Welcome to the Salon Owners Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 95. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Phorest FM is a weekly show that puts forth a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, salon/spa marketing tips, company insights and information on attending Phorest events and webinars. A new Phorest FM episode airs every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 95

More than 450,000 people in Ireland experience depression (1 in 10) at any one time but many hide their condition and never get help. Aware’s message is one of hope: recovery is possible. Early intervention, as well as ongoing support, are very important.

Recently, a few employees in Phorest arranged for a speaker from Irish charity AWARE to walk the company through the importance of looking after your wellbeing in work. Off the back of that, this episode features AWARE Director of Services, Bríd O’ Meara, to discuss the topic of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, but also, in life in general.



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, Episode 95. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoé Bélisle-Springer. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about the importance of workplace wellbeing. After listening to this episode, you can expect to understand the importance and value of looking after yourself and your team’s mental health, identify strategies for assisting employees who are dealing with challenges in your salon, and develop relevant coping skills.

Killian Vigna: So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs. Good morning, Zoé.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian. How are you doing?

Killian Vigna: I’m good, now. Looking forward to this episode. This actually is an episode that came off the back of a workshop we had recently in Phorest.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yes. And are we not having another one coming up soon, I believe?

Killian Vigna: We are, yep. We’re having another winter one coming up. So, obviously, we’re doing a lot around this. I think the guys who actually arranged this in Phorest also went to a mental health summit based in Dublin here, in the Aviva Stadium. So, yeah, it is a big topic, and it’s great to get lots of people talking about it. And even on the day when we had that workshop, we had some Phorest staff members open up as well. I suppose it’s just, A, removing the stigma, first and foremost, but B, especially coming up — we’re in December now — coming up to Christmas, a lot of people can feel drained. So, rather than than have us be on the show and talk about it, we thought it was best to actually get advice from an expert. So without further ado, we’d love to introduce Director of Services Bríd O’Meara from Irish charity Aware. Welcome to the show, Bríd.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Welcome!

Bríd O’ Meara: Thank you very much, Killian and Zoé. Thank you. Lovely to be here.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. Thanks for joining us on the show. We had, Tess was actually our speaker on the day for the workshop. We had everyone in Phorest and we had everyone that works remotely around the world, all tune in for this. And we got chatting to Tess after, and she said, “Bríd is the perfect person to have on the show to talk about this.”

Bríd O’ Meara: Okay, I hope I can live up to her expectations!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Well, how about we start, I suppose, with an easier one? Could you give us a bit of background into Aware? What you do there, and how you got into doing all these workshops?

Bríd O’ Meara: Certainly. So, Aware was founded back in 1985 by Dr. Pat McKeon, who was a consultant psychiatrist in St. Patrick’s Hospital at the time, and he and a small but very dedicated group of volunteers got together, and they were recognising that there was very little support out there for people who were experiencing depression or bipolar disorder. They started the very first support group back in 1985, and that’s how Aware started.

Since then, Aware has grown dramatically in terms of the number of services we provide. So, we now continue to provide support groups, but we also have a support line service, which is a freephone telephone service. We also have a support mail service, which is an encrypted service where people who are looking for support or information can email in to Aware and an Aware-trained volunteer will respond to them. So, they get their support that way.

There are three support services, but as well as that, we now have a number of education services as well, one of which was the Wellness at Work program that Tess came and delivered to Phorest. So, that’s one, but we also have life skills programs which we run all over the country. So, a lot of your listeners will probably be very familiar with them, or some of them may even have attended them.

They were originally designed for people who experience mild to moderate depression and anxiety, but what we find now is that more and more people, even who don’t necessarily have a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, are coming along to the programs, because the programs are based on the principles of CBT, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that, again, many of your listeners might be familiar with. It’s a really, really simple but highly effective way of managing all those thoughts that we get that tend to take off into spirals and spiral out of control on us. But it’s a really, really helpful program.

As well as that, then, we also have an online version of that program which is called Life Skills Online. That’s run over eight weeks, and people can register on our website to take part in the online program, again, based on the principles of CBT, and you’re supported by an Aware-trained volunteer when you do that program as well. The other program that I referred to, the life skills adult program, is a program that’s run around the country, and delivered by training partners that Aware has trained to deliver the program.

