Tag Archives: mental health

resetting expectations

Almost two weeks ago I wrote about how my motivation had slumped and how I was feeling lethargic and unwilling to get out and about. Having written that I had a bit of a lift. I think it was cathartic recognising and expressing how I was feeling. Later that week the weather also started to improve again getting warmer and a bit more settled. I decided to give the 30 Days of Biking Challenge a go as a way to change things up and maybe give me a cycling boost. I started well with 4 days done but then hit a mental wall again. This wasn’t helped by plummeting weather conditions and a return to very wintery weather. After a taste of Spring it feels like we’ve been catapulted back to the end of January!

On Easter Monday the forecast was for a wet and windy week with snow and hail showers also expected and I lost all interest in the 30 Days Challenge. In fact I pretty much lost interest in cycling for the whole week!

❄ 3″ of snow on my car tuesday morning! ❄

Since then I’ve spent some time taking stock. For the last two weeks I’d been getting progressively tired and fed up. I’d also started to develop pains in my knees and legs. Something was going wrong and needed to change. A number of the supportive comments on that last post mentioned Covid and/or overdoing it. Dpedece’s comment in particular stood out for me:

However, it seems to me that needing to take the lazy option means that something inside–mind? spirit?–needs healing. The lazy option allows the opportunity for that to heal.

I’ve been back at work now for 5 weeks and it’s been a big change. I’m in work from 9:30am to 6pm with a 45min lunch break. Apart from lunch I’m mostly stood in the one spot as, with lockdown, most sales and queries are coming via the phone. It’s pretty full on with the phone almost constantly ringing and possibly juggling 3/4 queries at once. It requires constant focus and concentration to ensure nothing gets missed or messed up while still maximising sales. That’s tiring both mentally and physically.

During my time off at the start of lockdown I steadily built up my activity and consequently my fitness. I was determined not to lose this by returning to work. I was also following Intermittent Fasting to try and get to my ideal weight. The table below shows my weekly activity plan going back to work.

Retrospectively now it’s a bit much and combined with work it was way too much! Additionally my sleeping pattern has been bad. To get an activity in before work I was getting up at 6:30am (away to work at 8:30am, home at 7pm) but most nights not settling down until at least 11:30pm or even midnight. No wonder I was feeling burnt out, I was and as dpedece said my spirit needed healing.

I’ve really dialled it back since Monday. The weather has stopped me cycling so I’ve just been walking and only once a day. Most days I’ve been able to have a lie in and I’ve been making a better effort to get to sleep by 11pm. I’ve completely given up on fasting by eating a small breakfast. At work I’m making an effort to reduce stress by not feeling that I have to answer every single call and dealing properly with queries before moving on to the next.

All of this has helped a lot. I’m feeling a good bit better and the pains are going from my legs. Mentally I feel a lot less wrung out and depending on the weather tomorrow I may even get out for a spin on the bike. Some of our restrictions are being eased and we are permitted to travel anywhere within our county boundary. It will be refreshing to be able to ride different routes and areas I haven’t ridden since October/November. Hopefully the customers I meet through work will also be in better form and more positive and thereby easier to deal with. There’s a rumour that winter may be retreating again later this week which will give everyone an extra boost 🤞

Header image by Castorly Stock from Pexels

a week of meh!

I finished last week on a pretty positive note with a really enjoyable 80km spin. Monday I started the week according to plan with a short walk and kettlebell session but wasn’t in the mood for a walk after work. Instead I took a lazy night sitting chatting with Catriona. Tuesday I was up and out for my short pre work 25km spin as usual and felt good. That evening after dinner I did go out for a walk and pushed myself to complete the 6km route to make up for Monday evening.

It all went down hill from then. I had an important household maintenance job to complete Wednesday morning but the plan was to cycle late morning/early afternoon depending on the weather conditions. Whatever happened overnight though I just couldn’t be arsed. No matter how I tried I just couldn’t get motivated for any kind of decent activity. In the afternoon I eventually talked myself into going to Monellan for a wander off the trails and through the trees. I did really enjoy that, bushwacking along the length of the river and exploring the wooded areas for possible camp spots. I also found a massive den, possibly badger but more likely fox that I intend to go back to.

The rest of the week was worse. The weather turned quite wet and windy on Wednesday afternoon and stayed that way for the rest of the week, even turning very wintry on Friday with snow and hail. This gave me all the reasons in the world to take the foot off the pedal and just drift through the end of the week.

I was able to get through the working day having found a system of dealing with the volume of phonecalls and messages without getting stressed but outside of that I had zero interest. I managed to push myself enough to keep my daily walking streak going but it was the bare minium of 2-3km just once each day with no cycling since Tuesday and no further kettlebell sessions. Somehow I clocked up a reasonable 24km walking for the week which surprised me!

