It’s far from September 2022’s R U OK? Day, but I’ve decided to talk about mental health and stopping to ask if you and others are okay. Because you know what? Most of us are not okay!
For those not impacted heavily we seem to feel we don’t have a right to be stressed, tired and annoyed – but you do. However we need to accept what’s happened, believe we can push through and charge ahead with an action plan.
Today’s episode is rather heavy and does refer in passing to ending life. This is an episode in thought leadership and is intended to challenge you to think.
Disclaimer – All information provided today is general in nature. Please reach out to Jane if required for personalised advice or coaching.
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Listen to S2 Ep11 of the FAQ Business Podcast
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Season 2 Episode 11 FAQ Business Podcast transcription | R U OK?
R U OK? Day is an annual day we have in Australia. This year it will be in September and you might go, well, it’s nowhere near September Jane, why are you doing a topic on this today? Because honestly, people are not okay.
00:14 Why it’s okay not to be okay
Today I want to talk about why you are not okay and why it’s okay not to be okay and what you can do about it. So welcome along to today’s episode of the FAQ Business Podcast, where we address why it is okay not to be okay every day.
00:36 Welcome to the FAQ Business Podcast hosted by Jane Tweedy
Welcome to the FAQ Business Podcast for business owners, covering four pillars actionable education, inspiring leaders, businesses like you, and thought leadership where we challenge your thinking. Hosted by myself, Jane Tweedy. I’m founder and lead trainer of FAQ Business Training, where we want to avoid you getting ripped off or ripping yourself off. We’ll feature an amazing diversity of guests with lots to educate and inspire you. Let’s jump into today’s episode of the FAQ Business Podcast.
I’m a trainer, a consultant, an advisor, a coach so many things and so many different things to different people. But in my line of work, I have crossed so many people that are really struggling. And let’s face it, most of us are struggling at the moment.
01:32 Why are we struggling?
In today’s episode, I want to look at why we’re struggling and why it is okay to not be okay at the moment, to understand that you don’t have to have survivor guilt if you haven’t had things affect you as badly. You still have a right to be frustrated and annoyed and be exhausted.
And let’s face it, many of us are feeling that way at the moment. So that’s what I want to talk about today. First of all, let’s recap the last few years. So this is about two and a half years worth for those in Australia. In Australia in 2019, we started with quite substantial droughts.
02:13 From drought to bushfires
So we had terrible droughts and we were really suffering from lack of water. And then we had bush fires. Now, when the ground is tinder dry when everything has the right conditions, bushfire takes off. And certainly California will understand this as well because California experiences a lot of bushfire too. But here in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales on the mid North Coast and things around Taree, there was a lot of bushfire, there was a lot of places damaged and entire towns in some cases were badly affected by bushfire.
02:51 Terrifying to be surrounded by bushfires
So we had that sort of towards the end of 2019 and started 2020, the fires near you app became the most important app on your phone. And it was terrifying because you could see fire on your horizon, you could see fire around you even if you were in a city and it was very scary. And of course, the people living it closer, terrible. It has left a permanent repercussion of koalas, for instance, being added to the endangered list in New South Wales.
03:21 Then from bushfires to extreme flooding
Things like that are horrific. And it really makes you understand that this was a terrible thing that happened. But then what happened? In February 2020 why don’t we just chuck a flood into the mix? So after all that dry weather, after all of that period of fire, then there was flooding and people got copped with a bit of flooding.
03:44 Next came lockdown when Covid hit
Then we went into 2020 prop and we’re like, oh my gosh, what is next? Is it going to be a locus plague? And some of us kind of regretted saying that because of course then Covid hit. And in March 2020, we went into our first lockdown here in Australia. In Australia, we took things with a high degree of caution and everything was locked down.
So we had some of the toughest lockdowns in the world and some of the smallest case numbers in the world, which of course led to a huge amount of debate about whether this is even real.
04:16 Some people had genuine concerns about freedoms
And obviously there are still a lot of conspiracy theorists and also a lot of genuine concerns about freedoms and things like that. So I’m not saying that these people are right or wrong, but it does sort of prove that we do rely on media a lot. So after this started happening obviously different parts of the world reacted differently and we had some horrific scenes being seen in parts of the world.
