At this time of the year, there is a lot of focus on men’s physical and mental health with the annual Movember campaign taking place throughout November and International Men’s Day this Sunday, the 19th. The theme for International Men’s Day 2023 is “Zero Male Suicide”, so we asked men on the SL Controls team about how they look after their mental health with a particular focus on building mental resilience.
Keith Moran, CEO
“Mental resilience comes into play in times of stress and high pressure – situations where you are outside of your comfort zone. Mental resilience helps bring you into a zone where you can cope and deal with the situation in a manner that is controlled.
“It’s also important to remember that you build up mental resilience over time. You are not born with it. We all have triggers, too, so it’s also important to recognise those.
“My advice is to recognise the importance of mental resilience and mental health in general. You should find ways that suit your personality and lifestyle that allow you to get into a place where your mental health is at the forefront and gets your mind in a positive place.
“For me, it is sport. Sport helps me get into the right mindset and it has helped me build my mental resilience. I have played squash for more than 35 years and I still play at a competitive level. It’s an individual sport that is high-intensity and, when you play competitively, there is the pressure of winning and losing.
“Winning and losing in sports over the years has also helped me build up my mental resilience. How you come back from losing in a big game, for example, and how you cope with high-pressure situations.”
Marcus Wilkinson, Automation Engineer
“I think there are lots of ways to look after your mental health. For me, I enjoy cooking and baking. I have a few signature dishes that I cook, and I have chickens so there are always plenty of fresh eggs on call. I’m the only one in the house, so I can’t eat everything that I bake and cook. But that opens other opportunities. I tend to barter some of the dishes away for different things, like vegetables from a neighbour up the road. I find baking and cooking creative, and I enjoy doing it.
“I also enjoy sewing. I’ve made outfits for all my kids over the years, but there isn’t as much opportunity these days. I do think repairing and mending are important, and I am very much into recycling and reusing. I don’t throw away things just because it has a hole in it. I repair it or find another use for it.
“So, it’s creative things like sewing and baking that are positive for my mental health. I am also very proud of the fact that I have passed this on as my eldest son also sews and makes clothes for himself, his partner, and their son.”
Vinnie Boyd, Senior Business Operations Executive
“Flying is one of the things I do for my mental health and mental resilience. First, there is the process of getting your licence. You can’t just rock up and start flying, as there is a long enough process to go through that includes nine exams and over 40 hours of flying time with different milestones along the way. Each of those milestones brings their challenges, enhanced by the Irish weather, so mental resilience is important.
“I then use flying as my escape, as somewhere to relax. Whether it’s on a winter’s morning or after work on a summer’s afternoon, you forget about the stresses and issues of the day or week once you get off the ground.
“There’s even a sociable aspect to flying as I can enjoy it with family and friends. That also helps with my mental health and mental resilience.”
Ruairi O’Neill, Project Manager
“When things are as busy as they are now, you can sometimes feel that it’s like Groundhog Day, doing the same thing day-to-day, week-to-week. That can become quite depressing, especially if you are constantly tired. My recommendation is to do something different to break that cycle, especially with the dark evenings and poor weather.
“What I did was join the Tulla pipe band.
“I used to play bagpipes when I was young. Living in Tulla for the past 10 years, it was always on my radar to join the band, but I had made the excuse for myself that I simply didn’t have time. About a month and a half ago, I decided to make time as I figured you need to be doing these activities for yourself when you are still relatively young!
“So, I joined, and, within the month, I was playing at the Clare Hurling County Final and even made it onto TV!
“If I am waiting for the kids doing music lessons, taekwondo lessons, or football training, I have the practice chanter with me so I can learn new tunes. Previously, I would have been having a snooze or doom-scrolling. Now the time passes much more quickly, and I feel that I have achieved something in that hour while waiting for the kids.”
Sam Costelloe, Systems Engineer
“I am participating in Movember this year to raise awareness and support for men’s health issues, particularly focusing on mental health, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. Movember provides a platform for men to openly discuss these often-overlooked issues, encouraging them to prioritise their wellbeing and seek necessary medical attention. By growing a Mustache throughout the month, I aim to spark conversations and promote understanding around the importance of early detection, regular check-ups, and mental health support for men.
“Through my participation, I hope to contribute to breaking the stigma surrounding men’s health, fostering a supportive community, and encouraging positive change. I know that building mental resilience is very important to one’s lifestyle. Building a supportive network; nurturing strong connections with family, friends, and colleagues; having a reliable support system – all these things provide a sense of belonging and can be crucial during tough times.
“My mental health has lately greatly benefited from maintaining an active schedule. I attempt to spend time out with friends as often as possible and go to the gym on a regular basis. Hobbies are essential for preserving mental health. I unwind by going to the gym and playing the guitar. Engaging in these pastimes makes me feel good about myself. Having hobbies is key, they provide a healthy distraction, and they allow me to recharge mentally and emotionally.”
Darragh McMorrow, Commercial Director
“The biggest thing for me is to be fit to disconnect from work and what has gone on throughout the day. Two or three evenings a week, I go for a run for around five or six miles. Weekends are an opportunity to get some longer runs into the legs. On the evenings I don’t have an opportunity to run, I go for a brisk walk. This benefits me physically but it’s also to look after my mind.
“When I run, I might be still trying to solve a problem from earlier in the day for the first five minutes. But then the run becomes the focus, and your mind clears. When you get back after the run, you are totally refreshed, energised, and often have a completely different perspective on things.
“One of the main reasons I run is to get a good night’s sleep. I believe that sleep is essential for building my mental resilience, and running helps ensure I get the seven to eight hours of sleep I need.
“Entering events and completing focused training plans in preparation also helps build my mental resilience. I enter about three to four events a year, whether that is adventure runs, half marathons, or something similar. Doing the adventure runs this year, I find they really test the mind, give you great focus, and take you out of your comfort zone. You are covered in muck at times, even on training runs, and you have to hold on in places to get across the terrain. But it gives me purpose and there is a great sense of achievement.
“The social element is important as well. During the week, I train on my own, but we train in groups at the weekend, and, at the events, there is a great sense of camaraderie. That helps my mental health too.”