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.
Mood Hoovers. Emotional Vampires. We’ve all met them. Whether it’s a colleague at work, your boss, that demanding client, friends, a family member or even a partner. You’ll recognise them by that sinking feeling when you’re with them or the way that you feel depleted after spending any length of time in their company. Maybe just thinking about them leaves you feeling low. They drain you. They sap your energy. You’ll feel like crap after they’ve offloaded their emotional junk on you. It takes time to re-balance and find your equilibrium again after they’ve gone. Negative encounters are part of life. But what if you find yourself surrounded by them?
A Second brain? In Your Gut?
Known as your ‘second brain’ or enteric nervous system (ENS) your gut may be responsible for surprisingly more than digestion. Your gut communicates with your brain, sending and receiving messages. Conventional medicine has long recognised of the link between stress, anxiety and depression and those experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, pain and bowel issues. New research suggests instead that it may be the other way around with evidence that irritation to the gut may send messages to the brain triggering mood changes.
The impact isn’t confined to the our mood. Researchers also found that the digestive system may also affect our memory and cognitive function. Furthermore, gut health has also been linked to psoriasis and eczema. So if our two brains are communicating in this way, how can we improve the conversation?
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;
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…]
We all know that looking after yourself is important. You go to the gym. Check. You eat well. Check. You make time to rest. Check. But what about your brain? One of our most complex organs, what goes on up there is just as important as the rest of your body. Want to know how to develop brain friendly habits? You’ve come to the right place, we’ve put together 10 evidenced ways to love your brain, increase neuroplasticity and future proof your brain from the risk of cognitive decline.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is a sure fire way to create a foggy mind and leave you feeling stressed. Make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep each night by practicing sleep hygiene before you go to bed. Relax, turn off your devices and in the same way that you wake up by washing, cleaning your teeth and completing the myriad of ablutions you’ve created of mornings develop a similar routine before you go to bed so that your body knows it’s bedtime.
- Read. Research suggests that the more we read the less likely we are to experience dementia. Join a library or hunt out bargains at your local charity shop and bury your nose deep inside this month’s bestseller, slowing down cognitive decline.
- Share the love. Practicing kindness will increase your wellbeing and decrease your stress levels. Pay it forward by looking for ways to act kindly each day either randomly or letting someone know how much you appreciate them. Looking for reasons to thank others will activate the compassion regions of your brain.
- Eat well. Get your five a day and more if you can. Research shows that diet has a huge role to play in cognitive health. Your stomach is often referred to as the second brain. Gut bacteria influences your cerebral functioning, maintaining a happy, healthy gut will pay dividends for your brain. Decrease saturated fats and aim to eat as many green alkaline foods as you can. Aim for a nutrient rich diet making sure to include Omega 3.
- Develop happiness. Evidence suggests that depression, sadness and anger are bad for your brain suggesting links with dementia. Guard your mental health and if you experience depression don’t keep it to yourself. Seek help from professionals.
- Engage your brain. When you set goals on a regular basis and challenge yourself you’re stretching your brain in the best possible way. Take a course, learn a language or a new skill and see what you can achieve.
- Hit the gym or the road or the pavement. Regular exercise keeps you fit, increases neuroplasticity and lowers stress. Just 30 minutes 3 times a week will have a positive impact so grab your trainers.
- Have fun and maintain Friendships. We know, prescribed fun doesn’t sound much fun at all but studies researching longevity demonstrate that maintaining a social network is good for you. Isolation increases the risk of dementia and can contribute to depression and stress. Make time to meet friends, to keep in touch in person as well as virtually. Your brain will thank you for strong social connections, reducing your stress and giving you a sense of purpose.
- Look after your heart. See number 8. We know that indicators such as diabetes and obesity have a corollary impact on the brain. Make sure you look after yours.
- Become a quitter. Yes, smoking is bad for your body and your brain. It increases the risks of cognitive decline and impacts negatively upon your health. The one time being a quitter is a good thing.
- Meditate. Where to start with meditation. Over 20 years worth of research demonstrate it has a positive impact on the brain and the body. It reduces your stress levels and increases self compassion, adding to your kindness quotient. Start with a minute of pause per day and wrk your way up. Take our mindfulness test or check out our mindfulness articles and training courses for more information.
- Commit. Yes. we used the ‘C’ word. People who have a sense of purpose thrive. Know your values, why you’re here on the planet and commit to that. Purpose in life predicts lower mortality rates and benefits wellbeing and brain health. Set goals, find your passion and like a well kept garden, cultivate it.
To find out more about health, wellbeing, resilience and stress management take a look at our other blogs or why not take our stress test? If you’d like to discuss wellbeing consultancy contact us at email@example.com To find out more about our resilience courses or in house training visit our course page http://positivechangeguru.com/events-2/
Emotional intelligence? It’s a soft skill isn’t it? Think again. Research has consistently demonstrated that people with high levels of emotional intelligence outperform those with high IQs. It’s a key workplace differentiator when it comes to performance.