© garmin connect

I also decided during the week that Intermittent Fasting wasn’t working for me, that I was too active for my calorific intake and that I wasn’t at my most productive during the morning at work. All this is correct but it gave me the excuse to eat very poorly for most of the week. I’ve been tired and out of sorts since Wednesday, feeling a bit rundown and at least some of that is probably due to diet and a bad sleeping pattern. It’s been another great excuse for taking the lazy option.

From Tuesday the weather is set to improve again and I’m hoping that the time shift to Summer Time last night and the resulting longer evenings will help me break out of this funk and get back on track. The plan is to restart the week tomorrow morning with the usual kettlebells and see how it goes.

#showusyourbrew

So today I did something very different. I’ve made and uploaded my very first YouTube video!

The idea behind it came from a video I watched by Mark from the Twin Peaks Wild Camping channel. The concept is to go out into the woods, make yourself a tea or coffee (a brew), film the process and upload it to YouTube. The purpose is to speak about mental health and especially mental health in men who are particularly poor at talking about mental health issues.

I feel that this is a very important topic and needs as much publicity as possible. This blog won’t get that out to a very big audience but I am tagging two other channels that I follow. They are Paul Messner and Simon A Bloke in The Woods. Between them they have just over 200K subscribers and if they accept the challenge then that is big publicity.

I don’t go into anything too personal in the video but I think it’s important to highlight that everyone struggles with their mental health at times. Sometimes people who seem the happiest on the outside are unhappy on the inside. Sometimes this is just a day here and there and sometimes it’s many, many days at a time. Keep an eye on those around you, especially your friends. Don’t be afraid to check if they are OK. If you are struggling with your mental health please know that you are not alone no matter how much you may feel you are.

Here in Ireland there are two main organisations for anyone looking for help or just someone to talk to.

Pieta House

Samaritans Ireland

This is also why I was out on the MTB yesterday. I wanted to do a bit of exploring to find a good spot, somewhere pleasant to sit and film and where I wouldn’t be disturbed. I found a cracking spot along the river in my local Monellan woods. This is also why I made the alcohol stove and billy can earlier in the week. You can watch the video below to see how I got on.

today’s perfect moment

A regular blog read for me is Today’s Perfect Moment written by Anthony, a teacher of English as a Second Language based in Canada. It’s all about finding the positives in life and especially in the small things that happen every day.

His tagline is:

Using a little bit of perfection found by sifting through the day to brighten my mood and hopefully yours.

I had a perfect moment today and I figured World Mental Health Day was a great day to share it, inspired by reading Anthony’s post this evening.

At work today I had a customer I know from before I worked in retail. She arranged the mortgage for our current house approximately 16 years ago. I’ve met her a couple of times over the years but today was the first time I’ve spent a while talking to her and definitely the first time selling her something. We talked quite a bit about her house, her job and of course her sofa and dining chairs. She asked me about work and working in my current job. I told her I really enjoy it and she very nicely told me that it suits me and that I’m very good at it. I’m still learning to be able to accept compliments but it was really nice as I could tell she meant it. I thanked her of course and I hope she understood how good it made me feel, definitely a perfect moment and especially nice as I’m now off on leave for 4 days!

friendship

friend [frend]

noun
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile:
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.

dictionary.com

When does someone become more than someone you know and become a friend? In today’s world do you have to know someone in real life to call them a friend?

I have a number of different groups of friends and a lot of them I haven’t met. I have a small number of very good friends that I have known for a long time and are very important in my life. I have friends that I know through work both past and present and from past times such as the cycling club and geocaching. Some of them I interact with in person and some online only now. Then I have “virtual friends“, people I only know from an online perspective and have never met. Some of these are from Facebook/WhatsApp groups that have similar interests to me and others I have interacted with through blogs.

Over the last few months I’ve been interacting with these virtual friends more than my real life friends as a result of the lockdown and restricted movement. It may sound strange to describe them as friends but through the blogs and posts I get to see inside their lives, to varying degrees, interact with some of them and share some of my own life. Some of them, like the None2Run Facebook group, provide support and motivation as I work through that program, very much like regular friends do.

my most important friends

I don’t know when someone becomes a friend but I do know that the last three months would have been much more difficult without them – all of them.

Header image by Pixabay from pexels.com

isolation distraction

One of the biggest concerns about avoiding the virus is the impact of isolation on people’s mental health. Luckily it’s Spring and the weather is reasonably good so it’s not hard to get outside and do something. The boys have been spending a good bit of time kicking the football and Owen has even started running in a bid to keep up his football and Gaelic fitness when he can’t train.

