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The Resilient Me Blog

News and views from the Resilient Me team on all matters relating to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, at school or at home.

Rachel Munns  28th February 2024
Rachel Munns  25th February 2024
PLEASE JUST TELL ME WHY?                Rachel Munns  28th February 2024
Rachel Munns  16th February 2024
Tony Munns  30th January 2024

Teach them something meaningful!

Rachel Munns 28th February 2024

I posted on social media a coule of days ago about about the problems my eldest son is having in the workplace because he is autistic. This was on the back of a report on BBC Breakfast about this precise problem.

I mentioned that Kieran has anxiety disorders caused by bullying at school and these are being exacerbated now by bullying in the workplace. Having thought about it overnight, it raises a lot of questions for me about how we educate our children and why they turn into adults who have little understanding or empathy of anything outside the 'norm'.

Why do we teach pythagoras in the curriculum but not what stress is and how to manage it?

Why do we teach how to analyse poetry but not how to recognise and support neuro-diversity?

Why do we teach how to pass exams but not basic life skills like understanding tax and credit ratings?

I could go on, but I think you probably get the point I'm making. I think teachers do a wonderful job but I also think that our education system is broken. It is focussed on producing people who can pass exams and that's all. What about producing caring, emotionally intelligent, resilient, mentally well young adults?

What do you think?

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Autism in the Workplace

Rachel Munns 25th February 2024

Finally!!! I was so thrilled to see a report on BBC Breakfast this morning on getting autistic people into work - and helping them to stay there and to thrive.

My son is autistic. He also has three anxiety disorders caused by bullying. One of these disorders causes him to have stress induced seizures. Despite this, he spent three years in South Africa training to be a Safari Ranger - going out, on foot, in the Big 5 parks protecting tourists and younger students as they enjoyed the experience of their lives. He had massive responsibility and excelled at it. Even when he was attacked by a rhino when he was out on a conservation exercise, he still went straight back out as soon as his injuries healed.

Roll forward to life back in the UK after his training was over. He landed his dream job as a Ranger with one of the leading animal conservation charities in the country. He was known by his team mates as 'the expert' because of his vastly superior animal knowledge - gained in real life, not from prompt cards like many of his colleagues. However, after just five weeks he was sacked.

Why? Because his small talk wasn't good enough. Because he didn't automatically know what jobs he was meant to do when he wasn't guiding tourists (many autistic people have executive order disfunction which affects confidence and initiative). Because he told some colleagues the job was more like a Safari Guide than a Safari Ranger - because it was (autistic people can be very literal).

He told his employers that he needed just a couple of small adjustments to help him through the training period - please write down the jobs you'd like me to do (he had already proven in previous jobs that this would help him to succeed and be a very valuable team member) and please explain to my team mates that I am autistic (or allow me to do it) so that they understand that I never, ever mean any offence. Instead of doing this, they sacked him.

I can't name the company (but I will eventually) because we are taking them to tribunal. Not for money, but to make them realise that they shouldn't be treating people in this way. Kieran would have been a shining star in their team. Someone with years of real ranger experience in real Safari parks where the animals roam free. His knowledge would have given the tourists a superior experience but his employers simply couldn't be bothered to give him any support whatsoever.

This has to change.... and maybe this new exposure will help. Fingers crossed.

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The Important Questions in Life

Rachel Munns 16th February 2024

A quick quiz to start the week...

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss England competition.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Bafta Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of Six Nations winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers, they are the best in their fields.
But the applause dies, awards tarnish , achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. Let's see how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier? The lesson: the people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most.

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The Heat is On

Tony Munns 30th January 2024

To anyone who leads a busy life, or has a demanding job or boss like I did, I would give just one piece of advice.

Stop, Look and Listen.

When you’re chasing your tail to meet a deadline, or have to be home by a certain time for the kid’s parents evening or to avoid your dinner being given to the dog, you need to take the time just to STOP. Not for a long time, but just enough to catch your breath, maybe deep breathe, take some hydration onboard and just reboot. And do it regularly – at least three times a day.

LOOK at yourself. Do you look tired, or grey? Are your eyes and skin turning an unhealthy shade of red? There are many ways you can see when things aren’t right with your body – and you need to pay attention.

When you do eventually get to rest or to bed, LISTEN to your breathing and to your heartbeat. If either is accelerated, do what you need to do to bring them back to a steady pace. Check both regularly and don’t ignore either if they start to pick up.

How do I know this? Because I didn’t stop, or look, or listen. And one day, driving back form the office after another busy day, I started to feel strange and panicked. My vision went blurred and I thought I was about to lose consciousness.

This triggered a chain of events that lasted two years, and put me and my family through hell. I was in and out of hospitals for tests and scans, and I could barely sleep. I couldn’t face driving, because every time I did I was scared of blacking out. My doctor couldn’t give any answers, which just added to the problems and the symptoms.

I was eventually diagnosed with SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia) caused by stress, and compounded by a left branch block in my heart which I’d probably had since birth. For those two years I was running on empty, turning up for work but not able to enjoy any aspect of it as I simply didn’t feel well physically or emotionally. Although I was never depressed (at least I don’t think I was), my own family didn’t recognise me and I was not a nice person to have around.

Thankfully, my wife came to the rescue and gently encouraged me to do things I’d never really done before. Things like regular walks, a little yoga, and mind maps! Lots of little things that enabled me to turn the corner and to return to better health.

Since then things have never been the same as they were before. Why? Because I now know how important it is to breathe. To find your own space and time. To get out and about in the fresh air and enjoy gentle exercise– regularly.

And above all to recognise that work isn’t the most important thing. I am.

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