Manage Your Mental Health

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Yeah, labor is a big issue right now, but personally, I think mental health is one that’s underestimated in our industry. Unfortunately, it’s a topic that is taboo in a community that is comprised mostly of men. We just don’t talk about it when amongst friends and colleagues.

Your jobs can be really stressful…I don’t think I need to remind any of you of that. Whether dealing with staffing issues, club political issues, budget cuts, mother nature, home life, and so on, you are presented with many challenges on a regular basis. Many of you feel as if your job is constantly on the line. If not handled properly, the snowball effect of all of this can lead to some really dark places.

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while and have had some bouts with depression as well. The last few years have been pretty crazy for me…divorce, major job transition (leading to financial instability), moving (multiple times), dating, crazy kids, and that’s just scratching the surface.

Mental illness can be just as debilitating as injuring your back or breaking a bone. It can make even the simplest tasks difficult to manage. Some common symptoms include:

- Inability to focus
- Lack of interest in being active
- Loss of sleep
- Constantly feeling exhausted
- Lack of motivation
- Low self-esteem
- Irritable
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues and chronic pain

If you don’t recognize and do something about the issue, the results can be devastating to you, your friends and your family.

According to stress expert, Brad Stulberg, here are some ways to accept and deal with mental illness:

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LET GO OF CONTROL
Most superintendents that I know like to be in control (I’m the same way). They’re Type A and are extremely motivated. That’s how they’ve become successful. Unfortunately, with anxiety, these traits are counterproductive. According to Stulberg, embracing uncertainty and giving up control can help reduce your anxiety.

EXPOSURE THERAPY
If you get anxious in certain situations, such as public speaking, one way to reduce the stress involved with the activity is to force yourself to do it more often. Do whatever it is that makes you anxious. This approach is called exposure therapy.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Mental illness can give you the feeling of being alone on an island. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Seek the help of a professional. Talk to family and friends. It helps to have someone by your side that knows what you’re going through and can offer encouragement.

EXERCISE
There’s plenty of research indicating that exercise helps treat anxiety and depression. If you’re not one for exercise, try diving deeper into some of your hobbies. For me, it’s golf…I love grabbing my clubs and walking nine holes by myself to clear my mind.

BE PATIENT
This isn’t something that you will be able to make go away overnight. Accept that this will likely be a process and long road to recovery. But remember, it will get better!

Click here to read Brad’s article at Pocket Worthy for more information on his story and recommendations.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other type of mental illness, don’t ignore it! Seek help from a professional and talk to those around you.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times (and will say it a million more), the people of our golf course management community are special. You’re not afraid to chat with your colleagues, who are usually good friends, about the health of your course. Don’t be afraid to talk to these individuals about your own health as well.