It’s been a busy old time for me this past year. I’ve gone through the demanding process of moving house and into a brand new area. Establishing a new home, getting to know new people, reflecting on how I can make new friends and going out there and doing just that has been demanding indeed! I’ve also, with my life and business partner, set up a new project and, as many of you might be able to identify with, this can be both mentally and physically exhausting. I have worked hard in all areas of my life and, surprisingly, considering the business that I am in, I did not realise just how much my energy levels had become severely depleted.
Having had the opportunity to take some quality time out over the Christmas period has enabled me to step back and really take the opportunity to reflect on the impact of such a year. When we are caught up in the business of everyday life at home and at work, we often don’t see how life in all its fullness depletes us of our energy and has the potential to make us less effective in the things we have to do both personally and professionally.
The opportunity to take time out, therefore, is essential for our wellbeing. Whether for a weekend or longer, taking a step back from our busy lives gives us the opportunity to recharge our batteries and so puts us in a better position to face our lives anew. Think about it, can we keep on bashing away at our laptop without occasionally plugging it in the mains socket? Well, of course not and the same is true for us.
I have returned to my desk this brand new year with a renewed sense of energy. My mind is buzzing with ideas for the next stage of our project. My body longs to get outside and exercise... and I say this after having been stretched out on a sun lounger for the past couple of weeks, which is hardly surprising. Personally and professionally I feel that I can take on the world and achieve what I want to achieve.
As I write this, I am mindful of the breaks for busy people that we are planning for this year and, if like me, you have felt the need for some R&R then give us a call to check out what is on offer for our weekend away ... go on, you are most certainly worth it!
With very best wishes for a successful and productive 2019. Jan
Asking the uninitiated whether they have heard of Mindfulness can be very tricky, as I know to my cost! “I’m not into that kind of airy-fairy stuff”, or “It’s a bit weird” are just a couple of the responses I’ve had, although underneath the statement is often an admission that the person doesn’t know anything about it. It’s so easy, it seems to me, to fall into the trap of closing one’s mind to anything that lies outside of our personal experience, which is a shame, especially because mindfulness practices pre-date our modern culture and have, over centuries, been proven to significantly enhance wellbeing.
So, what is Mindfulness? Well, to put it simply, mindfulness is the awareness of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations experienced within the present moment, merely observing without judgement about whether they are right or wrong. Mindfulness is an art and something to be learnt. Its aim is to free the mind and body from its tendency to get stuck in negative emotional patterns and behaviours. When we are mindful we can be more aware of our reality and the choices we are able to make, rather than getting stuck in the problems of yesterday or our assumptions about tomorrow. If we begin with the mantra that says “All I have is now” then the possibilities for life right now can be limitless. In a nutshell, mindful living is the awareness that emerges as we pay attention to what is happening in our mind, our body and our deeper emotional self. If we are fully present, we have the capacity to shift into “being” mode and respond in a way that allows us to let go of judgement, both of ourselves and others and to live more peacefully, within ourselves and with others. To quote the great philosopher Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do”, sums up our human condition and, often, we live in a way that is the polar opposite of the mindful experience and so we remain shackled to those attitudes and behaviours that do little to sustain health.
What we know is that struggling to keep up with the pressures and demands of the modern world can lead us in to a vicious circle of anxiety and stress leaving us, at least, feeling exhausted and unhappy with our lot. It can be easy enough to seek out strategies for coping that have the potential to compromise our health. “What do you do to switch off at night when you can’t sleep?”, I might ask my client and it’s not unusual to hear the response: “I have a beer, or three to relax me”. What some people don’t realise is that alcohol is both a stimulant and a depressant and, if taken in excess, is known to have a number of health implications. How much easier then, to equip ourselves with strategies that have been shown to have no detrimental impact on heath in clinical trials.
Developing mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce the negative physical and psychological effects of anxiety, stress and depression, although one doesn’t need to be struggling with these issues to experience the benefits of it. Indeed, it is more likely that by using these practices we can minimise the potential for these things to escalate in the first place.
This blog is not the place for me to teach the practice of mindfulness, although much has been written on the subject. If what you have read here has kindled an interest and you are keen to explore this fascinating subject in more depth, then perhaps this is a good place to begin. There are many reputable mindfulness courses available and I would urge you to explore what is available in your area but be sure to access only those courses that meet the standards for mindfulness practice. If at this stage you would prefer a taster, then a Smart App. may well suit your needs and I recommend that you visit your App. Store for further information. I often recommend the App: “Headspace” to my clients, which can be downloaded for free and offers you the opportunity to begin the journey of mindful living. Another resource I am more than happy to pin my flag to is a book by Professor Mark William and Dr Danny Penman entitled: “Mindfulness, a practical guide to Finding Peace In A Frantic World” … don’t forget to pick up the copy that includes a free CD of guided meditations. The book is an eight week mindfulness programme and, once familiar with the exercises on the CD, they are particularly useful in any situation, whether dealing with the stresses of a busy classroom or struggling to get those forty winks!
If that is not enough, do look out for forthcoming events here at JR Corporate Health where, along with mindfulness workshops, we look forward to rolling out our innovative programmes designed to support the whole of your life journey!
Jan Rogers. JR Corporate Health
Any kind of traumatic event in the workplace can have devastating consequences for an organisation and for its employees; after all, we go about our business never expecting to encounter such difficulty. So, an extreme event often triggers an extreme response, which has the potential to compromise productivity and revenue.
Critical incidents are sudden and unexpected events, outside of normal human experience and, as such, have the potential to overwhelm individuals, impacting on their capacity to respond in a balanced way. Having said that, individual responses will vary, depending on levels of resilience and based on an individual’s perception of the incident and past personal experiences.
Critical Incident Support is provided in the form of a debriefing procedure that aims to work with complex human emotion in an attempt bring some normality into and abnormal situation. Traumatic events are shocking and it is the initial shock that triggers a sense of mental and physical paralysis. It is often tempting for an employer to want to draw immediate support, but experience suggests that the most effective support in the immediate aftermath of an event is that of colleagues, those who are known and familiar to those who have been affected. For those more heavily impacted, it is important that they are enabled to get home safely, where they can be supported by those closest to them.
A state of shock may compromise an individual’s capacity to engage in the debriefing process and it appears that it is more helpful to consider onsite support by an external provider somewhere between 24-72 hours following the traumatic event. Having said that, immediate support should never be ruled out where employers are struggling to manage a very difficult situation.
Once onsite, the Critical Incident Responder will work with those impacted through group and/or individual participation. Group participation can be particularly helpful in that it is an opportunity to share feelings and emotions that are normal and common in such situations and so, hopefully, reduce a sense of isolation for an individual. One to one participation may be helpful for those reluctant to engage in a group session, perhaps because the event has triggered particularly painful memories, which is often the case. The responder’s role is both supportive and educational, enabling those who have been affected to utilise appropriate resources and strategies to help them to readjust to an abnormal situation.
There follows a period of watchful waiting during the following few weeks, allowing those involved to go through a phase of re-integration, where they are able to make sense of what has happened and to integrate it both mentally and emotionally, to the extent that they feel safe again. However, should symptoms persist or escalate over a prolonged period of time, more structured support may well be indicated in the form of counselling.
JR Corporate Health blog covering topics such as management support, supervision, psychological support, critical incident support and wellbeing in the workplace.