can make.
What amazed me, was the number of messages and emails that followed as soon as I mentioned I was taking a mental health day. It was not only people checking in to see how I was, but people expressing how they felt and sharing their struggles. One of my colleagues said, “Thank you for your honesty, I’ve been struggling too and you’ve made it okay for me to speak up about it. You’ve helped normalise the conversation and made me realise I’m not the only one.” Another one said, “I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing but was fearful of what others might think. You’ve just empowered me to take a day off and recharge.” I realised, courage is contagious.
Your wellbeing is not defined by the quantity or quality of foods you eat, or how much exercise, or how you look. A far more powerful insight into your level of wellbeing is energy. One of my favourite analogies is seeing your energy as a true health currency. Each day we make withdrawals and deposits; we invest or we deplete. And when the balance of us using more than we put back in is tipped, we begin to enter the red zone and live in the red. Using the same analogy of our health currency and our “health bank account,” this is when we start dipping in and depleting our savings. This is when alarm bells go off. This is exactly what I experienced yesterday …
Over the last few days, I suddenly noticed some signs and symptoms that clearly indicated I was depleting my ‘savings account.’ I felt fatigued, frustrated, anxious, had brain fog, and difficulty sleeping. Whilst I have invested a significant amount of time in my physical health through 1:1 personal training with an incredible coach (who has helped me immensely), I realised I haven’t invested enough in my mental health. I thought I was, but yesterday I proved myself wrong. The symptoms don’t have a voice to let us know what they want us to do; it is up to us to decipher them. These are the defining moments in life where you have a choice. To either sink deeper and continue on the same path of energy depletion, or to stop, reflect, learn, replenish, restore, recharge, and use it as an opportunity to invest back in your ‘energy savings account.’ For me personally, this is how I define and practice resilience. It always starts with self-awareness …
One of my colleagues said, “Thank you for your honesty, I’ve been struggling too and you’ve made it okay for me to speak up about it. You’ve helped normalise the conversation and made me realise I’m not the only one.”
Today, I have made a conscious decision to start my day differently. I allowed my body and mind to rest, and did not wake up to an alarm. I switched off from work and emails. I went for my morning walk but this time, without my phone. I grabbed my morning coffee (which is my favourite part of the day!) and returned from my walk with a sense of calmness rather than a list of things to do – I would typically read and action critical emails on my morning walk (big mistake!).
Today, I am choosing to sit in it, rather than suppress it, and feel it out. I’m choosing to decelerate rather than accelerate through it. I’m sitting outdoors, breathing deeply, playing music, reading, and reflecting by writing this piece … with a bit of online retail therapy in between. 😉 So far it feels good. For me, writing is a powerful way to reflect and hold myself accountable for what I feel today, and how I choose to rise tomorrow.
It’s only 3:42pm and I already feel an incredible sense of calmness and harmony. I haven’t felt this in a while.
The last few months have been turbulent for many of us as we adapt to new ways of living and being amidst a global pandemic. Many things were (and still are) out of our control, and suddenly our worlds were flipped upside down and inside out. I will confess, when stage 3 lockdown was enforced, I felt an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, sadness and frustration, all of which led to anxiety and a rapid decline in my sleep quality. Within days I was feeling the digital fatigue as our lives become fully virtual and our screen time multiplied. It took several weeks for me to adjust and proactively create my new rhythm and routine both personally and professionally. This is no easy task. It requires immense effort, energy and discipline as we try and draw boundaries between work, family, and our health & wellbeing all from the same space/environment; that is, our homes.
One of my biggest learnings in the past 24 hours was that it takes courage to face reality, acknowledge that sometimes you are not okay, and accept that it’s ok to not be ok …
A huge part of my life that keeps me energised, motivated and positive is exercise. For years, I have stuck to my fitness routine, played tennis, and maintained a relatively balanced and healthy diet. Today, exercise is less about staying in shape or maintaining body weight and more about how I feel when I move. Movement is therapy and is more potent than many pharmaceutical interventions out there. Yes, I am a pharmacist and whilst I believe medication has its place for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases/conditions, I am a firm believer of the therapeutic benefits of physical activity (backed by a tonne of data of course). Everyone is different. For some people exercise is a chore or a tick a box activity. For others, it’s the one thing they look forward to each day and it is their way of practising mindfulness – I fall into the latter category. It is my
1-hour a day where I have the opportunity to fully disconnect from work, devices, and distractions and tune into my body and mind. This is how I choose to practice mindfulness – being present in the moment. I have always described the feeling as pushing the “reset” button on your computer or gaming console.
The sudden closure of gyms, fitness facilities, and tennis clubs during lockdown felt like doomsday! Again, it’s not a decision I could control. So I steered my focus to what I could control and that was implementing a new routine – one that will look and feel very different to my norm.
One of my biggest learnings in the past 24 hours was that it takes courage to face reality, acknowledge that sometimes you are not okay, and accept that it’s ok to not be ok, and it’s also ok to not be performing at 150% everyday with the highest level of motivation during these strange and unprecedented times. Taking one day out to reflect, chill, and recharge did wonders for my mental health and set me up for the week ahead. I will definitely be practicing this more often. I encourage everyone to have more conversations about their mental health as it helps normalise the conversation. Stay well.
Diana NP x
“This is how I started my Mental Health Day.”
If you need support for your mental health please visit/call:
I have had the absolute pleasure of knowing Diana for the past 5 or so years. In this time, I have known her to be curious, to have a love of learning, to care and empathise deeply, and to be a courageous leader.
Subsequent to writing this blog, Diana also shared her first video on LinkedIn which she would like to share with you too; you can watch it here.
Diana, thank you for your continued commitment to being courageous. Yes, #courageiscontagious.