2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: mental health (page 1 of 3)

How to deal with toxic managers

The vote

The vote this week was how to deal with toxic managers or how to deal with toxic friends. With 71% of the vote this week’s blog is on:
How to deal with toxic managers.
I’ll say now that I have a lot to say on this subject so the blog is a long one. I would advise grabbing a cup of tea, a biscuit (or fruit) and then settle down to read.

Experience

We have all had those managers whose works ambition is to make our lives a living hell. They can make us dread going into work, shout at us for being 5 minutes late (even if it was the trains fault), send our reports back covered in red pen as that is not the way they wanted it and are generally just a pain in the butt! I have had several of these managers during my work career to date and I am pretty sure that I will have some more to come.

Quick side note

I will point out at this point that I am now technically my own boss again. In December I went back to being self-employed/freelance after I was made redundant. I tend to be very nice to myself, but this isn’t my point. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of the toxic kind as well unfortunately.

Back then

Back when I was dealing with these types of managers, I was a very different person to who I am today. The old me was quiet, didn’t speak up for herself, bottled situations up to boiling point and generally didn’t know how to deal with a toxic situation. Today I pick my battles wisely and have been known to stand up for the wrongs and say to people “no”.

Good managers vs bad managers

A very good manager I had once upon a time told me this.  Watch people in power. Watch how they interact with other members of staff, watch how they interact with suppliers, watch how they interact with clients and so on.  I asked why. They told me you can learn a lot from a manager or a person in power. You can learn how to do things and most importantly how not to do them. This particular manager has it spot on. Every person who I have worked with I have watched. Some techniques I will use but a lot of techniques I probably won’t. Now call me old fashioned but I am all about the people at the end of the day and that little word Respect!

Respect

A tiny 7 letter word but the power behind it can be immense. However, some managers in power tend to forget about it. My theory is simple. You respect me as an employee and I will respect you as a manager. Now if you start shouting at me, throwing reports on my desk and belittling me in front of my colleagues then that respect is lost. With respect you can build a team, a successful international company and have gold in the bank.

The boxing ring

As much as I would love to get a toxic manager into a boxing ring for a “chat” it obviously is not the correct way forward. It may also lead to me to having a chat with the “Police” and that is something I really don’t want to do. However, there are ways to look after yourself without the need of a boxing ring. The three most important ones being, talk to someone about it, have a stress outlet (gym, walk) and as 2 Spuds keeps saying have some “me time” away from the badness.

My experience

I have been in a few work situations where I have been turfed out for one reason or another. Let me be very clear here that this is all about bullying and me being on the receiving end of it. It is not to do with me being fired. The manager in question didn’t like that I stood up for being shouted at in the middle of the office.  Plain and simple.

Manager 1

Now this was after months of them shouting at me, them throwing paperwork down on my desk, them making me stay for hours at the end of the work day while they wined and dined clients in the pub across the road and so on. It was easier for them to let the “trouble maker” go rather than face up to the truth. I was called into the office one morning and was given a mutual resignation and that was that. End of employment. Now since this incident several people have said I could have taken them to tribunal. It was handled horrifically and caused me endless problems with gaining different employment. It is also about 10 years ago now and I have grown up from it.

If I met said manager today

I am sure it would make an interesting afternoon and I would love to know why they bullied me and what terror they are causing today. However, I am also a lot stronger. Both mentally and physically than I was so they do not scare me anymore. I have moved on from it so unless they are offering to apologise some ten years later then I am not interested.

My other managers

As I say I have had many managers being bad. I’ve had to liaise with a lawyer with regards to a bad manager. I have been paid to leave a company due to another bad manager too. Also, I once worked at a company where one of the manager told me that if I didn’t like the way they managed then I knew where the door was. Wow! This is what they thought management was. Let’s just say I sourced a new job and moved on rather quickly after that. 

It still happens today

The above still happens today and unfortunately seems to be happening more and more often. I think managers and people in power sometimes forget that we as employees are human beings and we have feelings, lives, rent to pay and so on. We are more often than not these days treated as a number and have the threat hanging over our head of you can be replaced within seconds.

Managers out of their depths

I have to admit I think a lot of people these days end up in management positions where they are out of their depth. They have no clue on how to manage a group of people while hitting company targets and objectives. That is my personal opinion.

The dinner table high fives!

I mean do these (bad) managers at the end of the day sit around the dinner table with their family and go “woohoo I had a great day today. I made Diane cry, I sacked Tony after 10 years of service and I am a brilliant person”. High five! Hm! May be not. Now I understand sometimes you have to be mean and harsh to get to the top of somewhere but are we not taking it a bit far these days?! The other thing to point out is it is not too late to change from a bad manager to a good one. It will take time and hard work but if you want it then you can do it.

Imagine people like children

This has taken me years to perfect but it works like a charm now. If there is one thing that you take from this blog it’s this:
Imagine people (managers) like children!
That sentence sounds a bit weird doesn’t it? Stay with me though as I try to explain. This all started about halfway through my counselling when I started to see the difference between people. The difference between people who were my friends and who were there to help me be a better person and those people who didn’t.  

Functional Movement Disorder

I have two options with my functional movement disorder. One is to let people get to me, stress me out, give me lip or argue with me. Now if people do that I tend to start trembling then shaking and depending on the severity of the situation I can start shaking from head to toe. I am aware that it could happen anywhere and at any point during a stressful situation. Therefore, I tend to go with option 2 now. That option allows me to be in more control of a situation, so I do not start shaking. This option is what I use today. I take a different road and try to not let people get to me. Now sometimes this is easier said than done but that is life.  

