#52 | Darine with Vergia Davidson: How To Balance Mental Health With Your Career Goals
[00:00:00] Darine: There is no health and no wealth without mental health. It is not secret that the majority of people in the workplace, or I should say active people are struggling to maintain a healthy work life-balance. And with the ever-growing demands of our careers, it's easy to let our mental health fall beyond the wait side.
[00:00:24] Darine: Who can relate?
[00:00:25] Darine: Hello, bonjour, selem anleyk and welcome to STANDOUT From The Crowd, the first live podcast dedicated to no BS leadership. So if you like us, tell your friends and colleagues to go over on Apple Podcast, Spotify and give us a five-star review because I think we are worth it, don't you think so? I hope you think so.
[00:00:50] Darine: Our STANDOUT guest today, Vergia Davidson is the Founder/CEO of STRiVE: Mental health, wellness, and empowerment. For over 10 years, she has been seeking to make a difference in people's lives through psychoeducation, strategy development and counseling. And during our conversation, she's going to share her own journey toward mental health and how you can reach your goals, your career goals while protecting and nurturing your own mental health. So please help me welcome, Vergia.
[00:01:25] Darine: Hello Vergia! How are you doing today?
[00:01:28] Vergia: I'm doing really well. I'm so happy to be here.
[00:01:31] Darine: Thank you for being with us today. And you know, we are going to talk about a topic that is oooh... heavy. I wanna say it is a topic that is heavy and Vergia and I, we were having a conversation before going live and I was telling her, I hear so many people talking about mental health, which is important. We need to increase awareness around mental health. But on the other side, we hear so many different things that I feel it's overwhelming. And even today I don't understand the meaning of mental health. So for those of you watching the live and the replay, let us know in the comment, what is your definition of mental health?
[00:02:11] Darine: What is your understanding of this concept? So now let's talk a little bit about you before we dive into mental health, because I do admire, honestly, people who make the choice to dedicate their life and their career and their business to supporting other and to helping other getting better. So on this kudos to you and congratulations Vergia, because I do believe, and we're gonna talk about it, this is a challenge of every day, but tell us a little bit about your "why", why did you decide to focus on mental health? And I'm sure it didn't happen by accident.
[00:02:53] Vergia: Yeah, definitely did not happen by accident. But looking back, I can say I struggled a lot with my own personal mental health and I didn't know that. I just thought, this is just the way things are.
[00:03:06] Vergia: I'm supposed to be nervous all the time. I'm supposed to be afraid of conversations. I'm supposed to have really bad days. Everybody goes through that, and it really took me, just understanding myself and being around mentors that really spoke into my life. I knew growing up I always wanted to understand the why behind why people did things, and then why are some people able to thrive and succeed and then why are some not able to do so?
[00:03:38] Vergia: So of course I went into the field of psychology just to learn and to understand myself, but then as I grew and I just kind of soaked in all that knowledge, I realized, oh my gosh, I am struggling with my mental health. And that's when I realized that, okay, I wanna teach people practical tools, especially in the workplace that you can use every single day.
[00:04:03] Vergia: And it doesn't have to be this foreign huge concept, as you mentioned before. Mental health it's kind of a buzzword, but really is it right? So fast forward, to many years later, I had many opportunities to counsel and be behind the scenes. But recently in Covid, a friend was like, Vergia, I need a mental health expert, can you do this for me? And I'm like, I'm not too sure about that. She's like, you do this every day. And I'm telling you, that really changed my perspective and this is where STRiVE was really born and I'm just excited to help others.
[00:04:42] Darine: That, that's a beautiful story. You said something that caught my attention. You said you went into psychology and this is when you understood that you were not okay with your mental health. So, what was the aha moment, what was the thing, the information or the piece of event that happened that made you realize that, oh, hold on a minute, I'm not okay with my mental health.
[00:05:06] Vergia: Hmm. So, I wish I can say there was like one specific moment, but I would say just learning, building knowledge. You know, a lot of times, we we don't know what we don't know. As I learned about anxiety, as I learned about depression, how, as I learned about the adverse effect in your childhood, how it impacts your ability to function every day, I'm like, oh, this is what this is.
[00:05:34] Vergia: And then I was like, okay, I know all this information, what do I do? You know, because there's one thing to just gain knowledge, but then it's to apply the knowledge. And this is when I actually sought my own mental health, a professional to help, to support me.
[00:05:50] Darine: Oh, so you had like access to a mental health professional.
[00:05:53] Darine: So who is a mental health professional and what does he or she help you to achieve?
