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5 MINUTES WITH Mark Simmonds ‘I have experienced stress and anxiety for most of my life.’

April 07 2022

We’re excited to be working with Mark Simmonds on the campaign for his new book, Beat The Stress at Work. We asked Mark some questions to find out more about him, his book, and his vision:

1. Pitch in 10 - sell us your book in less than 10 words

A close friend sharing practical, heartfelt advice about stress management.

2. Audience of One -  If you could choose ONE person to read your book who would it be and why? 

“I am twenty-five years old and I have been in the world of work for just over two years. I must admit that this it’s turning out to be quite a lot harder than I thought from a mental health perspective! Beat Stress At Work hit my desk in the nick of time. Written by someone who has ‘been there and done that’, it explained exactly how I was feeling and why. But best of all, the book provided me with some no-nonsense and practical ways for preserving my wellbeing before things started spiralling out of control.”

3. Behind the Book - Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Three things. Firstly, even though I will say so myself, I have an excellent CV when it comes to mental ill health. I have experienced stress and anxiety for most of my life. I have had panic attacks and nervous breakdowns and I have even made one unsuccessful attempt on my own life. I have also looked after others with mental illnesses. Secondly, it seems that I am not alone. Vast swathes of the working population appear to have experienced or are experiencing some kind of mental ill health, and this shows no sign of abating. In particular, thanks to our Covid-19 friend. It has become apparent to me that the more I am able to open up about my own story in public, the more I am able to persuade others to open up and share their own stories. One thing I know for sure is that it’s always better out than in. And thirdly, I just happen to love the act of communicating through the written word. In tandem with my skills as a management trainer, this gives me the ability to express tricky concepts simply.

4. Guess what? Tell us one thing that readers might be surprised to hear about you. 

I have spent the majority of my working career as a management trainer, delivering courses for some of the largest organisations across the world. The job has meant me standing up in front of groups of 20, 30, 40 people, often for days on end. And on residential courses, this has involved me socialising with the same people during the evenings. I have been lucky enough to love my job. But here is the thing. I am fundamentally an introvert at heart and get as much pleasure and satisfaction doing things on my own as I do being with other people. I recently read a fact from a global study which stated that almost 60% of people are more introverted than extroverted! So, I am not alone! The reason why this self-awareness has become so important to me is that it now shapes my life both personally and professionally. I have a much clearer understanding of where I gain my energy from and where it dissipates. I know which situations to embrace and which ones to avoid. I can probably say, hand on heart, that this has had the single most positive effect on the preservation of my mental wellbeing.

5. The next chapter - what’s next for you?

I think that I have a novel in me that revolves around the topic of mental health! This would be how it opens…….

“This is really embarrassing. I mean really embarrassing. What would my parents say if they were both still alive? How proud would they be of me right now? I wretch for the first time. I mean I’m almost 29 years old for God’s sake. I’m supposed to be a proper grown up, able to make big decisions, deal with problems when they arise, face up to the occasional confrontation. But no, not me! Here I am like a terrified little schoolboy cowering away from the classroom bully. I wretch again. It’s not as if anybody is going to hurt me, is it? No-one is going to stand up, walk over to me and punch me in the face. Although that would cause quite a stir, I guess. OK, so there may be a bit of shouting, a few looks of disgust now and then, and no doubt an attempt or two to make me feel like I haven’t done my homework. I wretch one more time but nothing is coming up any more. My stomach is empty because I haven’t eaten all day. Too bloody nervous. And then I hear the door open slowly. I know who it is. I told Martin to come and get me when it was time. “Steve, it’s 5 to 11. They are waiting for you in the boardroom”. “Thanks, Martin” I say, with all the enthusiasm of a man on death row getting his final call. I take my head out of the toilet, exit the cubicle and look in the mirror at a pale, gaunt and beaten up face. Somewhat comically, I straighten my tie as if that is going to make a blind bit of difference. Martin is holding the door open, carrying the laptop with the presentation in the other. “Ok, let’s go”, I say. “Lamb to the slaughter”

To get a review copy or to book in an interview, contact natalie.connors@thebookpublicist.co.uk

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