What’s going on?
Emotional intelligence (EI) contributes to your relationships with others, how you lead, how you’re perceived, to your overall performance. It’s your reputational capital. Self assessment is notoriously inaccurate, even more so if you lack EI. So how do you know if you have a deficit? Worry not, we’ve put together 5 telltale signs that you lack EI. Take a look at the clues below to identify patterns in your behaviour that you might want to develop or eradicate.
- You feel angry. If you find yourself wandering around feeling angry for much of the day but you’re not sure why this could be a sign that you’re unaware of your triggers. Try to identify what they are so that you can preempt them and devise strategies to overcome them rather than having them rule your behaviour.
- You feel stressed. This is something of a chicken and egg situation with the first telltale sign. We know from research that self regulation is the first thing to diminish when we’re stressed so feeling angry can be an unfortunate by product. When you ignore your emotions and stressful events in life, allowing them to fester, it damages your mind and your body. Unmanaged emotions may lead to anxiety, depression and isolation. A more emotionally intelligent response is to talk things through or find effective strategies for managing stress such as exercise or meditation.
- You don’t let go of grudges. If you find yourself clinging onto grudges, waging mini vendettas or trying to point score the following Chinese proverb is made for you. “If you are planning on revenge, dig two graves. One for your enemy and one for yourself.” Continuing to hold a grudge is down to your amygdala. Another form of stress response, it is your brain in full fight, flight or freeze mode with all of the associated physiological responses. The emotionally intelligent way to manage this is to deal with it, not to perpetuate it. Holding onto grudges will increase your blood pressure and the likelihood of heart disease. Learn to have difficult conversations and use that stress for something more positive.
- You feel others don’t ‘get you. This is down to communication. If you frequently find yourself misunderstood or wonder why people don’t seem to ‘get’ what you’re saying, it’s probably down to the way you communicate. Emotionally intelligent people recognise that different people require different communication styles, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Modify your communication style depending upon who you’re talking to and be better understand.
- It’s everyone else fault. If you find yourself constantly blaming other people for how you feel you’ve abdicated from responsibility. How you feel is your business and only you can change that. To blame others will prevent you from moving forwards and developing. Accept responsibility for your own emotions, thoughts and feelings. That way when you recognise that you don’t like them you’re in a powerful position to make changes.
Don’t beat yourself up if you recognise yourself in the 5 telltale signs. You’re not alone. Emotional intelligence is a profile of competencies and we all possess varying levels of each competence. The good news is that EI can be developed. By implementing new strategies and building new habits you’ll create new neural networks, increase your neuroplasticity and your emotional intelligence.
If you’d like to know more about emotional intelligence, check out our other blogs on EI and how to build it. Or for information about our bitesize, half day or one day emotional intelligence courses or consultancy contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to hear from you.
Resilience: from the Latin word resilo – to jump back. The capacity to bounce back from adversity, adapt and succeed.
Embracing difficulty is key to resilience. But what is it? Resilience describes our ability to manage difficulties effectively rather than be overwhelmed when confronted by adversity. Perhaps one of the most profound definitions is from Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor and author of ‘Man’s search for Meaning”. ‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.’ It comes as no surprise that Frankl’s work has been modified and applied in a workplace setting. An increasing body of research suggests that resilience is also a valuable predictor of success. Penn Professor, Angela Lee-Duckworth’s research suggests that resilience is an even more accurate predictor of success than IQ. A heady claim for something we’re not taught in school. So what’s is it about resilience that makes it such an important differentiator? Lets find out.
Glenn Richardson, Professor and chair, Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah describes resilience as mental toughness and encourages employees to think differently about how they view difficulty. When met by challenge, Richardson suggests that we develop the mindful habit of taking a moment of calm to support ourselves in developing resilience, by making a choice to work with our emotions to accept failure and examine what we can learn from it. This presents a very different approach to turning away from difficulty to get the job done which employees are sometimes forced into doing by workplace pressures. Dr Gregg Steinberg suggests that challenge and adversity can develop emotional intelligence and grit, enabling people to bounce back to an even higher level of resilience than before. For Steinberg, adversity creates and shines a light upon what is missing in life, highlighting what we need to be more successful and happier. Watch Gregg talking about ‘Falling Up’ in our ’10 Best Resilience Videos’ blog. You might be asking yourself how you can turn towards difficulty or failure when your natural response is to turn away, run for the hills and avoid it. Resilience is a skill that can be learned and you can begin to work out your resiliency muscles right now. The next time you face adversity, try the following;
Embed calm checkpoints into your day.