Control

Imagine selfish people like children who have trouble sharing toys. Let me try and make this clearer. Take a manager who has summoned you to their office to have a “chat”. You go in and take a seat while they sit behind a big desk. They may ask how you are today (often not) then the flood gates open. They are shouting at you, using bad language, gesturing, insulting you or getting up to stand beside you so they can make sure you definitely hear their point. Now if this is to happen, they have lost two fundamental points. Control and respect! (as a side note, you deserve both of them in control and respect).  

Let me break it down

Now as soon as they have raised their voice, they have lost control of the situation. If they use bad language, they have lost even more control. And finally (and this is the big one) if they come around to your side of the desk, they have lost control completely and are invading your personal space. It isn’t nice to be insulted by another person but in today’s society, it happens and unfortunately it happens more often than not. If this is to happen in a situation then that reflects more on them as a person than you. Remember that!

Imagine people like children explained

Now that I have painted the picture lets look at this a different way. As I have said it is the way I look at people in these situations today. Imagine them as a child who has just had their favourite toy taken from them for whatever reason it may be. What does the child do? They may start crying, they may tug at the toy to claim it back, they may start shouting, they may start stamping their feet and flailing their arms, it could end in an almighty tantrum. Now what has the child achieved at the tantrum stage? Their toy? Usually not. Now imagine a manager doing that. The shouting, the bad language, the gesturing, the insulting and the moving around the desk is a tantrum. It’s nothing more.  A tantrum! Plain and simply, they are having a tantrum!

Laugh it off!

I have had to deal with situations like this on more than one occasion. I laugh it off now. As soon as you start doing the above to me, I feel you have lost control. I will either tell you to calm down and talk to me like an adult or I will quietly walk away. I fight the fights which I know I have something to say in and for those fights where I don’t, I walk away. 

Walking away from a fight

Walking a way from a fight may be the right or the wrong thing to do, only you can decide that as a person. This also goes for walking away from a bad job to a better one. I go with the principle that if I feel passionate enough to do something, I will think about it for a few days then act on that. If I am not going to gain anything from the fight and you have shown me, your true colours then I will walk away. Why waste my valuable time and resources being sucked up in a situation where I can see the person has no idea on what they are doing. I like to live by the motto that they will get their comeuppance someday. I may not be around to see it, but it helps make me feel better. 

Around in circles

If you are going around and around with a fight and neither of you can see the end, then you can do a few things. One is to seek help either with someone in human resources or a well-chosen friend (someone mutual to both sides). The other is to walk away completely, re-group and then come back again and see if there can be some resolution. We unfortunately live these days where we have the “it wasn’t my fault”, “why do I have to do it”, “blame someone else” and so on culture.

That rare gem

I’m not saying that every manager is bad, occasionally there is that rare gem. That gem who gives you the time of day, the respect that you deserve and service with a smile. It is unfortunately a bit of a rarity these days, but it does exist. If you come across it hold on to it with all the power you have, these are the good guys. 

Talk to someone

I urge anyone who has read this and is now thinking, ” that is me” to talk to someone. Talk to a colleague, friend or family member. Also, check your employee handbook as there should be rules in there about bullying. There may even be a secure/private phone number to talk to someone who can advise you. I would also try your human resources department. At the end of the day they are there to help you. 2 Spuds is also around to talk about it too.

Outlets

It is important to stay safe in these circumstances. Talking to someone is key but so is eating well, exercising to let the bad stresses out, sleeping well so you are prepared for the next round of bother and so on. Look after yourself. If you need to have a day off to re-group then do it. When all this was happening to me I was stressed, worried, anxious and didn’t have the proper outlets to help me. Once the resources were in place I got on a lot better. I also over the couple of years I worked with the counsellor learnt to stand up for myself. This is hard to do but is a valuable resource once you have learnt it. In the meantime try and use deep breathing and the count to 10 approach if you need it. 2 Spuds is more than happy to chat to you one-to-one about how to stand up for yourself.

Take care

I know going through toxic managers is tough and can make your life a misery. Try and take on board some of things I have said above. Most importantly look after yourself and take care.

-Helen

Ps. 2 Spuds is having some “me time” down in Southern Scotland this weekend so there will be no blog. Back to normal next Wednesday though.

Rehab training

Rehab training is a very important part of recovery from both a physical and mental crisis. I will be discussing my own rehab training which has taken place over the last few weeks. I have been mentioning it in some of my other blogs but want to dedicate a full blog to it too.

Five weeks ago

About five weeks ago yesterday the hospital was wheeling me down for emergency surgery after finding two cysts one on each ovary. This is the second surgery I have had in three years and the third issue with Endometriosis. The funny thing is all the outside has healed and I have little scars now to add to my collection. However, the inside is taking slightly longer which is normal. I have to keep reminding myself that I am only five weeks post op.

My personality

My personality is very go, go, go and I am not very good at sitting still. I mean I was back in a Zumba class around ten days post op and haven’t slowed down since. In fact, I have been increasing what I do (within reason). Yes I say I have been in a Zumba class but it has been very controlled and there has been no jumps or bouncing. Jumping around at that stage would not have helped my recovery.

Training

So what have I been doing except for Zumba? I have been walking, walking and walking some more. Starting on a treadmill going to number five on the incline with a slow walking speed. I then progressed it up to incline level fifteen with a much faster pace. Today I did forty minutes. I use one minute for each incline, plateau at the top for five minutes then come down the other side. It has taken a few weeks to get there but with determination I feel it has gone well.