Then, we also have a program for relatives of people who are supporting a loved one, who is experiencing depression and bipolar. That’s a four-week program. Then, as well as that, we go into the schools and we deliver a life skills program in schools, which is an adapted version of the adult program, for young people aged 15 to 18. We also deliver a Beat the Blues program, which is very similar to the Wellness at Work program, but again, adapted for young people, 15 to 18 years.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s really interesting.

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah, as well as that, we have information services. We run a public lecture series every month, and we record that, we video record that and we put it on our website. So, for anybody looking for information about any aspect of mental health, if they go onto the Aware website and go into our public lecture archive, they’ll find a huge amount of information there on any topic to do with mental health that they might be interested in finding out about.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. It definitely sounds like you’ve got a lot going on there. We will have those links in the blurb, so, for anyone listening to this show, you can always avail of those links to find out a little bit more. But, I just wanted to take it back to, there were two things I wanted to look at here. The first one, you mentioned CBT a few times. For anyone that might not be aware of CBT, what is it? Is it kind of like mindfulness? Is it like meditation? Is it a whole different practice? What does CBT involve?

Bríd O’ Meara: Okay. So, CBT generally means… So, it’s cognitive behaviour therapy, is what CBT is. When I talk about CBT in terms of the programs that Aware delivers, our programs are based on the principles of CBT. So, what we’re doing is we’re helping people to identify the connection between their thoughts, their feelings, and their behaviours or actions, because they are all connected. Okay? So, what we think influences how we feel and what we do. What we feel influences what we think and what we do, and what we do influences what we think and how we feel.

What we do in our programs is we use the principles of CBT and we help people to identify how changing a small action can have a huge impact on what you feel and what you’re thinking. For example… Will I use an example?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Sure. Go ahead!

Bríd O’ Meara: Okay. So, for example, say you’re walking down the street and a really good friend of yours is walking up the street on the other side. You put your hand up to wave and say, “Hi,” and they ignore you.

Killian Vigna: Instantly, I can feel it.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: So far, so good!

Bríd O’ Meara: So, you’ve both responded to that. Laughing. So, what would you be thinking, Killian? What would you think?

Killian Vigna: What just happened there?

Bríd O’ Meara: What just happened there? Zoé, what would you be thinking?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I’d probably feel awkward, or, I don’t know, shy. Sometimes I think I know that person, then I’m, so maybe I didn’t know that person, and keep going. And kind of feel almost ashamed.

Bríd O’ Meara: Okay.

Killian Vigna: The classic case of putting your hand up and then brushing your hair to [crosstalk]…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Exactly! Yeah.

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. So, when we look at that, we would say, well, okay, so you might think, “Oh, they’re ignoring me.” So then how do you feel? You might feel hurt, rejected, sad, and then what would you do? You might decide, “Well, she’s ignoring me, I’m ignoring her,” or whatever. You may come up with some sort of an action that you will take on account of that. However, it may simply have been the case that she didn’t see you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. I am often that person who doesn’t see the people who say hi.

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. So, it may simply be the case that she didn’t see you. But what happens to us is we think something and because of what we think, we feel something, because of what we feel, then, we think, and we feel, and we take an action, and before we know where we are, it’s spiralling out of control. Okay? Now, I’m using a really simple example of just seeing a friend across the street, who didn’t see you, or, who didn’t respond to your wave, or who didn’t answer your, “Hi,” okay? So, we don’t know what they were… They could have been preoccupied about something. They could have been thinking of where they were going. Could be any number of things going on for that person, but what matters is what we think, how we feel, what we do, in a scenario like that.

Killian Vigna: So, it’s like a constant chain reaction.

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. And these things, it’s not like, “Now I’m thinking,” you know, “Now I’m feeling,” “Now I’m doing.” These things happen really quickly. What we do in the programs is we help people to identify what they’re thinking, and how they’re feeling. We have a tendency to, when we’re talking about our feelings, we have a tendency to actually be referring to what we’re thinking.

