On Monday we started a new ritual at Impact Hub Birmingham, one to get everyone thinking about self care and creating a space for people to share their own challenges as well as techniques used to find peace. Traditional visions of self care might lead you to think about bubble baths and listening to Enya, and whilst we are a close knit team I don’t think anyone wants a co-bath. In this view the idea of self care in a team setting might in itself sound a bit weird but as someone who has suffered from mental health issues and after listening to the team it felt we needed a point within our busy schedules to simply stop, bond as a team and reflect on our mental and physical health. Something which is most certainly impacted on by our work.

This ritual could probably have happened without anything more than a cup of tea and a nice environment but it felt that to lift this from a normal catch up it needed something else to focus on and change the conversation. So we got in contact with the team at Blurt, a foundation set up by Jayne Hardy to tackle the many challenges which depression brings to our society. One of the ways in which they are doing this is through the Buddy Box, which in their words:

The BuddyBox is a subscription box with substance, designed to counter the pressures we face in modern life. Packed full of thoughtful, mood-lifting treats, the BuddyBox comforts, delights and gives you that warm, ‘I’ve been cared for’ feeling inside. In other words – it’s a hug in a box.

If you check out the #blurtbuddybox hashtag on Twitter or Instagram you can see the effect this simple gesture can have. In a team setting the act of sharing gifts is wonderful but the actions which these gifts inspire afterwards are what really matters. I want everyone in the team to know that as an organisation we take their mental wellbeing seriously and give them the skills and techniques to deal with the stresses and strains which work can provide.

As well as these gifts there was also a provocation question to help start the conversation. ‘What are your obstacles to self care?’ One of the team responded to this as:

The biggest barrier in the last year is often the lack of awareness within close knit teams and communities that #selfcare whilst an individual focus is also a collective endeavour and each of our actions are interdependent and have system consequences.

Self care is a team effort when we realise that our actions can have direct impacts on other team members’ self care. This awareness alone can start to help others think about their actions in a more mindful and reflective way, even if it doesn’t lead to immediate changes.

Self care is different for everyone and there isn’t one right way to do it for yourself and certainly no one right way to do it for a team, but this feels like the right first step and I’m excited to see how it grows. To quote Jayne from her new book, The Self Care Project ‘Self care is the opportunity to refuel and so that we can give more to the world around us’. For me, team self care is an important opportunity to invest in our ability to collectively refuel, so that we can give more to the wonderful community around us.