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The Human Chaos Machine – Looking after your gears!

Lucy guides us through taking a bit of a mental re-set during the current times of change

Wednesday 18th March 2020 - the announcement came that schools were to close from Friday 20th March.

Monday 23rd March 2020 - the country is placed in 'lockdown'.

At this point, the nation had no idea what this really was going to “look like” or how drastically our lives were going to change for the near future.

As I sit here 6 weeks into lockdown, I can honestly say that this period has taught me some of the most valuable lessons in life, ones that I am determined to learn from when this is all over.

First, let me put this post into perspective, my name is Lucy, and I am part of the team here at Tailored Integrated Training. My knowledge and expertise derives from the education sector, as a secondary school Physical Education teacher and I am also a Level 3 Qualified Sports Massage Therapist and Level 1 Triathlon Coach. I admit that my professional and personal life is somewhat... manic! At the age of 30, I can honestly say that, until being forced into lockdown, I have never taken my foot off the gas! I am only just coming to realise how much I have tried to cram into my daylight hours!

From as far back as I can remember, probably secondary schools days, I recall having to dash to either hockey training, football training, guides, swimming, cricket, jungle gym, ice skating, the list goes on! Then at the weekends, I would be travelling all over the country to get to sporting fixtures - on some occasions I was asked to try and play two fixtures in different locations in one day! Managing my commitment to sport and my academic study was certainly a challenge – but, somehow, I coped and just got on with it. My crazy juggling act of sport and academia continued, working all hours to achieve my University degree and subsequently devoting endless hours for a year to achieve my PGCE teaching qualification. The same routine was followed every day, with a 5am morning rise followed by a bed time of anywhere between 11pm and 1am to desperately try and get my lesson plans written for the following day. To add to the chaos, I was also part of the U21 England hockey training squad, attending numerous training camps at Bisham Abbey and was also playing National League fixtures with Beeston Hockey Club. Reflecting upon this period now, I have no idea how I managed to fit it all in! In 2012, I commenced my teaching career and also chose to complete my Master’s degree whilst working full-time. 8 years later and I am now Head of Physical Education. I retired from hockey, and was inspired into the world of running, swimming and cycling over multiple terrains and distances. My current life in a nutshell comprises PE teaching full time, daily gym & training sessions, offering support at Tailored Integrated Headquarters, participating most weekends in running, swimming, biking or multisport events and (most importantly) devoting time to my partner, step-daughter, family and friends.

My mantra in life has always been to live every single day of my life to the maximum, but I have also experienced the negative effects of this mind-set with anxiety, stress, exhaustion and burnout. The numerous chilled days and reflection that lockdown has enforced has been an unexpected gift, making me realise and appreciate that I can’t be (and shouldn’t expect myself to be) a human chaos machine all of the time. I can’t quite believe that it has taken something like this for me to realise this but, then again, this is the first time in life I have had to involuntarily jump off my “hamster wheel”.

During lockdown, I have done a vast amount of light hearted reading and have become hooked and inspired by motivational speaker Jaz Ampaw-Farr. In her work she describes how our mind and body is capable of working through 5 different 'gears':

1st Gear - Recharge Mode: where we are completely relaxed both mentally and physically. We take time out for ourselves. In this mode we do not worry about the uncontrollable factors, there are no agendas or time pressures.

2nd Gear - Connect Mode: engaging with people but on a deeper level. Not the average kind of “chit chat” e.g. 'How are you?' 'What have you been up to?' In this mode, you may connect with people who need to voice a problem / concern or they may just need a listener or a shoulder to cry on.

3rd Gear - Social Mode: involving light hearted and engaging conversation, you may go out for a drink with a group of friends (remember those days?!!), or simply have an easy going chat over social media. It can often be a good way to touch base with those around you.

4th Gear - Task Mode: where we are always trying to get things done, and most of the time we are juggling our focus and attention between numerous different jobs. This may include answering emails, planning for a work task, answering phone calls, meeting deadlines, contemplating meal prep, childcare considerations... the list goes on!

5th Gear - Focus Mode: where we manage to get our head down and apply ourselves to one task only. It requires deep thinking, and this could be as simple as completing a challenging jigsaw or focusing on an art project for a few hours.

My challenge for you right now is for you to take a moment to reflect... in which gear do you spend the majority of your life?

For me, as you can see from what I have said above, I have spent the majority of my working life in 4th gear, and it would be fair to say that the remaining gears have experienced an element of neglect. It is said that the ideal situation would be to live our lives using the range of gears consistently. They are all hugely important, therefore one should not always take precedence over the others. Following my reading and recent reflections, I now find it useful to regularly reflect in which gear my body is working, write it down (including the time of day) and reflect back over the week to ensure that I have done my best to have operated through a range of gears throughout the working week. Try it for yourself... see which gears you are favouring...

Challenging times lie ahead for us as a nation, even as a society as a whole. We eagerly await government guidance on the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions. We are all struggling to comprehend what this “new normal” is going to look like. It is easy to dash around trying to get everything done, trying to fulfil all of our different, and seemingly, currently, ever-changing roles. I believe that using this simple method to assess and re-shape our behaviours we can look after our gearing to manifest stronger relationships, revised understanding and interpretation of daily pressures and a positive re-shape of our mental and physical health and well-being.

Give it a go for yourself... and let us know how you get on...

Stay Safe Folks,


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