May 14th, 2013 by matthias

We are doing a mental health awareness week at work this week. It has a special focus on physical activity and its positive effects on your mental health. As readers of my earlier posts will know, I am very much a proponent of non-competitive physical activity, and I am very aware of its impact on my well being. So, I did a stress test to assess my current stress level – and I was surprised to see that I’m only a 15 out of 40 – couldn’t find a proper explanation unpacking the score (so much for online tests), but basically I was pleased to know that my head wasn’t at danger of exploding just yet. But what a difference a day makes – I had a complicated day at work (in addition to running up to the annual conference, which I will chair – check #placenet13 on Twitter), and left feeling deflated. I timed out for letting steam off in jiu jitsu practice, but used another tried and tested coping mechanism – weeding my garden. So on the train this morning, I’ve retested – and let me put it this way: I’m not a 15 anymore. I consider myself fairly resilient – powered by my extensive patience (I’m not exaggerating – I’m just completing a four year lobbying effort), which is I think is the one key attribute I need working in academia. But I’m human after all, and in the spirit of mental health week, I’m sharing that I had to do some recovering, and still do. I’m glad to have a great team at work – and my focus is often to look out for how they feel, as it will strongly affect the way they work. Performance comes from having the capacity to perform – and if you don’t feel well, it won’t happen. You can only soldier on for that long, and I see it as a key management responsibility to enable people to perform, rather than trying to make them. What’s my lesson, besides recognising yet again that I don’t have super powers? It’s admitting it in public, and reminding ourselves that we’e all only human, and that we sometimes struggle – and that that’s alright. So there.

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