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Friday, 6 November 2015

Situation: Stress - National Stress Awareness Day 2015

I'm absolutely knackered today, to be quite honest, and although I know that I will love writing this post, because I love writing, I'm going to try keep it short so that I don't overextend myself. (Or, colloquially, knacker myself even more, and possibly become ill.)

However, as this week included National Stress Awareness Day, I wanted to write something about my own awareness of my stress levels, particularly in relation to work.

You can read a post I wrote for Mind on stress here. I talk about some of the things I've learned about myself in relation to stress, and how I try to manage it. I got trolled on Twitter for the piece, which I guess means I'm doing something right... Luckily the tweet was deleted and reported before I read it, so my already shaky confidence levels didn't nose dive, and my stress levels stayed in the 'medium' category.

I'm going to run through the week and see how I did against my own mantra of #balance over everything else.

I worked a full week and have been working some long hours because I'm involved in a global project with Indian colleagues, and sometimes when my insomnia means I wake up at 5am I just start working (that is, if I'm not exercising - see below) so that I can spend more time with them. On the flipside, this afternoon I have a private appointment and am then not going to work, because otherwise I will not be able to have any rest or downtime, and this will affect my health, no question. I am a little bit stressed today because I feel that there are many things going on at work and I don't want to drop the ball on any of them. Thankfully I have a fantastic team who are supportive and brilliant, so I'm grateful to have that, but at the same time I am always aware of my personal accountability and really want to do well at work and not have us not make progress in some way because of a miss on my part.

I made this statement about work, but it's actually about everything in life. I started a bootcamp on Monday - a month-long exercise and eating plan to boost energy levels, make me fitter and hopefully leaner too. After a fartlek run on Monday, a 5K jog and bootcamp morning class on Tuesday, by Wednesday I could hardly move for the aches in my muscles. I'm doing this bootcamp because next year I'll probably have the screws removed from my vertebrae now that my back has healed, and the fitter I can be the better I will recover from this surgery. I was a bit stressed out during bootcamp at a couple of points where I wanted to strike the right balance between pushing myself hard and not harming my back. I was especially nervous about the wet grass we were running on, for fear of slipping over and possibly injuring myself.

Yeah, sorry Jillian. I might need the odd break.

On the other hand, I am sitting here thinking, "Wouldn't some chips be nice, as well as quinoa and spinach and kale and juice?" I have been following the plan, but there are times in the bootcamp when I stop doing a plank or star jumps with a massive rope because my body is screaming at me. I need to get through the whole month, work, exercise and all, so I do sometimes allow myself a break, or an adjusted target of twenty press-ups  rather than thirty, say.

I've been in the office twice this week and will also travel into town today. Looking back at my calendar for the week, I didn't do too badly. The days I was in the office (Monday and Wednesday) are the ones where I had the most meetings, many of them face to face, but I also managed to attend private medical appointments and have a bit of a breather either side of those so that I can take some time out. I realise more than ever how much I need that time out, and I have to say I'm really looking forward to this afternoon when I can not blog, work, exercise or anything, but just rest. (And yes, Netflix will probably be involved :)). I have to do this otherwise I will be ill - I can't keep going at full pelt for hours and hours or days and days. Perhaps some people can, but I'm not one of them. 

The above is all because I don't want to stop fighting the fight where mental health equality is concerned. I'm delighted that I've got several speaking engagements coming up - some at KPMG on my home turf and some at other organisations and conferences. But, and it is an important 'but', I will only be able to do this if I keep my health sufficiently good to enable me through it, along with the work and the exercise and life etc.

So, onwards through Friday and a restful and fun weekend ahead. Stay healthy, and whatever you're doing, take care of yourself. You are resilient because you are here. Take care. x

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