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.

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.

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.

April Newsletter

Welcome to our April Newsletter!

Spring is the perfect time to think about changes you might like to make in your personal and professional life, so that you live your life with joy and not in a perpetual state of stress, worry and anxiety. In this newsletter, I want to share a short mindfulness exercise you can do anywhere, some of the latest research on mindfulness, and a review of an excellent book that is an excellent introduction on being mindful in your everyday life. As well as that, I’ve included the links to some very informative mindfulness articles, where you’ll find plenty of hints and tips on being mindful and why it’s not just about meditating. I’m very excited to be introducing some comprehensive e-learning packages this year, which will help you to learn the fundamentals of mindfulness, and how to use it as a tool to change the way you think, react, and feel about life.

Top tips for using mindfulness in the workplace

Here’s an easy mindfulness exercise you can do at your desk, at any time of the day.

Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing is a meditation technique that you can do while you’re sat at your desk. All you need to do is take a few minutes to focus on your breathing.

  • Inhale slowly, through your nose, and breathe out slowly, through your mouth. Breathe in for 3 seconds, and out for 3 seconds. Don’t think about anything else.
  • When thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them, but let them go. Take your focus back to your breath.
  • Do 2-3 minutes at a time at the start, then work your way up to 5-10 minutes at a time.

 

Mindfulness research

There is an entire body of research that looks at how mindfulness affects the brain, how it can benefit people who suffer from chronic stress and depression, improves physiological health markers, and improves the chances of ageing in a healthy way. Here are some of the world’s leading mindfulness researchers, whose existing work is paving the way for some fascinating future studies.

 

Judson Brewer, MD, PHD, Psychiatrist and Chief, UMASS Medical School

He discovered how mindfulness can be used to beat addiction, by using brain imaging techniques to look at how mindfulness affects the brain. He used the information to develop mindfulness tools to help people give up smoking and beat food cravings.

His plans for future clinical trials include developing an app that will allow mindfulness to be delivered digitally, and studying how effectively it works.

 

Elissa Epel, PHD, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California

She has done ground-breaking work, which looked at the benefits of meditation for people who suffer from chronic stress, particularly those who have never meditated before.

In the future, she plans to look at how meditation affects people who have suffered trauma or adversity in childhood.

 

Clifford Saron, PHD, Researcher, neuroscientist, Center for Mind and Brain; University of California

He led the Shamatha Project, which was research into the benefits of long-term, intensive meditation. During the project, numerous month-long retreats were held, and the findings showed that meditation improves the attention span, boosts wellbeing and empathy, and improves physiological health markers.

He wants to take this research even further, and plans to assess the wellbeing of the participants 7 years after they attended an initial retreat. In particular, he will examine markers of cellular ageing, stress, and inflammation.

 

Zindel Segal, PHD, Professor of brain and therapeutics, University of Toronto

He’s a leading researcher on Mindfulness and mood disorders, and was a founder of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which integrates meditation into psychotherapy. His work has shown that MBCT can prevent relapses in people who have depression.

He is currently conducting a study which is looking at whether adding a digital form of MBCT to standard depression treatment programmes can reduce symptoms, as well as a study that is examining brain changes in patients who have used MBCT and have recovered from depression.

 

David Creswell, PHD, Associate professor of psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

His work examined what makes people resilient to stress, and he also co-founded health neuroscience, which combines health psychology and neuroscience.

He has begun a trial, examining how Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction might improve social relationships and lead to healthier ageing in older adults.

His team is also looking at whether adding acceptance skills and training on how to keep calm and composed even in a stressful situation to mindfulness programmes can further reduce stress and improve health.

 

Mindfulness news

Something amazing happened in the House of Commons back in October. 40 Politicians sat in silence, practising mindfulness. Now if you have ever seen a Commons debate, or Prime Minister’s Questions, you’ll know that this is unusual!

UK Ministers joined colleagues from Israel, Sri Lanka, Croatia, and Sweden to consider how they could use mindfulness as a way to bring about positive change.

This was the world’s first ever congregation of mindfulness politicians, and they were discussing how mindfulness could become a matter of public policy.

Some ministers shared their experience of finding mindfulness after having suffered from depression, anxiety, serious illness, and injury.