Other gym kit

I have also been using the rolling escalator stair machine thingy. Once I had found the correct spaces for my water bottle and book I was a very happy lady. I can walk on that machine for a good forty minutes before getting tired. I have also been using the cross trainer and bike.

Weight vest

A weight vest was a present from me to me. It is a great piece of kit which gives you a little extra weight to challenge yourself on treadmills, rolling escalators and the like. The funny part about the weight vest is it is exactly ten kilograms at full weight. This is the weight I have lost to date so to put it back on again it quite an experience. It feels heavy and awkward but then again for most of last year that is what I carried day in and day out. I am working with four kilos at the minute but hoping next week to progress to five. Once my core has healed and got back to its normality I will progress to ten and see how that feels to work out in.

Resistance training

Now, I am still banned from lifting any heavy weights but that didn’t mean I have to stop completely. I found using the lateral pulldown machine and low row were perfect for keeping my back from getting too tired and niggly. With low weights, low reps/sets and a longer break in between each round it worked perfectly. You see I didn’t have to lift anything heavy to have a workout.

Bands

And no I don’t mean the ones in the top forty music chart. I mean resistance bands. These are a fantastic way of training when you need to slow things down and concentrate on the deeper muscles. Now I prefer my training to be fast, moving in all directions and breaking a sweat. Something that I am not going to get with resistance bands in a rehab setting. I had to slow it right down and concentrate on activating the muscles which needed attention. This was mainly my back and will shortly involve me core muscles too.

My core

My core work can start now as well. However, my five minute plank will have to wait. I need to start with the basics and the regressions of most core moves. It means I will have to separate out my upper core muscles, lower and obliques (they live on the sides) and concentrate on activating each to get them strong again.

My mental health

Why am I keeping so active? That is a good question. First of all I point out my blog called “sitting still is tricky!”. That sentence says it all really. I find it really hard to sit still and do nothing. The idea of a beach holiday, reading a book, drinking an ice cold drink and so on scares me. I am wanting to know what water sports are available, is there a bicycle track or even a walking track and when the next activity is. So you see my point. My mental health sitting still would get bored, frustrated, irritable and many other words to describe that. My mental health doing this kind of exercise is happy, less stressed, active and smiling. And that is my point. Active body equals happy mind.

Conclusion

I hope that has given you a little insight into my training as I rehab from my surgery. I feel the main point is you can work out to an extent post operation/illness/injury you just need to be careful (always double check if you are unsure). Feel free to ask me any questions, talk to your own GP or local gym and see what you can do.

-Helen

Looking forward to 2020!

What are you looking forward to in 2020?

That is a good question. With all the stress of the last few weeks we sometimes forget that 2020 is a brand new year for us to contend with. We also forget that it is only a few days away. We start thinking about things and start asking ourselves those big life questions.

Questions arise like:

  • What are we going to do in 2020?
  • Is 2020 the year I change that dead-end job where the manager is a bully?
  • Am I going to go away in the summer to that place I have been saving up for?
  • Will I actually tell my partner that I love them and want to marry them?
  • Do you think I am going to get through this particular health scare?

All of these are very valid questions.

Planning

I say jump into 2020 with a plan and see what happens. Make plans to get to your goal. Set yourself little targets, do one for the week, the month then the full year if you wish.

SMART goals

I tend to use SMART goals a lot for work. They do help to process and plan for a particular goal. SMART stands for:

S – Specific. Is the goal specific? I would like to run a 10km.
M – Measurable. Is the goal measurable? I am going to track the 10km and further training on my running app.
A – Achievable. Is the goal achievable? Yes, the goal will be challenging but achievable with the right training.
R – Realistic. Is the goal realistic? Running a 100km run with no training would be un-realistic but a 10km is realistic.
T – Time. How long will it take? Training for a 10km I estimate taking around 3 months.

What happens if you don’t meet the goal?

A good question and my first piece of advice is to not panic. My second piece is to re-evaluate. My third is to change the plan to get yourself back on track. Sometimes goals need time to get to you as well. For example, we have been working towards the IVF goal since early summer of 2019 and as much as we want to be several months down the pregnancy line we are not. We have to keep reminding ourselves that the timing is not right just now for whatever reason. It will happen: just not right now.

December

My plan is still to lose enough weight to get us on to the IVF. In December I ended up with emergency surgery to sort some cysts on my ovaries. That was a curve-ball I didn’t see coming and left me unable to train in the gym at my usual level of exercise. However, what I did do was to carry on as best I could within my current exercise limits. I have been doing 30 minute spin classes, walking and even tried Zumba. Now my Jive in Zumba is a little tricky as it is too jumpy for me right now but my Salsa steps are perfect. The short answer is I do what I can. The weight loss has slowed down but at least I am keeping it going. As I say, don’t panic, re-evaluate and change to get yourself back on track.

Write it down!

Do just that. It is easy to think of a goal and keep it in your head but it makes it a little more concrete when you write it down. 2 Spuds did a blog a few weeks ago on lists and writing it down. You can see it here.

The 2 Spud plan

Obviously we have a plan for 2 Spuds next year. We have sat down at the beginning of December and asked ourselves what do we want to achieve with 2 Spuds. We have many different ideas but the jist is to push the 2 Spud business further than it is now. This means we will go out and about a lot more putting on Mental Health Wellness days as well as the Mental Health Awareness Certificate days.
We are still practising the NLP and are planning to get this up and running in the New Year.
Rosie and I want to keep writing blogs for you guys and share our experiences. There are more plans as we get through 2020 and those will become apparent when the time is right. Stay tuned!

