Blog

March Newsletter

Positive psychology is a field that looks at what gives our lives meaning and purpose, how we can become happier and more fulfilled, and how we can flourish, and not just merely survive. In this newsletter, we’ll look at how positive emotions can foster positive relationships, what it means to flourish, and how according to a study, how happy we are is largely self-determined.

Maureen


Positive emotions and positive relationships

Emotional intelligence is about being able to identify and manage your emotions and the emotions of the people around you, and the good news is, this can be learned, and achieved through living mindfully. Being emotionally intelligent means that you have a better relationship with yourself and with others.

Emotional intelligence has three elements:

  1. Emotional awareness: Being aware of your own emotions and the emotions of others. If you’re emotionally aware, you accept yourself and others because you understand that every person is different and deals with their emotions in their own way. When you’re emotionally aware, you’re less likely to react emotionally to situations.
  2. Emotional application: This means that you use the emotions you are feeling for your benefit and to help others. You don’t allow emotions to take over, instead, you acknowledge what you’re feeling and think about where it’s really coming from.
  3. Emotional management: This means that you are able to check in with yourself every day, and you try to be positive but you also recognise that negative emotions are a part of real life. Being able to manage your emotions gives you a sense of control, especially during stressful times. It also means that you respect other people’s emotions, empathise with them, and support them if they need it.

Why is emotional intelligence linked to positive relationships?

Emotionally intelligent people easily gain the trust of others, because they’re observant, and they listen and speak without judgement. Instead of judging someone’s emotional reactions, they try to understand them and demonstrate empathy. This can apply to any interaction with others, from close relationships to brief daily interactions.

How mindfulness makes us more emotionally intelligent

The 2015 paper Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation on Emotional Intelligence, General Self-Efficacy, and Perceived Stress found that mindfulness helps us increase our emotional intelligence in three key ways:

  1. It improves our ability to understand our own emotions
  2. It helps us to recognise the emotions of others
  3. It improves our ability to manage and control our own emotions

How mindfulness can help you manage your emotions: An example

Mindfulness improves a person’s ability to use their emotions effectively by helping them determine which emotions are beneficial when undertaking certain activities.

Do you feel annoyed or stressed out when you really need to be productive? Well doing a short mindfulness practice can make you aware of the emotions you’re experiencing. You might be aware in that moment that you’re feeling distracted or irritated, and that you are unlikely to be productive if you carry on working. So this is the perfect opportunity to do a short mindfulness practice to acknowledge your emotions and bring you back to the present moment. If you make this a regular habit, you are more likely to learn how to manage your emotions which will help you be more productive, less stressed and in control.

Adapted from: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-emotional-intelligence/


5 Ways to Wellness: How Organisations Can Build Wellness into their Culture 

Happy, healthy employees are good for business. They take less time off work, and if they believe that their employer cares about their wellbeing, they’ll be more motivated, engaged, and productive, which is great for the bottom line.

So how can organisations who want to take advantage of this build wellness into their culture? Here are five strategies.

Create well designed workplaces that inspire

How many people would describe their workplace as ‘inspiring?’ Probably not many. Attention should be paid to workplace design and designers should aim to create light and airy spaces which are more conducive to creativity and calm. Furniture and other equipment should be ergonomic so as to increase comfort and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury.

Encourage employees to take regular breaks

Many people eat their lunch at their desk every day so they don’t really get a true break from work and their screen. This is not great for motivation or productivity, and unsurprisingly, surveys have shown that employees feel much more productive after taking a break.

Promote personal and professional development

If employees feel they are being challenged and encouraged to develop, they’ll be more motivated, and more likely to stay.

Introduce flexible working

This may be harder to implement if you’re a small business, but employees who have a better work/life balance are happier, more productive, and more loyal. Allow employees to work flexible hours or to work from home every now and again, and promote a healthier work-life balance throughout your entire organisation.

Introduce fitness opportunities into the workplace

If employees are chained to their desk all day, it’s terrible for their mental and physical health. Offer employees subsidised gym memberships or start walking groups, and make sure that employees have facilities where they can get changed and showered, or store their bike if they want to cycle to work. Employees will feel healthier and more energetic, which equates to less time off sick and more time being productive.


What it means to flourish

What would you say if someone asked you what it means to flourish? Would you say it means being successful and financially well off, or would you say it means being happy and being able to grow and develop as a person? Well, as it happens they’re both right.

To flourish encompasses a lot of things that might make us feel happy and give us a sense of wellbeing.

Dr Martin Seligman is often thought of as the ‘founder’ of flourishing, and he developed a model (the PERMA model) to explain the factors that contribute towards greater feelings of wellbeing. These are:

Increasing positive emotions

  • Engaging with the world through work and our hobbies and interests
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Finding meaning and purpose in our lives
  • Achieving our goals by using our strengths and skills

Everyone can flourish, but it can take some work to get there, and to have a healthy balance in the key areas of our lives.

How can you flourish?

  • Expand your social network. Try to meet new people often and work on having deeper relationships with your family, friends, and significant other.
  • Make sure you experience the good things in life. Regularly plan fun and meaningful things into your life, and simply enjoy your experiences.
  • Have more fun. Instead of automatically saying ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know,’ plan a short break, have a date night, or try something you’ve always wanted to do. Anything that makes you smile, laugh, and feel good inside counts.
  • Live your life according to your true values. Do things that fulfil you. You will never flourish if you’re not living authentically.

Do you want to read more on flourishing? Click here

 


Positive thinking and gratitude

Positive thinking and gratitude play a big part in a happy life. We all know that sometimes something happens and we might find it hard to see any positives at all. We also know that it’s easier to wallow in self-pity, but it’s definitely not better for us. Focusing on the negatives all of the time can really affect our quality of life and our outlook. So how can you learn to look on the bright side?

