On Wednesday, I led a mental health workshop focusing on psychological trauma and emotional support to more than 20 women leaders from all over Kakamega, Kenya. Sub topics included: domestic violence, grief, self-care, emotional regulation, positive self talk, and stress management. The group was receptive to concepts that are often not discussed and were actively engaged in the conversation. Questions were asked and ideas were formulated during the training. One woman indicated that she hadn’t cried in over 5 years and shared how hard it is for her to ask for help. I then took the group outside for a few visual activities. The first task was to give one other compliments. Some were appreciative while others felt uncomfortable. We discussed that saying thank you when given a compliment allows us to accept the positive instead of focusing on the negative. The second activity was having each woman write themselves a positive statement on a post-it and then share it with their partner.
The third was a visual representation of the stress that each women struggles with. A volunteer was asked to share everything she was worried or stressed about. As she shared, I placed a large button in her hand and continued to do this for every stressor mentioned. This continued until she began dropping buttons onto the ground due to her hand overflowing with buttons (stress). I explained to the group exactly how much stress she was trying to hold by herself. I then cupped her other hand together with the hand holding the buttons and explained to the group that the free hand represented our support. Now that she could use both hands to carry the buttons, she was less likely to drop them. Support looks different for everyone. It could be a group of friends you talk to, family you trust, mentors who share wisdom, your faith and the power of prayer, or counseling support groups. For those who may not be ready to ask for help you can begin reducing the amount of buttons (stress) you are holding onto by removing one button at a time. That means working on removing stress from your life any way you can. Each woman was given a button as a reminder that without being connected, a button is unable to hold anything together. We must connect with each other. “It takes a Village!”
Author: Brandy Weitzel, MA, LPC