Helen and Rosie’s goals

As a couple we are continuing with weight loss and IVF goals. We are also hoping to extend our family further by adopting a rescue dog. Another goal for us is to complete a long run/bike ride/walk, which is yet to be decided.
Rosie wants to further her Yoga practice, both personally and professionally, as well as continuing to search for her purpose (in practice this means continuing her counselling sessions). She will also continue to explore different avenues to improve her mental health recovery, with an aim over the next few years to be medication free.
I want to carry on my work and qualifications to become a specialist in the rehab and mental health fields. My heart is set on completing a sports massage qualification by the end of 2020. I want to take Rosie away on holiday somewhere. I’m not sure where yet but it will be fabulous! In the summer of 2020 I want to go back to my passions of cycling, hill walking and kayaking.

The point

The main point is to think about your goals, write them down, welcome in 2020 and then go for it.

– Helen

Ps. Please note that Wednesdays blog will be on Tuesday next week. We will be back to normal after the New Year.

Then it went a bit pear-shaped!

My week this week was meant to have loads of fun and exciting things in it. We had tickets to the cinema on Monday evening to see a live performance streamed from London’s West End of Les Misérables. We also had tickets to go and see the rescheduled John Barrowman Fabulous Christmas Tour. A trip to see Frozen 2 and ice climbing was for Friday and then away for the weekend for Rosie and my first-year anniversary treat. On top of that we had PT booked at the gym, many Zumba classes, some of my favourite clients where I work and a routine that would have made the week amazing.

8 in total

As I write this blog, I currently have four keyhole marks on the abdomen, two jab marks on my elbow from where bloods were taken, one in my hand from an IV and a further one in my bum from medicine. If you haven’t guessed already, I had another emergency surgery on my ovaries.

What happened?

A good question. I had woken up on Monday in the wee small hours with my ovaries playing tennis (pain), took some pain killers and had gone back to sleep. I woke in the morning to a non-existent appetite. Not thinking too much at this point I ate what I could of breakfast and toddled off to work in Glasgow. Later in the afternoon I started to feel sick, had a sore stomach and after my lunch felt even worse than I had previously. Alarm bells were starting to ring as I had had similar symptoms the last two years when this had happened.

Rosie took one look at me!

I called Rosie and warned her that something wasn’t right and then called my Mother to talk things over. Rosie came home from work a few hours later, took one look at me and had me in the car up to our local A&E. I was prodded and poked there for a couple of hours before it was decided to transfer me to the specialist unit in another hospital a good half hour drive away. It was getting late at this point, but we did what we were told. The consultant in the next hospital again took a look and I was admitted for scans the following day. The diagnosis was a possible cyst rupture again.

The next day

The next day we discovered there were no specialists for that specific scan, so we had a new consultant do a trans vaginal up in a little room off the ward. I walked down to the room in my Harry Potter pj’s, Doc Marten Boots and black t-shirt. Excellent combination and I am sure London Fashion Week will be calling me any day now. With the help of my Mother the consultant had a good look around. Now considering they had done the finger check for the ovaries the previous day which left me doubled over you can imagine my response to the probe. My Mum helped me to stay calm, keep my breathing under control and issue words of comfort.

The diagnosis

They had found two cysts, one on the right and one on the left which were both the size of an orange. The right one had grown since it was last scanned in August and that was the main suspect. We had mentioned to the consultant that we were in the middle of IVF tests so they had suggested I had the coil removed, the Hy-Co-Sy scan complete and a general look around whilst I was asleep. Answering any questions, I had the consultant put me on the surgical list for the next day. I was an emergency but could be controlled on the ward. My main concern was if the cyst was a pain in the ass, I was at risk of losing a one or both ovaries. Not want you want to hear if you are sitting at the start of IVF.

Later that afternoon

Back on the ward I was told to start eating and drinking as I had been fasted until this point, this was as the operation would take place the next day. I had a few sips of water but nothing more. A lucky move.

Then it really kicked off!

Within about an hour of being back on the ward I had the consultant, the consultant’s colleague, a surgeon, an anaesthetist, two nurses and two surgery porters ready to take me to theatre (and I don’t mean the all singing, all dancing kind). There was a gap in the schedule, and they were going to use it. I was changed from my pj’s into a sexy hospital gown complete with very sexy hospital stockings, tucked into bed and wheeled down to theatre. Rosie came with me and I had the two porters cracking jokes which put me somewhat at ease. I was taken into the surgical waiting room and it was the coldest I had felt since I had arrived. I was then wheeled into theatre.

The theatre

At this point I wish it was the all singing and all dancing variety. There were lights, surgeons with big cloaks and masks on, a black table, lots of other machines, I had people moving me, prodding me, hooking me up to various and bits and pieces and straps put on to my legs. The porter said to jump from my comfy bed to the table. I took one look at it and crumbled. I was scared. A nurse stuck out her hand and said you can hold on to that for as long as you need. I held on good and tight until I was put to sleep. So, to that theatre nurse, thank you so much and I hope I didn’t crush your hand too much.

Recovery

Surgery is weird. You are put to sleep and then after what feels like a massive nap you wake up again. My first questions apparently were:

  • Where was buddy? (Rosie) – she was upstairs waiting for me
  • Did I still have both ovaries? – yes
  • Are you Tony (I was to ask for Tony when I got to recovery so I was just checking) – he was Tony

I wasn’t in recovery for long before I was taken back to the ward and to Rosie.

