Feeling stressed, I did something about it… – John Cain’s Blog

It’s been over a year since my first blog “Feeling stressed? do something about it….” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/feeling-stressed-do-something-john-cain/) For the past year I’ve been putting everything I mentioned into practice and I wanted to share with you how this has gone.

With the ever-increasing awareness of mental health among young people, this, of course, includes me at the extremely young age of 38! But no matter what the age, I believe having a healthy mental balance is vital in this modern age and personally, for me, is becoming more and more important in my life.

In my first blog, I talked about five things which work for me to help me feel less stressed and maintain a healthy mental balance, they were:

1.      Read a book at night not your phone.

2.      Running or exercise.

3.      Having a goal which you WANT to achieve.

4.      Learn something new.

5.      Give something back.

These five actions have played a really important role in my life and by following these when possible throughout the year, I honestly believe they have helped me to live a healthier lifestyle. Sharing my experiences will hopefully give encouragement to others and help people discover the things which work for them.

All these actions are easy, however, changing habits and behaviors can be difficult – here’s how I’ve got on:

1.      Read a book at night not your phone.

I’m a firm believer that technology makes our lives simpler and I’m not just saying that because I work for a technology company. I did find that the blue light effect on my phone was having an impact on my sleep patterns (I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I needed) which in turn was having an impact on my mental health.

“Sleep is as important to our health as eating, drinking and breathing. It allows our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to consolidate our memories and process information.”Mental Health Foundation (www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/sleep-report).

I now aim to get between six to eight hours of sleep per night and most nights I’m in bed by 10.30pm. My partner, Trisha, and I also choose not to have a television in our bedroom to remove any distractions which potentially keep you awake. I’d be lying if I said that things/issues/circumstances don’t keep me awake at night, whether it be a work or personal, the first night in a hotel or getting woke up when I snore (Trisha is not a fan!). But on a whole I have had a much better/fuller night’s sleep by not looking at my phone so late and now some nights I can just drop off with or without having to read a book.

2.      Running or exercise.

I have fallen in love with exercise and this has been my number one to do when my mind feels overwhelmed. I also believe having a good personal health will also allow me to do more when I’m older, therefore, keeping me active which helps prompt positive thoughts. Personally, for me, training for an event helps give me the motivation and the feeling of progression, as I get fitter and faster it gives me a genuine sense of achievement. In this past year I have completed:

Three half marathons, Two Triathlons, and various Road cycling races.

I’ve set myself a new goal of running a Marathon before I’m 40 (September 2019) which means sooner rather than later I will be training to achieve this goal!! Ekkkkkkkkkkkk

3.      Having a goal which you WANT to achieve.

After writing my first blog last year I set out five personal goals I wanted to achieve throughout that year and I made them visible (via a noticeboard in my kitchen) to remind me every day.

The goals I chose were things I wanted to do which in turn would help me to be more committed to achieving them.

·      Learn to snowboard – I had lessons and went on a snowboarding holiday. I’d love to say I’m now awesome so you’ll see me at the next Olympics, but in reality, it hurts when you fall! However, I did manage to get down a mountain in one piece. Just!! Only a few bruises….

·      Hit the gym and get fit – I didn’t hit the gym as much (due to commitments/work) but I enjoy running outdoors which I did when I couldn’t get to the gym. At this moment in time, I think I’m the fittest I have ever been in my adult life and feel great.

·      Get a qualification – Outside of work I did a nine-month course to become a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. What I’ve learnt through this qualification is different techniques to understand myself better and how to help others understand their-self. Now I’m qualified I continue to develop these skills with my coach. A big thanks to Michael Beale for all the support me over the past nine months, he’s a top coach and continues to be a huge support.

·      Go on more than one holiday – Trisha works incredibly hard running her own business so getting time off together is tricky. However, we managed three holidays over the year; snowboarding in France, following Milton Keynes Lightning ice hockey team to Edinburgh and watching Kasabian in Amsterdam.

·      Make Trisha happy – Only she can tell you if this came true, but she is always on my mind and it’s important for both of us to make each other’s life easier and better. It means we both support each other’s mental health.

·      Trisha’s parents later hijacked my noticeboard and added an additional goal to look after them (Pat and C). Pat thinks he’s quite funny and this certainly made me smile.

4.      Learn something new

I get a huge sense of excitement learning a new skill, especially when you go through the stages of the learning ladder. The challenge is always getting past the consciously incompetent stage of the ladder when you realise what you’ve started is much harder than you expected, however knowing that you will get through this at some point which can become a more knowledgeable gift within itself.

Most view consciously incompetent stage as the most uncomfortable phase, because you recognise the fact that you are a failure in a certain activity. The only difference it has with unconsciously incompetent stage is that you do not pursue the thing you ‘suck at.’ (Shame and acknowledgement of your shortcomings can be attributed to this.) – Examined Existence (https://examinedexistence.com/the-four-states-of-competence-explained/)

Here are a few new things I’ve really enjoyed learning this year:

I can now convert old radios LW/MW/FM into Bluetooth speakers to connect to your mobile phone to play music. I love this and it’s just another thing which helps to clear my mind, it’s also a little ‘wow’ factor for people and makes me seem more interesting. You should have seen the state this one arrived in (pic) but it’s brushed up pretty well.

I did a diploma in palmistry which is palm reading. I did this as a bit of fun to read people’s palms and raise money for charity – but its official I’m now a believer and our palms can tell us so much about our character…….however I’m no Mystic Meg!! lol

As previously mentioned, I learnt how to snowboard which is super cool as well as super painful.

And I learnt all about ice hockey and have since become a huge fan of Milton Keynes Lightning. It’s my new favorite sport to watch. Nothing better than fast flowing hockey on ice with the odd punch up, can’t believe it’s taken 38 years to discover this. Having something planned over the weekends has really helped with my mental well-being as I have something which I look forward to doing, it’s also Trisha’s new favorite sport so it’s time well spent together which adds even more value to this activity.

5.      Give something back.

When I wrote my first blog I was proud of the work that I’d done outside of work and giving back to local communities. The feeling was epic and genuinely gave me a purpose. When I look back over the past year I feel I have missed this, so while writing this blog I did something about it and in June this year I gave two morning talks to Year 7 & 8 children about careers with two clear messages;

1.      Find something you love to do – because you will be epic at it.

2.      Never stop learning – this will help you to always be the best.

I also raised around £200 for the NSPCC through sporting events and palm reading sessions but I’ve come away at the end of the year feeling I could have given more which is something I will change for 2018/19.

I stand by these five things to help reduce stress in my life and improve my mental health, they have certainly worked for me and I can honestly say I’m happy and enjoying life, so my suggestion to you is why not give it a shot?

Additionally, I also have four more things I’m working on which I believe will add even more value to my life and they are:

Make your goals visible – I love my kitchen notice board and just like last year I have set out some further goals which I want to achieve this year. I find this keeps me focused.

Reduce or remove social media – During the last six months I have pretty much removed social media from my personal life, and it’s removed a lot of the pressure of living up to other people’s standards. I’ve also found conversations with friends and family more meaningful as I have to ask what they’ve been up to rather than already knowing.

Reduce TV time – This has helped me with time pressures as it has given me more time to try new things. Don’t get me wrong I do like a good box set, however, TV is no longer something I must do and I reckon I’m down to no more than two hours or less watching a night which is a big improvement.

Find or do something you enjoy – By creating or making more time I now get the time to try new things, the latest is trying Yoga, improving my swimming, learning to use Adobe Creative Cloud products and spending time with my new niece, watching her develop and do things together as a family.

This blog was never designed to showcase me or tell people what to do but if by reading this you have gained something from it, please feel free to write a comment.

Keep smiling 🙂 You’re awesome

 

By John Cain – Terriorty Trainer

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