We might say, “Well, I felt she ignored me.” But that’s actually a thought. The thought is, “She ignored me.” The feeling is an emotion. The feeling is sad, hurt, ignored, whatever. They’re the feelings. What we do in the programs is we help people to identify the difference between a thought and a feeling, and then for them to see how their actions also impact those.

We know that the easiest thing to change is your action. You can change your thoughts, but it takes a lot of practice, and we help people to identify ways of doing that, as well. But the easiest thing to change is your action. What we’re doing in the programs is we’re helping people to look at that cycle, and how that cycle can spiral out of control, and to try and give them ways to stop the cycle from spinning. Does that make sense?

Killian Vigna: It does. It makes absolute sense. Yeah. And I’d love to know… I’ve never tried CBT myself before, but when you’re saying there it’s easier to change your actions, I’d love to know how you could eventually get a grasp on your thoughts, your thought process. Because like you said, some people are nearly mixing thought and feeling up.

Bríd O’ Meara: And really, nearly all of Week One is about that. It’s about identifying the difference between thought and feeling, and then it’s amazing, when people come back from Week Two, how they have taken note of that in the week between the first session and the second session, and how much easier it is then, from Week Two, to launch the next aspect of the program, which is to start looking at changing a small action. And they’re only small things we’re changing.

Killian Vigna: So, just to take it back then to these courses that you do offer, the Wellness in the Workplace more specifically, do you ever notice any demand at certain stages of the year? Or, are the courses consistent throughout? Is this something that-

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Like an increase in demand coming up to Christmas, for instance, where we know it’s a stressful period even just on the personal side, let alone on the business side?

Bríd O’ Meara: In terms of Wellness at Work, it tends to be spread out over the year. We’d often see a peak in October, because it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. So, a lot of organisations would contact us then, because they want to do something in their workplace for Mental Health Awareness Week. But we would have a pretty steady demand for the programs across the year.

We don’t notice an increase in demand for the programs around Christmas, because I think Christmas is such a busy time that businesses aren’t really looking for somebody to come in to talk about mental health when it’s their busiest time of the year. But that’s not to take away from, I suppose, the increase in pressure on people, particularly in the salon business coming up to Christmas. You know, I think that’s an incredibly busy time.

Killian Vigna: Which is exactly why we wanted to have this show, because, I suppose, like you said, December, we’re so busy, you might not be as aware of, I suppose, first off your own mental health, let alone your colleagues’. Is there anything, any tell-tale signs that would allow you to go, “Well, hang on, I feel something’s not quite right with one of my team members here?”

Bríd O’ Meara: At Aware, we use the acronym F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L to describe the symptoms of depression. F stands for Feelings. Feeling sad, maybe feeling hopeless. Feeling worthless, guilty, anxious. The E stands for Energy. Oftentimes when people are experiencing depression, or low mood, their energy drops, as well. They would have less energy than normal. The S stands for Sleep. Any disturbance to your normal sleep pattern. So if you were somebody who normally sleeps eight hours a night, and then you start waking up after 3:00 and can’t get back to sleep, that’s a change to your normal sleep pattern. But if you’re somebody who normally wakes up in the middle of the night, that wouldn’t be a change. So, it’s a change to your normal sleep pattern.

The T stands for Thoughts. Thoughts would be… You know if you go to read the newspaper, and you read the first sentence, and you have to go back and read the first sentence again because you haven’t taken it in? That might be poor concentration, it could be because you’re distracted by something else, but if you genuinely want to read and you’re not taking it in, sometimes people report that when their mood is low. Also, thoughts might be unhelpful. The thoughts are of things that aren’t going well, and the focus is on things that aren’t going well. So they’re unhelpful thoughts.

The I stands for Interest. That would be if you’re somebody who normally goes out and plays football two evenings a week, and you’ve no interest in going out now and playing football. If you’re somebody who normally sings, and you don’t want to go singing. Or whatever your hobbies are, or your interests, that you don’t have the same interest in them when your mood goes low.

The V stands for Value, and that’s value for self. Self-esteem. So, people’s mood is low, their self-esteem drops, or can drop. The A stands for Aches and pains, because a lot of people, when they’re experiencing low mood, can actually experience it physically. They might have headaches or neck and shoulder pain, or some people have it in their stomach. They get a lot of abdominal pain, or they might feel it in large muscle masses like their thighs. So, that’s something that may appear for people.