The surgical diagnosis

I apparently had endometriosis cysts which were drained and burnt. I had the coil removed and I had the Hy-Co-Sy scan completed. We are still a little confused as to the PCOS/Endometriosis diagnoses. I have been told for years it was PCOS and now it may be something completely different. It is one of our questions for January when we see yet another consultant. Apparently, the thing with endometriosis cysts is they can come back. Now the fact they are in my ovaries only means I have a good chance of falling pregnant but what are they to do in the meantime? They have given me a jab in my bum to shut down my ovaries temporarily. The side effect, I may experience menopausal type symptoms. So, at 35 years old I may get hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. Something to look forward to.

The next day

The next day a nurse popped by my bed to say I was going down for my scan at lunchtime. I lifted my t-shirt and said erm, I think they did it already. It was a small funny moment in the grand scheme of things.

Rehab

I am now back at home and being looked after by my family. I am sore and swollen but doing well. Stairs are tricky but we will get there. With regards to rehab, I feel very lucky as I went through a similar surgery three years ago, so I know what to do with regards to rehabbing me back to normal. I am currently banned from high intensity training, weights, heavy gym work, boxing and my favourite, Zumba. The ban is in place for the next six weeks. I can walk and when the swelling in my abdomen subsides, I can start stationary cycling in the gym.

Thank you

A massive thank you to Rosie and my Mum who saw me through the hospital procedures, you were both superstars. My friends and family for their well wishes. The theatre nurse whose hand I could hold on to. My work colleagues who have re-arranged all my schedule and classes.

-Helen

That time of year (lists)

It’s getting to “that time of year” again. The time when we need lists. What to buy lists, what to get at the supermarket lists, a general “to do” list to make sure the Christmas decorations go up and I am sure a few more list ideas too.

This blog is to do with just that. Rosie and I are aware we covered this in June but thought as it was a very big topic for this time of year we would re-visit it.

Writing a list

Making a list can be a massive step forward but it can also help you de-stress. Jotting something down means you can remember it better and things tend to happen in the right order. I mean it would be a disaster if you cooked all the vegetables, made the gravy, the Yorkshire puds were baked and then you put the turkey in. As I say, not a good way forward. A list can make sure we get everything done we need to do so we can relax and enjoy.

Being accountable with a list

The other point to make here about lists is that you are then accountable for it. If you stick the list up on the fridge door at home, then other people are there to help you remember it too. It is amazing once you write something down how concrete it can be and therefore you remember it.

Rosie and I are both list people

After a sleepless night due to loads of tasks to complete for our Wedding we took to a list and had a very restful night the next time bedtime rolled around. We had highlighted sections on our list for different elements. We had flowers, cars, who had to be paid, who we had to confirm certain items with (like our photographer), we even had on our list to remember to eat on the night before the Wedding. The final item on our list was to turn up to the Wedding and have loads of fun. Now that was more a of comedy one, but it put a little bit of laughter amongst the tasks.

Try making a list right now and see if it empties your brain so you can then think about the basics of a good night’s sleep and that all important “me time”.

Lists

Just in case you have forgotten what a list may look like I have included a small one below. 

  • Get milk. 
  • Pick up dry cleaning. 
  • Invite Bob and Charlie for dinner. 
  • Call Sandra and check on her Mum’s health. 
  • Buy and wrap Billy’s Christmas present. 
  • Double check holiday insurance for February. 
  • Call GP and renew prescription. 
  • Be kind to myself and take some “me time”.

Let me do the list one more time with ticks, notes and so on.

  • Get milk.
  • Pick up dry cleaning.
  • Invite Bob and Charlie to dinner (called them and left a message, will try again tomorrow).
  • Call Sandra and check on her Mum’s health (texted Sandra as she said she was in the hospital).
  • Buy and wrap Billy’s Christmas present.
  • Double check holiday insurance for February.
  • Call GP and renew medication.
  • Be kind to myself and take some “me time” (booked in for a massage on Sunday morning).

The list looks a look less scary with a few completed tasks on it doesn’t it?

Simple yet effective

As I say a list is simple yet effective. I always start with the easier stuff as it is then ticked off before moving on to the more time consuming and harder items. Setting an hour allows you to complete some of the list but does not then take up your entire evening. I find this works best in my opinion. Try it and see what happens.

Pick the easiest option then build it from there (and don’t beat yourself up over it)

The most important element to remember is to start with a small task and work your up to the bigger ones. There is absolutely no point in beating yourself up over something that in the end is the smallest task of them all. The private counsellor that Rosie was working with said to her to take each task and think about it. She had to think what it would achieve and at the end of day would anyone suffer from her not doing it. I always thought that was a good way to look at a task.

A minor task

I have a mountain of washing up to do from dinner and the clothes from this morning are still in the washing machine which I forgot to take out this morning, I am exhausted and have no idea on where to start to sort all of this out. Now which task do you do first? You could leave the washing up (or stick it in a dishwasher if you have one) and deal with the clothes or you could leave both. The dishes will still need washing up the next morning and the clothes can be washed again. Do you see the difference? If you didn’t do either task not too much is going to change and more importantly no one is going to suffer from you not doing it.

An important task

Take this for example, you have run out of medication for your mental health condition, the new one is sitting at your local pharmacy and you need to go and get it. Now this is a more pressing task to get sorted. You need your medication at the end of the day, and you are going to suffer if you do not get it sorted.

I hope that all makes sense

As I say have a look at the situation you are involved with and the tasks that need to be accomplished. If no one is going to suffer then leave it. If you (or someone else) is going to suffer then do it. This is how we determine what to do and what not to do. You will get around to washing those dishes but not much is going to happen if they are not dealt with immediately.

