It’s never too late, to be who you might have been. ~ George Eliot
I love the picture because of the idea of transformation that is encompassed by a ripped and bulked out minion. But I don’t just want to talk about physical transformations, although it’s where I’m going to start.
This post is focused on one single and simple message tonight, continuous improvement. We should all be attempting to get better over time. This does not have be obsessive, or overly taxing, but what’s the point of being alive if you aren’t learning anything from the experience?
So let’s start with our physical health, while yes, we are talking about continuously getting better, that doesn’t mean being in better physical condition at 60 than you were at 20, but it might. What I mean by this is at any point taking an assessment of where you are at and figuring out what needs to change to make you better. Developing a plan to do it and then following that plan. For me personally over the last year that has mean eating better to improve my blood sugar, working out in a different way to keep my cardio fitness outside of the gym and lifting more consistently to build some more muscle.
The goal at no point was to become fully Keto, never eat a pizza, run a marathon or become some kind of body builder. While I think you have to establish goals to give yourself something to aim for, the real win comes from doing better today, this week, this month or this year than you did the last. For me that has meant getting my blood sugar in the normal range, dropping some weight and running a 5k. I’m still not the best eater, I’m still technically overweight and the time for the 5K I talked about last week, wouldn’t even win the 80 and above category at any race. My sister, who just recently was also diagnosed with diabetes has done a much better job with her blood sugar and is regular 40 to 50 points lower than me. I’m proud of her for that and mention it here because she’s particularly happy when she beats me at things, so here’s a little public recognition to make her happy. Hey, it’s the Ministry of Happiness blog after all, we’re all about spreading happiness.
The key and most important thing is to assess where you are currently and simply figure out how to do better. How much? That’s up to you, but even small improvements over time can be beneficial from a health standpoint as long as you continue to make them.
Equally as important as your physical health is your mental health. This is the thing I have written the most about on this blog. And is something particularly on my mind as I officially report back to my office on campus this week.
Working from home has been tough for many people, due to complications with multiple people at home, lack of childcare, technical issues, etc… But for me, it’s been an absolute wonderful change. Now to be clear, I’m only talking about my at home work experience. COVID 19 has been horrid in so many ways for so many people, I’ve lost friends, happily no family members and we’ve all suffered mentally to a degree from the pandemic. However, for a heavy introvert and a person who is to a large degree a homebody, this was nearly my ideal work experience.
As a person whose main job is to manage people it has been nice to have some control over that aspect of the job. You see normally I have little control over interactions, you see people pop in the office, catch you at meetings, stop you in the hall, want to discuss things in the bathroom or while you’re walking across campus. They seem especially excited about talking to you at the exact second you have something due to your boss, or are about to leave campus for the day. Working from home all of those contacts come electronically. I choose when to reply to emails, texts and whether or not answer the phone when someone calls which gives me control over my time and space, an introvert’s dream.
Additionally, I have been able to schedule my time the way it suits me best and in a healthier way. I get to sleep in later since I don’t have get dressed up, eat before work or drive. I can eat later when I actually prefer to and cook food instead of re-heating things in a microwave all the time like I have to at work. At work, lunch almost always means eating at my desk while answering emails in between meetings. While at home I can actually take a break and eat while watching TV and spend 30 minutes away from business. This makes for a less stressful day. Finally, there is so much wasted time in the office, If there’s 30 minutes or an hour between meetings but I get interrupted with three, 10 minute conversations spaced apart, I basically lose the hour. What this means effectively is that I’m far more productive at home than in the office. I also can use the time in between meetings to do a short workout. This has led to me lifting more regularly over the last 15 months than at any other time in my life. Not to mention all of the multi-tasking benefits at home, doing laundry or cooking while I’m also working which has freed up a little extra time every night and on the weekends.
Being face to face with more people on a daily basis both in terms of social interaction and possible COVID contact makes this shift back a bit of an anxiety inducing event. Of course I’m a manager, so my job is to make sure that everyone else is taken care of, comes back in the way that’s best for them, and to help them with all of their mental health needs. Which of course begs the question, who is responsible for doing that for me? And regardless what may be on paper, the answer is also me.
In the end, the answer for all of us is that we are ultimately responsible for our own mental health. So remember if you are in a similar situation you have to stand for yourself. This means understanding your contract, your rights as an employee and how your supervisor works, but also what pressures they are under. You need to ask questions and you need to ask for what you need and want. Suffering in silence doesn’t do anyone any good and you don’t know what flexibility might exist if you don’t ask, so ask.
You also have to do all of the things you’ve always done to reduce stress and anxiety at work, but even more so. Don’t fall into the fallacy that things are as they were before or that you somehow now have to work harder to make up for lost time during the pandemic. Make sure you work when you work and take time off, that you do the things that help you reduce stress and don’t push so hard you burn out. Please take care of yourself my friends and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane