Saying thank you and being thankful: something I have not done enough of this year!

The festive season and holidays present an excellent time to reflect on the year that has passed and consider the good and the bad things that have occured as well as the good and bad personal conduct in the way one has acted.

 

My reflections on 2014 whilst on holiday have had a common thread through them: I have not been thankful enough this year nor have I said thank you enough. That realization has left me pondering why and the answer has been fairly easy to see: at times in 2014 I have become so mired in negativity born both of myself and the conduct of others that I have been unable to recognize times when I should have been more thankful.

 

An easy example of this revolves around my change in roll during the year. I will no go into the details but it would be fair to say that I have been hung up on the circumstances of the move too much at stages this year to be thankful for:

  • having a job when thousands in the community do not;
  • having a job, now, that I really enjoy and that mentally stretches me; and
  • having a job where the people I work for are: at the top of their fields and are wonderful people to work for.
My circumstantial negativity had lead me to not be thankful for the opportunity I have had, at stages, which appalls me.

Negativity and, by extension, depression has lead me to this lack of thankfulness. I am not going to apologize for that. Rather I am going to commit to 2015 being the year of the “Thankful Shumpty”. I will be negative and my depression will, at times, effect me at stages during the year but when I am going through those periods I am going to work hard on finding things in my life to, at the same time, be thankful for.

 

I will start now by saying again: thank you reading my writing. I have said before and I will say again that writing on this blog is a very large part of my strategy for working on my mental health. At times I have not been thankful enough for that.

Running on fumes: this year more than ever I need a holiday!

It would be fair to say that I have never been happier to get to the end of the year and the Christmas break than I have been this year. Frankly, last week I was, to put it colloquially, running on fumes and a break is just what I needed.

In the past I have eschewed the need to have a holiday: I was a workaholic and found holidays to be an imposition rather than a comfort. Of course my workaholic ways took me down a very negative path that I am still recovering from so the folly of not taking holidays is abundantly clear.

Equally, even in my new roll I have had difficulty fully switching off on recent holidays. Between wanting to remain fully informed and a keenness to impress in my new, post breakdown, roll I have stayed connected and, generally, have done work whilst on my break.

It has taken me to get to where I was last week, exhausted, testy and focused only on finishing the week, to make me realise that this year, more than ever, I need to have a real holiday.

So this holiday I am going to try to disconnect from work and rest my brain. Of course, I have thought about a strategy for doing this (come on readers: you knew there would be a strategy):

1. I am not taking my computer away with me.
2. I have turned off the notifications on my emails on my smart devices.
3. My out of office message does not direct one to my mobile number.
4. I am actually doing to read books and newspapers in paper form rather than on my smart devices.
5. My smart devices will be coming away with me but will remain in our holiday unit at all times. They will not be going to the beach, out for walks or to the surf club as in previous years.

Time to start making the most of my holidays. Weird to be making my first attempt at this after 20 years in the work force but no doubt worth it.

If you are on holidays, I hope you get the chance to make the most of them! I know I will definitely be trying to!

Mental Health and Holidays: When Inactivity is not a Positive

We have just finished another Easter long weekend and have an ANZAC Day weekend looming next weekend. This weekend just gone I had some time to reflect on the time spent on holidays or long weekends and consider what correlation there is between those times of rest and impacts on mental health.

It struck me that often my most negative or down of times occurred when I had nothing to do. Put a different way: having pushed myself hard for weeks and sometimes months on end, down time that came from holidays or long weekend left me anxious that I was not doing anything or that there was something that I had not done that I should have been doing.

Despite having family that loved me and wanted to spend time with me I often eschewed their attentions and spent time either alone in my home worrying or I would go into my office and sit there and procrastinate.

Inactivity at times of rest used to cripple me. I could not be positive about that times, rather I saw them as an imposition on my work. Part of my problem, of course, was that my whole identity was focused on my work and I did not identify anything positive with doing things other than working.

Over time, I have come to embrace times of rest like those given to us by virtue of long weekends and holidays. It has not been without significant effort (I know this all sounds bizarre but you have to remember where I used to be mentally) and making sure I do these things when I have downtime:

1. Organising as many “events” as I can during the down times to ensure that I am still busy but not tempted to fall back into bad habits. Seeing family, hitting golf balls and doing work in the yard are all things I put on my agenda.
2. Doing things that I enjoy always distract me: during periods of downtime I read as much as I can because I enjoy reading.
3. If I can not organise to see them then at least I make time to talk to my family.
4. I sleep as much as possible: working in a high pressure environment often means sleep deprivation can arise so I use down time from holidays to sleep as much as I can possibly do.

Downtime can be difficult and can lead to the return to old and bad habits. Ensuring that I do things that lead to my down time actually being busy helps me avoid those habits and, by extension, negativity and anxiety that comes from those bad habits.

Now I can not wait for the next public holiday / long weekend / holiday I have: these are times to refresh and enjoy rather than procrastinate and regret. I am sad it took me so long to realise that but I intend to make the most of any downtime in the future.