I often joke that the health of staff and faculty at UBC is directly inverse to my own personal health, since when I’m busy improving your health, I’m busy sacrificing my own. I’m sure many of you can relate: likely you joke about having “survived” September’s rush with the students returning back to campus.
Every October or November, when Thrive takes place, I face a unique challenge: one of us that is coordinating Thrive becomes very sick. In fact, it usually happens the same week as Thrive. The first year, we had H1N1 to deal with, and other years it’s just the common cold and flu.
While I make the joke about how your health improves at the cost of my own, it often bothers me. I do, after all, strive to avoid being a hypocrite in my work. It feels a little funny to advocate for health if I’m unhealthy, after all!
Thrive is just next week and Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program Fund applications are due just afterwards, which means it’s my busiest time of year. So this is when it really puts all that I advocate to the test. Since this is my fourth year of doing this season, I have focused this year on trying to do this busy season right.
Cranking out the work like your life depends upon it, however, can be the detriment to your health. We all have our ways to “get through” that time of year, but yet the idea that I feel like I may just be “surviving” during Thrive is far too ironic for me. Certainly I expect to let out a sigh of relief when November 9th is done, but I think I’ve learned a lot from my past years of Thrive.
So that’s why I arrived to last week’s Thrive meeting with vitamin C drink packets for my committee. That’s why when a colleague started sounding frantic, I reminded her that whatever we can do is going to be amazing. I also was able to know with confidence that somehow it all works out. You see, running Thrive is a little bit like herding cats, and there’s a point when you look at all you have to do, within the time that you have left before the deadline and you think to yourself, “There’s no way. There is no way that I am going to get this all done.” After feeling like this every year for the last three years of Thrive, I’ve finally realized that the feelings of being overwhelmed and uncertain are simply a sign that we are indeed on the right path. Those dreadful moments are simply a part of the process. So now I’m able to have a good laugh at the long To Do list.
What I have also realized over the last four years that my huge To Do List is not necessarily a list of “must have’s” but instead a list of “wants.” If only a portion of my list is completed, often the only one who really notices or cares is me.
It is also the reason that I called up my co-coordinator and asked her to do lunch yesterday. She has tons on her plate right now, as do I, but I know that if we walk and talk about things other than Thrive, even for fifteen minutes, then it keeps it all in perspective. I go out of my way to laugh about our challenges and our long to-do lists, and this week’s meeting, I’ll go out of my way to revisit something we started off the process with: a moment to share something good that’s gone on this week for ourselves as people. Because that’s what ends up really mattering a few months after Thrive is over: how we treated one another during the busiest time of year. Because that is what positive mental health really means, doesn’t it?
So this year’s theme of Thrive is about how we all have our unique ways of making life good, despite the challenges. So how do you thrive, my friends? You must have some more wisdom to share! Comment below, or tweet at me #thriveatUBC!