In America, we had people being put in body bags and being dumped on an island. We had people in America and Italy and India and things dying in the streets in front of hospitals because they couldn’t get in. It was absolutely horrific, right? So we went through all that lived experience and a lot of people suffered. So a lot of people lost loved ones, not so much, as I said, in Australia, but overseas.
05:07 The lifestyle crisis was causing a huge impact on mental health
But in Australia, we were losing our businesses, we were losing our jobs, we were losing our livelihoods. And so basically a crisis trifecta.
So you had the financial crisis from the loss of jobs and loss of businesses and loss of custom. You had the health crisis created both by Covid itself, but also the huge mental health impact it was having. And then on top of that, you had the lifestyle crisis, the one that hasn’t been talked about much and certainly one that I talk about because to me, the lifestyle crisis for a lot of us has actually had the bigger impact.
So the lifestyle crisis is things like the fact that you were locked up. You couldn’t go out beyond your suburb, you had to home school your children, you had to work from home. Maybe you had your partner now working with you at home. 24/7. This was a lot of change in your life and a lot of uncertainty in your life that caused a lot of stress and that led to further things happening.
06:08 The Black Lives Matter movement then added to the uncertainty
So obviously that went on and off during 2020 and 2021 and now even into 2022. So that’s been going on. But also remember May 2020, we had the Black Lives Matter movement and so obviously that was huge in the US, but it still had repercussions in places like Australia and it just added to the toll and it just added to the uncertainty.
Do I as a business owner need to say something about this topic? Do I not? I don’t know enough about it. I don’t know what to say. Am I going to upset someone for saying the wrong thing? It was hugely problematic.
06:44 Marie Forleo (B-School) vilified for not saying enough about Black Lives Matter
And in fact, one of the groups that I was involved in because it was a program I’d done years ago was with Marie Forleo, and she had a program called B-School and she was absolutely vilified during the Black Lives Matter situation by a group of alumni students who are basically saying that she hadn’t done enough to say anything about Black Lives Matters, to do anything about Black Lives Matters.
07:10 I hadn’t said anything because I didn’t want to get it wrong
And it made me very concerned because I’d deliberately not said anything about the topic because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing because part of me has an attitude of all lives matter, but that was very derogatory to that particular movement because they’re saying, yeah, that’s great, all lives do matter. But at this particular point in time, Black Lives Matter is the topic and that’s what we’re focused on.
07:36 Marie Forleo was actually doing things for the black community in America
And so it does get very difficult when you’re trying to do the right thing and you genuinely want to do the right thing but you don’t know what to do or say. And to some extent I think maybe Marie Forleo had that attitude because the thing was behind the scenes she was doing a number of things involving the black community in America.
She was doing things to help people up and give people a hand up and all that sort of thing. And yet she was vilified to the point where this group that used to be an alumni group got cut from Marie Foleo completely. So that was really interesting to see that play out.
08:11 We can’t just ignore what’s going on around us
So the trouble with these things is we can’t just ignore them. We can’t just ignore what’s going on around us because we can get caught up and swept up in it. So we almost have to have an opinion on things, which again can be very difficult.
08:26 I did some Aboriginal awareness training
And I did some Aboriginal awareness training last year. One thing that was in that was the fact that it’s okay not to get it right as long as you kind of own up when you don’t get it right. And as long as you try to get it right, like make an effort to do the right thing. So don’t make token gestures and token comments if you don’t mean them or believe them, but genuinely put something out there that you do.
08:53 Also did some mental health first aid training
The other thing that I did in 2020 was I did mental health first aid training, and I was very grateful to be given the opportunity to do that program at no cost, thanks to my involvement in the Business Connect program.
But it was something that became very apparent that we were becoming very much more, I won’t say counsellors, but we were certainly being sought counsel from and we have to know our barriers, okay? So we do need to have awareness of when mental health issues are cropping up for people and we do need to then say to them, hey, look, you need to go see a psychologist, you need to see a counsellor, a professional mental health person.
