By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
I recently sat down with one of our Cooee participants to discuss how she was finding the group, and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy and fulfillment as she opened up about her experience.
Cooee is an arts and crafts group for women who are living with a mental health condition or have a NDIS plan.
The ladies meet twice a week to make everything from pot plants and dream catchers to paper lanterns and hot meals, and plenty in between.
But it became overwhelmingly clear during this conversation that it wasn’t the crafts these ladies came for; it was each other.
Each story this woman told came back to togetherness.
To friendship. To healing.
Research shows that when we use our hands on a task that doesn’t demand much cognitive capacity, it gives the mind a chance to relax.
As our hands busy themselves, the cogs in our brains get a break from everyday thinking, and this is when we start processing less demanding tasks.
“The Breakout Principle” suggests that when we engage in a repetitive task, completely taking our minds off the issues we have been struggling with, the solution will often appear.
The Cooee program provides this for our participants, because we’re in the business of improving lives.
These women have overcome various personal hurdles, and the thing they credit most is the time spent with others, sharing a coffee, and being able to voice whatever might be on their mind.
A safe space; a listening ear; an understanding nod.
I started to think how, in our own busy lives, we often overlook that cup of coffee at a friend’s place.
In a world where many strive for perfection, or the appearance of perfection, I wondered if perhaps we had forgotten how to be vulnerable, and in doing so, overlooked the importance of vulnerability.
We choose to meet out for coffee so our friends don’t see the messy lounge room or the laundry yet to be folded.
We apply filters to our photos to look a little less tired.
We don’t share that old memory to social media because we’ve certainly gained weight during those additional years living.
Our mental health starts with us, and is supported by those we hold closest.
So invite that friend into your home and forget the mess, because everyone’s got mess, and simply focus on connection.
While you’re at it, give the filter the flick, because everybody has imperfections, and share the moments that make you happy.
After all, your happiness is what really matters, and it starts with vulnerability.