It’s very easy to fall into bad habits, staying up late at night and lying in late in the morning as well as eating all the wrong things. It’s also very easy to lose motivation and get very lazy. While I’ve definitely been quite lazy I’ve also made an effort to get out and off my arse too.

Since Monday I’ve gone for a walk each day (3 x 6km and 1 x 10km) and today was a biking day with almost perfect cycling weather.

My MTB has suffered much of the same maintenence neglect as my road bike so yesterday I spend the afternoon giving it a deep clean with a big focus on the drive system which was full of gunk. Today I spent 2 hrs and 30km getting it clattered in mud from a variety of local forest trails!

click on the image to view on strava

joker

From IMDb:


In Gotham City, mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: the Joker.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is most definitely not a Batman film! It’s a very, very dark depiction of a wild slide into a destructive breakdown in mental health in a world that doesn’t care. It’s frightening to see the destruction and Arthur’s inability to either recognise or prevent it until it’s too late and then to prefer the broken person he has become versus the one be was. This is a disturbing film and one that left me with a profound sense of sadness at the end.

I think this is only the second time I’ve seen Joaquin Phoenix in a starring role. The first was Johnny Cash in Walk The Line and I couldn’t help but see the similarities between the two characters. It makes me wonder what he’s burying inside himself that lets him play these roles so well.

lunchtime constitutional

Since my surgery the week before last I had become very sedentary. Most of the fitness I’d managed to gain during January was steadily fading away, I was sleeping badly and generally feeling crap. My mood was definitely not good and I probably wasn’t great company.

I figured part of the problem was that I wasn’t getting outside enough and using the excuse of the surgery to justify my laziness. I also figured that fresh air (lack of) was both the cause and the cure. The only time I was spending outside was the trip from the house to the car, the car into work and the reverse in the evening.

The easiest and most effective solution was a lunchtime walk. Buncrana is a seaside town and I’m just a 5min walk from the shore front so with sandwiches and a bottle of water in my pocket I hit the paths on Thursday lunchtime.

It was tremendously windy with a storm coming in but it was bright and sunny and definitely blew away the cobwebs. I headed along the shore front path skirting the edge of the park before retracing my steps and heading across to the Heritage Trail start and then back to work. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I slept soundly that night.

Friday I decided to explore the Heritage Trail more and this took me along the opposite direction skirting a small beach and out to the Life Boat station at Ned’s Point. I wandered a little here before turning back which left me very tight for time getting back to work.

Saturday morning was wet and windy but I was delighted to see it clear up by lunch and the sun come out in full force. The Ned’s Point walk was the perfect blend of distance and enjoyment so I repeated Friday’s walk. At times it was quite warm when sheltered from the wind. On my way back I met a very friendly guy from Tipperary who had relocated to Raphoe and was meeting a friend in Buncrana. We walked back to the Main Street together swapping stories and having a great old yarn.

One of the guys at work thinks I’m bonkers. He doesn’t seem to be able to understand the attraction or how I’m able to walk and eat at the same time.

3 days last week and I hope to repeat that this week. Let’s just hope that the rain stays away as it’s not feasible to spend the afternoon drying off and squelching around the shop!

mind games

This morning I went cycling with the Club. That’s a simple statement that covers (up?) a whole lot. Getting to that point was the result of a lot of small steps that took effort and not all from myself. It started with a phonecall earlier in the week from one of the other guys asking me to come back out again. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked and not the first time by this person but this week it came at the right time.

Then came the small steps from me, getting my bike back from service in Halfords, getting my gear ready, getting my lights and Garmin charged, setting my alarm, putting my bike in the car yesterday, filling my bottle, getting dressed and leaving the house. Every one a small step that involved overcoming a separate mental objection resulting in a very enjoyable Club spin.

I was very nervous this morning, full of doubts about my own fitness, my ability to cycle the distance and to stay with the group but also going back out with people I know. Friday I cycled with strangers and that was mentally a whole lot easier.

In the end I surprised myself on all counts. It wasn’t easy and I know the group weren’t pushing too hard but I hung in there, was able to stay with them, not get dropped (except on one climb), enjoyed myself and completed my longest cycle for 3 months.

click the image to view on strava

I’ve always been a quiet person socially and it’s only in recent years that I’ve taken up cycling and found a group that I enjoy and feel part of. Over the last 12-18 months I’ve become more reclusive again, especially over the last year to the extent that today was almost exactly 7 months since I’ve cycled with the Club.

One phonecall was the catalyst to change that. For a non-physical part of the body the mind has such a lot of control.