Sophia Watts

About me…

Senior Radiographer and PT/OT Therapy Inpatient Team Lead at Southern Health Foundation Trust

What helps me relax and refocus

In my own time – being in the forest and walking my dogs each morning followed by a coffee outside once we are home. I use Headspace meditation on Netflix as it is free!

In work – breathing exercises as I can do them anywhere (pretty much) although better if I can find a quiet spot alone where I can close my eyes whilst breathing. And reflection on scenarios.

My best health /wellbeing discovery is…

Time. To be still – no media, no email , no phone – even if it is only for a few minutes a day – be present.

W.A.I.T. – Why am I talking? Quote from Mr Rogers, I am still learning how to listen!

Health/wellbeing goals I’m working on

Better timekeeping – trying not to fit so much in before during AND after work – most of these things are not going anywhere and will never run out! I try and actively work out realistic timeframes in advance and put specific time aside for tasks. I also ‘book’ in time to do nothing except relax, that can be watching a film or reading a book but it has to be something that doesn’t add any technical value, it can only be fun!

Do you have a health/wellbeing story or experience to share? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Situation: I was at a point in my career several years ago when I was careening towards a breakdown – I was in a senior management position responsible for a medium sized team. The pressure I put on myself (as well as pressure from others) was too much. My job was changing away from what was first advertised, and past what I could manage at that time. There was no health or wellbeing advice offered by the company I was working for, my stress was not recognised at work – it was however recognised by family and friends who were watching me become more focussed on work and less and less on my life. My daughter rarely saw me and when she did – I was rarely present in the moment, always mentally dealing with some issue or other – or my work phone was ringing.

Task: I had to find a way to step off the merry go round and re-evaluate what was important to me.

Action: I took a redundancy with no job to go to and returned to my roots as a self-employed paint and decorator while also picking up agency shifts as a radiographer. I gave myself 6 months to chill out and find joy in work again – and to get a different permanent job in radiography. I did this within the timeframe set. It was at a lower band level but once all the extra hours I was working previously and the reduction in travel were factored in, financially, it wasn’t that different and, bonus, had far less responsibility and extra bonus, it provided me with the head space I needed to gather myself. I am now working back at similar management levels as before, with a different outlook and am keenly aware that I do not want a repeat so have put things in place to help reduce the risk such as advanced planning which involves life planning, saying no (when appropriate) and recognising trigger points.

Reflection: I think stepping off the merry go round as a single parent and sole earner (with a teenage daughter and a 2 bedroom mortgage) was the scariest thing I have done in recent years – but to stay would have been madness and would have resulted in a very different me, one with a possible breakdown in their history and a totally different landscape to get back to an equivalent wage following a likely long term sickness with stress. I feel mental health is being viewed differently now, particularly since (sorry to mention it) Covid 19. People are more open to talking about these things and intervention methods are a lot easier to source. This can only be a good thing. I wish I had had that sort of access to help and support before. I may not have needed to leave and change jobs.

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