By Aaron Hunter
Apprenticeship life is tough, this is no easy road. Workplace apprenticeships have been around for some time now. In 1919, young people had to take 150 hours of theory and general lessons in their subject a year as part of their apprenticeship. This minimum training time rose to 360 hours a year in 1961, then 400 in 1986. Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), first announced by then-Chancellor Kenneth Clarke in November 1993, were designed to reverse the decline in apprenticeship numbers and provide a boost to work-based training. MAs were launched in 1994 and were fully up and running by September 1995.
Modern apprenticeships are completed within a vocational setting, which means that in order to undertake one you first need to be employed – the idea being that you earn while you learn. This is an interesting concept which is more appealing to the workforce. In order to complete a modern apprenticeship, there is an agreement between workplaces and apprenticeship providers that the apprentice will be provided with a minimum amount of time to complete their studies, known as the 20%.
When considering mental resilience whilst on apprenticeships the first thing to consider is stress. Work-related stress is how you feel when you have demands at work that exceed how much you feel you can cope with. Over 11 million working days are lost each year because of work-related stress. Stress can be a contributing factor to conditions such as anxiety or depression. Nearly half a million people in the UK have work-related stress at a level that makes them feel ill.
Work can be considered good for us as it gives life structure and people get satisfaction from it. A manageable amount of pressure at work can be considered a good thing as it can help you perform better and prepare you for challenges. But if the pressure and demands become too much, they can lead to work-related stress.
Work-related stress can be caused by lots of things. These include:
Sometimes there’s no single cause of work-related stress. It might happen if small things build up over time, or due to a mix of things in both your work and personal life. (Source: Bupa)
Being able to hold down a job and complete an apprenticeship at the same time can be stressful and can become a bit of a juggling act. There are a few hints and tips that I will aim to share with you as to how to overcome some common misconceptions and some tools that you can use to make your apprenticeship more enjoyable.
The first thing that I suggest is breathing exercises. This seems like a rather obvious thing but being able to keep yourself calm and in the zone can come from how your body is reacting to the situations you are in. Take some time out of your day to work on taking a few deep breaths and allow yourself time to think. When we take in a deep breath, your lungs inflate and fill your torso. This puts a little pressure on your heart, which your brain then interprets that your heart needs to pump faster. As you expel all the oxygen out of your lungs, this takes the pressure off and allows your heart space. The opposite then happens, as your heart no longer needs to pump as fast, and your brain interprets this as a relaxed state.
There is a breathing exercise called the 4-7-8 technique, that goes as follows:
Repeat the cycle up to 4 times.
(Source: Medical News Today)
There are a number of free websites and apps that can provide guidance and support with breathing exercises.
The next thing I suggest that you try is journaling. There are lots of benefits that come with journaling, such as clearing your head and allowing yourself time to think. Getting your thought on paper also helps by making them more visible. Being able to go back to a thought that you had at a later date allows you to keep being focused on the task at hand.
There are lots of ways to journal. There is an argument for written journaling (pen and paper), as this not only allows you to work on your journaling skills but also your written communication skills. There are lots of apps that you can download to your smartphone as well. My personal recommendation is an app called Day One (iOS), but you can even use the notes app on your phone.
The final thing I suggest is that you learn about your own Circadian Rhythms. This is your internal body clock that determines the best time of day for you to manage activities.
Are you an early riser that gets a lot done before the sun comes up? Or are you a night owl that prefers to work later in the evening? In order to get the most out of yourself, you need to ask yourself these questions to fully understand your own Circadian Rhythm.
I am going to give you £1 for your mental health and wellbeing. I want you to now try and list as many things as possible that are important to you e.g. a house, car, entertainment, eating out.
For each item that you add I will add a zero to the £1.
How expensive can you make your lifestyle?
Now I’m going to remove the £1 because you are not taking care of your mental health and wellness, what are you left with?
Too often in today’s world we get caught up in the hustle and bustle and wanting more for ourselves, more for our families, our futures that we forget to take care of what really matters.