Dr Mariposa's A-E of Helping Someone with Depression

Dr Mariposa's A-E of Helping Someone with Depression

Last month we were asked by Grazia magazine to contribute to a super important topic - depression, specifically in men, and how we can get better at talking to our friends and loved ones in need. Whilst we are becoming increasingly open to talk ‘about’ depression and mental health more broadly, the fact remains that for most of us talking ‘to’ those who may need our support can feel daunting and confusing. We’re fearful of saying the ‘wrong’ thing or just plain uncomfortable with knowing how to navigate those difficult conversations and how best to offer our support. 

The brilliant Dr Barbara Mariposa, Mental Health Lead here at Work Well Being, shared her expert guidance and advice. Dr Mariposa suggests that ‘you will never know what it’s really like to be someone else. So if someone is depressed, why don’t you start by simply asking them how you can help’?

What follows is Dr Mariposa's A - E of helping someone with Depression. 

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A - E of Helping Someone with Depression. 

A Address is, Ask them about it, Challenge your own Assumptions and move to a place of Acceptance. 

B Be there, and listen. The power of having someone unconditionally non-judgmentally present with you can be life saving. 

C Care and be Consistent. Care by doing practical things. The cleaning, the shopping, walk the dog. This removes the burden of what are seemingly impossible tasks. 

D Direct them towards help. Don’t be scared to suggest that they visit a professional. And Divide the load too, don’t take it all upon yourself. 

E Encourage and Empower. This isn’t the same as ‘chin up, don’t worry’, it is more ‘you’re not alone’, ‘I’m here for you’, ‘I care for you’, ‘I want to help’, ‘You have what it takes to get through this’, ‘You’re stronger than you think’ 

For further advice and support, Mind the mental health charity is a great source of information https://www.mind.org.uk

 

Mastering Your Inbox

Mastering Your Inbox

How to Create Email Freedom

For most of us we can feel at the mercy of our emails and inbox, being drawn in by the lure of their pings and notifications, often from the moment we wake. But what if we could develop a relationship with technology that put us back in a position of control, and that served us in a far more positive way? That’s what we explored with Chris Hardy, Life & Leadership Coach at Work Well Being, for a recent workshop with one of our clients. The tips were so transformative for us, that we wanted to share Chris’ wisdom with you all!


Mastering your Inbox is possible through the mastery of your approach and attitude towards your emailing. Following a few simple principles will create email freedom, effective work and more time for creativity and leadership.

These principles are easily remembered using the handy acronym ‘PCRAR!’ Like an exotic parrot.

P - Prioritise
C - Create
R - Respond
A - Archive
R - Recover


Prioritise

• Always prioritise your inbox before taking any further action. Sit in silence for a few meditative moments before calmly and effectively sorting your entire inbox according to priority. (I use red, orange and green stars)

• Use the Important v. Urgent matrix to plot your most high priority emails to act on immediately.

• Learn to take action on the things that are important but not necessarily urgent, they are often the actions that will move your business forwards significantly.


Create

• Write your top priority emails offline before you have even opened your inbox. I use Omm Writer to support me writing in an undistracted space.

• Give yourself at least 30 mins (two hours is more like ideal) to be creative, to push your business forward, to take the initiative, before opening and diving into your inbox.

• Create first, respond second.


Respond

• Make the distinction in your work between reacting, replying, and responding. When you respond you take your time and your emailing is more effective.

• Responding has a sense of leadership about it. When you react you’re a victim of circumstances, leaders take control and respond with clarity.

• Choose three times per day to open your inbox and dive in. Then make a point of having it closed for the rest of the working day.


Archive

• Your inbox is not meant to be your store of emails. That is what archive or folders are for. Use the archive, send emails directly there. I use Todoist to make a note of upcoming tasks that enables me to remove the email from my inbox.

• Use folders, labels, and filters creatively and intelligently to minimise traffic in your inbox and bring awareness to what is top priority.

• Create specific agreements with anybody in your world who expects you to respond immediately to your emails. If you’re happy for that agreement to be explicit then create a separate filter for that person or group of people.


Recover

• Probably the most important of all, it’s imperative you create time to recover from your inbox, your smartphone and your technology.

• Have a digital sunset and a digital sunrise when all technology in your home goes off. Be prepared to commit powerfully to new healthy boundaries.

