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.
Your attitude to ageing – more than a passing thought?
We’re almost continuously bombarded with tips and advice about the secrets of remaining young but have you ever considered how your attitude towards ageing could impact you in other ways?
Ageing and resilience
New research from North Carolina State University (NCSU) examines the link between attitudes towards ageing and resilience. The team at NCSU were curious to know why previous research examining older adults attitudes towards ageing and resilience had shown mixed results. Lead researcher, Jennifer Bellingtier explains,
“… some studies have found that older adults are less resilient than younger adults at responding to stress; some have found that they’re more resilient; and some have found no difference … we wanted to see whether attitudes toward aging could account for this disparity in research findings. In other words, are older adults with positive attitudes about aging more resilient than older adults with negative attitudes?”
Forty three participants, aged between 60 and 96 were asked to complete a daily questionnaire regarding stress and negative emotions they’d experienced over a period of eight days. Researchers factored for how optimistic and upbeat participants generally were in order to establish whether attitudes specifically towards ageing influenced resilience. Participants were asked a series of questions at the beginning of the research to establish their attitudes towards ageing. For example, researchers asked if participants felt they were as useful now as they were when they were younger, or whether they were as happy now as when they were younger.
Bellingtier and her team found that older people with a more positive attitude towards ageing were more resilient in the face of stressful events. The older people with a more positive attitude did not show a significant increase in negative emotions on more stressful days. Participants with a more negative attitude towards ageing showed significantly increased negative emotions in relation to stressful events.
Implications of the research
The way we think about ageing has a very real impact on our ability to manage stress as we get older. Stress has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The research illustrates the importance of managing our emotions and cultivating the skills that allow us to effectively deal with stress. We’re are all able to practice and develop the techniques that enable us to enhance a feeling of calm and quickly move away from negative emotions rather than dwelling on whatever has caused us to feel that way. Why not try Positive Change Guru’s ‘how mindful are you? assessment to get started on managing your negative emotions.
We love to talk about all things positive psychology at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses. We’ll be excited to talk to you about bespoke positive psychology training for your organisation.
What is post-traumatic growth?
The effects of trauma can be hard to handle and at times, overwhelming. A comforting thought is that, whilst we are experiencing the negative effects of trauma, something more positive may also be taking place.
Trauma can lead us to question deeply held beliefs. We search for effective ways to heal and support. Psychology has begun to examine the potential for positive growth following trauma. Growth resulting from trauma is known as post-traumatic growth.
Tedeschi and Calhoun on post-traumatic growth
Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, psychologists at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are experts in post-traumatic growth.
In a review of literature on post-traumatic growth, Tedeschi and Calhoun found reports of growth experiences exceeded reports of psychiatric illness following trauma.
In an example of profound post-traumatic growth, Viktor Frankl, psychologist and holocaust survivor,wrote,
“Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Examples of people responding positively to trauma can also be seen in the creation of organisations such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and the UK wide Mothers Against Guns campaign.
How can we benefit from post-traumatic growth?
Calhoun and Tedeschi’s found that firmly held religious and philosophical beliefs are often questioned following traumatic events. Trauma prompts soul searching questions like, ‘how do I make sense of the world and what is my place in it?’ Beliefs and values are considered in greater depth. We often develop a greater understanding and appreciation of life following trauma. Existing goals are also questioned and new goals formed to fit in with the new, adjusted world view.
Psychologists have developed tools to measure post-traumatic growth, including the Stress-Related Growth Scale and Tedeschi and Calhoun’s Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory. These scales measure items such as relationship to others, new possibilities, personal strength, spiritual change, and appreciation of life.
Research using the above tools has linked post-traumatic growth with the following positive changes:
Increased perception of competence and self-reliance.
Greater acceptance of one’s vulnerability and negative emotional experiences.
Improved relationships with significant others.
More compassion and empathy for others.
Increased effort to improve relationships.
Greater appreciation of own existence.
Greater appreciation for life.
Positive changes in one’s priorities.
Increased religious/spiritual beliefs.
Finally, one important aspect of post-traumatic growth that Tedeschi and Calhoun emphasise, is that such growth exists alongside the emotions of suffering and loss rather than replacing them.
Here at Positive Change Guru we love to talk about all things positive psychology. Get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke positive psychology training for your organisation.
Like to find out more? Watch Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk discussing post-traumatic growth.