Taking a holistic approach to your wellbeing strategy is never simple. Even when your wellbeing strategy is established, growing the health of your staff and remaining proactive is crucial. As Prof. Cary Cooper states, “A workforce that is well works well.” Creating a culture of wellbeing takes time, commitment and constant innovation. The old one size fits all approach to wellbeing is now obsolete. One of the most new and innovative ways to support staff wellbeing is writing. Long since recognised in the US as a workplace intervention, it is slowly gaining popularity in the UK.
However much you love what you do, if your job involves working with people, you’ll understand the concept of emotional labour. Perhaps you’re a figurehead and it’s important to build rapport and maintain your cool even in difficult circumstances that would send the rest of us running? Maybe your role involves managing other people’s emotions and it’s not always pretty? Or if you’re the first point of contact for a business, it’s possible you’ll be on the receiving end of frustration, disappointment and rancour.
Are you able to answer ‘Yes’ to the following questions;
Innovation. How best to develop, sustain and refine it? Let the battle commence between divergent and convergent thinking. Or perhaps not? Here we make the case for both types of thinking, side by side and suggest techniques for how best to unlock them.
Unleashing the creativity genie
The elusive muse. Creativity. How to unlock it, nurture it and keep it generating innovative ideas time after time. It’s the holy grail of the creative process. Mindfulness may be the answer to developing and sustaining your inner creative genius. Let’s take a look at how to apply it. [Read more…]
At Positive Change Guru we’re sometimes asked whether mindfulness is harmful. It’s a sensible question and one which we’ll attempt to shed some light upon here.
Whether you have an established wellbeing programme or are designing a strategy from scratch, mindfulness should be firmly on the agenda. With converts ranging from Google, Transport for London, Honda, the National Health Service, Microsoft and Aetna the results speak for themselves. We’ve worked with many companies who are now mindfulness evangelists. But where do you start when introducing mindfulness to your workplace? We’ve often been asked this question by clients so here are our
7 Insider Tips [Read more…]
If you’ve ever had a really bad day, you’ll already know that the power of negative thinking is heady stuff indeed. A bad commute, a spat with a challenging co-worker or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed can all be downward spiral catalysts New research from Stanford University may just provide the antidote. Meditation.
It seems that the mere act of thinking really does change your brain. The latest research in neuroscience suggests that it’s not just the act of thinking that has an impact on the neurology of your brain, what you are thinking about is just as important. How and what we think about affects the neuroplasticity of our brain, its ability to rearrange its own structure in response to negative or positive stimulus.
Morgan and Banerjee’s Stanford University study into the effects of rumination (that’s negative thinking to you and me) examined the effects on research subjects asked to reflect upon the negative aspects of their lives. Not surprisingly, in addition to making the subjects feel like reaching for the biggest tub of Hagen Daz they could find, something else was happening within their neurology. Extended periods of such negative thinking resulted in an increase in the activity of the amygdala (the area of the brain responsible for the fight, flight or freeze response to fear). This increased activity precipitated a rush of damaging neurochemicals into the brain. So, if negative thinking makes us feel worse and changes our neurology, what kind of results will positive thinking produce? Let’s take a look….
Tibetan Monks & Meditation
Since 2008 Zoran Josipovic, adjunct professor at New York University has been studying Tibetan Buddhist monks in an attempt to identify the effects of meditation on brain neurology. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). His ongoing research has found that meditation alters the neural networks in research subjects, strengthening the anterior cingulate, regulating anger, reducing anxiety and increasing levels of happiness (and not a tub of Hagen Daz in sight).
So the next time you start to ruminate on negative events or things that you’re not happy with, stop, take a moment or two and shift focus, try the opposite to rumination and meditate. Take a look at our ‘Are you Mindful? self assessment or our mindfulness blogs for more on this topic.
To find out more about meditation or our mindfulness and wellbeing courses check out our Events page at www.positivechangeguru.com/events
What’s fuelling your burnout? Feeling exhausted? Perhaps even a little cynical where work is concerned? You could be suffering from burnout syndrome. A common response to stress, burnout is characterised by a variety of dimensions from fatigue, demotivation, frustration, cynicism and ultimately, reduced efficacy. So what, exactly, is fuelling your burnout?
The Beginnings Of Burnout
It isn’t a new phenomenon, Graham Greene wrote about it during the 60s in ‘A Burnout Case’ as a result the term was later coined in the context of employee burnout by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. It’s firmly part and parcel of corporate landscape now with employees increasingly being asked to do more with less.
Montero Marin at the University of Zaragoza identified three types of burnout. In a study of 429 university workers in a variety of occupations ranging from administration to research, the study identified 3 separate subtypes;
What’s Your Type?
- Boredom. This type of stress stems from lack of challenge. When employees aren’t stretched they’re unable to get into a state of flow, or optimum performance, stifling their development and their motivation. If you find yourself using avoidance as a coping strategy and complaining about your organisation on a regular basis, the research suggests this could be your burnout type. Leaving you feeling like giving up. boredom is fuelling your burnout fire.
- Overload. This subtype is characterised by frenetic behaviour. You find yourself doing, doing, doing with a constant mental ‘To do’ list. Your coping strategy is to keep working until you’re exhausted in the belief that you’ll somehow make headway. You’re overloaded by stress and feel cynical due to the lack of support you receive. You may feel that your organisation is limiting you. Excessive workload is fuelling your burnout.