The L stands for interest in Living. So, people might not have the same interest in living as they would previously. They may have some thoughts around ending their life, or they may even have some plans for ending their life. What we say in Aware is if you have five or more of those eight symptoms for two weeks or more, we would encourage you to go to see your GP. Those F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L symptoms are on our website, Aware.ie. If anybody listening is impacted by what I’ve said, I would recommend that you go onto our website and take a closer look at them. And like I said, five or more of those symptoms for two weeks or more, we would be recommending that you go to see your GP.

Sometimes when people go to see their GP, they go in and they say, “Oh, I’m not feeling well.” But using the F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L symptoms is a really good conversation starter with your GP. You know, “These are the symptoms that Aware says are the symptoms of depression, and that if you have five or more for two weeks or more that I should come to see you,” as in the GP. And then you could go through the symptoms and what you’re experiencing.

Killian Vigna: Yeah. And I think we’ll definitely try and get a graphic or a link straight to that in the blurb, because it’s really good signs to be aware of, and especially, like you said, over two weeks. Because, everyone has up and down days, but “Is it consistent?” is what we need to be aware of.

Bríd O’ Meara: And that’s really important. Because we can all have a bad day. You can have a bad day for any reason. It could be because of something really serious that happens that leaves you with a couple of bad days. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a depressive episode. You might be responding or reacting to something that’s happening in your life. But if you have five or more of those symptoms for two weeks or more, we would really encourage you to go to see your GP.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Is it possible… A few years ago I had mono, and I didn’t actually realise I had it until it was done. Most people would be stuck on their bed, can’t move, really exhausted and all that, and I just had loads of different symptoms, but I didn’t really know, and didn’t connect the dots. Is it possible for people to not realise that they have these symptoms because they’ve been living with them for so long, and they’ve just assumed that this is what it is, and they don’t realise that they should go and see a GP?

Bríd O’ Meara: Yes, I think there are quite a number of people living with a low-grade depression without treatment, because they have been feeling like that for a long time, and don’t realise that there’s any change. Again, if there’s anybody listening to this podcast that this resonates with, that what I have described resonates with, I would really encourage you to go to see your GP. You don’t have to feel like this.

Killian Vigna: And it’s actually way more common than we think, as well. Because, I think, Tess actually gave a stat, and we couldn’t believe it. I think, was it one in four?

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. We would say one in 10 experience depression, but there are statistics that would say one in four experience a mental health difficulty. Yeah.

Killian Vigna: On the day of our workshop, that was a sixth of the room.

Bríd O’ Meara: I know. Yeah.

Killian Vigna: I know we kind of laugh, but it’s one of those nervous laughs, where you just… There’s three of us on this call, if there was one more person, what are the odds there? So, to move onto that, and I really do like that F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L acronym, sorry. For a salon owner or a salon manager, what can they do, if they recognise one of their staff members or team members does seem to be going through this cycle? Because it’s hard to give someone advice when they’re not in those shoes. So what would you recommend someone to do?

Bríd O’ Meara: I actually wouldn’t be recommending advice. I would be recommending giving somebody an opportunity to talk. And if you notice that somebody is possibly presenting with depression, that you would open the conversation by saying, you know, “There’s something I’d really like to say,” or, “Could we have a conversation, go somewhere private?” And then say, you know, “What I’ve noticed is…” So, you’re not actually going and saying, “I think you’re depressed.” What you’re saying is, “I have noticed that you’re very tired lately, you don’t seem to have the same interest in things that you did. You’re telling me you’re not sleeping very well.”

You know, so you could actually bring it in. What you’re doing is you’re saying what you’ve observed, what you’re observing, and ask them have they been to their doctor about it? Would they consider going to their doctor? But you’re not there to say, “Now, you need to go to your doctor because…” Okay? A lot of it is about the approach, sometimes maybe this is something that somebody has been thinking, and just the very fact that somebody else would go and have that conversation with them might make all the difference. It might give them permission to talk about it. You know, we talk about this all the time in Aware, the importance of talking and the importance of sharing how you’re feeling and letting somebody else help you as well. Because, sometimes, if somebody’s mood is low, it can be quite difficult for them to know what’s the right thing to do. So, even just somebody else acknowledging, “Yes, I’ve noticed it too,” that might make all the difference.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Would you have any advice for someone who is feeling that way, and knows they need to do something about it, but just don’t know where to turn? Don’t feel comfortable going to their GP just yet? Maybe need that initial conversation? Would it be more turning to family or whoever is the closest person? Who can they turn to in that situation, if they’re not just ready to take that step and see a GP?

Bríd O’ Meara: I would suggest that they talk to a trusted friend or a trusted relative. Somebody that they absolutely know they can trust to be able to share how they feel. But again, I would reiterate, again, back to the five or more symptoms for two weeks or more, I would be recommending that they consider going to their GP. But, you know, I totally take your point that if somebody doesn’t feel they’re quite ready to do that yet, it is important to share that and to talk to somebody. So, a trusted friend, I would be suggesting.

Killian Vigna: Because, it can be very hard to acknowledge that it’s going on, yourself, as well. You’re feeling all these symptoms, but you’re still telling yourself, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong. I’m not depressed,” or, “I’m not anxious.” You’re just telling yourself to get out of it, essentially. So, it is hard to accept or acknowledge that this is going on with yourself.

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. I think, you know, there’s another aspect to going to see your GP. It may not be depression. Okay? It could be somebody has an under active thyroid gland. It could be that somebody’s anemic. It could be a number of things. And that’s why going to see your GP is important, because the GP will look at it from a medical perspective and will take the necessary steps to make sure that the diagnosis is correct. So, it may be that you need something to help your under active thyroid gland, or it may be that you need something to help your anemia, and it may not be depression at all. So, that’s important for people to understand, as well.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, to not self-diagnose.

Bríd O’ Meara: Exactly. That’s really important.

Killian Vigna: So, just taking it back, then, to the workplace, because now we’re aware it might not actually be depression, that it might be an underlying medical condition, just to take it back into the workplace, what does an actual wellness program look like to you? What’s a successful way of implementing a wellness program into work, and how would salon owners go about implementing something, or devising it in the first place?

Bríd O’ Meara: Well, I think, you know, you mentioned earlier about testing and doing the wellness program in Phorest. What the Aware program is about is helping people to understand what is stress, what is anxiety, what is depression, coping tools based on the principles of CBT. So, helping people to understand the connection between their thoughts, their feelings, and their actions. And having the coping sentence that goes with that, which is, changing one small action. And helping people to understand that, and then looking at the principles of good mental health. And I think that’s important for us all. We all need to be considering the principles of good mental health.

I often say to people, when I’m doing talks, “What did you do today to look after your teeth? Your dental health?” And people will immediately say, well, they brush their teeth, and they probably brush them twice. And they’re probably taking care of what they’re drinking in terms of fizzy drinks. You know, they drink water. So you’re thinking about your teeth. That’s your dental health. We have a whole system built into our day to look after our dental health. So, what do we do every day to look after our mental health?

It’s very good for getting people to think about the actions that we take every day for our teeth, where if all came to all, we could get dentures. But what are you doing to look after your mental health every day? And I would be encouraging people to try and build something into their daily routine, to look after their mental health. Same as you do with your teeth. How long does it take to brush your teeth in the morning?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Two minutes?

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Could that be something as simple as meditating for five minutes in the morning? Or going for a walk? Or just doing something that you genuinely enjoy?

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. Simple things I would say to people. Get a little bit of exercise if you can. And that’s not talking about perhaps saying training for a marathon. That might be if you get the bus to work, getting off one stop earlier and walking that little bit extra to the office. It might be, if there’s a lift in work, you know, take the stairs instead of using the lift. It might be some people might like to dance. You know, whatever it is, it’s exercise, but it’s also something that you enjoy doing.