• NEVER have your phone in the bedroom and use airplane mode whenever possible.

• Create mini digital detoxes for you and your family or close friends where you have entire weekends away from all things inbox related.

Recommended Read
Steve Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ (includes information on the Important v. Urgent matrix.)

Download this App for Undistracted Writing

Download this App for Task Management


If you’re interested in finding out more about the Mastering Your Inbox workshop, then drop us a line on hello@work-well-being.com 

Urban Eden at Broadgate, Paddington Central and Regents Place

Urban Eden at Broadgate, Paddington Central and Regents Place

Work Well Being is working with British Land to boost wellness and celebrate green spaces in the city 

Energised by the first shoots of spring and the buzz of a city casting off winter, we’ve partnered with British Land to curate and deliver their Urban Eden programme of wellbeing events. The campaign is all about boosting a sense of wellbeing for the mind and body, while embracing green spaces in the city.

Over the next couple of months, we’re hosting a rich programme of weekly experiences spanning three British Land sites in the city – Broadgate, Paddington Central and Regents Place. 

Our programmes include yoga, qigong, meditation, massage, inspirational talks and a pop-up kitchen hosting daily workshops by some of the finest names in healthy eating, with food to accompany. 

All events are completely free, and open to anyone to pop down and enjoy. You can find full details here: 

Broadgate: www.broadgate.co.uk/urbaneden
Paddington Central: www.paddingtoncentral.com/events
Regents Place: www.regentsplace.com/urbaneden

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

Are You Surviving or Thriving?

In Conversation with Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi 

The focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (8th-14th May) challenges us to consider whether we are we living our life simply ‘getting through’ and doing our best to juggle all of the various demands on our time, money, resources and attention; or are we truly living life to the fullest and thriving? 

It’s a stirring question, one which for many of us we’ve probably never given much thought to, but it certainly feels worthy of exploration, because good mental health is more than the absence of a mental health problem.

We wanted to learn more, and so we picked the brains of one of the wonderful experts we’re proud to call part of our team, Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi: 

Qu. 1: How do we know if we are surviving or thriving, what is the difference between the two? 

A very interesting question indeed! I think that when we are surviving there is an element of fatigue, everything requires effort and there is a sense of running against the tide. The days may feel the same and there might be a lack of sense of purpose. When we are thriving, it feels like being in a ‘flow’, it feels right and we are excited to be where we are and do what we do.

Qu. 2: What steps can we take to look after our mental health, building resilience to cope with the demands of life? 

First of all, we need to have some time to step back and observe what is going on in our lives. If we live in automatic pilot we might not notice when things begin to overwhelm us or deplete our mental wellbeing. Awareness is the key!

Qu. 3: Is it okay if at some points in our lives we operate in survival mode, like at particularly stressful points such as moving house, having a baby or starting a new job? 

Indeed, it is not such a dichotomy, some days we may thrive and other days we might survive. It is sometimes comforting to notice and see how impermanent i.e. temporary everything is. For example an emotion only lasts 20 seconds in the brain, so if we don’t invest too much time thinking about that emotion but instead we open up to the ups and downs of life, we can bounce back quite quickly.

Qu. 4: How can we make sure we build long lasting positive habits, to prevent slipping back into survival mode again? 

Habits are based on positive reinforcements. So if we want to foster a positive habit we need to associate the habit with something that is rewarding. For example if you want to develop the habit to eat well, it is important to make sure that enjoyment is present when eating, that could mean making your salad fresh, colorful, and use beautiful plates and cutlery.

Qu. 5: How can we support others who we may be concerned are not fully engaged in life and thriving? 

Listening and observing what is going on with them first, trying to be present but not forcing anything. Is there any material condition that is getting in their way  e.g. working too many hours or not having any childcare support? 

If so maybe offering to help with practical things so that some time is released to savour life. I also think that ‘teaching by example’ to role model is very powerful, especially within families.


Work Well Being Workshops on Surviving or Thriving

In support of this year’s theme, we’ve developed a number of workshops designed to support your staff in moving from a place of survival, to experiencing more enjoyment and pleasure in life. 

