For several years now, I’ve been involved with workplace wellbeing, as a health and wellbeing manager, workplace wellness consultant and volunteer verifier with the Greater London Authority (GLA) Healthy Workplace Charter scheme. I help people to take action, to move forward in life, develop self-confidence and resilience.
While serving as instructor in the Army I taught others how to operate safely in a high threat environment. It was all about raising awareness and disseminating information to the right people at the right time. Let’s move forward and work together. You’ll learn how to work more effectively in a high pressure role, manage stress levels and build resilience.
You can check out some of my work on mental strength and resilience here:
The phrase building resilience meant very little to me as a child. Life was pretty much stress-free.
My grandparents lived on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon in an isolated but stunning location. The water supply to the house came from a spring and on occasion the pipes froze or blocked up. Power cuts weren’t uncommon either. Conan Doyle, author of the Hound of the Baskervilles, allegedly based Baskerville hall on the property adding to it’s character. Hidden in the woods, were the remains of copper mine workings, tunnels and deep shafts which I frequently explored. I became friends with a local boy, Bryan, he’d take me to a WW2 munitions dump on the moor. We’d dig up live ammunition, hand grenades and rifle rounds, not something I’d encourage now of course. These school holidays in Devon introduced me to the value of being active outdoors, the importance of mental stimulation from adventure and exploration.
My parents sent me on PGL activity holidays when I was still at school. Kayaking, rock climbing, caving and other controlled risk activities gave me confidence plus new ways to challenge myself physically and mentally. Exposing mind and body to new experiences is a key element of building resilience.
When I was 16 I left school and joined the Army. Given my previous experiences and interests it seemed like a natural progression; it was. Having completed the first three years as a Combat Engineer I went on to specialise in Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Counter-IED for much of my 24 year career. Mentally and physically I was frequently challenged and that suited my character, I needed stimulation and I got it.
Adventure training was part and parcel of military life and it was often seen as a decompression opportunity upon return from an arduous overseas deployment. Outdoor adventure was a great way to deal with stress and build resilience. My boss put me forward for an expedition to Alaska and I ended up having to jump off a ridge at 15,000 feet in order to save my climbing partner Mike and myself from certain death. In addition I lived on the glacier in South Georgia, Antarctic, for several weeks, at one point running out of food. Throughout this ordeal I maintained a positive mental attitude, undoubtedly through training, the presence of a strong team and confidence. These experiences enhanced my resilience and capacity for dealing with adversity.
Resilience and Change
Having completed 24 years of service I left the Army and joined civvy street. After a couple of years and while trying to come to terms with the challenges of self-employment, the transition hit me hard. While serving I’d lost my brother to anaphylactic shock and my mother to cancer but at the time it had been fairly easy to deal with once back in barracks or away on operations. It was easy to forget about it and crack on. There was never a grieving process or time for reflection but when I’d also lost the military family it came back to bite me.
With no one to tell me to stop and without the structure of military life I didn’t know when to switch off. Working until 2am on the laptop became the norm and then I was so wired I couldn’t sleep. Self-employment felt like a nightmare, tax returns, payment issues and not knowing if I was on the right path generated too much pressure which then became stress.
The tipping point came when my father went into hospital for a skin cancer operation one Christmas eve and I started to think about the fact that he was the only family I had. For five days I didn’t sleep, adrenaline and cortisol was being pumped around my body, I was in constant fight or flight mode…….I knew it was time to seek help and take steps to start re-building my resilience. It was also very much about re-educating myself, learning about the stress response and acquiring new knowledge. Since that time I’ve developed additional tools, techniques and identified resources that have helped me to successfully deal with transition, pressure and maintain mental and physical wellbeing.
Life is never plain sailing of course, I went through a period of homelessness following on from redundancy in September 2017 and while building my business but it’s all been an important part of the journey and I’ve no regrets. It’s about honesty too, life isn’t perfect although all too often people go to great lengths to pretend it is. You can go check out the video here:
If you’re looking for real life experience and someone to say it how it is…..let’s work together:
Thanks for your time