Take a moment to notice what’s happening. Breathe and sit with what is there for you in that moment.
Known as ‘Affect Labelling’ this is where you identify the emotion. Try saying to yourself “Hello anxiety” if that’s what you’re feeling. Recognising and naming the emotion makes a distinction; you are experiencing anxiety rather than labeling yourself as an anxious person.
Work with what shows up.
As human beings we typically move towards what feels good and avoid what doesn’t, frequently missing what we feel neutral towards. Instead of moving toward the positive or trying to push difficult emotions away, bring a gentle curiosity to both. Notice your reaction without judging it. Reflect on the nuances of perceptions of positive, negative and neutral. Is there an associated response in the body? Tension or lightness? Bring mindful awareness to whatever arises.
It’s not Forever.
Recognising the impermanence of all emotions is key. Mindfulness teaches us that emotions are just mental events with a short life span. Ask yourself what you need in order to manage that emotion in this moment.
Reflect on what is really going on for you. Is there historical stuff or emotional baggage that has led to this emotion? Your response might be appropriate, now you’ve investigated you’re in a better position to choose how to respond effectively and skillfully.
Practice on a regular basis.
When you develop the capacity to face difficulty you are able to make more skillful choices. Mindful awareness of challenging situations gives us the opportunity to defuse difficult thoughts and emotions and create distance. With that distance we can choose our response rather than falling into habitual knee – jerk reactions.
Difficulty is part of life, it isn’t going anywhere soon but the good new is that resilience isn’t an absolute. Changing over time it can grow, be learned and developed. For more information on how to build your resilience check out our other blogs, our free ‘Build Your Resilience’ webinar or come to one of our resilience training courses, we’d love to see you there!
To find out more about building resilience or resilience training contact us at email@example.com
Feeling the jitters before a big interview? Crippled by a churning stomach prior to a presentation? Harvard Business School Professor Amy J C Cuddy suggests you can increase your confidence & control your feelings of fear with just a few simple postures.
Cuddy states her research ‘has broad implications for people who suffer from feelings of powerlessness and low self esteem due to their hierarchical rank or lack of resources’. Recognise yourself? Even if you didn’t jump out of bed this morning contemplating your hierarchical rank as you looked forward to your day, those feelings of anxiety and powerlessness could apply to any of us at some point.
Cuddy suggests ‘Power posing’ could be the answer to giving yourself some much needed ‘oomph’ in times of doubt. Research by Cuddy, Carey and Yap found that a series of prescribed ‘power’ postures had surprising physiological results, increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol, resulting in a decrease in anxiety. The poses chosen by the researchers made the subjects appear bigger, as though they were taking up more space (hands behind the head, feet on the desk, leaning with hands on tables) as opposed to poses (arms and legs crossed) which made them appear smaller and had no beneficial effect.
Whereas walking into an interview and perching your feet on the desk might not be the most strategic option (no, really, it isn’t) a few minutes beforehand spent literally bigging yourself up with a few ‘power poses’ might just eradicate the butterflies, provide you with confidence and give you the oomph you’re after.
Want to know more? Check our our Events page to find out about our confidence building programmes http://positivechangeguru.com/events-2/
Profit? Loss? Return on investment? How about compassionate leadership as an organisational metric? We give you the skinny on why it might not be as counterintuitive as it sounds.
Working in a compassionate workplace impacts positively upon our levels of stress and ability to maintain resilience, reducing burnout (Figley 1995). The corollary of this is an improved ability to care for colleagues, direct reports and clients (Lilius et al. 2011). The impact of compassionate leadership also influences employees’ perception of their colleagues and the organisation generally. Suggesting compassion is good for business and for employees.
Lilius et al. (2011) found that when employees perceived that direct line managers were concerned about their wellbeing they reported feeling more engaged and happier at work. Employees were also less likely to leave the organisation resulting in a reduced staff turnover.
From Good To Great
Compassionate leaders have the ability to make workplaces more enjoyable and less stressful places to be. Fredrickson et al. 2000 found that when subjects experienced positive emotions their heart rate and blood pressure is lowered. Psychological distress was also observed to decrease. As Wallace Bachman’s (1988) military based research found, sometimes nice guys really do finish first. In ‘True North’ Bill George (2007) describes this compassionate leadership style as “transforming a workplace from ‘I’ to ‘We.’” Providing an environment where leaders leave behind the cut throat competition along with their ego’s to provide a workplace space were individuals are supported and developed by leaders. Collins (2001) describes this as what he considers a ‘Level 5’ leadership skill, consisting of motivation and humility. These leaders, Collins states move individuals, teams and organizations from ‘good to great.’
So are YOU a compassionate leader? Visit our resources page to find out more.
To find out more about compassionate leadership or compassion training contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org