Articles

Mental wellbeing at work needs to be prioritised

‘A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity….’

(Source: WHO Mental health in the workplace, September 2017)

Companies which promote mental health and have psychological safety programmes in the workplace, are likely to see a drop in absenteeism, an uptick in productivity and benefit financially from improved employee performance and outcomes.

Programmes could cover areas such as:

Resilience

Mindfulness

ProSocial Matrix training

Values based goal setting for individuals and teams

Acceptance and Commitment training for staff

to name a few.

Practical strategies to start with can include:

Listening with intent – really pay attention to what employees and co-workers are saying without thinking ahead to what you want to say
Appreciate your employees for their successes. Too often the focus is on what’s going wrong.
Develop a culture of care and trust by engaging in deeper conversations
Encourage ownership and partnership in the decision-making process

Poor wellbeing can account for employees losing up to a third of their potential productivity.* Companies like Unilever, American Express and Prudential have implemented mental health programmes and are seeing the benefits positively affecting their bottom line.

The list of programmes available is extensive, but even small incremental changes can make inroads into ensuring that employees feel valued and supported at work, which can only benefit the organization and lead to greater productivity. *()  

Posted by The Conscious Zone

Intention and Reflection

As we look back on another year that appears to have whizzed by, it’s worth asking ourselves a few simple questions. Some of us feel that we don’t have the time to think about things like our emotional well-being. After all, that wasn’t on our KPIs for the year!
Yet making the time to reflect on and review how the year has gone is something we should all do – seeing how far you have come is an excellent place to plan for where you would like to go next.

To help with this process, here are some questions to consider when thinking about your own mental well-being:

Who or what makes you laugh?
How do you manage stress?
What are some of the successes you have enjoyed this year? How could you replicate them or use those skills in the future?
Name some things you are grateful for this year, both at work and at home.

But perhaps the most crucial question to ask is: Who or what is important to you?

Identifying these areas is the first step in understanding what brings purpose and meaning to your life. Writing them down could help you take your life in the direction you want it to go. Carve out a little time over the holidays to think about this, as you set out your intentions for the year ahead.

Start next year with a greater clarity of purpose and meaning by reflecting on what has been.

 

Posted by The Conscious Zone

How to deal with saying No

Sometimes saying ‘no’ feels worse than saying ‘yes’.
Just the thought of saying no to someone makes me anxious. I think I have been programmed to say yes to helping anyone who asks and feel an immense sense of guilt for even contemplating the idea that a ‘no’ is even in the realms of possibility. Recently, I have come to realise that for my own peace of mind, I am going to have to learn to say no and not feel anxious or guilty about it. Quite often, I do give a lot of myself away – and don’t get me wrong – I like to help if I can, but I am coming round to the realization that if it isn’t family that’s asking, and I don’t have the time or ability to do it, then I am going to have to turn that idea, project, work down because I will hit the overwhelm button if I do.

Great… so that’s the new plan. Turning things down. Saying no to someone. I can do this…

Well, yes I can, but what happens is that my stomach gets into knots, my chest feels tight because the guilt and anxiety are taking over. I want to know that the person I have said no to will be ok with my decision. I feel worried that by saying no, I have let things in the relationship down. So what do I do?

Well, I am a mindfulness practitioner and I am learning to deal with these times by using my practice. What does that involve exactly?

Just sit and be with the emotion

Dr Dan Siegel coined the phrase “Name it to tame it”. So I do exactly that. What is the name of the emotion that I am feeling? I need to be clear on this. For me, this means sitting and just thinking about what I am feeling. Labelling the emotion gives it space.

Describe how it physically feels

This has become easier by practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, but it all starts with a body scan. Gently close your eyes and scan your body from head to toe. Notice the areas that feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Once I have isolated the parts that are uncomfortable, I focus on the physical sensations. I describe to myself (in my head and silently of course), how guilty feels or how anxiety feels. One is in my stomach and the other in my chest. I get specific. Is it tight? Is it like a weight? Is it warm or hot? Is it like butterflies? Is it intense? Get to know how the emotion physically manifests itself in your body.

Breathe

I then spend the next few minutes just breathing in and out and focusing on that area. I allow myself to feel the anxiety and the guilt. I give myself permission to have those emotions. I don’t distract myself from them or bury my head in the sand and pretend they don’t exist. I give the emotions an opportunity to get my full and undivided attention.

And once it does…. It doesn’t need to keep getting bigger and I feel the weight in my chest or the knots in my stomach just slowly disappear.

Worth a try…. See if it helps!

Mallika Kripalani

Posted by The Conscious Zone

ACT and Psychological Flexibility

These days people are much more aware of what mindfulness is, or at least what they believe mindfulness to be.
If we look at secular mindfulness, then I feel that the definition becomes about ‘open awareness, curiosity and staying in the present moment, without judgement, as much as we can. This combines the definitions of Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr Russ Harris. It is this combination of mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) that, I believe, has the power to change how we approach life.

Life is full of wonderful moments but also about difficulties and challenges. To be honest, if it wasn’t about some of the negatives, I’m not sure it would be as meaningful! Am I saying we should court stressful moments – no, of course not! I’m saying that we should be learning strategies to deal with these tough times and drop the struggle with them. Learning to accept all our emotions – positive or negative – is the key to mindful acceptance and prevents us from the constant struggle that some of us are embroiled in.

That’s a nice idea, you say…. but, how do you do this? Learning how to connect with your values – to who you want to be in relation to yourself, to the people around you and the world helps us understand what actions and behaviors we need to have in order to live our lives to the best of our ability.

In ACT, this is known as psychological flexibility. This is defined by

‘….the ability to contact the present moment more fully as a conscious human being, and to change or persist in behavior when doing so serves valued ends. Psychological flexibility is established through six core ACT processes. Each of these areas are conceptualized as a positive psychological skill…’*

So what are these 6 core processes and what does that mean?

The 6 core processes in ACT are :

Contacting the Present moment
What you would essentially called mindfulness but not just in a formal way, but an informal one too
Acceptance
Understanding that experiences happen – both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and that we need to learn strategies to accept them rather than avoid them
Values
Who do you want to be? Who do you want to stand for? Clarifying these is key in understanding how to deal with life and its challenges.
Commitment
Making realistic goals for living the life you want once you clarify your values
Self-as-Context
The noticing self or the observing self. Being able to step back a little and notice what’s going on
Defusion
Unhooking from the thoughts and feelings that grab you.

Understanding and applying these processes in our lives can be transformative. A real game changer in the way we live.

For more information, please do get in touch so I can discuss these with you personally.

* (Ref: )

Posted by The Conscious Zone