Exhaustion, tears, and tense lines across foreheads were daily revealing themselves to me as I checked in with my team. I studied them in Brady Bunch boxes on zoom. I could feel their frustrations, fears, and as we tally-marked our COVID way through March and now through April.
Our culture is built on principle of support and I felt I was failing in fully supporting my co-workers during this pandemic. What could I do for them? Deliver gifts, coffee, what?
I thought back to the last time I felt days comparable to these. Days fluctuating on a spectrum in loneliness, self-isolation, and sometime paralyzing fear. How did I cope during my divorce? What do I wish I had done more of? Less of?
Looking back to my divorce days I wish I had been more mindful that these were not normal days and I wish I had adjusted my expectations of myself accordingly. I just kept pushing and pushing myself harder. Mental health days and self-care were not part of my divorce vernacular. These words should have been.
Mandatory mental health days. This was the answer. I issued the mandate that every three weeks team members would rotate a day out during the week to attend to their mental health. As soon as I said it, happy tears appeared.
The week we started, my social media was filled with their pictures of outdoor hikes, relaxing poses with cute pair of slippers or a book for downtime. Their gratitude for the permission to take a day off overwhelmed me.
They just needed permission.
I wish someone had given me permission to indulge in mental health care during my divorce. I wish someone had forced me. Better yet, I wish I had known how important this was – how important it is during times of chronic stress to put our mental health on the map. I wish I knew then what I know now – which is I have the power to give myself permission.