…..that leads to your door

Dealing with mental health is important.

I don’t think I ever really appreciated that until a few years ago.

I don’t think I really even understood what mental health even meant.

I am only just now beginning to understand what it is. If I look retrospectively at my own life, how I have coped (or not coped) with various events and emotions, who I am and who I was, it makes me feel uncomfortable, these feelings can leave a permanent mark. But, with the power of hindsight and a growing awareness of mental health, I can begin to understand a process these things.

smartboardmarker

 

 


I love my commute….said no one ever?

In a previous post, I  touched upon the value that I place on face-to-face communication. And for me, I think it goes a little deeper than that, unlike what feels like an ongoing trend, I am not a fan of working remotely, to the point where I drive a 120 mile round trip to the office every day.

I moved house last year, and in doing so I extended my commute to the office by another ten miles each way. That takes some explaining to people.

We moved to be closer to family than we were, we have a young family and no one likes a four hour drive. But, I didn’t want to change my job, I like my job. So, I made a spreadsheet and got a map, taking into consideration distance to work and distance to family. We had a budget and we had a timescale and eventually the move came about with a couple of weeks to spare.


Why would anyone willingly drive that far?

It’s a good question, and one I answer a lot. To the point where I probably answer in auto-pilot mode half the time.

I was already commuting a near 100 mile round trip when I took this job, so what’s another 20 miles between friends?

My drive is my time, it is an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening when I am in my own company, I can process my thoughts, I am not trapped in a screen time loop (Google Maps aside), I can listen to some quality podcasts (see All I know is I’m lost without you…. for some testing blog suggestions), smash out some power ballads uninterrupted and really be able to tap into the benefits of the diffuse mode  – see https://tedsummaries.com/2015/03/04/barbara-oakley-learning-how-to-learn/

Life is busy, work is busy, having a family is busy…..

IMG_3531

This is my boys in their normal mode.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of the development department at work for comparison, but use your imagination.

Time out is important.

Are there any benefits?

I don’t have a man cave.

An emotional sanctuary for men when they’re stressed and need “space” or time away from females, responsibilities, etc.

Sam went offline and wouldn’t answer calls, retreating to his man cave to think.

#emotional withdrawl#silent treatment#communicating#verbal#retreat

From <https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=man%20cave>

Since we moved, our spare room is full of boxes (metaphor for technical debt?). And life is busy.

So, my commute is a little like my version of a man cave.

Surely there are costs?

Financial costs are higher, running a car increases the more you drive.

Time cost is the big one, I love my family, and despite what I have said about needing solace, I need my family. My boys and my wife are what motivate me, inspire me and keep me going. If my commute was halved, then I’d have an extra hour a day with them. That is tough.

How does that impact my mental health?

Fortunately where I work, we have flexible hours and management who understand the importance of family and work/life balance.

I’m not a big sleeper, so I can get up before the boys wake up and make sure I’m at home for family dinner, bath time, bed-time stories (however repetitive some of those are) and valuable time with my wife.

At my work, we have had more and more mental health awareness talks, signage and even team members attending Mental Health First Aid courses.

We have regular 1:1s, and I know that if I’m struggling I have the support required.


At EuroSTAR 2013, I attended a talk by Pekka Marjamäki entitled Testing Me, he touched upon the opportunities he found when presented with a longer commute, but also the challenges and ultimately where he found himself wasn’t in a good place.


I am still working through these things, but I plan on exploring them more through some future posts.

I have been considering a post by Danielle Zeigler, where she outlines 27 Simple Ways To Recharge Your Batteries and already a few jump out as some that really resonate with me:

  • Get outside during lunch. Take a walk, eat outside, go to a local cafe. The main point is to get away from the office and your computer screen.

This is something that has been a bit of a new year’s kick for me and some colleagues, it’s definitely good to stretch the legs.

  • Take a mental health day from work. Watch your favorite movies, meet up with a friend, walk around your neighborhood, see a matinee movie. Sometimes being “bad” is just what you need.

I am working on this, it can be hard sometimes to totally disconnect, I’m using things like IFTTT and do not disturb modes on my smartphone so that I don’t get involved in work things at home.

  • Start a bucket list. Thinking about your goals in life will help you focus on the big picture and what will truly makes you happy.

For me, this springs from conversations that we have at home, what we want to do, where we want to go….it’s all about Disney World!

  • Create something. Work on one of those projects you’ve neglected…

I’ve taken a small bit of artistic license, and removed the Pinterest reference in this point, but creating is something I love to do, this blog is a vehicle for me to be creative!

  • Take a 20-minute cat nap.

This is more something I’d love to do. I love a good nap.

  • Exercise! Aim for 30 minutes of medium-high intensity exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Regular exercise will help regulate hormones (hello, endorphins!), increase circulation and often helps people clear their minds and reduce stress.

Lunchtime walks aside, I have joined my local tennis club and am really enjoying it. It is energising.

  • Make a playlist of all of your favorite songs. Play them at home or take a drive and sing along at the top of your lungs.

Not only do I have a playlist full of embarrassing songs that I regularly smash out in the car, but I have one just for this blog, where each post’s titles have an assigned song, it’s eclectic, but works for me. Check it out on Spotify.


Take a look, see what you can do. Don’t be afraid to talk about your mental health.