Roller Coaster of Life

Thursday, 21 September 2023

In the year of our lord 2000, the great songwriter of our time Ronan Keating said “Life is a Rollercoaster - you just gotta ride it!” Whoa. Mind blown. Not only was he a member of 90’s boy band sensation Boyzone; turns out Ronan is one of the great philosophers of our time. He is, of course, 100% right and it's never been more important. 

In today's social media world where Instagram presents images of perfection all the time, and post a pandemic that’s angered everyone, it's so important to realise that the ups and downs of life are perfectly normal. Life cannot be perfect 100% of the time. It’s not realistic to think that we won't have problems. Of course we will, but it's how we respond to these situations that matters most. It's been Mental Health Awareness week this week, and I just want to share with you a couple of principles and strategies that I use regularly to keep my monkey mind in check.

Firstly, one of my favourite quotes is “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow's a Mystery - Today is a gift, that’s why we call it ‘the Present'.” (Eleanor Roosevelt). When I find my mind drifting from one concern to another (this happens to me more often than you think), this little mantra helps me focus on being in the 'now' and focussing on how lucky I am to be where I am right now. Being present and showing gratitude for what we have are two incredibly important markers of improving mental health.

Another little mantra I use is “Quit worrying about what other people are doing - worry about what you're doing”. Owning a small business in this day and age ain’t easy. There are constant threats from competition, staffing issues (not my staff tho  *blows kisses*) and patients/customers (wait, let me preface this by saying that I'm EXTREMELY lucky to have the patients we serve in our community! You all are why I love coming to work every day. It's more a broader statement of our time) that have shorter fuses and are more empowered to complain over multiple channels. This quote reminds me that stressing and worrying about external factors is wasted energy. If I concentrate my time and energies on my team and making sure that we have the systems in place so that we succeed, then the outcome will look after itself. Focus on what you can control. You cannot control every situation (See - COVID), but you CAN control your response to these situations.

Sometimes we can feel a little envious of others, even our friends and family. As New Zealanders, it's even part of our culture as “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. At these moments, I remember the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt this time; my, hasn't the calibre of American Politicians fallen of late!). Again, this one quickly keeps my chatter brain in check and rather than letting those feelings steal the moment, it instead focuses my brain's attention on celebrating achievements. It also reminds me that you shouldn’t hold yourself up to some made up standard of success. I'm old now, old enough to realise that what success means to me isn’t anyone else’s definition of success. Comparing yourself to others is simply not going to get you anywhere. Setting realistic goals, and celebrating their achievements really helps here.

It's important to understand that the above strategies are skills that you can develop and build upon. It won't happen for you overnight, but if you try them, I really hope that they can become part of a kit of solutions that can help you when they are needed.

Lastly, I just want to quickly touch upon a health topic that I feel doesn’t get enough attention: Men’s Mental Health. For too long, societal norms have painted a picture of masculinity as being strong, unemotional, and immune to mental struggles. This portrayal does more harm than good, contributing to a culture where men often suppress their feelings, reluctant to seek help even when they desperately need it. Talking about feelings and emotions can be therapeutic. I know, lads, we are terrible at this. Talking about rugby? Easy. Talking about BBQs? Point me in that direction. Opening up to a friend, joining a support group, or consulting a professional is harder. But I PROMISE you, you will receive fantastic returns on investment. It's okay to seek help. Don't know where to go? Come in and have a chat with us. We can point you in the right direction.

As always, team, please don’t hesitate to be in touch should anything of interest come up. And if you're happy to share some of your strategies in dealing with the Roller Coaster of Life, I'd love to hear them.

Take Care,
Andy and the team at the Roslyn Pharmacy