Yesterday I had the honour of speaking to my team mates during our morning team meeting. It was RU OK? day, a day promoting listening and conversation to help people through troubling times and hopefully prevent suicide.

Despite being happy to put my hand up to speak or present I find it one of the most anxiety inducing things around. Yesterday I reflected on the times that I got up and spoke in front of the whole school and parents. I hadn’t thought about those experiences for a long, long time. Of course I was nervous then, but I just got on with it, those shakes and the sickness subsided once I began, as long as I kept breathing. Yesterday was pleasantly different. Don’t get me wrong I was still anxious, but where I usually felt a knot in my stomach, heart racing, sweats, I felt...calm. The difference was practice, specifically with my wife’s help. She is an excellent presenter and regularly leads meetings and presentations for an hour or more. So I took her advice and tips, practiced and breathed, practiced and breathed. When I came to speak I was prepared and much more relaxed than normal, who would’ve thought!

I spoke briefly about some of my experience with depression and anxiety before talking about how our company helps support us through the employee assistance program. I focused on how that simple question of “are you ok?” can have a profound effect on someone’s life, as it did with mine when in 2015 my great friend Nick checked in with me during a very dark time. For that I will always be grateful, not only because it helped me to get professional help, but also because it showed me how simple things are often the most powerful and effective tools.

I had some great conversations with friends after that presentation and it helped me to focus on what I love to do; listen, talk about mental health and help others with “self help” tools. With that in mind I’m finishing the last pieces of my new sleep chapter for release next week. There is something about the pressure of a deadline which helps to focus my mind and get me to act!

I am also going to restart my podcast with a focus on 15 minute episodes. It might be tricky to get the same level of detail in guests’ stories, but it will be easier to produce and less of a time drain for listeners. As before I’ll be focusing on life stories and what self help tools people use. This season though I’ll have a mystery question, just for a bit of philosophising!

Time to get back to it,

Tom :)