09:39 Now I can see symptoms and signs of stress and suggest programs to help
I can just see the symptoms and signs. I can see that you’re under stress and I can suggest programs for you to go use. So very much like normal first aid I’m not going to go and do spinal surgery on somebody. I can work out that potentially have a broken back, but I’m not going to actually resolve the problem. So these are all things to bear in mind.
09:59 Next we are hit with a mouse plague
So all of this has happened. And then during 2021 Australia was also inflicted with a thing called the mouse plague. Those inner Australia, on those big, dry, barren farmlands and things, they found that they got this horrific mouse plague. And I’m talking tens of thousands of mice running around. Absolutely horrific.
And it was edging closer and closer and closer towards, like, Blue Mountains and Western Sydney. You were like, oh, my gosh, because it was the last thing we needed to have that on top. But the mouse plague was pretty horrific because they took out things like power. The mice were eating through everything, they were eating through wires, they were eating through crops. So they caused a lot of pressure and then financial pressure on farmers and things as well who had already suffered it tough after drought, fires, potentially, and then the Covid situation.
10:54 Had some flooding in 2021 and then in 2022 hit with La Nina weather event
There was also some flooding in 2021, but in 2022, let’s just go the next step. We have had another weather event this summer. The La Nina weather event has happened to us again this year. What that means is a lot of rain. So we had a really wet summer. In fact, for us this weekend, daylight savings just finished and I feel so ripped off, it felt like we didn’t even have a summer at all.
11:22 Constant rain caused more flooding and cost of fruit and veggies increased
We’ve had a lot of grey, wet, rainy days, including some periods of weeks at a time where it just poured and poured and poured to the point where even now, weeks after the last lot of flooding, our ground, our backyard is still a big boggy mess. If you walk through our backyard, you just think because the water table is so high, the water is right up to the ground level. And so when it rains, every time it rains now, the water just pools on the top of it because it’s got nowhere to go.
This is causing massive issues. So it’s caused massive issues for things like fruit and veggies because they’ve all gotten ruined in the storms and things. And then the flooding. So the cost of fruit and veggies gone through the roof. Things have gone up sort of three, four, five times in price.
12:12 Some lost everything, the whole town of Lismore flooded
So it’s pretty horrific. And the flow on effect that has is obviously huge. Some people, though, got hit with these floods really badly. So in, for instance, the Hawkesbury, they have now experienced some cases, three floods in three years and it was horrific. They lost a lot.
And you look at Lismore, the whole entire town basically got destroyed by the floods. Then they recently just got hit again. And you’re like, my gosh, can these poor people catch a break?
12:45 AEP mistakenly translated as 1 in 100 year flood event
So there is this thing called the 1% annual exceedance probability, the AEP, which gets mistakenly translated as a 1 in 100 year flood event. The reality is it’s not 1 in 100 years. 1% averages out to that, but it doesn’t mean that you are only going to get 1 in 100 years. And that’s where people need to stop getting hung up on that because it’s a 1% annual exceedance probability. This year, there’s a 1% chance that the flood levels are going to be exceeded. Same with next year. Got the 1% this year, therefore next year at zero. That’s not how it works.
13:26 This leads to survivorship guilt for people not affected as badly
So that’s been a bit of an issue because a lot of people have been hugely affected. But what it’s has also left people with survivorship guilt basically, you feel guilty because your house didn’t suffer flood damage.
You feel guilty because you feel miserable that your holiday house suffered flood damage, but your house didn’t. You’re not as bad as everyone else. The thing is, we’re building up survivorship type guilt. We’re feeling that we can’t feel what we feel about events because we don’t have the right to, but we do.
13:58 Next thing we are hit with is mould in our houses
The other one that’s hit us in Sydney particularly has been mould. So those that live up in Northern Queensland will experience mould every year. They understand this.