In terms of food, again, it’s about healthy diet. The healthy mind diet is no different to a healthy heart diet. Same thing. But it’s to try and pay attention to the diet, and to try and leave out too much sugar and things like that out of your diet. It’s a healthy diet. Doing something every day that you enjoy. One thing. Could be the simplest thing that you enjoy. But planning one thing every day. That’s a really good thing to do. Mindfulness. Mindfulness, meditation, is really good. You know, there is so much written on the positive benefits of mindfulness and meditation for our mental health.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Well, actually, on the podcast just recently, I want to say two, three episodes ago, we had two salon owners talk about how they paid all of their staff 15 minutes earlier to get in and meditate all together, and this is something that they do, and they very, very much value. It’s kind of the fundamental of their culture. That’s something that they do. But is there any, even top of your head ideas that a salon could implement, to get started with some sort of wellness program built for their specific salon, their specific business?

Bríd O’ Meara: I think that idea that you’re talking about, that was on a podcast recently, is a wonderful idea, and that came from that team. And I think every team is different, and I think that the idea can come from the team. So, you know, it might be a really good idea for a salon owner to maybe check with the team and see what would the team like to do, that would be something that they would do every day to look after their mental health.

Killian Vigna: That’s great advice, because, again, rather than taking it all upon yourself to implement the wellness program and come up with what is a wellness program, it’s just simply talking to your team and going, “What would make you that little bit more,” I suppose engaged or interested. I mean, it could be something as simple as starting your day off, “What went well for you yesterday?” Instead of focusing on all of the negatives. We see hundreds of them. You just need to go onto Instagram for two minutes and you’ve probably come across 50 posts saying, “What I’m grateful for today,” or, “Seize the day,” but the thing is… do. Do focus on that. We know some people might say, “Oh, it’s a bit of a gimmick and stuff,” at the moment. It’s just because so many people are doing it. But it obviously works. It takes two minutes.

Bríd O’ Meara: It does work. It does work. And there is research done on that proving how it works. That’s another thing we recommend in Aware. We would recommend that you keep a gratitude diary and that you, before you go to bed at night, have a little notebook on your bedside locker and write down three things that went well today. It completely changes your focus. Before you go to sleep at night, then, you have been focusing on helpful thoughts, because you’re looking at what went well as opposed to what didn’t go well. So, it helps with sleep, and it helps you to wake up in good form in the morning. There’s a lot of research done on that. It’s really helpful. Gratitude diaries are really good.

For people who struggle with their mood, and maybe are struggling with low self-esteem, another good diary to keep is something that I did well today. It’s not about, “I’m grateful because the sun was shining,” or, “I’m grateful because I met a good friend for a cup of coffee today.” It would be something that I did today. It’s an achievement. And that’s really helpful and proven to be helpful for self-esteem. So if somebody’s struggling with self-esteem, to choose to write down what they’ve achieved today.

Killian Vigna: Again, Tess got us to do that in the workshop, and while you might struggle to think of something positive, or what you’re grateful for at first, it does help you stretch that mindset, though. So for someone who has focused on the negative for so long, it’s little, bit-by-bit, just stretching them away from the negative and starting moving towards the positive and making that positive band that little bit bigger. But, it’s not burying or hiding your thoughts. You’re still aware of the good and bad. It’s just that flexing.

Bríd O’ Meara: That’s right. And we would say, you know, that no matter how bad a day is, there’s always good points in it. You know, I think it was you, Killian, said earlier, it’s about flexing a muscle. And that’s another muscle. If you start looking every evening at what you’re grateful for in a day, after a while it becomes really easy. Or during the day, you’re thinking, “Ah, that’s what’s going to be in my gratitude diary tonight.” You know, as you see things happening during the day, or as you take note. And it really does change your mindset.

Killian Vigna: Quite a bit covered, there. Really good advice. Could you just give us a quick recap of, I suppose, what we’ve covered here today, from the CBT to F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L, and to, I suppose, actions that a salon owner could take now to get this going?

Bríd O’ Meara: Yeah. We talked about F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L, which is the acronym that we use in Aware to describe the symptoms of depression. The F stands for Feelings, the E is for Energy, the S is for Sleep, the T is for thoughts, the I is for Interests, the V is for Value for self, or self-esteem, the A is for Aches and pains, and the L is for interest in Living. What I had said was that at Aware we say if you have five or more of the symptoms for two weeks or more, then we would encourage you to go see your GP. I also explained that one of the reasons we encourage you to go to see your GP is that it may not be depression. It could be something else, and that the GP would be able to help you with that.