To find out more about these workshops and how we can bring Mental Health Awareness Week to life at your workplace, please get in touch - louise@work-well-being.com 

 

Getting Started with Mindfulness Championing ‘Simple Swaps’ with Bounce

Getting Started with Mindfulness Championing ‘Simple Swaps’ with Bounce

Mindfulness, is everywhere now; from mindful colouring books, to CEO’s and world leaders professing the life changing impact the practice has had on their lives. At Work Well Being, mindfulness is often central to the wellbeing programmes we deliver for our workplace clients, as it is incredibly effective at increasing resilience, enhancing levels of empathy and connection, regulating emotions and improving focus. But what does it really mean to practice mindfulness? 

Many of us consider ourselves to be ‘mindful', we may be mindful of how others are feeling, mindful not to forget to pick up the milk on the way home, is this what mindfulness is? Well…sort of, each of those examples is a demonstration of being aware, attentive to others and focusing on the things we need to do. 

This is mindfulness in its purest sense, focused attention. Whilst we often do this without realising, there are ways to cultivate this attentive mindset further, and huge benefits in taking the time to do so.  

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www.clare.cam.ac.uk/mindfulness-at-clare

Mindfulness also crucially involves adopting a none judgmental mindset, so not trying to force or change our thoughts or situations, or labeling what we’re thinking or feeling as right or wrong; just experiencing and noticing these thoughts and emotions.

In our world today we are continuously bombarded with information and choices to make, often feeling at the mercy from the constant pull and distraction of messages and alerts on our devices. Whilst these advances in technology have enhanced our quality of life in countless ways, the evolution of our minds hasn’t kept up pace with the rate of technology, resulting in us often feeling overwhelmed and frazzled…that’s right…step away from the iPhone! 

Mindfulness is a practice; it takes commitment and time, but with this real change takes place. The key to building a regular practice is about finding what works for you. Whilst committing to a formal daily 30 min practice is undoubtedly beneficial, this isn’t always going to be achievable, especially when starting out. 

So, start small, notice and be curious about what impact it is having for you, and then choose whether you wish to begin to invest in longer periods of practice

www..mindful.org/mindfulness-work-and-you/

Next week, as part of Bounce’s Simple Swaps campaign, we will be showing you how to achieve just that, with daily challenges on how to get started by injecting mini moments of mindfulness into your day, which could be during your shower, walk to the train or making a cup of tea. To get the ball rolling (excuse the pun!) here are a few to get you thinking:

  • Even if you are in a desk-based job, it’s important to interject moments of movement into your day, doing so ignites creativity
  • Make a tea break, a break! Focus on making the tea and nothing else
  • And breaaaaaathe, focusing on the breath is an incredibly powerful way of reducing anxiety. Keep an eye out for a breathing technique in the next week!

Work Well Being Bring the Sunshine to Paddington Central!

Work Well Being Bring the Sunshine to Paddington Central!

How to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder & The Winter Blues 

Ah January, we cannot lie, we will be glad to see the back of you for another year! The dark cold mornings, and creeping daylight means that for many of us at this time of year, we leave for work in the dark and return home in the dark, limiting our exposure to daylight to next to nothing. 

Whilst for some of us this can leave us longing for warmer climates and brighter days, for others it can have a far more serious impact on mood, energy levels and well, ability to feel, work and live well. If these feelings are something you relate to, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the condition affects around 3 in every 100 adults in the UK. While the exact causes of SAD aren’t yet clear, the reduced amount of light at this time seems to be important

That’s why we are thrilled to be bringing the sunshine to Paddington Central hosting our Sunshine Lounge, daily from 23rd Jan – 3rd Feb! Taking place in an inflatable cocoon like space in the heart of Sheldon Square, our Sunshine Lounge will allow you to bathe in the warmth of lightboxes, powered by light therapy experts Lumie, whose bright broad-spectrum bulbs treat SAD in typically only 30 minutes a day. As you bask in the light, you’ll also be able to enjoy a soothing and warming tea from Pukka, whilst our Work Well Being experts share their tips and techniques on lifestyle measures we can take to make winter more manageable.

Whilst we cannot promise that you’ll exit the Sunshine Lounge to bright blue skies, hopefully you’ll return to work feeling a little perkier and brighter and ready to take on the rest of what winter has in store for us!

Here are our top tips for things you can do to boost your mood and energy levels in winter, curated by our expert health coach, Ollie Oshodi: 

1)    Go outside whenever you can and get as much natural sunlight as possible. Try to go for at least a brief walk at lunchtimes. Make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible and sit near windows when you’re inside if you can.

