During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 we share an article by Louise Amos – Aquatrols’ European Product Manager.
How often do you find yourself lying awake at night thinking about the bad weather forecast or an endless list of potential issues that the player, owner or committee might raise? Chances are, if you’re passionate about your job as a turf manager – and let’s face it, the job kind of demands that you are – that scenario probably sounds familiar. For conscientious people, caring deeply about our work is ingrained in us, however, left unchecked, this can become detrimental to our health.
So why does this happen? Why do we find ourselves wide awake at 3am worrying about things we can’t control or change? The answer is more in-depth than I am qualified to discuss, or for the desired length of this article, but we’ll take a quick look at the basics.
Although humanity has evolved and we have come a long way from wearing animal skins and hanging out in caves, our nervous system still takes over in certain situations and perceives our worries as real threats (that threat used to be something dreadful like being eaten by a lion… now it’s something like whether or not Mr-Hard-to-Please-Member will complain about the green speeds, which is not quite such a life or death situation!) Your spinning mind at 3am is your brain trying to stay one step ahead of the threat. It says, “wouldn’t it be great if you could just ‘fix’ the feeling? If you could think through every possible scenario, then you wouldn’t ever be surprised, and therefore wouldn’t have to feel… scared, disappointed, angry, or anything else unpleasant?” A lot of us try to predict what could happen and be prepared for every possible scenario in order to protect ourselves from overwhelming feelings.
What many of us don’t acknowledge or realise is that it’s those very feelings that make you human, real and you. Allowing yourself to feel it all, process it and decipher between what you let glide over you like water off a duck’s back and what you allow into your heart and mind is the key… Easier said than done though, many would agree!
The need for control or inability to let go of unhelpful or unhealthy situations is again, another subject I am not qualified to discuss at length, but the point of this article is to shine a light on the idea of setting boundaries around your work so that you can enjoy both your time there and the rest of your life. After all, we really do have a short amount of time here so we might as well make it a pleasant, fulfilling experience.
Things you definitely cannot control:
- The weather
- Other people’s thoughts, feelings, actions or words
- Natural disaster
- The passing of time
- Your physical needs (food, sleep)
- The exact outcome. Of anything. Ever.
But you can control your own thoughts, feelings and actions. On deciding the theme of this article, I asked our Aquatrols Europe team of former turf managers to share their tactics on dealing with the pressures of a turf management position.
“Easier said than done, but I tried very hard to develop my self-awareness, to reassure myself that I had done as much as I possibly could. It helped me deal with criticism because I knew I had done my best. Practicing mindfulness and being totally present in what you’re doing definitely helps.” – Alan Pierce
“Trust and believe in yourself. And, whatever you do, make your home life your own and your family’s time. Do the things that help you switch off from work but light you up as a person and help you gain perspective away from your turf – football, music, family time, whatever your fix might be.” – Alan Jack
“I used to agree standard answers for common questions with the team. For example, the reasoning for hollow tining or verti-draining. If I were still in the job now, I would be agreeing standard answers following the minimal maintenance period. This approach helped me manage members expectations and their demands of the greens team.” – Michael Fance
“Compare apples with apples, if you must compare at all. If your neighboring courses have more staff and bigger budgets, you will do no good comparing to them. Focus on doing the best you can with the resources you have. Be open to feedback but only from those who you trust to provide this in a constructive manner.” – Peter Lacey
“You can’t control what people think or what they say but you can control how you respond emotionally and mentally. A green-keepers’ love for the job is true passion but that means criticism can be difficult to take. By learning tactics for how to handle criticism, such as counteracting questions or asking for more evidence/detail, you are able to feel more open to the feedback and more in control.” – Paul Lowe
While challenging, the process of learning what to hold on to and what to let go of is not insurmountable and can help you learn a lot about yourself. It does require a growing tolerance of harder feelings because those hold as much information about what you need as feelings of happiness, contentment and joy. We are all different and diverse in experience, thought, need, and belief, and it can be a beautiful (and painful) journey to know yourself. This speaks to your entire life, not just in your work. Through community, such as the turf industry and all of your peers, along with brave self-exploration, you can learn what boundaries are important to you. It is through sharing your concerns and your story with those that you trust that allows you to feel less alone in your 3am worries.
If you are affected by any of the topics mentioned in this article or are struggling with stress and anxiety, do not suffer in silence. There are many resources available to you. Click here to start looking for help.