A blog by Tricia Pritchard
This year has been a great year for me in many ways. I left my job after 32 years to take on the role of Managing Director of BAPN. This gave me the opportunity to effectively work for myself, be the boss and, something I’ve never done before – work from home.
The work challenges have been hard but at the same time extremely enjoyable. BAPN is now bigger and stronger, it has all the required policies and procedures in place, enabling us to provide the standards of service demanded by our busy, professional members. BUT it has come at a personal price.
As I’ve already said, I’ve never worked from home before, I’ve always worked for someone else; required to report for work Monday to Friday 9 to 5, and generally fit within a team, following someone else’s agenda. Even though I was part of the leadership team, most ideas had to be run by or approved by someone else before I could get stuck in and, if the ideas failed, overall responsibility was not mine.
Taking responsibility for BAPN is immense but so rewarding. However, what I had no knowledge of and therefore no expectations of and no warning of, was the pitfalls of working from home in isolation.
I didn’t know until this last year that I’m possibly a workaholic. I didn’t know that when working alone I’d forget to get up from my desk and stretch my legs, grab some fresh air and that I’d forget to have regular drinks. I had no idea that I’d have the stamina (maybe that should read stupidity) to sit at my desk for 15 hours a day without a break, that I’d end each day exhausted, too tired to prepare a proper meal for myself. So, the pounds have piled on, quality sleep is a distant memory, and the old hips and knees ache from sitting down for long spells.
What makes what I’m saying sound so daft to me is that I know the changes I needed to make and haven’t. I’ve been so engrossed in my work that I’ve kept telling myself I’ll just get this latest project done and then I’ll introduce a new work / life balance – yeh right…
We all know that focusing on our mental health as well as physical health can improve our immune system, increase our productivity, and, according to research, even help us live longer. So why do so many of us opt not to apply to our lives what we know to be good for us? Many of us become so engrossed in our work and taking care of others we forget to take care of ourselves. If any of this resonates, why not join me? Don’t wait to make a New Years Resolution, we can start today!
I’m not going to set myself big goals, setting myself up to fail. To boost my overall happiness, lower my stress levels and improve my mental health as well as my physical health, I’m going to start off small, be kind to myself and add short bouts of gentle exercise every day. Everything I’ve ever read about exercise states that it has positive effects on brain function as well as the obvious physical benefits such as weight loss. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, it won’t be… but getting my heart rate up and moving my body for at least 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a day will, I’m told, make a world of difference to my mental health as well as easing the aches and pains I’m currently experiencing.
Grabbing short spurts of fresh air daily helps to boost not only our mood, but our self-esteem as well and will also help stimulate our brain. I’m up for that so a daily walk is on the agenda too.
I’m also going to have a go at mindfulness meditation. I’m not too good at relaxing so not sure how I’ll get on with this but willing to give it a go. Any tips on becoming “fully present”?
Finally, the one thing I know I’ve got to do is to get adequate, quality sleep. I fully understand the benefits of sleep. It energises your brain cells; keeps you motivated and gives you a more peaceful feeling about your day. Although it’s generally thought that 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night is good for you and what you should aim for, I’m lucky if I get 4 hours so establishing a better sleep routine is going to be a challenge but one I’m up for.
If looking out for your own mental health and physical well-being hasn’t been your priority but is now, please let me know what you are doing, how you remain focused and, what benefits you are seeing – shared motivation is always beneficial.