[00:06:01] Vergia: That's a good question. There's so many of us that are on your team. So I am trained as a licensed psychotherapist. You have a licensed social worker, you have psychologist, you also have your medical doctor, you have psychiatrist. All of us work together to help you to feel well. So in my case, I'm working at the individual and at the group level to teach practical skills where your medical doctor or your psychologist, those are the one, so the medical doctor and the psychiatrist, those are the ones that will prescribe medications and then they will kind of assess on a medical level what's going on.
[00:06:44] Vergia: And then you have the psychologist, that are able to diagnose, they're able to say, okay, this is the information that I'm presented with and this looks like this as a psychotherapist, I can say, okay, this is this, but I don't have that, thatprofessional training to diagnose. So this is just a quick summary of each.
[00:07:06] Darine: We say it takes a village to raise a child, but I do believe it takes also a village to ensure like you feel well and you know, you take care of your mental health. That's what I'm thinking about when I hear you telling us, okay, this is how it works. Since you are dealing with people mental health issue, how do you protect your own?
[00:07:25] Darine: That's something that I'm very curious to know because as I said, I admire you and I admire all the people dedicated their career to supporting others, the health, mental health, you know, doctors, nurses, and so on. So how do you do to like, protect your own mental health and make sure that you don't get lost in the job that you do.
[00:07:47] Vergia: That's a great question because the job, it can be stressful. I will have to say community. Community is your ally. You know, you see me, but behind me there's so many other people that I'm able to bounce ideas off of When I'm feeling stressed, I'm able to go to, and then also people that can speak into my life and tell me the truth. You know, like today, like I wasn't feeling well early in the week and my sister is like, okay, Vergia, I know you're go, go, go. But how are you taking care of yourself? And I'm like, oh yeah, I do need that. So I will say that and at this point, I think it would be helpful to define what mental health is, right?
[00:08:29] Darine: So what it is? Yes. Tell us what it is so we can all have a clear understanding. And then I see people commenting in the comment, and we will bring your comment and questions to the conversation. But let's define mental health once and for all.
[00:08:47] Vergia: Yeah. So mental health is your ability to be well.
[00:08:51] Vergia: Okay. And what does that mean? Whenever life hands you challenges or stresses you feel like you can cope with it and you're able to actually see what your abilities are and what your areas of growth. And your perceptions of the world around you, it really matters because you can't really be in isolation.
[00:09:16] Vergia: So when we think of mental health, we're talking about community. You're able to be able to flourish. You're able to feel good, you know, your thoughts and your feelings are really at a positive state. So this is kind of a nutshell of what mental health is.
[00:09:31] Darine: I feel it implies a lot of self-awareness, huh?
[00:09:35] Darine: Yes. I can see that. I can see that. And so let's welcome our audience to the show here today. We have our friend Robert, who says "today feels like a celebration". That's good. We love the positive vibe over here. We have Regorapetse I hope I pronounce your name well, who is from South Africa, hello. Yes, we have a beautiful international community here on STANDOUT From The Crowd podcast. We have Amed also joining us from Africa, and I know he's joining us from West Africa. And we have a question here actually from Robert who is based in the us. When people are struggling, what do you find to be the most common cause?
[00:10:25] Vergia: Hmmmm, I feel like that goes back to the good old nature versus nurture conversation, right? But when people are struggling at times if we take some time to reflect on what's going on, we can see that, okay, there's some triggers. And sometimes we are aware of what the triggers are and then we're like, ah, this is what it is.
[00:10:52] Vergia: But I would say when people are struggling, the cause is sometimes not just being aware of what the resources are, what it is that you're struggling with. I don't want to put kind of a blanket statement, but sometimes it just takes a level of awareness and analyzing what your patterns are, and then taking what you learned and then finding a plan.
[00:11:18] Vergia: And that plan could be as simple as, you know what? I haven't slept, that's why my mood is out of whack. Or it could be a matter of... you know, I've tried talking to friends about this specific issue, maybe I need to talk to a professional about this.
[00:11:34] Darine: How do you increase self-awareness then? Because self-awareness is at the heart of this.
[00:11:39] Darine: This is what I'm realizing as we are talking. So like how do I become aware of the things that are triggering me? Because I think it takes a good dose of being able to step back and to look at the picture. But how do you take a step back when you are fully in and that you are not able to see what's happening?
[00:11:59] Vergia: That's a good question. And I would say there are two ways. For some people, self-awareness comes naturally they have a more reflective personality. So whenever they do something, they're like, ah, how did I do on this? Was I, was it easy for me? Was it not easy for me? And then for others, look at what your emotions are saying.
