• Simon Birdsey

July to September Board Review

It's been quite an eventful few months

I call this my Autumn board, because then four boards neatly fit into a year- and it does end in Autumn. But I know other people who prefer to call it their Summer board.

Every so many years I have to go on an Emergency First Aid course to renew my FA Coaching License. A couple of weeks after my latest refresher, I was walking around the park when I stumbled across a scene where a group of people had put a man in the recovery position. My first instinct was to carry on walking, because they had it under control, but I quickly recalled a video clip from my course where someone who had had a cardiac arrest was put into the recovery position and we were told that it was the wrong thing to do. After a moment of panic, I started performing CPR on him until help arrived.

I wish I could tell you that he survived but sadly he couldn't be saved. I never thought that I'd have to use my first aid training and I was walking in the first place to try and help my anxiety, so I'm very proud of myself that I assessed the situation quickly and that I acted calmly, even though I really wanted to run away. In some ways it's given me confidence that I can cope in a crisis and it's a pretty big one as far as Contribute boxes go.

For my other Contribute boxes I donated some tea towels to a local community garden, helped my Dad to complete an application form and signed a trophy hunting petition. The last one only took a few minutes to do. Not every box has to be a huge challenge.

I have a friend who has been feeling a bit dissatisfied with life and he's just developed an enthusiasm for football coaching, so I accompanied him on a course about identifying talented disabled footballers for one of my Learn boxes. I completed the set with an online psychology course, a mindfulness audiobook called The Art of Breathing and watching as much as I could about the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing.

My Environment boxes were attending a Climate Change film festival, repotting some hanging baskets, doing an hour a week in the garden and changing my route home, so that I came back via the river. The benefits of the last one are that it's less noisy, polluted and dangerous plus I get some extra exercise and quiet time.

I went to someone's leaving party for one of my Social boxes and this involved going to a bar that I've never been to before. I also went to my brother's joint birthday party with my nephew. I was wary of it because it's out towards the edges of my comfort zone and I don't drink, whereas they like to party, but it was actually fairly sedate. Another time, some friends invited me to their house for tea. Again I was quite nervous about going but having it as a box encouraged me to accept the invitation. And, finally, I took another friend to see Fleabag streamed live from the West End. They needed cheering up and it was great to see them laughing.

I've felt quite run down this year and I thought that I'd get back into exercise once I was fully rested but that point never came. I've decided instead that I needed a push and I committed to being active for at least 30 minutes every day. I also tried pilates but I found it too similar to yoga to do both long term. I wanted to get back into doing the parkrun, especially while football was on a summer break, but progress has been much slower than I expected. And my final Physical box was to practice pelvic exercises. I had aimed to do them every day, since they only take about 10 minutes, but it ended up slipping to once a week.

For Pleasure I have watched Chris Helme from indie band The Seahorses perform live, tried a bakery that I've never visited before for my Bake Off theme, listened to Steve Lamacq's Lost Alternatives playlist and watched Quentin Tarantino's new film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, with a friend. Would I have done those things anyway? Possibly. Chris Helme was playing on a Sunday evening when I would normally have my PJ's on, it was out of my way to go to the bakers and the Lost Alternatives playlist is about 4 hours long, so maybe not.

My Achievements have been especially big this time. I haven't been employed by anybody for about 10 years and I'm not sure how it's likely to affect my anxiety but I saw a job that was too good not to go for and I got it. I start tomorrow! I have blogged every week, which is something that I wanted to discipline myself to do. I have swam the distance of the English Channel in the pool. And I have taken my dog, Max, for an operation. The first vet that I saw seemed to dissuade me from having it done but I asked for a second opinion and he said that it needed doing, which was exactly what I needed to hear, because then I could absolve myself of any guilt if something did go wrong. I'm pleased with myself that I manipulated myself into doing the right thing.

Reward Week is a standard Relaxation box. Besides that I've listened to the Worry Trick audiobook, researched Biofeedback and tried the Calm app. I found some useful tips in all of them. When I'm feeling especially frustrated with my anxiety there is a line from the Worry Trick that goes 'the harder I try, the worse it gets', which I use to prompt myself to let go.

I could probably group my Free boxes together. I've marked the passing of Rip Torn, Rutger Hauer and Peter Fonda. I've watched the Netball World Cup and the Ashes. The new magazine that I've tried is The Economist, but it's too high-brow for me. I've completed at least one YouGov survey per week, reduced my Subway consumption to two per week, used up my huge bag of protein powder (which has also made me go to the gym), made meals with homegrown produce and tried to get up at 8 am every day.

I've also watched three Emmy-nominated shows, listened to Frank Turner and Billy Bragg, watched the film Peterloo, listened to fifty newly-released albums, followed Action for Happiness' Self-care September, downgraded my accounting software subscription and taken part in the Halford's Pledge to Pedal challenge. Phew!

I've been doing Jossed for about a couple of years now, so it can be difficult for me to imagine what life would be like without it. It would certainly be more comfortable Just off one line, I don't think that I would have gone on the Identifying Talent course, the Climate Change film festival, the leaving party, tried pilates or repotted my hanging baskets without it.

One of the big positives that I find with it is that I'm never bored. I always have music to listen to, studying to do, a book to read, a sporting event to follow, a film or tv series to watch, an activity to get involved with or a relaxation technique to try. And I have plenty of options to choose from depending on my mood and energy levels. I can feel like I'm achieving something even if I'm bingeing on a boxset or listening to music with my eyes closed.

On this particular board I've learned that if I wait until I feel energised, it's probably never going to happen. I need to carry on regardless. Getting up at the same time every day has definitely helped me to feel less groggy in the mornings. And self-limiting beliefs, such as only being able to swim two lengths before needing a break or that I would panic in an emergency are far from the truth.

I'm not able to travel at the moment, so I have to find other ways to explore foreign places. I love diving into new sports, boxsets, cuisines or whatever it might be that, from the outside I thought weren't for me, and finding myself becoming totally engrossed in them. That's the whole point of Jossed. If you see a piece of machinery in the gym that you've never used before, a shop in your local town that you've never visited before or a band that you've never heard of are playing in a bar, they're all just boxes waiting to be ticked.

"I've been doing Jossed for about a couple of years now, so it can be difficult for me to imagine what life would be like without it. It would certainly be more comfortable "

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