Keeping it all together

I suspect the office at work finds me OK but in small doses, I have enduring themes like “Never put off until tomorrow something that can be done today”, these must become tiresome, but I am unapologetic.

Another theme of mine is “Stress is caused by lack of information”. I am sure this is true.

Cyril Parkinson using his experience of the British Civil Service wrote in The Economist in 1955 that “Work expands to fill the time available”.

I would suggest that our minds are not too good at managing the unknown and then having too much time to think about it. Without care stress can fill all available space. This applies to all of us regardless of our circumstances, and the society we live in.

We can all reflect on the last two years and the use of the word unprecedented; we have all had huge uncertainty in our lives, we also quite possibly have had too much time on our own to dwell on such things.

Some tricks to help

Before I had a family, I used to be a regular at the bar in the local pub on the way back from work. This provided a mental break and a change; it gave me a chance to adapt from work to home life. I am not sure many health care professionals would advocate drinking alcohol as the answer, maybe a non-alcoholic drink might have the same result?

What is important is to have a change, and to have a routine that makes good use of time that is available. Even better if you can reflect on what you have achieved in your spare time. Home baking works for me, as does making or repairing something. Quite often the difficulty is getting started, but then as you get into it, so the stress in pushed out the way, hopefully to be replaced with quiet satisfaction.

I suppose that cold water swimming might have the same effect, but this is outside my comfort zone. However, I can really relate to the exercise aspect, a lot of my day is filled with desk work. I need the exercise as does Truffle our Border Terrier. Not only does this provide a change, but it also gets the blood pumping, the dog loves it and quite often I will reconcile something on my to do list as my mind runs through the events of the day at work. I always finish in a better place than I started.

But what can we all do?

I met Dr Vikki Barnes this week, Vikki is a clinical psychologist who believes you can experience happiness without involving wine or winning the lottery. She says we need to focus on making best use of discretional time and in doing so it can bring a huge effect in how positive you feel.

As we chatted Vikki put forward the idea of linking mental health, use of discretional time and doing something worthwhile for the world that we live in.

I believe we could all feel positive about that and possibly improve our mindset, our behaviour, and our habits.