One of the most popular posts to date on my blog was the one immediately prior to this one, about giving permission to yourself to be sad sometimes. As readers have said to me, it was liberating to read, because we tend to put pressure on ourselves to be happy and smiley all the time, and when we’re not, people will often probe by asking ‘are you OK?’, which can be really irritating even though their intentions are good!
Here is something that I have pre-arranged with my family and some of my friends: when I am having a down day, I can just tell the other person it’s a down day, and that it means I need some space and ‘alone time’; my mood is understood to not be a reflection of my relationship with the other person. This works well because the other person is relieved from wondering how they should treat me, and they don’t get offended because I may be grumping around. Of course, this agreement works both ways, and I want them to tell me when they just need some down time too.
In our workplaces, this certainly can be more challenging because we probably cannot create these pre-arrangements with every person we work with. Plus, it’s rather socially unacceptable in western society to admit we may feel down. The increase in awareness and education about mental health has increased, but society still has a long way to go in this matter.
We can always start with ourselves by giving ourselves permission to be sad on occasion. Consider trying to pre-arrange an ‘alone time alert’ with your loved ones. It’s about giving ourselves and others permission to be human, and to feel the emotions of our human existence.