The Sports Minister Tracy Crouch said that mindfulness has helped her to cope when receiving therapy was not appropriate in her case, and it led to her being an advocate of the use of mindfulness in professional environments, and being very keen to see how it could be integrated into policy.

Ministers were given information on the latest mindfulness news from the UK healthcare and criminal justice sectors, which included a testimony from a former prison inmate, who discovered the power of mindfulness after being in and out of prison over a 30-year period.

The event originated 18 months ago in a US Congressman’s office. Tim Ryan of Ohio, advocates mindfulness as a tool to stay sane when you’re surrounded by chaos. He promotes mindfulness as much as he can, and sees its value for everyone, not least war veterans.

After completing a mindfulness retreat, he discovered a new way of relating with the world around him, and he immediately wanted to tell people about it.

In October 2015, A Mindful Nation UK report was published, which suggested that access to mindfulness was high on the agenda in government policy, especially in the health service and the criminal justice system. How great it would be then, to establish an international commission of delegates who are both interested in, and advocates of, mindfulness. The hope was that this would help to not only promote the wider implementation and understanding of mindfulness, but that it would promote cooperation and a tolerance of different views that transcended politics.

In the UK, parties on all sides have demonstrated a willingness to accept that there is a need for mindfulness, and The Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group was developed from a mindfulness programme that was run for MPs and peers. Those who participated noted how it encouraged them to be more accepting of opposition colleagues and encouraged kinder and more mindful communication with each other. Their experience encouraged them to consider how mindfulness could be integrated into policy, which promises some exciting developments in the future. It seems that everyone can benefit from a little mindful contemplation.

 

Book recommendation and review

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World

Mark Williams, Danny Penman

This book is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which is an easy form of mindfulness meditation to grasp, and you can get the benefits from practising it for just a few minutes every day.

This form of mindfulness meditation has been shown to be as effective as medication for depression and it has been recommended by NICE, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence as a treatment.

What’s important about MBCT is that everyone can benefit, it’s not just for people who struggle with depression. It’s about staying balanced and mentally healthy in an increasingly demanding world. It’s not about getting rid of unhappiness, it’s about increasing feelings of joy and confidence while reducing stress, anxiety, and feelings of irritability.

This book aims to teach people how to live in the moment, and how to deal with negative events or emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them or reacting emotionally. It also encourages people to accept their thoughts and feelings without judgement, all while explaining the foundations of mindfulness and how it plays a role in psychology.

Many self-help books often have a tone that makes you cringe, but this doesn’t. It takes a practical approach and provides you with simple tasks and meditations to complete. The book uses encouraging language and motivates you to work your way through the course with inspirational quotes.

For the mindfulness sceptics, there’s a considerable scientific element to the book. As well as information on how mindfulness works and how it can work for you, there’s some information on clinical studies of its effectiveness.

You can skip the introduction to mindfulness and go straight to the practical exercises, but it’s helpful to know why mindfulness can work for you, as you’ll be more likely to carry on with it.

The book includes guided meditations and practical exercises, which is a good mix, since meditation may take some time to grasp so you’re likely to notice more obvious changes with the practical exercises.

But if you’re looking for a quick solution to fixing feelings of overwhelm in your life, then this book is not for you. The entire course in the book needs to be worked through for the best results.

You can find the book here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-practical-guide-finding-frantic/dp/074995308X

 

Some reading material for you:

In each newsletter, I’ll be including a few articles about mindfulness that really capture the essence of what it is and why it can work for you, whether it’s at work or in your personal life.

 

Why We Need Mindfulness at Work

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_we_need_mindfulness_at_work

Here’s a great article about the benefits of mindfulness at work. When people think about practising mindfulness at work, their first reaction is ‘how am I supposed to find the time?’ But setting aside that time can really help to ease the stress of a demanding working life.

 

Five Steps to Mindfulness

This is a simple, but very informative article that is a nice introduction to being mindful, whenever, and wherever you are.

https://www.mindful.org/five-steps-to-mindfulness/

 

Blue Light Support

We now host an initiative to provide mental health care for emergency services. Please visit http://mocallaghan.co.uk/bluelightsupport/ for more information.

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, 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 first 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, for any reason, you do not want to receive further copies of the newsletter please let me know and I will remove your details from our database.