[00:12:18] Vergia: You know, sometimes we get ourselves into situations and then we feel really uncom. Where is that coming from? And then exploring that. And then if you're like vergia, honestly, I just kind of go about my business. I'm not the reflective type. Get someone that knows you very well and someone that is not afraid to tell you the truth.
[00:12:40] Vergia: Because sometimes there's hidden windows that we might not see and then they can help you. And if you're like, you know what? I don't have anyone like that, seek professional help because they will ask you the questions to help you reflect even more and self-awareness isn't something that you automatically arrive at.
[00:13:00] Vergia: It's really a journey, a journey and a relationship with yourself and understanding, okay, what is working well for me? What is not working well for me? And how do I work on these areas?
[00:13:16] Darine: We have another question. How do you help someone who is not self-aware and in full denial? Ooh, that's another, that's another level here.
[00:13:27] Vergia: Yes, yes, that's, tough. That one's a tough one because I will say, going with the theme of self-awareness if you notice that they're in total denial and they're not wanting the help, right? It's really important that you understand your why, because sometimes it could be triggering.
[00:13:49] Vergia: It could be really frustrating, and we can say, we need you to do this. But they're not at that place. So it's just important to just continue to be yourself because you don't know at what point that seed of what you said will actually grow or blossom into something. There are times that, like for me, I'll be honest with you, when I first became a leader, I was really like, just really rigid and everything.
[00:14:17] Vergia: I was a micromanager. And if at that time if somebody told me that I was a micromanager, I would have the thought pattern of, no, you just don't know how to do your job well, right?
[00:14:28] Darine: Oh, I see.
[00:14:28] Vergia: Yeah, so it really took people around me building a relationship. And then, you know, as the relationship blossomed, they kind of understood a little bit how I was, and then they were able to place these things and say, what's going on?
[00:14:44] Vergia: And then I was able to hear it. So don't lose heart because you don't know what seed will grow. But it's important that you just allow yourself not to be at a place of frustration and really driving them to do something that they don't want to, because change, it won't happen if it's forced, right? So you have to be patient and hopeful we live in an interesting time, right? Where we go crisis after another, where the workplace keeps changing what we want as workers, entrepreneurs, employees keep changing as well. We have heard of the quiet quitting, the bare minimum Monday. So many things happening now. So I'm wondering because we see those trends growing in the workplace where people did.
[00:15:38] Vergia: They just wanna do the bare minimum example. Bare minimum Monday . So what are some signs that you are not maintaining a healthy balance between your mental health and your career goals? You said something that is very interesting, you said Yes. I'm a go, go, go, go. You are a go-getter. Sometimes your sister say, Hold on a minute.
[00:16:00] Vergia: You need to pause and take care of yourself. And I'm a go-getter too, and I know as high achievers it is very, very difficult for us to pause on what we do or to lower or to go slowly or to lower our pace because we wanna achieve the goal and then we wanna achieve the next goal. And there is always a next goal that we want to achieve, right?
[00:16:26] Vergia: So, , that's a question I'm asking you. I'm asking for myself, and I know a lot of people in my community are high achievers too, right? What are some signs that you are not maintaining a healthy balance between your mental health and your career goals? .
[00:16:44] Vergia: Hmm. That's a, that's a really great question because as you mentioned, being a go-getter, being ambitious, you love what you do, so you're, you're getting joy.
[00:16:54] Vergia: Yeah. So it's hard to hit that pause button, but I would say exhaustion. Check out how you're feeling every day because as much as we are go-getters and we want to achieve, how does it feel? Are you dragging yourself to do normally what you would normally do in a heartbeat Also? What is your sleep pattern like?
[00:17:19] Vergia: Are you getting enough sleep? Sometimes it's, the simple things that we need to be aware of. Also, the people around you that love you and support you. Have you actually spent time with them? Yeah. Because if I say, oh, stop at this amount of minutes or this amount of hours. It's not feasible.
[00:17:41] Vergia: But if we think about, okay, our energy level, our level of communication with others, and then also the "why", the "why" behind why we're taking on different tasks. Because sometimes we're doing but isn't necessary. Can we delegate, right? These are small things, but they're huge. It makes a huge difference in terms of your passion and your commitment.
[00:18:08] Vergia: And then are you someone that it's hard to say no with. Like in the last two or three weeks have you actually said no to someone, right? So these are just those soft signs that we can see and that we can use to make sure we're on the pause button.
