The combined effects of lockdown, helping my town respond to the pandemic, managing a growing business, while having to be in too many (virtual) places at the same time has taken its toll. About 6 weeks ago I was advised to take my foot of the pedal and join a group of 20 on a 5-week virtual “Living Well with Stress” programme run by the NHS.
I mention this not to evoke sympathy more to raise awareness of the increasing incidence of mental health issues. “My” Zoom group was one of 3 being run concurrently in Sussex. Participants, ranging in age from 18 to 70, were encouraged to be on camera and contribute via the chat. Admitting you have an issue is a challenge; facing a screen full of people with moving stories is harder still.
We finished the programme a week ago. What did I take away from it?
The value of images and metaphors to help describe feelings: As I’d previously described my situation as being like a sponge that was full to overflowing and needing squeezing dry, I found the metaphor of a stress bucket compelling and apposite.
Everyone has their demons: many on the programme spoke of a lack of confidence in dealing with others exacerbated by the lack of personal contact these past 18 months.
“Taking the thought to court”: when we are down and thinking negative thoughts its vital to examine whether those thoughts are valid or distorted and exaggerated.
Being able to recognise the symptoms and triggers: this is key to employing some of the coping strategies above.
The importance of ‘me’ time and physical exercise: walking helps as does Yoga.
By the time you read this I hope to have concluded my ‘time out’ with a visit to family and friends in Lisbon and Cascais where as you can see I managed to switch off for a few days and catch up on some great books.
I am eagerly looking forward to returning refreshed and resuming the “in conversation with…” sessions from October and resuming my presidential duties representing CILIP on the global stage.
Presidential “Debate” & Presidential Musings
The 3rd in the series is only a few weeks away (on 29th September). It’s a stellar line up and the topic very timely. To whet your appetite, this edition’s Presidential Musings column features the three speakers, Luis Suarez, Neil Usher and Rob Cottrill. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect from Luis quoting from a recent study on distributed working:
“…remote work is a win-win, because the employee can move to a location of choice and save money in cost of living, and the employer will see higher productivity and lower attrition and save on real estate costs People will gravitate to a location where they want to live, rather than where they have to live”.
And finally: in search of tolerance
These past 18 months have exposed significant divisions in our society and exacerbated the gap between the haves and have nots. Those dealing with the public have witnessed new lows in behaviours. Many of you are in the front line and I marvel at your ability to dust yourselves down and come back fighting when abused.
As autumn approaches, schools return and people grapple with the challenge of returning (or not) to their place of work, my sincere hope is that all of us take a moment to reflect before condemning another and if you get good service, tell that person or their boss. We all need a lift!
Thank you for reading this.