2)    Make movement a priority. Although exercise can be the last thing we want to do when it’s cold and dark, physical exercise can be very effective in lifting your mood and increasing your energy levels. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a hardcore gym session - gardening, walking or a light jog can be equally as effective. 

3)    Consider additional lighting support. Medically certified lightboxes such as the Lumie Brazil can stimulate exposure to sunlight and reduce SAD symptoms.

4)    Support your energy levels and mood with good nutrition. Focus on eating a healthy and balanced diet that is full of unprocessed whole foods. Reduce the processed and refined simple carbohydrates you may be craving (e.g. cakes, biscuits, white pasta) as consumption can lead to blood sugar crashes, which cause low energy, mood and additional cravings. 

Increase your intake of Omega 3s with oily fish, flaxseed and hemp oils and consider good quality Vitamin D3 supplementation, as the best source of Vitamin D is the sunlight we’re lacking at this time of the year. 

5)    Reduce your caffeine intake and instead try a calming herbal tea as the caffeine in coffee, tea and energy drinks can suppress serotonin levels. Teas such as Pukka’s Three Ginger can give you a warming and energizing kick when it’s cold outside.

6)    Optimise your sleep dim lighting and stop looking at phone, computer and TV screens at least an hour before going to bed. Consider Epsom Salt baths, which help to boost magnesium levels, essential for balanced moods.

7)    Build a support network and talk to friends and family if you’re feeling low. Knowing that you are not alone and that help is available can make SAD easier to cope with. Organisations such as SADA can provide further assistance

 

Our Ongoing Journey of Finding Balance

Our Ongoing Journey of Finding Balance

The Challenges, & Tools that Support Us 

Doing what we do, it’s understandable that sometimes people have the perception of us of having it all worked out; having found some kind of magic formula when it comes to achieving our own wellbeing, and living perfectly well balanced lives. Well, let me tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth! We are still both very much on our own personal journey to achieving balance, and most probably always will be; because that’s the point of life, right, we learn, evolve, grow & develop, the achievement of perfection (whatever that means) is an imperfect goal. 

Striving to achieve balance in our own lives is exactly what inspires & motivates us to run Work Well Being. We are constantly seeking out new practices, teachers, apps, books, healthy foods & drinks….that help us to feel and work well. Our purpose & passion is about sharing these wonderful teachers & tools with many more people, who just like us, are facing the same challenges to achieving balance in life. 

Our personal challenges & tools to finding balance

Louise:

For me one of the key things that prevents me from achieving a state of total balance more often than I would like, is my inherent trait of being slightly obsessive! Obsession / Passion – its a very thin line, passion is most definitely a positive driver of getting stuff done & enjoying the ride, but often I push pass this point and find myself in a place of obsession. Obsessing over getting everything just ‘perfect’, pushing myself beyond all reasonable limits to ensure that I have no sense of ‘guilt’ about not having given a project or piece of work my all, and finding it difficult to know when to stop and switch of the laptop! 

For me, the key thing that supports me to a) recognise when I am in a place of obsession, and b) subsequently move on out of that place, is yoga. When I began the practice many years ago it was primarily because I needed to do some exercise! I quickly discovered that its impact was far greater on me than just slightly more toned legs & arms though. When I practice yoga I can literally feel the space being created in my body (my muscles relax) and my mind (the heaviness of my thoughts become lighter). Yoga reconnects me to what is most important in my life, it puts everything in perspective, and so I come away with a lighter touch on life.  

Abby: 

I've always liked the idea of having balance and stability in my life, it’s always felt like a really natural thing for me to strive for. When I’ve got balance, even just a little bit, it gives me strength and clarity, and is something that, I think, makes me a nicer person to be around. That certainly doesn’t mean I find it easy though, far from it!

I thought I’d cracked it a couple of years ago, a few yoga classes a week, a healthy diet, the occasional morning meditation, I was feeling great… then I had a baby. 

Well those yoga classes soon went out the window, and eating on the go is never easy, as for time to myself… well, you can forget that!  Of course, aside from the complete and utter joy of bringing a brand new beautiful human being into the world, being a new (and working) mum has presented me with my biggest challenge yet in maintaining balance. Looking after me frequently falls to the bottom of the To Do list.

