1. Mind over matter

    Mind over matter

    Having mind over matter is important in life.  I’ve been on my own a bit this Easter weekend, and at times my mind has been working overtime.

    I’m having to do things outside of my comfort zone.  When my mind is occupied and I’m doing things I can relax and feel normal, but then I start to over-think.  I have an overactive imagination at the best of times.  I then don’t sleep as well, as suddenly you hear different noises that don’t normally bother you, that kind of thing.

    Lack of sleep then leads to forgetfulness and making odd decisions sometimes.  The world seems so much better with a good night’s rest.

    Things on the mind

    I have a rental property that I’ve had for many years, and when things crop up with this I do rely on my father to fix it for me.  I think that’s an issue for me generally.  I’ve always had people to rely on, or who take over things, and therefore I’ve not had to learn certain things.

    I definitely feel part of Generation Hopeless in this regard, but it’s getting your mind over the matter and not waking up in the middle of the night fretting about things that I need to stop.  Not that I’m ‘hopeless’ at everything.  It’s just I’ve not had to build experience in certain things.

    Do you remember in Home Alone where Kevin was told his Mum would pack his suitcase, this came to mind as I was typing this post.  To be clear, I can pack my own suitcase, and often take charge of the holiday bookings etc.

    It’s important to take a step back and clear the mind.  There are practical steps that can be taken to fix problems.  And generally, things always work out.

    ‘Les Incompetent’

    Using Kevin McCallister as an example again.  He started to build up confidence after a while saying that he’s “not afraid anymore” and put up an excellent fight against the ‘would-be’ burglars, though he did enjoy hiding under the covers to forget his problems.  He learnt how to deal with things and his siblings and parents were impressed in the end.

    I remember when I was studying for my CIMA (accountancy) exams, I would sometimes stay at my flat for odd nights as I had to go to courses.  I wouldn’t sleep well and would invariably be hanging by the end of the course.  Luckily you then had time to study the content before attending a revision course, and then time to revise before the actual exam.  However, I made things harder for myself because I didn’t relax.

    I went on a school skiing trip and again didn’t sleep very well, so got worse and worse as I went along.  So anxiety levels definitely impact my sleep.  This is something that I constantly need to work on.  Though Declan Donnelly said he’d hardly had a wink of sleep having to present Saturday Night Takeaway alone last night, so I’m certainly not alone.

    Easter Celebrations

    It’s the long weekend, so things feel a little out of routine.  I’m now more used to the working 9-5 fives days a week routine, so having four days off is quite strange.  Coupled with lack of sleep, makes for an interesting time.

    Tomorrow I will be able to move a step closer to fixing the problem in my flat, but I will still rely on my Dad to oversee things, which I am sure he will do.  I will then wonder why I worried.  However, if I hadn’t had this on my mind then I would easily replace it with something else.  So that’s something for me to work on – learning to focus on the now rather than pondering on the ‘what-if’.  Especially in the middle of the night when things seem totally irrational.

    Hope you have a great Easter and enjoy some Egg Hunts.

    Enjoy today.

  2. Month 2: The learning curve is tough. Still frazzled

    Learning makes you frazzled: Reflections on month 2

    I’m now into my third month of the new job and am still learning lots.  I’ve continued to feel frazzled, but have learnt that I’m not the only one.

    Further to my last post about being Frazzled, I found an article about an initiative between Marks and Spencer and Ruby Wax who have set up Frazzled Cafes.  Ruby Wax has been a strong advocate on the importance of mental health and mindfulness.  You can go to the selected Marks and Spencer cafes outside of hours and talk about things that are worrying you or causing you anxiety in a ‘safe space’.  This sounds like an amazing initiative.  I know that I’ve felt very ‘up in my head’ lately with so much information to process.

    Keep in touch

    I’ve found that I’ve felt very tired as I am learning so much.  I’ve adjusted to the commute now, though seeing eight to ten deer run out in front of me one morning was a little frightening! I get to listen to a lot more music (and might start listening to podcasts to be productive in the future, but for now music is quite soothing).  I am also finding that I enjoy driving my car.  I don’t enjoy traffic jams, but it’s nice to have a longer drive between work and home.

    It’s important to keep in touch with people as else you can become quite insular and this can make thoughts more irrational in your mind.  There is a world going on outside of work.  Good things are happening and bad things are happening.  I am quite bad when I have a deadline to meet and get so wrapped up in it that I forget there’s always a blue sky and that the sun will rise the next morning.

    Take time to stay in touch with family and friends.  Today it’s Mother’s Day in the UK, so spend time with your Mum, or send thanks to mothers everywhere.

    Amsterdam

    Last weekend, I took a long weekend in Amsterdam for my Dad’s birthday.  It was bitterly cold, but allowed us to see people skating on the canals and also develop a love of Stroopwaffels.  The big waffles fit on a cup which allows the caramel to melt a bit.  You could perhaps buy a pack and invite some friends around for your own ‘frazzled’ sessions if you didn’t want to go to Marks and Spencer.