[00:18:27] Darine: You know, as you talk, I'm like, oh my goodness. I have checked, marked all the signs and listen, a couple of years ago, it was prior the pandemic I burned out and the thing I didn't realize I was burning out. And what happened when you talk about the sleep pattern, look at your sleep pattern. I was able to function on a four hours sleep, and to me that was a win-win because I was like, oh, that's so cool.
[00:18:57] Darine: You know, I need to sleep only four hours. I start working at 7:00 AM and I finish working at like midnight 1:00 AM so that's okay. You know, this is enough. That's what I need. I don't need more. And so I kind of pride in myself on being able to function on a four hour sleep. That was so unhealthy, and so I kept going and nobody knew.
[00:19:22] Darine: Sometimes I would go to the bathroom, I would cry, I would cry, and then I would go back to the office and no one would know, right? And I thought, as you said at the beginning, I thought it was normal. You know, I launched a business, I was growing the business. I was working a lot. I was in my mind doing what I needed to do in order to be successful.
[00:19:42] Darine: So having lows and downs and ups and downs, that was part of the job. So I was like, okay, that's okay. Until one day we host one of the biggest bank here in Canada, and so it was for International Women's Day, I remember that day, and as I was doing my speech in the middle of my speech, I started crying.
[00:20:06] Darine: I started crying and I didn't know why and I couldn't stop, and I felt so embarrassed and everyone in the room looking at me like, what? What's going on? We have seen you. You were well on this time. And then I decided to open up and share why I was crying. It was because I was exhausted and you never know.
[00:20:32] Darine: That's why I do believe, like speak up, you know, be vulnerable and don't stay alone in your corner, because I was so shameful of crying in full of a room of VPs and so on, when actually the response that I got was like, but why you didn't tell us? I'm so surprised. I didn't know why you didn't tell us.
[00:20:54] Darine: And I was like, because I wanted to be professional, right? And for me, in my mind, being professional is never ever showing your weaknesses, never. So I was definitely on the wrong side of the spectrum, and that was a big learning moment for me. Since there, you know, when I wanna take a nap, when I wanna relax, when I wanna go out on a walk and I see it, and when I feel like I don't wanna overwhelm myself, I'm like, hey, listen to them.
[00:21:22] Darine: I'm focusing on this, this week. I don't have to do the time to do that. So I will do it next week. And this week I'm focusing on this. And people, they accept that and they respect that, right? So there is a little bit also of learning to set your boundaries, but you know, being able to identify and to acknowledge the signs because we are lying to ourself first before we lie to others, before we hide it from others, we lie to ourself first. And of course, this is not, this is not healthy.
[00:21:55] Vergia: Thank you so much for sharing that. Because you know, it's funny, people are like, why didn't you share that? But then do we create the space for others to share that? And when it comes to sleep, as you mentioned, yeah. Everyone can function as you.
[00:22:11] Vergia: You said, oh, four hours is good, but then it impacts your mood directly. So understanding you, being self-aware of what works for you is so important because the first thing someone, if someone's struggling with depression or anxiety or burnout, the first thing I will start to look at is their pattern. What patterns do you have?
[00:22:31] Vergia: Because your habits or your patterns either set you up for success or they're part of the problem. So thank you for sharing. And I could still relate that, you know, sometimes we, our bodies and our minds kind of say, hey, we need to stop and then that's when we listen.
[00:22:52] Darine: Exactly, we have another question here. Sometimes people who are suffering lash out. How would you suggest we deal with someone who lashes out?
[00:23:03] Vergia: Hummmm, that is a good question. So, first of all, whenever you're dealing with someone that is really angry or they're lashing out, it's important that you are not triggered by that. If you're able to deal with it in a calm way, take a moment because you, by you talking to the person or trying to combat or trying to spell scent, t's not gonna be productive.
[00:23:33] Vergia: So maybe allow that person to have some space, and then when they've calmed down, that's when maybe you say, hey, help me understand what's going on for you? You know? So you allow that person to share, because sometimes when people are lashing out, there's a lot that they just need to get out.
[00:23:52] Vergia: And in The Make Your Team Work BluePrint program. I talk about difficult conversations and the importance of not minimizing the importance of not just jumping in, the importance of just giving others the space because people are lashing out, but there's different reasons why people lash out, and it's through listening that you gain the solution.
[00:24:16] Vergia: So if you notice that, okay, you know what, I am not the one that's actually the best thing you can do because if you notice that I am really triggered right now and you're just gonna need a beat, take that beat then to pretend and say like, I'm just gonna be in there and ask those questions. No, it's, life is a continuum.
[00:24:37] Vergia: That opportunity might pass, but maybe there'll be another opportunity to talk as well.