Stop and think

Stop and think about it next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation and ask yourself these very questions. It is not a selfish act in any way. It is differentiating between right now and a few hours later.

Alternatively

Alternatively, if you have a friend, a partner, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father or anyone else who can help you out then ask them.

-Helen

Frustrating!

Why does life have to be so frustrating?! I mean sometimes we are only trying to get from point A to point B. In the way there are obstacles, hoops, wrong phone numbers, people who are no help at all. You find yourself three steps backwards and feeling down from doing such a simple task.

Customer Service

Now I could talk about customer service for hours and hours. However, for the point of this blog I will keep it short. Having worked in many a customer service role you could say I have a fair amount of experience. I also have a lot of people experience.

My current line of work

In my current line of work I deal with people who comes from all walks of life, from different careers, who have different illnesses or mental health conditions, who have different fitness goals and different life goals. Everyone in my book is treated with respect. A seven letter word that means so much but is quite often forgotten about, don’t you think? My point is with everyone I met I try to display professionalism, friendliness and a quirky sense of humour. The bottom line is that in my book everyone is treated the same. I try to give the best customer service that I can give.

When it goes bad!

I struggle when I have a big problem to solve and no one out of a customer service role is ready to help me. May be I am asking too much but then again may be I am not.

Let me paint you the picture!

Let me do just that. There is one more test I need to do for the IVF criteria and it something called a HyCoSy scan. Google can fill you in. In order to do this I need to have a Mirena coil removed.

Too many phone calls!

First of all I called my local GP but no, they apparently do not do such things. I was given another number to phone. But that number wasn’t recognised. I then got on to Google and had a search around other practices in the area to help us. But there were no phone numbers that I could see on their website. I tried the one number I could get and got through. But again no, they apparently stopped doing coil removal earlier this year. I was given yet another number. My poor phone was beginning to wonder what it had done to be calling so many different people. I got through to the last number and the lady asked had I spoken to the GP. My exact words were something like, “I have and they don’t do it, I have been sent on a wild goose chase, can you help?”.

I finally got a date!

After a few questions and a few calendar dates I finally have a date. It took about an hour to do all of that but I finally made it to the end. And here is my point. Did it really have to be that challenging to do such a simple thing?!

IVF

To me this is just another hoop we need to get through with a few obstacles thrown in. It is like we are being tested to make sure we are ready to progress down the children route. It is frustrating, it is challenging and it is darn right annoying as well. To do something so simple, which is to have children of my own, I need to go through many, many hoops.

What else do they want from me?

Exactly that. I have changed my diet, changed it again and finally changed it so it makes even more sense. I now eat a lot more than I did. The first few weeks were nerve-racking and scary while I looked at the amount I had to get through. Now I willingly make my own breakfasts and lunches making sure I have the correct meals and snacks. Admitting it now that I do like to snack. My appetite is back and I am not hangry as often. We have discovered that I have more muscle than fat and that is what is making my BMI and weight loss is challenging.

What else?

I changed my exercise regime and now run. Run! I do many more gym classes. In the rain, the sun and the cold I train. I do exercise when I really want to sit on the couch and eat cake. I do my own research into how best to go forward with IUI or IVF. Rosie and I ring many different people to try and get an answer. We have become massive Google fans as well. We read articles, forums and much more just to see if there is anything else I can do except wait.

I know it will be worth it!

Now, I know in the end it will all be worth while but I am also aware we are going through many different hoops. A lot of hoops before we even get to the massive ones that IUI or IVF will throw at us. I know I will have a little rant and then pick myself up and carry on. I have a goal to get to and I am going to try my hardest to get there.

-Helen

NLP

NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming is something that 2 Spuds did over the weekend with Bodycore Training. We were aware we were doing the course on Saturday but what we were unaware of was how much it can help someone, how much it can benefit us and how deep it actually goes.

Tissues

The course instructor opened the course with, “the tissues are on the table, water on the side and hugs are also available”. We suddenly thought what had we let ourselves in for. Over the next 8 hours we were about to find out the full ins and outs of NLP. We are still finding out today what it is about and I am sure we still have a lot to learn going forwards too.

What is it?

A very good question I would say. According to our notes and that multi-coloured search engine NLP stands for neuro which has to do with neurology, linguistic refers to language and programming is to do with neural language functions. It is about changes in perception and developing positive choices in a given situation. NLP can be used for personal development as well as phobias and anxiety.

What did we learn?

We learnt a lot. We learnt that our brain has a MAP and no I don’t mean Google. I mean it has a record of our past, our feelings, our thoughts, our learnings and so on. We get this information from our parents, teachers, television, social media and much, much more. NLP takes us from our comfort zone to our uncomfortable zone then flourishes. My favourite metaphor from the course is: there are 10,000 films playing in our brains at any one time but consciously we are only aware and concentrating on 1. Just the 1 from 10,000 films. We have 1! Wow! Now that is a bit mind-boggling at the best of times. Around 95% of us is working on a subconscious level or in other words, auto-pilot. Again, wow!

Life style questions

There are series of life style questions which you answer to determine what area of NLP will be good for you to experience. We were then introduced to the NLP technologies. These are the “trances” for want of a better word. Someone will speak to my subconscious and my conscious beings to determine where I need help and what behaviours need changing to help me too.

The trance

Now this was interesting. We were put into a trance like state and then asked questions. It is very weird when you are moving part of the body, the brain is controlling it but you cannot figure out when you open your eyes how it did that. If that makes any sense whatsoever! That is the kind of weird that it is. Helen didn’t go too deep on the first try but has over the last day or so been saying that one of her bad memories has a block on it. The memory is hazy. It is something that she will continue to work on. Rosie is also feeling calmer over a bad memory and now has a more positive frame of mind.

