UL Transforms: Tony Sheridan - MY FINAL WEEK

Friday, 16th March 2018

What I have enjoyed the most:

I have to say I enjoyed my weekly chats with Declan Aherne, head of UL counseling who was my mental health mentor if you will for the 7 weeks. I really found the guidance and encouragement really motivating. Talking things out and getting an outside perspective on things was the best element of the initiative for me by far. I will definitely miss these the most now that the initiative is over (well, and the free entry to the gym).

What I found the most challenging:

While I enjoyed them the most the sessions with Declan were also the most challenging. It is often easy to look at what is happening in your life and give out about it, but do nothing to change it, or even keep perpetuating those problems. Having to reflect and look at and only focus on what I could do to change things I didn't like was very challenging, particularly accepting that some of the things I didn't like were completely of my own construction. It was a hard pill to swallow at first but I have gained a perspective that I hope to take forward in my life and career forevermore.

Of course, I also found kicking the smokes incredibly hard. Much harder than I expected if I am honest. I've had my ups and downs, a few false starts but I'm getting there. While I haven't ditched them completely 7 weeks of not smoking at work and reduced smoking outside of work has definitely made a big improvement to my health. Having met with the HSE quit support worker through the University on Wednesday I have some great advice that I am now putting into action. 

The benefits I am feeling from it:

I am using an app almost every single day called 'headspace' for mindfulness meditation. I think the title of that app is also the main benefit I have got out of the UL Transforms initiative, I have much more headspace. Working in a very busy job where there are always 101 things on your to-do list can completely consume your headspace. As can the pervasive social media apps in our phones. Combine the two, which is what my job is, and there can be little to no room for anything else. Exercising, getting out for walks to hit my 10,000 steps, practicing meditation, cooking healthy meals, etc have all helped me reclaim so headspace (and turning off email notifications on my phone).  This has helped improve my day to day mental health and mood a lot.

My plans going forward:

Small sustained changes are key. Little things that I changed about my diet at the start that I found hard are now a normal part of the routine. I am the sort of person that goes head first into things but I know that it is not sustainable. I will continue getting my 10,000 steps a day, doing mindfulness meditation daily, etc and then add in some little changes, make them part of the routine and keep going on. 


I would like to finish my last blog with a big thank you to Roberta Harrington, ULSU Welfare Officer for having this great idea and putting so much work into making it a reality. A thank you to UL Sport and PCC for their support, Declan Aherne in UL Counseling, Audrey Tierney in the School of Allied Health and to everyone else that made it possible. I really hope to see this initiative run yearly in UL. I think it has to be credited for putting the focus on improvements in well-being specific to the person rather than on weight loss. The scales are rarely the best measurement of your journey. I'd love to go to the launch next year with the 7 other leaders from this year to cheer on a new batch of UL transformers.

Thanks for tuning in everyone.