When you live in a tropical climate, you tend to get mould. And that was something I was told years ago by a tour bus operator he said people love to go to Queensland in the winter. And then they think, oh, we’ll move here, they move to Queensland and then they realise, oh, my gosh, it’s horrible here. It’s so wet in Queensland, everything turns mouldy.
Well, that’s happened in Sydney recently. So a lot of people are opening up their closet one day and literally all their shoes in the closet are mouldy. So that is also creating issues. There’s a lot of mould from humidity and that potentially has flow effects to further health issues, all that sort of thing, particularly if you’re asthmatic and you’re allergic to mould. Bad combination.
14:51 Now we get a mozzie plague carrying a Japanese virus!
We’ve also had a mozzie plague. We haven’t had enough. We’ve had the old mozzies come out and there is some Japanese virus that has attached to the mozzies and they are putting it around.
15:05 Then there is the Ukraine/Russia conflict causing unrest
So what does all that do? Of course, sorry, forgot, of course, what’s going on in the Ukraine, what’s going on there, the Ukraine, Russia conflict and what side you believe, whatever is up to you.
15:17 We also have supply chain issues causing more uncertainty
But the fact is it’s causing huge unrest in the world and particularly if we get things like China involved, it’s going to cause ever massive flow on. We still already have huge issues with supply chains. Also have container ships that are just not running like they used to. We still don’t have as many flights and carriers as we used to. So all of the stuff that’s been transferred around the world is just not happening like it was.
And then on top of that, when you get war and sanctions, obviously that potentially locks things up again, not what we need right now. So all of this stuff has combined to making us feel very uncertain and very troubled about gosh, what is next? It just kind of feels like you start getting on an even keel, things even out and then we’re down on another cliff again.
16:06 People who are normally calm are feeling stressed
So that is happening that is leading to a huge levels of stress. And I’m seeing people that are normally the sweetest, loveliest people just arcing up and firing at people. So be really mindful of that.
Be where you can empathetic, be where you can be kind and be patient. Because often those blow ups or those things that are happening are just a response to what’s going on. The person can’t cope. And then if you get fiery back at them, all that’s happening is it’s escalating the issue and potentially it’s going to blow out of control.
16:43 All this worry and stress is making us feel really tired
The other thing that’s happening and I certainly know this, for me, you can probably tell by the bags under my eyes is just, we’re tired. It has been a really tiring time when you’ve constantly got worry and stress and concern and just a lot happening and a lot of people just struggling. It makes us really, really tired.
17:05 Missed my annual tropical island snorkelling holiday
And I know for me, I usually do an annual snorkelling holiday and I spend a week somewhere snorkelling on a tropical island or whatever, and I’m just like, it’s my place to Zen and I just haven’t had that in the last few years. So definitely looking forward to a trip to Cook Islands or to Fitzroy Island later in this year to try and catch up on some of that, just that break that tireless cycle.
17:30 So don’t feel guilty about feeling bad – it’s okay to not be okay
But what I want you to understand is it is okay that all of this stuff that’s happened, even if you’ve only been on the periphery of it, even if you haven’t been directly affected, it has affected you, it has affected your mind, it’s affected your lifestyle and it’s okay to acknowledge that. It’s okay to go you know what? I feel crappy, I feel terrible, I feel exhausted. You don’t need to feel guilty because the person next to you suffered so much more than you have. It is okay to feel these things.
18:05 How can we change things if we are struggling?
However, we don’t want to dwell on these things and that’s where we have end up with a problem. So what can we do to change things? If you are really struggling with your mental health and you notice that you’ve started withdrawing from activities you like to do, if you are not engaging with people that you would normally engage with and things like that, please try and make sure that you do.
18:27 Check out these mental health resources here in Australia
If you don’t and you don’t feel willing or able to please check out mental health resources. In Australia we have some amazing resources available to you and some specifically for business owners.
So Beyond Blue has a specific program for small business owners. It’s a series of six advisory sessions with somebody and it talks about, effectively, mental health and business. So please do that. Black Dog Institute has some great sessions for employers and things like that as well. We have other organisations Heads Up ahead for business, mental health at work in New South Wales.