One way you can feel more positive is to practice gratitude.

How many things in your life do you take for granted? Our fast-paced modern lives where everything is available on demand has made us forget about the truly important and joyful things we should be thankful for. The simple things that make our lives richer, like a kiss goodbye from your partner in the morning, a hug from your child, or a phone call from a friend.

Many studies have found that practicing gratitude makes us more compassionate towards ourselves and others, it helps us sleep better, and it increases self-esteem and mental strength. This is not surprising. Once you realise how many things in your life you have to be thankful for, it can be hard to complain too much about your life.

An exercise in Gratitude

The gratitude journal

Having a gratitude journal is an easy way to practice gratitude. You can write in it every day or a few times per week. Some people like to do this before bed. Write down three things you’re grateful for and say why. So instead of just saying ‘I’m grateful for my friend,’ say what he or she did that makes you feel so grateful.

Even if you think you’ve had a terrible day, I guarantee you’ll still have things to be thankful for, and you’ll realise that maybe it wasn’t that bad after all.

Optimism and hope

So gratitude and positive thinking can improve your outlook, and make you feel much more optimistic about your life. Optimists generally feel more confident about the future and their lives. Here are 7 benefits of being an optimist:

  • Optimists experience less distress than pessimists when they face difficulties in their lives
  • Optimists cope better with negative events, like having major surgery or a serious illness
  • Optimists are capable of learning lessons from negative situations
  • Optimists are not in denial, so they deal with problems before they get serious
  • Optimists are less likely to give up because they believe they can achieve a positive outcome
  • Optimists enjoy better physical and mental health because they experience less stress and generally eat more healthily and exercise more
  • Optimists are more productive and effective in the workplace. One insurance sales industry study found that the most optimistic sales people sold 88% more insurance than pessimistic employees.

 

Hope and Positive Psychology

Hope is similar to optimism and we tend to feel hopeful if we:

  • Know what we want
  • Can think of several ways we can get there
  • Start working towards what we want and keep on going, even if it gets tough

Like being optimistic, having a sense of hope has many benefits. Hope protects against negative emotions and intrusive thoughts, and it can also even prevent diseases (because hopeful people tend to take action to prevent diseases like eating well and exercising).

Research has shown that athletes with a higher sense of hope perform better and that hopeful students do better academically.

http://positivepsychology.org.uk/optimism-and-hope/


Happiness and Wellbeing

The pursuit of happiness is like the holy grail. Everyone wants to be happy, and everyone defines happiness in their own way.

The psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky talks about the “happiness set point,” in her book, The How of Happiness. She writes that there’s compelling evidence that 50% of happiness is genetically predetermined, 10% is due to life circumstances, and 40% of your happiness is determined by your outlook.

So with that in mind, you have quite a lot of control over how happy you are, or not.

Mastering the happiness habit

Focus on positive thoughts

The more we focus on positive thoughts, the happier we generally are. A study in the journal Science found that many people go through their days on autopilot or daydreaming, and when their minds wander, they generally wander to unhappy thoughts. This is where practicing mindfulness can help. It focuses your mind on the present moment, and gets you to ‘smell the roses’ rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future.

Replay positive memories

Instead of thinking about unhappy times, thinking about good memories makes us feel happier and more positive. There are going to be things that happen in our lives that we can’t control, but we can control what we focus on.

Take action to be happy

Making a commitment to doing things to make you feel happier each day can improve your mental and physical health, and your overall enjoyment of life.

How to build a happiness habit

  • Notice the good in every day. Stop rushing through life at 100mph and missing the good things that make life worth living
  • If you find you’re caught in a cycle of negative thinking, train your brain to focus on something else, your breathing or an activity like calling a friend
  • Carry around positive memories. If you want to feel happier, look at an old photograph or a picture or video on your phone that brings back positive memories
  • Think about your strengths, every day. Write down 10 of your best qualities and look at the list each day to make you feel more positive


 

How can I help you?

I can help you master mindfulness to enhance the wellbeing of individuals at work, and to help organisations build productive, successful teams of individuals who listen to, and support each other. Through face to face mentoring and mindfulness sessions, or via e-learning, we can work together to manage stress, promote workplace wellbeing, deal with anxieties about job insecurity and organisational change, and develop effective leaders who’ll remain calm and make considered decisions even during volatile times. Find out more about what mindfulness can do for you here.

I hope you have found our newsletter both interesting and useful.  If there are any topics that you would like us to include in our next newsletter please let me know.  If you do not wish to receive further copies of the newsletter contact me and I will remove your details from our database.

How to Increase Employee Engagement

One thing that many organisations struggle with is keeping their employees engaged. Whether the problem is the culture, a lack of purpose or of opportunities to grow, disengaged employees cost businesses dearly due to lost productivity and high staff turnover. So how can you motivate employees and get them engaged and working for the good of the business again?

Tell them your ‘why’

What is your company’s mission and purpose, and how do your employees fit into the overall picture? If they understand this, they’ll feel as if they are a vital and valuable part of something bigger than them, and they’ll be more motivated to work towards business goals.

Tell them their ‘why’

Employees will feel less engaged if they don’t understand how they contribute. Be sure to clearly define their role and how it contributes towards the achievement of strategic goals.

Communicate

If managers make an effort to be approachable and have regular contact with employees, they’ll feel valued and less like they’re just a ‘number.’

Encourage collaboration

Encouraging employees to contribute their ideas and suggestions will increase engagement, inspiration, and innovation.

Encourage regular breaks

If motivation and energy levels are low because people are stuck at their desks all day, including at lunchtime, make a point of encouraging them to take regular breaks, away from their screens and ideally, in the fresh air.