We tidied the house

We are not sure if this has anything to do with NLP but on Sunday we did all of those jobs which have been on our “to do” list since May. The garden has been put away for the winter, we tidied the shed, we took the stuff we had been saving for a rainy day to the tip. At some point we had lunch before we tackled the kitchen. The cupboards were emptied, checked what we actually wanted to keep, what we hadn’t used since we had moved in, cleaned from top to toe and all sugary snacks given to the neighbours kid. By the end of Sunday we had 10 bags to go to charity.

2 Spuds and NLP

2 Spuds is currently practising a lot of the NLP techniques so we can be ready for a launch next year. Due to the nature of NLP, how deep into your past it can go and the fact it needs to be handled with the utmost care and respect it will take some time for us to get this ready. We will of course keep you updated on this site.

-Helen

Find your routine

Following an operation on my hand, I’m currently on sick leave. With the kind of work I do I need two hands to be fully functioning as it is very physical. Now that I am off work, all my routines have gone out the window, and I need to get them back.

Work

Work is so much more than just a source of income. Having been in a bad place, getting my new job last year was a life saver. Both my mind and body are very grateful as they are kept busy. I often don’t have time to think too much (yes I do overthink a lot) and I find it easier to make a quick decision and get on with it.
I was able to settle into a good enough routine, although there were still room for some improvement. But on the whole I felt ok with it all.

Benefits of working

Apart from the obvious, working gives me so much more. It gives me a chance to meet a lot of new and different people every day, each visit means a new challenge (this is due to the work itself, and not the people!). I get to have interesting conversations with people from all walks of lives, and leaving a job with a satisfied customer gives me a great buzz.
My work also takes me around some parts of Scotland, which means I get to visit new places. I love the scenery and get great satisfaction from looking at a loch or a hill or some animals in a field as I drive past or stop for a quick lunch.

What I miss from not working – 3 main things

  1. social interaction with a lot of different people.
    This surprises me, but I realise I miss this aspect of work a lot.
  2. the physical side of things as it often gives me little workouts.
    Apart from missing out on the nice feeling of having a tired body through work, I have unfortunately put on a little weight too. I’m not worried about this, it is just somewhat annoying.
  3. having a routine!
    I can now do what I want and when I want. As nice as it is, I feel a little lost.

Having a good routine works wonders for your mental health

I like to take things as they come, but I’ve also realised that there are certain things I need to have in my life on a regular basis. All my routines, with all the good stuff that really helped me, went out the window the last few years which was a great contributor to me ending up where I did. We were able to rectify a lot of this and I got in to a pretty good routine. For me, this means there is a structure to my days and they are filled with good stuff outside of the things I must do.
Being off work with all the time in the world (and not able to do as much due to the surgery on my right hand) has thrown me a bit. I feel more anxious, perhaps because I have more time to dwell on things, or simply due to lack of interactions. Neither my body or my mind is as tired as it is normally.

Do what is right for you

My advice would be to do as much as you can of what keeps you happy on a daily basis. It is so important to still exercise, eat good and healthy food, go outside for fresh air and sun. Also keep in touch with friends and family. Do not just sit in front of the tv all day. Get out there! Move that body, and keep the mind occupied.

-Rosita

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day!

As I am sure most of you know, tomorrow is the day allocated to Mental Health. This year’s focus is on suicide prevention, which we are lucky not to have much personal experience with. I do realise we are all not so lucky, and I think it is great that it is being highlighted. Here is a link to the World Health Organization site with more information and suggestions on what you can do to take part. It is shocking to hear that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. 

There are a lot of ways to help someone, or yourself, who is not feeling mentally well. We want to share our own experience using our chosen outlets: cycling, Zumba and boxing for Helen, and yoga and nature for Rosita.

Helen

As many of you know I like my fitness and exercise. It keeps me happy and keeps me fit. However, it is also an outlet for me when life gets stressful. I do many kinds of exercise as well. My top three would have to be (in no particular order) cycling or indoor cycling, Zumba and boxing. These are the main ones that keep me happy.

Cycling (or indoor cycling)

First, it is how Rosie and I met. We would cycle around the parks in London, eat ice cream and chat. I like how cycling can take me places. It can take me from A to B as a work commute, it can take me to a place I have never been before or it can take me on a night-time cycle ride for charity. There is nothing better than huffing and puffing to get up a vertical hill and then speeding down the other side while you catch your breath.

While I was at PT school, I had the chance to do the indoor cycling qualification. I thought with a love of cycling it would be a good thing to do. I love my spinning whether it is my own class, or I am taking part in someone else’s. The variety it has from sprints to hills to jumps to whatever the instructor can squeeze in before cooling down and your legs are about to give up.

Zumba

Whoever has read my Zumba blogs will know that with my two left feet, lack of coordination and terrible balance I still give Zumba a good try. The music, the way the body moves and all the steps it must create the dance is enough to put a massive smile on my face. Even better is when I am facing away from the mirrors in the gym and I can pretend I know exactly what I am doing. That is the thing. You don’t need to be good at it, you just need to try.

Boxing

This is an interesting one as I do boxing both as a personal trainer taking a class/client and as part of my own workout. I find it is a great stress buster for both clients and myself. I mean where else can you hit something and not get told off for it. Imagine you have had a crazy day at work. Your manager is demanding the report in for five o’clock that evening and you lets you know at a quarter to five. Your partner has just called to say they will be late home from work which means that dinner reservation you had now needs to be cancelled. The childminder has just texted to say your little one is sick and needs to go home urgently and reception have just emailed to say that your business client is waiting for you downstairs. Stressful? I would think so. Now take all of that stress down to the gym and put on a pair of boxing gloves. Hit the boxing bag, hit it again, and again and again. Now how do you feel? All the stress has been left in the bag and you start to feel better. It’s as easy as that. Once you have let go of the stress then you can start working on technique, the moves, the cardio side of the exercise, the core (abs) side of boxing and so on. It takes time but it is fun at the same time.

An outlet

Here is my point. Mental health can make us feel unwell, not wanting to do anything, angry, upset and so on. But when you have an exercise outlet (in my opinion) you can switch it around to feeling awesome!

-Helen

Rosita

There are a lot of things I can do to try and stave off my depression and anxiety, however there are 2 main things: yoga and nature. 

Yoga

Going to a yoga class is something I wish I could do every day. I do yoga at home but it is not always the same, and some days you really need someone to tell you what to do! What I like about yoga is the physical workout, and also the breathing. Physically I feel amazing afterwards, it feels as if the body has been reset and I can do anything. The breathing helps me relax, and it is something I use at other times too, particularly when I get anxious or stressed. Taking a few seconds out to breathe and relax the mind is so beneficial. It might sound corny to you, but I urge you to give it a try. When I say breathe I mean inhaling through the nose for 4 seconds whilst allowing your belly to rise, then exhaling through your mouth for 4 seconds. Next time you are stressed or anxious, why not give it a go? 

Nature

Nature has an amazing way of helping me feel relaxed. Most of the time it does not matter what I do when I am outside. It can be a mixture of things, physical outdoor activity or simply sitting in the sun. Going outside when I’m feeling a bit down or anxious really does help me feel better. 

Another contributing factor is the me-time that comes with both yoga and being outside. It helps me to look after myself, which is also so very important. Having spent a lot of time looking after others, I am now getting better at looking after myself.

-Rosita

#MovementForHealth #yoga #WorldMentalHealthDay #meTime #Zumba #boxing

2 Spuds did a presentation

And we were terrified!

I was at work one Wednesday morning preparing to go and teach the early morning spin class. I had texted a friend of mine about tickets for a fitness event at the weekend. His response was something along the lines of “we have had a speaker drop out and the topic is mental health, would you like to do it?”. I was grateful I had a spin class to take my mind off of responding. My immediate thought was it was would be a fantastic platform for 2 Spuds. My next thought was how to pull it off with 3 days notice.

Preparation

I am really lucky that for 11 years (before turning to personal training) my job was to organise international conferences and events. Thankfully my rusty skills knew how to put a presentation together. Over the Wednesday evening I started to put the mental health content into a presentation. About halfway through the evening I went too quiet. Rosie always worries when this happens. The reality of what was in front of us was getting to me. A quick trip to the supermarket for chocolate made the evening pass better. As 2 Spuds often says you need an outlet. That particular evening for me it was chocolate. I finished around midnight but the content was in.

Over to Rosie

Thankfully with Rosie being at home recovering from surgery she could help with the graphics, slide alignment and slide transitions. Rosie spent most of Thursday doing this. Her university background is in computer graphics and the like. She did a really good job with the presentation.

Notes, notes, notes

Our slides had the important facts and figures on them. It was over to me to put my notes together on what I was going to say. This took up most of the Friday. We had also sent the presentation to the event organiser to make sure we were in line with what they were thinking. We had an anxious wait before the organiser got back to us. Luckily all was good and we carried on with our preparations.

Next we ran through it

The next step was to run through what we had with power-point and notes. The first couple of times we did this it was a bit ropy but with practice it improved (thankfully). This took up the majority of Saturday evening.

The funny thing

Here is the funny thing about this presentation and public speaking. I can stand in front of a class of people and take them through a circuit, a indoor cycling or weights class. When it comes to a different event I was terrified. I had a similar feeling before I did my parents 40th wedding anniversary speech. Why is it I can stand in front of a class but then doing a presentation (which is still standing in front of people) can be a terrifying experience?!

Then it was Sunday

Sunday came around fast and we were suddenly in the car going to the event. The first thing we did when we arrived was check out the stage and see where I would be. I tried to be calm through the morning and waited patiently for my slot in the afternoon. Rosie and I had a look at the event, bought some brownies made with sweet potato, had a go at some glute exercises and tried everything to keep my mind off of the presentation. Then it was my turn.

The presentation

We had a few people turn up for the presentation. Not a whole lot which was a shame but a few. I was very nervous. All the other speakers we had watched during the day had completed their presentations without notes. I wasn’t letting go of mine for love nor money. The problem was I had a hand held mic, a slide clicker, my notes, 2 hands and no lectern to balance on. It was multi-tasking at another level. The presentation lasted for around 45 minutes which was excellent.

I was starving!

I hadn’t been able to eat very much from the Wednesday as I was worried about the preparation and outcome of the day. As soon as I was finished I was starving. We had taken snacks with us which was good news and we went for dinner shortly after that. It’s funny how the body show stress. As my presentation said what I had done over the last few days was a short-term stress.

Afterwards

Rosie and I both thought we had done very well with the time we had, the presentation and the actual public speaking. We now of course have a presentation in the 2 Spud filing cabinet which can be tweaked and ready to go whenever it is needed. We also found out post event that it was not very well publicised which would explain why the numbers were low. It has also spurred us on to set up the 2 Spud wellness days for everyone. So in some ways we had both good and bad points from the day and that is good.

-Helen

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