    Enjoy today, if you can with your Mum.

  3. Month 1: I’m frazzled…

    Frazzled: one month in

    Tired, tired, tired.  Yep you’ve guessed it, it’s tiring being new.  You are soaking up a new environment, new people, new commute, new everything… Where’s the toilet? What do you do for lunch? And don’t forget that little thing of what do I have to do in this job?! Hey guys, does anyone want to be my friend? Is it any wonder you end up frazzled?

    I’ve always made friends at the places that I’ve worked, so I am sure this place will be the same, but you can’t force things to happen… You can’t rush through this experience.  You have to wait and things will sort themselves out.

    With my first week under my belt, I set out on my first full week.  My first week thoughts can be found here.

    Sleep is key

    I continued to be ‘on edge’ and haven’t slept that well during the week, mainly through thinking / processing the new information.  This isn’t the best strategy as then you become even more tired.  I’ve been drinking cherry juice, a herbal tea and also have This Works Sleep spray (and stress rollerball) – but it’s really hard to stop yourself from stirring at 3am I feel! Though these products definitely help me.  Thankfully I’ve been making up for lost sleep at the weekend (generally).

    Don’t be so hard on yourself

    I feel that I under-estimated how hard changing to a new environment would be.  There’s nothing negative about the company or team or role in this, but literally that for me, I don’t like change and I tend to soak everything up and therefore have been thoroughly drained.

    I know that I wanted to change, but equally I think you forget how you’ve been through phases like this in the past and ‘only’ remember the bit once you know what you are doing.

    I actually feel lucky to be working where I am, it’s a unique place and everyone seems lovely there.  In fact, I sometimes think I’m excited as I see lots of opportunities… but rather wish my mind would stay quiet and let me rest… I’m not keen on 3am.  Irrational thoughts abound.

    I’ve been fixating on silly things really, like now I shower in the morning (like seriously – who cares!?).  I’ve found that if I leave just before seven I generally have a good commute, and I’ve also mainly been leaving early.  There are times when motorways are busier, or blocked because of an accident.

    Of course now I have less free time and I have been used to having lots of time to do things in the last nine months.  Now I’ve got the evenings and weekends (but I also have to consider recovery time in this for a while).  I think it takes time to get into a new routine.

    Commute

    The other day there was an accident on the motorway and that prompted me to get off and drive through various villages – courtesy of the Waze app.  This made my commute an hour that morning.  Even though I got to work at 8am, it felt typical that this had happened on the day I was due to present to the whole department.  I’d planned to get in early and do my prep before heading to the meeting.  However, it made me realise that some things aren’t in your control and there’s no point getting het up about it and I now feel more relaxed as I know that I can get to work.  It might take me longer that way but on the plus side, at least once I know where I am going it takes in some beautiful villages.  Though fingers crossed for a flowing motorway!

    Tidy house, tidy mind?

    I’ve felt like tidying things at the weekends, which must be my way of taking control of the uncertainty.  I like routine and feeling organised, which at work is someway off still – and that is natural – no one (apart from me!) is expecting me to be fully up to speed in the five weeks I’ve been there.

    Going out after work

    I’ve returned to some semblance of ‘normality’ because I went to a gig in London during the week in January.  Not that I like to go on a ‘school night’ normally, I’d rather go at the weekend, but I had no option for this particular gig.  I had worked myself up about going somewhat, but (of course!) it all worked out fine and I got home at a decent time.  And actually slept better that night.

    I’ve started to arrange to meet up with friends, which again helps you to be rational and not put all your energy into the new role.  There is life outside of work.  My friend who has also returned to work (after a long time off) and her partner have noticed how doing things differently gives you a fresh perspective.  A change in routine can make you think differently.  Though she has also been both frazzled and tired.  So that made me feel better.

    Ambitions

    I’ve found that I have felt the stirrings of ambition again, which is probably caused by being in a new environment.  You realise how much you know from your previous experience – although there are definite peaks and troughs where you conversely worry that you don’t know enough.

    I’ve had to go to a couple of health appointments too in my first month, which makes you realise that health is the most important thing and that you need to be kind to yourself, and give yourself time to settle into the new environment.

    Mistakes

    You are bound to make mistakes, it’s part of learning.  Week 5 felt like lots of things were going wrong – though I’m not sure they were necessarily down to my mistakes.  It just felt like things were compounding and you can then get irrational (and in my case I got a bit irritable because things weren’t going right – and I was tired of course).

    I’ve started to get tasks with deadlines, so this causes a level of anxiety in me.  However, I also need to think that I pretty much have always delivered.  No one will die if I don’t deliver either.  Worst case a meeting will be rearranged.  I’ve also put steps in place to get help from a colleague first thing.  So here’s to a successful sixth week.

    Tips

    I found an article in Indeed about ‘How to Succeed in Your New Job’.  It looks at what to do in the first week, first month and first ninety days in a new job.

    The bonus tip at the end is to ‘be gentle with yourself’ which I will take as a reminder to myself as I sign off and get some rest.

    Enjoy today.

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