Be flexible

Employees have lives outside of work, and many of them would be better engaged if they had more flexible working patterns. Being able to start later, finish earlier, or occasionally work from home would improve work/life balance for many people, and they’d be happier, more productive, and more likely to stay as a result.

Look after employee wellbeing

If long working hours prevent people from exercising or heavy workloads make them feel chronically stressed, they’re much less likely to be happy and engaged at work. Introducing things like subsidised gym memberships, walking groups, and relaxation or meditation classes can go a long way towards improving employee wellbeing.

Reward a job well done

Giving an employee some recognition for a job well done can really boost morale and make them feel appreciated. It doesn’t have to be anything costly, but whatever it is, recognising good work can be an incentive to work hard for the company.

Encourage professional development

If employees see that they’re being encouraged to develop and learn new skills, they’ll feel more challenged and engaged, and they’ll want to stay, rather than go elsewhere for better opportunities.

 

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

How to Take Inspired Action

Do you ever try to plan something to the letter, only to find that something unexpected happens and throws everything up in the air? Whether it’s work plans or plans we make in our personal lives, life has a funny way of scuppering our best intentions.

When things in life are going our way, it feels good, but when something happens to derail us, we can feel all sorts of emotions, from disappointment, to frustration, anger, anxiety, and overwhelm.

The reason for this is our need to control situations and their outcome, especially if the situation stirs up negative feelings like anxiety and fear. But control is an illusion, the only thing you can really be in control of is your own reaction to a situation, and the action you take as a result.

The importance of awareness

When you find yourself in an unexpected difficult situation, it’s important to take a moment and give yourself some breathing space before you make a decision about what you’re going to do next. Be aware of how you feel. Do you feel sad, angry, or frustrated? Acknowledge this. You might have felt these feelings so often that you’ve forgotten what they truly feel like. Allow yourself to just be with your feelings and to see them for what they are, even though this may be uncomfortable. This awareness gives you some much-needed space and being mindful grounds you in the present moment when you start thinking about things that have happened in the past, or trying to control a situation that may or may not happen in the future.  It can also help to ask yourself these questions:

What is it that I believe when I’m feeling like this?

Is this belief true?

What would my life be like if I didn’t have this belief?

Taking inspired action

Awareness and mindfulness are about what is present in each moment, and from a place of being aware and mindful, it is more likely that we’ll take inspired action. Inspired action is action we take when we’re choosing what our actions are inspired by. Every action we take is inspired by something, whether it’s habit, compassion, greed, or desire. Being aware and mindful helps you to make conscious choices about what inspires your actions. It might be that you mindfully decide to let go of a habit that no longer works for you, or you give up rushing through your life at 100mph and slow down and smell the flowers, either way, being truly aware can transform your life.

Inspired action feels good, but it’s not always comfortable

You might have to follow a course of action and simply trust that it’s right, and fight your mind’s desire to plan and control every aspect of what happens along the way. It’s not easy, but when your actions come from a place of deeper awareness and knowing, they are more aligned with who you really are, and you get to experience the true peace that comes with that.

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

Success Without the Stress

Many people dream of being their own boss but few people don’t realise how challenging and stressful it can be. Leaving a secure salary behind can be scary, and then there’s the thought that you have to make all the decisions and wear all the hats. Suddenly, it all seems very daunting.

The pressures and challenges business owners have to face

Financial insecurity

Walking away from a secure job and a salary can be scary, especially when you’re just starting off.

Uncertainty

There are no guarantees that your business will work or turn a profit, or even if you’ll be able to pay yourself a salary at first.

Staying motivated and passionate

You might have dreamed of being your own boss and following your passion, but will you have the determination and motivation to keep pushing on when it gets tough?

Lack of work/life balance

When you’re building your business, and even further down the line, you’ll come to realise that balancing work with a family and social life is very difficult unless you take some steps to properly manage your time.

Isolation

Being your own boss can be quite isolating, especially if you’re a sole trader or you work from home. The long hours you put in working on your business can make it tough to see your family and friends as much as you would like.

You’re not alone

So business owners have a lot on their plate, but the good news is, you’re not alone. After 20 years’ experience of leading teams in high-pressure corporate environments and running my own businesses, I decided to write ‘Success Without the Stress,’ a definitive guide to reducing stress for small business owners.

Stress can have an insidious impact on physical and mental health, and the book aims to help small business owners understand the pressures and challenges of running a business, and how to manage them.

What’s in the book?

You’ll find tried and tested management theory and practice, up-to-date research, and my own personal insights on topics such as:

  • Identifying the pressures and challenges faced by small business owners and how much control / influence you have over them
  • Building your confidence and self-esteem
  • Developing an authentic and powerful personal brand
  • Avoiding feelings of isolation by connecting with others
  • Developing business skills
  • Making wise and ethical decisions
  • Developing a less stressful approach to handling problems
  • Working more efficiently and effectively
  • Avoiding negative thinking habits
  • Building emotional resilience
  • Maintaining optimum health and wellbeing

There are also interactive activities to help you apply what you’ve learned

There are plenty of business books out there that aim to motivate people and help them reach their potential, but I saw a need for a book that addresses how stressful owning a business can be. I wish there had been a book like this when I first started out, and I wrote it with that in mind.

Where can I find the book?

If you are a business owner who frequently feels overwhelmed, this book is for you. You can buy it here.

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

Supporting Flexible Working

Flexible working is fast becoming the norm, thanks to improvements in technology, and a need for flexibility from both employees who want a better work/life balance, and businesses that need to meet customer demands around the clock.

Many business owners worry about whether they can accommodate flexible working, especially in small businesses that might not have the capacity or flexibility to do so, but if flexible working is included in your business strategy, it can have real benefits.

