Special Guest Blogger:
Chair, National Mental Health Commission
Workplace and suicide prevention champion
As a carer, how do you prioritise caring for yourself?
I love my husband but there are times when I have to shift from wife to carer. Wise, experienced carers told me early on that when you care for someone you love dearly, you can be so busy looking out for them that you forget to take care of yourself.
We all know the old adage about making sure your emotional glass is full, so you have energy left to share with others. It’s easy to say but sometimes not so easy to do.
However, in order to care for others, we can’t lose sight of how we are doing when it comes to our own mental health.
I’m not alone in the role of carer. Carers make up more than 2.7 million of Australians which means about 1 in 8 people are caring for a loved one.
I spend a lot of time advocating for carers to be heard in the mental health arena, particularly when it comes to complex, far reaching mental health system reforms that are underway and ahead of us.
With this being Mental Health Week, I am not going to talk about that aspect of my life. Today, I have been invited to share my self-care lessons, and want to tell a little more about myself from that perspective.
I wear a lot of hats each day; in my family, my community, and across my personal and professional life. I am a mother to three children; two teens and a tween. I am a sister, friend and active participant in my local community. I work in a professional capacity for as Chair of the Advisory Board for the National Mental Health Commission. I am the co-founder of the Sydney Women’s Fund and Director of Be Kind Sydney.
Sometimes that can feel like a lot. But, over the years, I have learned what I need to do to take care of myself so I can live a fulfilling, contributing life.
I’m often asked, when you spend so much of your life speaking up for others, how do you take time for yourself? How do you know when you need to pause and pay more attention to your own mental health?
In this blog post, I am simply Lucy, someone who, just like you, needs to prioritise herself and replenish her cup, no matter how many plates are spinning in her life.
One thing I learned a long time ago is how to speak up for myself when I feel like I need a break, particularly in a work context.
I know we have a long way to go when it comes to fostering mentally health workplaces but part of it starts with us being honest about how we’re feeling with a trusted colleague if we are going through a tough time outside work.
As someone who prides themselves on having a good work ethic and generally a high achiever, I admit I struggled with this at first, but it did get easier over time.
These days I’m a lot better at letting people know when I need to take the foot off the work accelerator temporarily due to personal circumstances. You don’t need to divulge personal details if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, simply saying that you have a lot going on personally is often enough.
The second thing I want to share with you is how revitalising I find time spent in our community through our surf club, Bilgola SLSC. There have been some days where I haven’t wanted to go down and do that beach patrol (particularly on rainy days) but every time I walk onto that beach and speak with someone from our club, whether I know them personally or not, it lifts me and gives me a sense of belonging.
The fact that my entire family are active in the surf club makes it even more special. We each not only benefit from the whole community but have also built our own networks of support and friendship within it.
Thirdly, I regularly take time to be by myself and read. It may sound simple, but I love getting lost in a good book or an article someone has sent me to read about one of my interests. It helps me to pause all of the other thoughts and to do lists in my mind and focuses my attention into that one thing, that one story.
Sometimes in life’s most busy moments, taking just half an hour or hour to go to a coffee shop or siting in a comfortable corner at home to catch up on reading, helps me to better manage other competing priorities afterwards.
These are just a few of the ways I take care of myself so I can live the life I want to and need to live. On any given day, one of my roles may outweigh the others due to necessity but knowing what keeps my cup full, helps me get through those days and regroup on my self-care the following day.
Like everyone, I’m not perfect. I am sometimes run down. I sometimes over commit to work and relationships. But, as a carer and as a person who values their personal wellbeing as essential to their relationships with others, taking care of me must always be on the priority list.
By Lucy Brogden
Chair, National Mental Health Commission
Lucinda Brogden AM B.Comm., M.Psych.
Lucy has a strong commitment to helping others. Her primary areas of focus are issues facing women and girls and mental health and wellbeing particularly in the workplace. She takes an evidenced-based approach to problem solving and social investment.
Lucy has more than 25 years’ commercial experience with companies including Macquarie Group and Ernst & Young working in accounting, finance and organisational psychology.
Specifically, Lucy has worked in trusted advisory roles with some of Australia’s leading CEOs, Managing Partners, Ministers and Chairs.
In 2015, Lucy was named as one of the 100 Women of Influence in Australia.
In June 2019, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her significant service to workplace mental health and wellbeing.
- Chair & Commissioner, National Mental Health Commission
- Chair, Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance
- Chair, Australian Advisory Group for Suicide Prevention
- Patron, Partners in Depression
- Patron, Lifeline Northern Beaches
- Friend, Carers NSW
- Silver Medallion, Surf Lifesaving – Patrol at Bilgola Beach
- Founder & Patron, Sydney Women’s Fund
2019 Mental Health Week: October 7–11
Special Guest Bloggers