- Worn Out. In this subtype when you’re faced with stress, you give up. It’s all just too overwhelming. The will to achieve is there but you lack motivation to get started in the onslaught of stress. If this is your subtype you may feel badly let down by your organisation. You’ve simply had enough and that is fuelling your stress.
What’s Fuelling Your Organisation’s Risk of Burnout?
Now you know what’s fuelling your individual burnout, lets take a look at your organisation. Maslach, Schaufel and Leiter identified 6 organisational risk factors that increase the likelihood of burnout.
- Mismatch in workload
- Mismatch in control
- Lack of appropriate rewards
- Loss of sense of positive connection with others
- Perceived lack of fairness
- Conflict with values
If the causes of burnout are multi factorial, how can you begin to combat it?
If you’re a leader, the starting point is your organisational culture. Here’s our checklist to guide your stress audit;
- Do you have a wellbeing strategy?
- Do staff have a healthy approach to work life balance and is this modelled by your leadership team?
- Are your people micromanaged or given the autonomy to carry out their role?
- Do you model your values or is there a disconnect? Do you need to revisit your strategy, policies, procedures and actions?
If you’ve identified that you’re on the way to being stressed, find a way to reduce your stress levels by;
- Practising mindfulness (see our mindfulness resources on this site)
- Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions. Talk to your GP who will be able to recommend a therapist.
- Reflect upon whether your values are in alignment with your role. Is your current role what you feel drawn to as a profession or is something else calling you?
- Check your work – life balance is where you want it to be. If it isn’t take the necessary steps to address the areas that need work. Cut back on your hours, take lunch breaks and make sure you create time for friends, family and a life outside of work.
A big thank you to Gill Thackray for her guest blog on becoming more mindful in five easy steps.
Mindfulness in minutes
Everybody is talking about it, but it isn’t new. Mindfulness and mindfulness based cognitive therapy have been effectively used to treat anxiety, stress and depression for a number of years.
Google famously use it in their ‘Search Inside Yourself’ programme, Deloitte, Barclays, Harvard Business School and UK Sport have been practicing it of late, even Transport for London are jumping on the mindfulness train. So what is it?
More than positive thinking or simple breathing exercises, mindfulness is an effective way to train your brain – it’s all about being in the present moment, consciously aware, paying attention without judging, and it’s a great way to promote happiness and mentally de-clutter.
5 easy steps to being more mindful
With regular practice, mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you improve your overall wellbeing. Here are just 5 simple ways you can become more mindful in under 5 minutes a day.
1. The Traffic Light
This one is simple and takes just one minute. Think of what you do at a traffic light; STOP! You can do this sitting in your car every time you really are stopped by a red light, sitting at your desk or just sitting in your chair.
Stop: Stop what you are doing. Pause for a moment.
Take a breath: Breathe, it’s easy, we do it all of the time, we just don’t think about it. Really notice how the breath feels entering your body and how it feels as you exhale. Concentrate only on your breath.
Observe: Now you’ve had that pause and breathed a little, how do you feel? What’s going on for you? Just notice, observe it without judging.
Proceed: Time to continue on your journey.
2. One minute Breath
Another technique that only takes a minute.
Set your stop watch or sit in front of a clock and just breathe for one minute. Your aim is to focus on your breath for one whole minute. Notice how the breath feels as it enters the nostrils, how it feels cool as you inhale, how it’s a little warmer as you exhale. That’s all you’re doing concentrating on your breath for an entire minute.
3. Mindful eating
This is a mindfulness favourite and you can do it with chocolate, raisins, dinner, breakfast, anything you like as long as it’s edible. Get rid of distractions like the TV, newspaper, mobile phone, radio or talking and sit down to eat.
Give your full attention to your food; how does it smell, what colour is it? What are the textures like? How do you cut it? Chew slowly and really savour your meal. Notice how it tastes different? This is also a great technique if you are watching your weight, helping you to feel fuller for longer rather than wondering where that bar of chocolate went….
4. A mindful cup of tea
It’s a simple procedure, but there’s a reason it’s a ritual in the Far East. Making (and of course drinking) tea can be a profoundly relaxing experience. Notice the weight of the kettle as you fill it with water, listen to the sound of the water as it runs from the tap, how the light bounces off the endless stream. Notice the sounds of the water in the kettle as it comes to the boil. Stay in the present as you prepare your cup and the tea bag. Watch as you pour the boiling water onto the bag, how it floats as the steam swirls upwards. Then sit down and reward yourself as you notice the heat, the taste of the tea and all of the different flavours as you swallow.
5. Mindful walking
The next time you’re walking, really notice what’s going on around you, the light, the sky, the trees. Feel the ground under your feet, how you breathe as you walk, notice the buildings, your fellow pedestrians. Remain in the present as you head towards your destination. Feel the wind on your face and notice what’s different when you arrive at your destination.
The great thing about mindfulness is that you can use it any place, anytime, anywhere. Practised on a regular basis, mindfulness can improve both your mental and your physical health and offers a great return on investment for a few just a few minutes of your time each day.