Examples of flexible working

There are many different flexible working options to consider, so whatever size your business is, you can find the arrangement that suits you and your employees. The most popular types of flexible working are part-time working, flexitime, job-sharing, remote working, compressed hours, staggered hours, and annualised hours.

The benefits that flexible working can bring

The benefits for employees

  • Better work life balance
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Improved motivation and morale
  • Less stress and anxiety

Business benefits

  • Flexible working opportunities are more attractive to potential employees and they encourage good employees to stay with your business
  • Employees are more focused when they have a better balance between work and personal responsibilities. This means they’re more productive which is better for your bottom line
  • There are less costs relating to absence, sick leave, and lateness
  • Flexible working makes your business more flexible and more responsive, for example, having a customer service department that is open outside of office hours is very attractive to customers. You can also change shift patterns/staff working hours to meet demand at busier or quieter time of the year

How to make flexible working work for your business

  • Use it for the benefit of your business. Flexible working doesn’t just have to benefit employees, you can use it to achieve business goals. For example, if you want one of your best employees to work on a project but you know that they have a lot of family commitments, could allowing them to work from home a few days per week mean that they’ll be able to focus fully on the project instead of being stuck in the office and worrying about what’s going on at home?
  • Make it clear that even though you’re an advocate of flexible working, you still expect an employee’s work to be of the same standard. Set ground rules about when you expect them to check in with you, and always agree deadlines for work. This reduces the chance of flexible working having a negative impact on the business.
  • Advocate collaborative working. Even if you do allow some employees to work from home on set days each week, make it clear that you’ll need them in the office sometimes. Make sure they use their time in the office to work jointly on tasks with the rest of the team. This will have the added benefit of helping flexible employees maintain a sense of connection with colleagues.

Ask yourself regularly if flexible working works for the business and employees. You must monitor how effective flexible working is, and if it’s not working, changes must be made and communicated to everyone.

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

How to Declutter a Busy Mind

What would you give to clear your mind of all of the clutter? To rid yourself of the thoughts and emotions that are taking up unnecessary space? To stop holding onto grudges, guilt, and anger? To no longer live on autopilot to the extent that you completely forget to make yourself a priority?

You might say you want to live a positive and happy life, but worries about the past or the future, and negative emotions simply clutter up your mind, and steal the joy you should be experiencing in your life. The good news is there are some steps you can take to declutter your mind and have a happier, more balanced existence.

How to declutter a busy mind

Declutter your surroundings

This doesn’t just mean your home, it means your workspace too. Clear that bulging closet and file away that pile of papers from your desk and just see how much less stressed and more balanced you feel.

Prioritise tasks

If you have a never ending to do list, this immediately clutters the mind and you can’t see the wood for the trees. Have a look at your list and categorise tasks as urgent, important but not urgent, and not urgent, and you’ll be able to see where you should be directing your energy. If you do have some onerous tasks on your list and you feel overwhelmed, try breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Say ‘no’

We can sometimes feel guilty for saying no when people ask us to do something, but if you’re already very busy, and your brain is at boiling point, say no. You don’t even have to give an explanation. Just acknowledge to yourself that you have your own priorities and a responsibility to look after yourself.

Resurrect your creativity

Do you love to write, draw, or paint, but never feel like you have the time? Make time for activities that bring you joy, relieve stress, and calm your mind.

Accept that there are things you can’t change

Trying to control every little detail of your life, and allowing your thoughts to rule you is exhausting and overwhelming. Accept that there are things you can’t change, and decide to be happy. It can be that simple. For example, imagine that you get caught in a really heavy rain shower and you tell yourself ‘this is really miserable, I hate the rain, I bet it lasts all day,’ how is this likely to make you feel? It won’t make you feel good, that’s for sure. This is just a small example of how thoughts can really impact upon how you feel. You can’t stop bad things happening, but you can change how you think about them and react to them.

Practice mindful meditation

Mindfulness is about living in the present moment, not the past, or the future. Being mindful doesn’t need to be about meditating either, though this is very helpful in reducing stress and bringing clarity of thought. You can do any activity mindfully, whether it’s eating, showering, walking, or even washing the dishes. It’s about savouring what you see, feel, taste, smell, hear, or notice and it focuses the mind on exactly what you’re doing, and not on bills, the shopping list, or what that co-worker you don’t like said to you today. Mindfulness can help you learn how to just ‘be’ rather than running around on autopilot. In today’s busy world, everyone can benefit from being more mindful for the sake of their physical and emotional health.

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

Autumn Newsletter

Welcome to our Autumn newsletter.

There is a lot of promising research on the benefits of mindfulness on many areas of life, and the business world is taking note. Many businesses are turning to mindfulness to help improve performance, but can it really help? A growing body of research shows that mindfulness can improve focus, reduce stress, improve communication, and improve clarity of thought. It has the potential to positively affect the entire culture of an organisation.

Many people will meet the suggestion of being more mindful with a retort about being far too busy to ‘sit and think of nothing’ for 20 minutes, when actually, taking those 20 minutes out to practice can improve your focus so much that you can work through your tasks with a calmer and clearer head.

In this newsletter, I’m going to look at some key factors which affect performance, such as time management, productivity, motivation, calmness, and confidence, and you’ll see how mindfulness pervades every single one of these.

Also, I am delighted to announce that Maureen O’Callaghan Training and Mentoring has been accredited as a CPD Training Provider and that my 10 Week Living and Working Mindfully and 1 Year Mindfulness Teacher Training Pathway courses have been approved for CPD accreditation!

Maureen


How can mindfulness improve performance?

A mindful culture positively affects a whole organisation

Are you a leader who rushes around, constantly pushing to get things done, or are you calm and grounded? What effect does this have on the people around you? If you lead by example and remain centred and calm, people around you will likely slow down, focus, and be more effective.

It improves focus

Studies have shown that mindfulness affects the part of the brain that is responsible for self-regulation. The effect of this is that you don’t spend so much time on activities that make you less productive, like browsing online or looking at social media.

The research also found that people who practiced mindfulness-based meditation stayed on one task for longer and didn’t multitask.

It helps us to accept criticism

No matter how good you are at your job, it’s likely that you’ll have received negative feedback at some point. Criticism, when it’s delivered in the wrong way, can kill morale and productivity. But mindfulness can help you to accept negative feedback more easily. Of course, it’s not easy, but you can learn to focus on your breath, listen to what the other person has to say, and observing your response. This makes it far less likely that you’ll react emotionally to what you hear.

It makes you a better listener

How often has someone been talking to you and you’ve switched off, thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner, or formulating a response in your head? This is not helpful in those situations at work when you really have to be listening, like when you’re talking to a client or you’re in an important meeting. Mindfulness can help filter out the less important things so you can focus your attention on what is important. It can also make you more aware, so that you hear changes in tone of voice, cues for a response, or something that triggers an idea.

Mindfulness helps you build better relationships

A study from Harvard Medical School shows that mindfulness meditation increases the grey matter in the brain’s hippocampus. This area of the brain is associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. Having these qualities and being more attentive, will make you a greater asset at work, but it will also likely make you a person that people want to be around.

It makes you a better leader

Mindfulness can be used to excellent effect by leaders to improve self-regulation, to make more effective decisions and to protect themselves from the effects of stress.

Mindfulness reduces stress

Speaking of stress, work is still the main source of stress for many people. Stress reduces work performance over time. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Mindfulness can help, and it gives us that essential pause so that we can take a step back from whatever is causing stress, and just breathe. It really can be that simple.

Adapted from https://aboutmeditation.com/mindfulness-at-work/


Getting it all done

One of the biggest stressors that people complain of is an increasing workload and a lack of time in which to do everything. Many people work long hours, to the detriment of their personal lives to get everything done, and this can lead to disillusionment, stress, and diminished work performance.

The good news is that you can gain control of your work time by taking some simple steps to be more productive.

Make a To-Do List

This probably sounds like an obvious step, but an effective to do list will motivate you to complete important tasks and achieve more in the time you’ve got. Instead of scribbling down a list of tasks which gives you little or no direction, write down a to do list, then under each task, write when you need to complete it by and why.

Prioritise!

Your time is precious, so you need to spend it on the tasks that are going to add value in some way, rather than the humdrum tasks that don’t. It’s not to say that these low priority tasks don’t need doing, they just shouldn’t take up a disproportionate amount of your time.

The “Urgent/Important Matrix” can be useful here. It helps you to focus your attention on the most urgent and valuable tasks on your to do list. There are 4 categories that your tasks will fall into:

  • Urgent and Important: These are the tasks that must be done right away.
  • Important and Not Urgent: These are tasks that probably contribute to your long term goals and they should be worked on each day so that they don’t become urgent.
  • Urgent and Not Important: These are the tasks that stop you from completing your important work. Whether it’s something your manager has passed onto you or it has been delegated from elsewhere, think about whether the task is important to you. See if it’s possible to delegate or reschedule these tasks, or even try and avoid them landing on your desk altogether.
  • Not Urgent and Not Important: These are distractions that don’t contribute to your goals. You might have imposed them on yourself or they may come from others, but try not to let them rob you of the time you should be spending on your work.

Create a schedule

Life is not perfect, and so despite your best efforts, you might still have to deal with interruptions and being asked to do extra work with a short deadline. There is a way you can see what time you actually do have, all you need to do is make a timetable or schedule of your week.

So looking at a weekly timetable, or your diary if that suits you better, then:

  • Block out the hours you don’t want to work as ‘not available.’
  • Allocate an appropriate amount of time you’ll need to do your important tasks well. (prioritise things that need to be done in the next week.
  • Schedule in ‘contingency time’ for interruptions and things you might need to deal with from day to day.
  • The time left over is for non-urgent tasks.

Do you need to delegate?

You may need to delegate some of your work to others if you are going to spend more of your time on valuable tasks. You don’t need to be a manager to delegate, but remember that effective delegation is not just about passing work onto others, it’s about involving others in doing something that uses everyone’s skills and knowledge and that builds a sense of working towards organisational goals as a team.

Putting an end to procrastination

What do you do each day that eats into your work time? Do you scroll through social media (okay, cat videos are compelling!) or do you always have a few cups of coffee before you even get going? A good way to identify which habits are robbing you of your time is to record how you spend your time each day. When you see exactly where your time goes, you might be surprised! Procrastination is behind most of our time-wasting activities. If you know you need to write a long report, you might avoid it by tidying your desk, or browsing the internet, promising yourself that you’ll get started ‘in a minute.’

To beat procrastination, break bigger tasks into smaller chunks. So you could spend 10 minutes writing a title and a structure for the report, then complete small sections of it at a time. If you really need motivation to continue, promise that you’ll work solidly on your task for 45 minutes, then give yourself a reward, such as a nice cup of coffee or a piece of cake.

Some more reading material…

Do you work ever longer days and still don’t seem to get everything done? This article talks about why the key to success and productivity is not what you do at the start of the day, it’s what you do at the end:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/things-successful-people-dont-do-at-the-end-of-the-day-2014-10?r=US&IR=T


Facebook Groups

We currently have two Facebook groups, one for Mindfulness Discussion, and one for Workplace Wellbeing. Come join the discussion!


Mindfulness practice

Mindfulness of the breath with self-compassion

Try this simple mindfulness exercise a few times per day, even if just for a few minutes at a time. Focus on your breath. Don’t try to change your breathing, just notice it. When your mind wanders, as minds do, just say the word ‘thinking’ to yourself then return your attention to your breath. Do this without criticism; minds wander, that’s what they do. Just return your attention to your breath when it happens, even if it happens a hundred times.


Tips to Change Your Life

Reproduced from be me life coaching


Mindfulness News

In a fast-paced world, businesses are turning towards using mindfulness and meditation to cope with  change, uncertainty, and a stressful environment. Being able to handle stress, reflecting rather than reacting, and maintaining focus are all key attributes in these busy times, and organisations are finding that mindfulness is the key to improving performance. Here are some of the biggest firms that have implemented mindfulness techniques;

Google

Every year, thousands of Google employees take a mindfulness course called ‘Search Inside Yourself.’ It’s so popular that there’s a six month waiting list to enrol. The mindfulness practitioner who runs the course Chade Meng Tan, managed to talk the sceptics at the internet giant into implementing mindfulness by explaining the neuroscientific evidence behind it. Now the mindfulness programme is one of the reasons why Google is rated as the world’s best employer to work for.

General Mills

The food company behind Häagen-Dazs and Cheerios have implemented mindfulness and they’ve seen their business grow. They ran a 7-week mindfulness and meditation programme and carried out a review where they found out that:

  • After the programme, 83% of participants said they took time out to optimise their productivity
  • 80% of senior staff said that their decision-making had improved
  • 89% of participants said they had become better listeners

Intel

Intel made a resolution to deal with employee stress more effectively and now thousands of employees take part in their Awake@Intel programme, which includes yoga and mindfulness practices. Although many employees were initially sceptical, many participants reported improved creativity, well-being and focus, reduced stress and greater enthusiasm after taking part in the programme.

Goldman Sachs

You wouldn’t expect a firm of driven, type A personalities to warm to mindfulness, but the investment bank now includes mindfulness in its wellbeing seminars and actively promotes the use of the Headspace meditation app.

Could your organisation benefit from mindfulness?

Why not take advantage of 10% of our comprehensive Mindfulness in the Workplace e-learning package? Click here to find out more.


How can I help you?

I can help you master mindfulness to enhance the wellbeing of individuals at work, and to help organisations build productive, successful teams of individuals who listen to, and support each other. Through face to face mentoring and mindfulness sessions, or via e-learning, we can work together to manage stress, promote workplace wellbeing, deal with anxieties about job insecurity and organisational change, and develop effective leaders who’ll remain calm and make considered decisions even during volatile times. Find out more about what mindfulness can do for you here.

I hope you have found our newsletter both interesting and useful.  If there are any topics that you would like us to include in our next newsletter please let me know.  If you do not wish to receive further copies of the newsletter contact me and I will remove your details from our database.

Teaching Mindfulness – Myths, Misconceptions, and the Right Approach

Mindfulness can have some wonderful benefits for everyone, but for many people who are so used to living their lives on autopilot, surrounded by distractions and worries, just learning how to ‘be’ and not react can be a difficult concept.

This is why it’s so important that people are introduced to mindfulness by teachers, therapists, coaches, and mentors who have the right skills, knowledge, experience and personal attributes.

The mistakes some mindfulness teachers make

Sometimes, with the best intentions, people make mistakes when teaching mindfulness to others, including:

  • Teaching people about mindfulness without actually using mindfulness.
  • Giving the impression that they know more about mindfulness than they actually do.
  • Promising ‘guaranteed’ or fast results.
  • Insisting that their approach to mindfulness is superior to other approaches.
  • Believing that mindfulness can be taught and learned as a concept, rather than practice.
  • Presenting the practice as magical or immediately life-changing in some way.
  • Telling you that practicing mindfulness means that you’re mindful by default.

Better ways to teach mindfulness

Practise what you preach: Demonstrate being mindful by being in the moment.

Be honest: Tell your learners about how much experience you have rather than claiming you know more about mindfulness than you do.

Realise that mindfulness is a practice: You don’t do eight or ten sessions and come away with the ability to be automatically mindful; becoming mindful is a way of life which gives you greater results over time with regular practice.

Trust your own path to mindfulness: No matter whether you learned mindfulness through at a Buddhist centre or you received more formal training, no one path to becoming mindful is better than the other. Encourage your learners to find the path that works best for them.

Realise the importance of knowing your own mind: Reading about mindfulness is not the same as knowing what’s going on in your own mind. Understanding your own thoughts and feelings and how you react to them is the first step to disciplining your own mind and becoming mindful.

Know that mindfulness can be uncomfortable at times: If you feel like your head is always spinning with thoughts, worries, and distractions, then paying attention to it in mindfulness sessions can be very uncomfortable and difficult. Doing the work to become mindful is not easy, but it’s so much easier if you have a good teacher supporting you through the process.

Remember that mindfulness is not magic: It’s a practical way to manage difficult emotions, reduce stress, build resilience, and improve physical and emotional health. You have to work at being mindful, it doesn’t just happen.

Better teacher training

Because we realise the importance of experienced and well-qualified mindfulness teachers, we are offering a Mindfulness Teacher Training Programme made up of 10 individual modules.

Flexible learning

We can offer the programme as:

A complete Teacher Training pathway

For people who have completed an 8 week course, practice mindfulness themselves and want to share mindfulness and its benefits with others.

Individual CPD Modules

For people who have completed their teacher training.

What does the programme involve?

Students will learn via E learning and teaching days which provide the opportunity to apply mindfulness through learning activities and reflection. Learners can also access telephone mentoring and this is encouraged, particularly where additional support needs have been identified. Course numbers are kept to a maximum of 10 so that every learner gets a high level of support.

Every module is linked with a real life work environment, and learners are encouraged to take responsibility for their own personal development, such as learning from other mindfulness practitioners and experts to reinforce their learning.

What makes our programme amazing?

All our tutors and assessors have mindfulness and teaching-related qualifications, and a minimum of five years’ experience of teaching and personal mindfulness practice.

There’s also an opportunity to become a member of a Mindfulness Teacher Support Network once you have completed the programme, which is a teaching community where you can contribute to online forums, access guided practice recordings, observe teaching, get valuable peer support and advice, and find courses and supervision to continue your personal development as a mindfulness teacher.

To find out more about our mindfulness teacher training, click here

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

Reconnecting with Yourself – The Benefits of Going on a Retreat

Retreats give you the chance to have some time away from the constant demands and distractions of everyday life. They allow you to think about who you are, how you are, and most importantly, they give you the chance to just ‘be.’

This is so important for your mental and physical health. Retreats can help if you’re feeling stuck, uninspired, and burnt out; and you might just discover something about yourself that you never knew.

The benefits of going on a retreat

You get to focus on what matters

Getting away from the trials and tribulations of daily life allows you to focus on what inspires you, whether it’s your business, a hobby, or travelling. Inspiration can often motivate you to make positive changes in your life.

Less distractions equals more time

At home you might have family problems or money worries to deal with, and you might just not have the head space for thinking about your dreams, wishes, and goals. On a retreat, there’s no rushing, just plenty of time to allow inspiration to flow.

You get to really notice what’s around you

It’s amazing what you notice when you’re not running around after children, scrolling through social media, or mindlessly watching TV. You get to hear the sound of the wind, the birds singing, or even just the silence and experience truly being in the moment.

It gives you the chance to mentally detox

We all have so many stresses in our lives, and we’re bombarded with so much information that it’s not surprising that we just need time and space to mentally unwind every now and again. Going on a retreat is the perfect opportunity to clear your mind of clutter.

It reminds you of who you are

You may be a sister, wife, brother, husband, or friend, but don’t forget that you are YOU; an individual irrespective of societal labels. Going on a retreat allows you to just be you.

It helps you establish new habits

If your hectic life doesn’t allow you time to do what you love, or spend time on your hobbies, you can establish a routine of doing them on a retreat. Then you’ll be inspired to integrate your new way of being into your home life.

Our Mindfulness Retreats for Women

Whether you are hoping to feel more balanced and relaxed, or you want to experience a true sense of wellbeing, our retreats might be just what you need.

Our aim

We want to create a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space where you can just be, as well as giving you the practical tools to leave the retreat feeling inspired, renewed and energised.

Who is it for?

The retreat is open to all women, and it’s run by experienced mindfulness teachers who are able to support beginners and challenge more experienced mindfulness practitioners.

What does the retreat involve?

  • Each retreat programme is different, but retreats will usually include:
  • Gentle movement and relaxation techniques
  • Meditation practices
  • Opportunities to discover your innate creativity
  • Thoughtful, self-supporting lessons designed to improve your health and wellbeing
  • Opportunities to reset bad habits and introduce self-care strategies
  • Free time which you can use for rest and contemplation
  • For more information about our Mindfulness Retreats, click here

Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.  For more information visit www.mocallaghan.co.uk or e mail maureen@mocallaghan.co.uk

June Newsletter

Stress can impact upon productivity, and even more importantly for employees, their physical and mental wellbeing. They might lose sleep, eat unhealthy foods, drink more, and smoke more, all of which increases the likelihood that they’ll become less productive, demotivated, and absent from work.

In this newsletter, I’m going to look at the importance of looking after the mental and physical wellbeing of employees, and why doing so is better for an organisation in the long run.

There are also some informative articles on stress, nutrition, and sleep; an EBook you can download on how to find the elusive work/life balance, and the latest workplace wellbeing research and news.

Let’s make our workplaces happier, healthier, and more productive places to be!

Maureen


How to manage workplace stress

If you’re a supervisor, manager, or HR officer, the first time you may become aware that an employee is stressed at work is when you see a fit note stating that the employee is absent from work due to a ‘stress-related illness.’ One in three fit notes given out by GPs are for mental health problems, and while stress in itself is not defined as a medical illness, if it is not addressed early, it can lead to anxiety, depression, behavioural disturbance, and physical illness.

How should you deal with workplace stress?

  1. Look at the reasons behind the stress, both in the workplace, and in the employee’s personal life. Invite the employee to discuss the root causes of the stress and if they’re identified, how you can work together to approach and resolve them.
  2. If it’s difficult to identify a particular cause, but work appears to be a contributing factor, consider using the Health and Safety Executive’s Stress Risk Assessment (hyp) questionnaire tool. This will help you identify the possible causes of workplace stress such as work relationships, lack of support, and change.
  3. Look at the organisation’s culture. If employees say they feel overworked and undervalued, what can you do to address this? Doing so may help prevent work-related stress problems before they even arise.
  4. A referral to Occupational Health is a good idea if the causes of stress are still not clear. An adviser can give their opinion on whether they believe the employee has a medical condition, and whether they need further support from a manager, counsellor, or therapist.

There is no quick fix or one size fits all approach that can be applied to mental health issues because people recover at different rates, and everyone has different levels of resilience. But if people are well supported at times of crisis, they are likely to recover quicker and become more resilient to stress in the future. Addressing mental health in a timely, thorough, and professional manner from a health and wellbeing and business perspective is crucial.

If you would like more guidance on managing stress in the workplace, our e-learning packages are an informative, valuable, and flexible learning option for you. We’re currently offering 10% off our Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace and Mindfulness in the Workplace packages.

My free EBook on Work-Life Balance is also available for download by clicking here.


The effects of work on our diet

Work-related stress can have a considerable effect on our eating behaviours too. Long working hours, our desk-bound culture, and a work culture that values getting the job done rather than focusing on wellbeing all contribute to poor eating behaviours and patterns. Here’s a fascinating interview with Dr Meg Arroll, a psychologist and author who has studied the relationship between stress, weight and fatigue. Click here to read more.

The importance of gut health

The health of your gut can be linked to many health issues, including poor mental health. Scientists even refer to the gut as the ‘second brain’ because it’s lined with 100 million nerve cells that control digestion. Having a healthy gut plays a key role in wellbeing, because ‘good’ bacteria in the digestive system affect many of the body’s functions like nutrient absorption, immune response, the ability to eliminate toxins and the production of hormones. If there is an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut, inflammation occurs in the digestive system and symptoms occur throughout the body.

Research has found that when the gut is irritated or inflamed, the nerves in the gut send messages to the central nervous system which can then trigger changes in mood.

So how can you improve your digestive health? Here are 10 tips for better digestion, courtesy of SuperWellness


Some reading material...

Managing stress

This is an informative article about what causes workplace stress and how it can be managed effectively. Click here to read more.

Sleeping better and productivity

Poor sleep can be disastrous for physical and mental health, not to mention productivity in the workplace. Click here to read about the problems that poor sleep can cause and what managers can do to help.

 


The importance of a health and wellbeing strategy

According to a survey by Aon Employee Benefits, the number of employers who have invested in workplace wellbeing initiatives has risen from 36% to 42% this year. Wellbeing apps, virtual GP services, weight loss support, smoking cessation and physical activity programmes are among the initiatives being considered to help employees become healthier and happier at work.

The key is for organisations to focus on taking preventative action rather than acting when employees are already experiencing issues.

Managers have an important role to play in creating a workplace culture that pays attention to wellbeing, especially when it comes to stress reduction. They can do this by encouraging a healthy work-life balance, listening to employees, building supportive teams, and giving employees some flexibility over where and when they work. Being able to recognise stress and other issues in the workplace and knowing how to support employees adequately is crucial in a healthy workplace.

Learning these skills is an investment in yourself, which will empower you to make the right choices for your organisation. E-learning is a fantastic way for busy managers to access high-quality education and resources, and the opportunity to build peer to peer support networks brings the benefit of being able to share experiences and learn from others.

There’s currently 10% off our Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace and Mindfulness in the Workplace e-learning packages which cover how to effectively support employees through difficulties related to their mental health, and how to communicate mindfully, share information, and facilitate change.

As well as being mindful of the wellbeing of your employees, it’s important that you check in with yourself too. If you manage or own a business, the chances are you don’t take enough time off or have much balance in your life. This can be true of any manager or business owner, but it rings particularly true for women, who as well as running their business, still have most of the childcare and household responsibilities. Burnout is common among women, and that’s why we hold Mindfulness Day Retreats for women, which are all about learning to relax, be mindful, and look after yourself. Click here for more information.


Beat Stress with a Mini Meditation

3-minute Breathing Space Meditation

When you’re stressed out, it can be difficult to remind yourself to stay calm, and when you’re busy, you might feel like you don’t have time to meditate. This is exactly why this short Breathing Space meditation was created. It’s designed to create a pause in your day so you can collect your thoughts, ground yourself, and keep perspective. Use this daily, anytime you feel like you need it.

Here’s what to do:

  • Sit or stand up straight and close your eyes if possible. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings and acknowledge any difficult feelings that arise. Can you feel any sensations in your body? Acknowledge that they’re there, but don’t try to change them.
  • Now concentrate on the breath. Focus on the physical sensations of the breath in the abdomen; expanding as you breathe in, and relaxing as you breathe out. Ground yourself with each breath, and if your mind wanders, guide it gently back towards the breath.
  • Finally, expand your awareness to take in the body as a whole. Imagine the whole body is breathing. If you feel any discomfort in your body, imagine that you’re breathing in to these areas. Explore the sensations, but don’t try to change them in any way. Once they stop being the focus of your attention, become aware of the whole body again.

-adapted from Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.


Mindfulness Research

Practising mindfulness at work and at home can help employees to detach themselves from workplace problems and demands when they get home, according to a study. The study looked at mindfulness and the stressor-detachment model, which says that increasing emotional stress and a demanding workload at work should correspond with the inability to detach yourself from work when you get home. The inability to switch off is associated with lower wellbeing at bedtime. The study found that mindfulness could be a useful tool in helping people to psychologically detach themselves from work despite high job demands.

Haun VC et al. “Being mindful at work and at home: buffering effects in the stressor-detachment model”. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.


Wellbeing News

Drinking alcohol to cope

More than half of all adults who drink alcohol say they do so to cope with the pressures of daily life, according to a poll for the charity DrinkAware. More than one third of those questioned said they drank alcohol to forget about their problems. 47% of people reported having a drink to cheer themselves up and 41% of people said they felt it helped when they felt depressed or anxious.

Increase in referrals for mental health support

The nurse adviser service RedArc said it gets 30% more referrals for mental ill health in January than at any other time of the year. They have urged employers to remind employees about mental health support services in the workplace such as access to counselling.


How can I help you?

I can help you master mindfulness to enhance the wellbeing of individuals at work, and to help organisations build productive, successful teams of individuals who listen to, and support each other. Through face to face mentoring and mindfulness sessions, or via e-learning, we can work together to manage stress, promote workplace wellbeing, deal with anxieties about job insecurity and organisational change, and develop effective leaders who’ll remain calm and make considered decisions even during volatile times. Find out more about what mindfulness can do for you here.

I hope you have found our newsletter both interesting and useful.  If there are any topics that you would like us to include in our next newsletter please let me know.  If you do not wish to receive further copies of the newsletter contact me and I will remove your details from our database.