We talked a little bit about the programs that we deliver, and the programs are nearly all based on the principles of CBT, which is recognising the connection between your thoughts, your feelings, and the actions that you take, and how, by making some small changes, that you can have a big impact on what you think and how you feel. Then, we also talked a little bit about the things you can do to help your mental health. You could find something every day you enjoy. You could try and include some exercise into your daily routine without it being incredibly strenuous, you know, we talked about maybe just getting off the bus one stop earlier or using the lift instead of the stairs.

We talked about diet and the importance of healthy diet. We talked about gratitude diaries and how really helpful gratitude diaries are to record at night, at the end of your day, before you go to sleep. And we also talked about achievement diaries for people who maybe are struggling a bit with mood or have issues around their own self-esteem. I suppose one of the other things that I have mentioned earlier is about knowing your triggers. So, if you are somebody who struggles a bit with your mood, to try and recognise what your triggers are. And when you know your triggers, you know, I always say information is power. If you know what your triggers are, and then you are able to take some steps to minimise those triggers, that can have a huge impact on your mood and on your life.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Could that be something like alcohol, for instance?

Bríd O’ Meara: Yes, it could, because as we know alcohol is a depressant. So, while a lot of people see they have a drink and they might feel better, you only feel better in the short-term because alcohol is actually a depressant. So, I would say, particularly this time of year where maybe people are having a little bit more alcohol than they normally would, be really careful around that, particularly if alcohol is the trigger. There is an awful lot around this, an awful lot of parties and things happening. Maybe go to less and enjoy more. It’s okay to say no.

Killian Vigna: It can become overwhelming, yeah.

Bríd O’ Meara: It can. And Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for people. It can be a stressful time. It can be financially stressful. It can be stressful around family. It can be stressful around the business and work. So just take some small steps. We all know what works for us. So for all of you listening, if you know what works for you, try and put those steps in place for yourself, and it should make a big difference for you.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Well, listen, Bríd, this has been absolutely amazing, and to be honest it’s a topic that resonates with me quite a bit. If anyone listening to this podcast is looking for help, or is struggling in any sorts of ways, I mean, Aware is based here in Ireland, but we also have listeners in the US and in the UK, also. Please go and look for that information online, in your area, and go see your GP or your doctor or whoever you can turn to in your area.

Killian Vigna: Thanks very much for joining us on the show today, Bríd.

Bríd O’ Meara: Thank you both. Lovely talking to you. Bye-bye now.

Killian Vigna: So, that was Bríd O’Meara, Director of Services for Aware.ie, an Irish charity. And even though they’re an Irish charity, we will have resources in our blurb that you can access. Don’t forget to download the F.E.S.T.I.V.A.L image that we’re going to have in that blurb. I think it’ll be really good for everyone to have, in your staff room, in the back office. Again, it’s just to keep you familiar, and like Bríd said, if you’re feeling any of those five signs consistently for two weeks, check out your GP. So, a lot of good information there, and even if you’re not in Ireland, again, like Zoé said, we highly recommend you check out any of your local government authorities. So, moving on now to the second part of the show, with Zoé.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yes. So I don’t have much to announce. It’s going to be very short and sweet this week. But touching upon the fact that it’s Christmas, we have a few episodes that are going to be outside of our regular format. So, to look out for that. And then we’ll be joining you guys back for Episode 100 at the Salon Owners Summit for a live episode with interviews with some of our speakers and attendees. So if you are coming to the Salon Owners Summit, don’t forget that we also are hosting a live recording of this podcast on the day following the Summit. So, at Inside Phorest at Dublin HQ. We have our topic figured out, we’re just waiting on a few confirmations from our guests, and we’ll be announcing that very soon.

So, other than that, I mean, please do take care of your mental health, even if it’s just that one little thing per day, and if you know someone with a story who’d be great on this show, if you want to talk about something that you do in your salon to help cater for that wellbeing and wellness in your workplace, do slide into our DMs, and if you have any feedback on this episode, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher. We’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve the show. Otherwise, have a wonderful week, and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best.

Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

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