[00:24:43] Darine: Exactly, and he says, "yes, I will get, I will give, give them some space". All right, and I can relate too, because if I am upset or the few times in my life I have lashed out too, and sometimes, you know, just you are just not in a good mood like, it really irritates me when people come ask me questions and they wanna talk. I don't wanna talk, you know, I wanna be in my space. And so, and my family members and my loved ones, they know me very well. So when I'm upset, they know no one will talk to me. They will do their own stuff, and maybe at the end of the day, or even a couple of days later, they will say, hey, we noticed that you know, you were not well. What happened? Do you wanna talk about it? And so it's only a few days later that I will be willing and I will be able to talk about it, but on the spot, noooo. Then each one of us is different, right? So I do believe it's about knowing, understanding, you talked about listening, but also being able to look at the physical signs, you know, if the person doesn't wanna talk to you. Yeah, that's okay. You know, taking a step back and letting, like giving the person some space, it's important. It's a form of also love and respect, you know, and being there respecting that, oh no, this is not the way. They want me to be there for, for them.
[00:26:05] Vergia: Exactly, and everything you're saying, I agree. And I would just bring it down to relationships, the relationship you have with the person. Because if you don't have a relationship with that person and you're giving advice, it's misinformed advice and it's just gonna land on deaf ear. So, work at building the relationship with the person and not about, you know, being right, or being exactly where you think that person needs to be.
[00:26:37] Darine: So, as I said at the beginning, there is no health and no wealth without mental health. So as we wrap up our conversation, can you share with us one or two tips, maybe your best practice that would help us, you know, ensure that we take care of our own mental health?
[00:26:58] Vergia: Yes, for sure. So the first thing is self-care. Self-care. I know it's a general term, but what is it that you love to do outside of work? Building your portfolio outside of work, but I know recently I took, I started learning to dance, so that's something I'm passionate about, and then also having someone on your team that you can share, you can vent with, you can laugh with, you can be really honest with, and then find things that challenge your brain in a new way. Because when we have that dynamic of people to support us, things we're passionate about, and then things that are a little bit challenging, but fun, it helps to safeguard us from the times that are really stressful because you're like, oh, I haven't done this in a while. These are all important tips.
[00:27:55] Darine: Yes they are. And I wanna mention something here, because I came across a couple of people on social media. I was on Instagram actually, who were saying yes, but you know, self-care is much more than taking a path when you take a bubble bath is not self-care. And I'm like, listen for me taking a bubble bath, this is my me time, and this is part of what I call self-care.
[00:28:22] Darine: This is not only it, but this is my form of self-care. So maybe here, the message I would like to share also, in addition to all the great tips you have shared with us is to say, you do you, at the end of the day, you do you, because you will always find, and especially on social media, people who will say everything and the contrary, right?
[00:28:46] Darine: So it's about you being able to pick and choose and you have the right to pick and choose what you feel works for you, and what you feel make you feel good.
[00:28:59] Vergia: Yes, I like what you said, and I would definitely add, have a mixed bag of things to do because there's some things that are passive, like taking a bath, right?
[00:29:10] Vergia: You're not really doing anything. You're just allowing yourself to relax. And there's some things that are active, they're engaging, and it triggers a different part of your brain. And we need that as well. So as much as the bath is important, it's also important to have a few things that you can go to so you can mix it up.
[00:29:30] Darine: Exactly. So for the people who would like to reach out to you, learn more about mental health, how you can support them towards their mental health journey, how can they connect with you?
[00:29:44] Vergia: Yes, so you can connect with me through my website, www.strivementalhealth.ca, or you can direct message me on LinkedIn or on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, all at Strive Mental Health. I'm really happy to just support you and today actually my program, The Make Your Team Work blueprint is available for everyone. So managers out there, if you are feeling overwhelmed and you're not sure how to navigate your own mental health and your team, be sure to contact me.
[00:30:25] Darine: Exactly, so Vergia Davidson, mental health specialist and the company is called THRiVE. We will put the link in the comment and do not hesitate. Okay? Google, do your own search and reach out to people asking question doesn't involve anything, and you know, that might be the key to unlock certain situations that you have been facing.
[00:30:48] Darine: So thank you so much Vergia for being with us today. Thank you everyone for watching the live, the replay for listening to this episode, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. We are on every single, or almost every single podcasting platform. So feel free to give us a follow to rate us. If you don't know where to find us, you can just scan here, the QR Code, you will have direct access to all the episodes. That's all for me today. Thank you again for watching, and I will see you next week for another live episode of STANDOUT From The Crowd. Thank you and thank you everyone. Bye-bye.