In the medical profession the term ‘worried well’ describes those patients who have a sense that they may be unwell despite being in good health. They are not hypochondriacs; they may simply be at that tricky edge where mild stress dips into distress. In my work as a coach and more importantly my own experiences during Covid times, I see and can utterly relate to this daily. Living with ambiguity and a fuzzy post-lockdown future I would like to repurpose the term ‘worried well’ and its close cousin, the ‘ordinary neurotic’. And in the words of the Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi:
“Invite them in…Be grateful (for whoever comes) because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
I applaud and utterly support the focus on mental health. This holds the key to society emerging from the pandemic safely and with hope for a better future. I also wonder whether, without over pathologizing, we could open our arms and embrace (at an appropriate distance) what I think is a significant portion of society today. I am happy and almost relieved to self-identify as a card-carrying member of the ‘worried well’. I AM an ordinary neurotic and if I achieve little else in lockdown (not the Booker Prize-winning novel, or the beach-tastic body) then it will be to have made peace with the idea that to worry is normal human behaviour.
The excellent organisation The School of Life and its inspiring leader Alain De Botton sums this up beautifully in saying:
“The single most important move is acceptance. There is no need – on top of everything else – to be anxious that we are anxious. The mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive.”
Wellbeing sits at the heart of our ability to not simply survive, but to thrive at home and at work. With the lines blurring between who we are at work and who we are at home, strategies for wellbeing have never been as important as they are now.
Through support and coaching, we can learn to accept our humanity, to care and be kind to ourselves, to care and be kind to others and to model leadership from within. At Talking Talent we believe that the path to positive change and recovery is in the conversation. Distance is not a barrier to connection so keep talking… We are listening.
Rob Bravo is Coaching Director of Wellbeing at Talking Talent