We all woke recently to the terrible news that Kate Spade, visionary creator of handbags and accessories, had died. Early reports suggested that she had left behind a suicide note.
No doubt we will in time discover why she took her own life.
As we approach Global Wellness Day, a day dedicated to our wellbeing, I am left saddened about Kate Spade. A successful woman, who had brought so much beauty to the world we live in and touched the lives of so many with happiness and light, suddenly felt compelled to switch the lights off. Why?
As we walk through the streets every day, the faces of happy people pass us by. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, with laughter and moments of celebration captured in images.
What happens then? The images are shared on social media for all to see, and lurking behind is the unspoken wish for multiple LIKES and VIEWS to reinforce our ego or reassure us how much we are loved.
When we’re asked to smile for a photograph, it’s so that we can present to the world our best side – the happy us.
But, speaking from my own experience, what you see in people is not always the reality. Smiling images hide the depth of struggle and pain. I myself have had to learn to talk, to listen, to notice and to identify in others behaviours and personalities that show that, when you get closer, things are not what they seem.
At work we have a responsibility to support our colleagues during significant life events and to create an environment in which employees feel safe. We develop programmes and initiatives to promote wellbeing at work, offer childcare provisions, flexible work arrangements, bereavement time off and so on. The hope is that these programmes help create a balanced life.
But outside of these programmes and initiatives other issues and crises sometimes occupy people – issues that don’t always cover a set programme. Sometimes people just want to talk.
As line managers and business leaders, it’s up to you to identify and pick up on anything that you might think is outside of someone’s normal behaviour and have a conversation.
We have heard so much recently about suicide, death and mental health issues that I tend to be alert at all times; I have found that when you open yourself up you notice behaviours in people that might have gone unremarked before.
I see it every day; it’s all around us. Someone sitting on their own in a park; you can tell they’re thinking about something more profound than their grocery list. Or someone standing at the edge of a bridge, but we walk on by. In fact, if you look closer we are all troubled by one thing or another.
So, on this Global Wellness Day, take the time:
- To recognise the value of our lives
- To pause and think, even if for just one day of the year
- To be free from the stress of everyday city life and bad habits
- To make peace with ourselves
- To raise awareness about living well and increase motivation, not just for today, but for the remaining 364 days of the year
And, like a Kate Spade handbag, this doesn’t go out of fashion.
Call 116 123(Samaritans)