19:03 Also talked about resources in Tea Time Tip 11 and R U OK? Day blog
There’s lots and lots of services and if you are ever feeling at all suicidal that you want to end your life, please reach out to Lifeline. These were talked about extensively way back in my Tea Time Tip 11 and also in my blog about R U OK? Day. So please check out one of those resources if you want further information about how to go and deal with any mental health issues that you’re having.
19:28 Focus on what you can control
But the reality is you need to understand how you are feeling, accept that it’s okay to feel that way, and then focus on what you can control. The future is in your hands. Your past led you to where you are today. What you do today will lead you forward to your future.
You need to work out what you can control. You can’t control whether or not we have another lockdown. Now, you might be to influence things because you choose who you vote in the next election, for instance. So you can influence. You have a circle of influence, but you also have a circle of control.
20:04 Accept things and believe we can get through it
Our aim is to focus on what we can control, not on what we can’t control. How we think affects how we feel and how we act. So if we change the way that we think and we accept things that are going on with us, we believe that we can get through the other side and then we set up a plan to charge through that is going to help us in the long run.
So it’s the ABC, accept what you can’t change, B believe that you can get through to the other side and C charge through and set a plan of attack. These things will help you to get through. If you are suffering with mental health issues, please reach out to your GP or a mental health practitioner, psychologist, counsellor or whatever.
20:54 Talk to a friend who knows you
Or at least just talk to a friend, talk to someone who knows you and knows whether you’re out of character or not because that is one of the key things we’re taught in mental health first aid, is to chat with a person and find out, are they seeming off? Are they out of character?
21:13 Ask are you okay? everyday not just on R U OK? Day
Because if they are, that raises those flags that says, hey, maybe you need to deal with something. R U OK? Day is not just reserved for the annual day we have each year. We need to every day look at ourselves and ask, am I okay?
We need to look at the people around us and ask them, are you okay? And if they say to you, yeah, fine. But they obviously are telling you in their tone and their voice and their demeanour and their body language that they’re not fine, question them further. It really doesn’t appear you’re fine. Are you sure there’s not something you want to let me know?
21:50 Remember it’s okay not to be okay
Ask them more questions. What’s the worst they can do? Walk away. So please ask people, please try and get to the bottom of it and remember, it is okay not to be okay at the moment. But let’s work together to work our way out of this so that we can be much happier, much more resourceful people and get that resilience to keep us going.
22:17 Thanks for listening today and asking yourself am I okay?
Thank you for listening in today. I know it was a bit heavy, but I hope that it’s made you think a little bit, just one of our thought leadership type episodes. We were just trying to get you to think a little deeper and think, am I actually okay? Are there things that I could do to help myself or help others and let us all move forward together?
Thank you for listening in I’m Jane Tweedy I was the host today of the FAQ Business Podcast. We hope to have you listening again soon.
22:51 Please subscribe to the FAQ Business Podcast
Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the FAQ Business Podcast, available on all good podcast services. You can subscribe today via FAQbusinesspodcast.com.au or directly on Apple iTunes. iHeartRadio or Spotify subscribe, follow, share and we’re able to review our podcast or leave us a comment on either YouTube or our blog page. Thanks for helping us to help you. The small to medium businesses who are growing and want to make a difference.
Look for to connecting with you again on the next episode of the FAQ Business Podcast.
Today’s podcast episode featured our host Jane Tweedy. Her details are as follows:
Jane is a Professional Certified Coach with International Coaching Federation (PCC with ICF), business advisor and trainer. She loves working with growing small to medium business owners who are doing the right thing, to help them do it right! Currently, Jane offers at least 50 live sessions a year to train small business owners.
Jane offers a variety of services to clients and her online school and membership site went live late 2021. Jane’s focus for 2022 is building the membership and online school out further, and offering implementable small group training – something she finds is often the missing link.
If you are interested in training, speaking, or anything else Jane has to offer, please connect via email@example.com or via the contact forms on our websites.
faqbusinesstraining.com.au – our main site with a great blog
faqbusinesstraining.com – our new online school
faqbusinesspodcast.com.au – our podcast site
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