We spoke with Sam Pearce, Beauty Industry Ambassador and Mental Health Advocate, to find out more about Low Ears, the impact of the last year on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as Sam’s tips for anyone who is currently struggling.
What is Low Ears?
Low Ears is a solution based mental health space that is entirely bespoke to those working in any customer facing environment. Born out of a very real need after 25 years in the industry and suffering burnout, I wanted to create what wasn’t available to me.
Providing training and multiple healing methods and transferable skills to utilise within the workplace, recognising recovery isn’t linear. If you can’t measure it you can’t fix it. The Low Ears model is based entirely on the scale of continuum (the scale that measures your mental wellbeing) on any given day your mental health will fluctuate, this is normal, it’s when the fluctuation becomes stuck ie:- ‘presenteeism’ is being ‘on’ for too long, which results in burnout; the opposite end of the scale is boreout, or boredom syndrome, this is when you reach that position of ‘what’s the point’, losing interest and motivation. It’s a preventative tool which allows you to monitor the ‘mood’ (ear position) of you and your team, if your ears are too low for too long, then let’s have the skills and knowledge to proactively address it, sometimes finding the words to describe how you feel is daunting, a symbol or sign can be enough.
Taking the generic mental health first aid training and tweaking it and tailoring it to suit the needs and requirements of those working in any customer facing role. Frustrated with the unexpected agreement that those working in a ‘therapy’ role, were offering advice and counsel to hundreds of customers every week without the safeguarding and training in place, to ensure their mental welfare was paramount to their own survival. I don’t believe box ticking and leaflets are enough when it comes to dealing with mental wellness, we need to start by changing the word HR, as this department in any organisation is responsible for the ‘people’ that together run the companies – as humans, we shouldn’t be described as resources, we are multi faceted human beings that need investing in, to change the stigma and the attitude towards workplace mental health, it is, after all, a day one right.
We provide tailored training to each level in any organisation as we understand different roles require different levels of knowledge. It can’t be one size fits all, we are working towards creating a community of well beings, who need treating as individuals with very different needs and expectations.
From your experience, how has the past year impacted people’s mental health and wellbeing?
I have spent the last 14 months providing counsel, support and education to many individuals all with exactly the same fears and worries, the one position we have all been forced into, and that has created an inclusive response – one of fear, loss of control, grief – a whole myriad of emotions, the relentless limbo of the unknown, this is a perfect storm for it to impact on one’s mental health and wellbeing.
Once the novelty had worn off, as the circumstances forced us the rare commodity of time, we weren’t used to it, it felt uneasy and unnatural; our entire existence is hinged on providing time and space for others, we now had it available to us, and this brought with it a magnified response that for some, impacting on their mental health, guilt played a big part in the initial stages of the pandemic.
We were all forced to take on a whole new set of skills, our days looked different, finding motivation to stay on track in terms of routine, being forced to stay at home, our energy, plans, hopes and dreams were all held in the balance, confused and scared, this, however resilient you are, will impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
The impact for some has been overwhelming, the term ‘depression’ is when you have reached that breaking point, there are multiple associated mental health conditions that can flare up during times of crisis, in particular health anxiety, it’s our response to this which is critical. Some people have thrived during this time and others have struggled, there is no right or wrong response to the circumstances, it’s how you recover that is important. As humans we need personal interaction, feeling isolated and lonely is incredibly impactful on one’s self esteem and productivity, knowing you are not alone and there is support out there is vital, routines and distractions are essential.
What tips would you give to someone who is struggling right now?
Talk, find someone independent that isn’t a friend or colleague, the best advice is to talk to a professional. I’m a great believer in mindset, your brain does what you tell it, so rather than the narrative repeating the same story, change the narrative, understand what you can control and what you can’t. Boundaries are essential, they communicate what it is and what it isn’t you are prepared to accept. This can be hard, particularly in the beauty industry as our role is intrinsically linked with that of a ‘caregiver’, it’s knowing when to stop. You can’t give yourself away if you weren’t whole to begin with, remember that No is a full sentence. I am a great believer and practice the ‘Havening’ technique, the results with this practise have been really very profound in helping with anxiety and the associating symptoms. In the workplace, I would recommend investing in training and then once having that framework of support within the organisation, it’s maintaining this implementing the ADKAR (Awareness/Desire/Knowledge/
I would also like to add that none of us are the same people we were before the pandemic happened, be proud of how far you have come, the decisions you have made and be kind to yourself, I believe completely that kindness is our future currency and hope, there is always hope.