I’ve had to change my perspective of what a balanced life means to me, my new approach is quite simply to not to beat myself up over the occasional* (*frequent) slip up. The guilt that I was inflicting on myself wasn't achieving anything. I now acknowledge that sometimes what I need for my own wellbeing is not to push myself to go to that yoga class (when I'm already exhausted), but to have a nice relaxing bath instead (what a luxury!). My ever-evolving quest for balance in my family and work life certainly keeps me on my toes, I’m just going to keep reminding myself that I need to readjust my tactics as I go, and be content in the knowledge that I’ll never have it all worked out.

If you’d like to find out how we can support you & your people in your own pursuit of balance, then drop us a line on hello@work-well-being.com

Louise & Abby x 

Penguin Living & Work Well Being

Penguin Living & Work Well Being

Working in Partnership to Inspire & Support Your People to Live Better  

We are so pleased to announce news of an exciting new partnership between Work Well Being and Penguin Random House; the world’s biggest publisher. 

The partnership marks & celebrates the launch of Penguin Living, which is an initiative by the publisher to bring together their broad and diverse range of personal development books, all under one roof. 

Penguin Living’s vision is to share the insight, experience and inspiration of their world class list of authors and experts so as to support people to be more effective and live a better life across work, home & play.  Penguin Living authors and experts, include Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Ruby Wax, Michael Acton Smith, Malcolm Gladwell, Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Peters, to mention just a few!

Our partnership sees us collaborating to extend the reach of our workplace wellbeing programmes, equipping employees with the tools and equipment so that they can continue their wellbeing journey. This could be in the form of individual books to complement the sessions we deliver, or a Penguin Living author hosting one of our talks or workshops as part of our programme with you.  

To extend the support and inspiration to live a better life throughout your business, we can also offer much wider access to Penguin Living content. This could be in the form of access to books & digital content for particular groups within the workforce, such as a maternity package for expectant Mums & Dads to include books and material on parenting; or a business development package to include titles on pitching, 
gravitas & charisma for the sales team. 

Mark Prescott at Penguin Living said: 

"Aimed at those who aspire to be better and do more, Penguin Living is a new way of sharing knowledge. By giving people access to the experience of our world-class authors and experts, we hope to motivate them to make positive changes in their lives – at work, at play and at home.
Whether the focus is mindfulness, career progression, physical wellbeing, creative development or travel, we want to inspire people to do the things they love, better."

We’d love to chat and share more! Get in touch with louise@work-well-being.com

Search Inside Yourself

Search Inside Yourself

Mindfulness & Emotional Intelligence The Google Way 

Recently we were hugely privileged to join the Search Inside Yourself (SIY) 2-day training programme, here in London. SIY was born at Google in 2007, developed by a humble engineer, with passion for personal growth & development. The programme creatively blends the ancient meditative practice of mindfulness, with the contemporary field of emotional intelligence, and backed by neuroscience, it is intended to transform lives and create happiness. 

So what to expect? In all honesty I entered into the programme with the mindset of ‘fact-finding’, hoping to search out another practice which has the ability to help people feel & work well, for us to offer to our clients. What I wasn’t prepared for was the impact that the programme would have on me personally. 


What Exactly is Mindfulness Based Emotional Intelligence? 
The SIY approach is to cultivate emotional intelligence, by using mindfulness to train a quality of attention. Through mindfulness we can generate a greater awareness of ourselves and others, and learn how to direct this attention to become more perceptive of emotions, and therefore handle these feelings and our relationships with greater skill and compassion. 


What We Covered: 
To try and sum up what we covered over those 16 hours, in the space of a few words is quite a challenge, but I’ll try my best to do it justice!

1. Self Awareness - by becoming more in tune with ourselves, we create the ability to know when our attention has wandered. We practised this through a simple meditation, with our breath as the focus of that intention. By encouraging the mind to focus solely on the inhale and exhale of the breath, we distract it from it’s usual patter of rambling thoughts (where our minds spend 47% of the time), which although essential for creativity, is not where we want to be all of the time. 

2. Self Management - defined as 'the process of managing one’s internal states, impulses, and resources’. What self management definitely isn’t is avoiding, denying or suppressing thoughts or emotions. It’s about using Self Awareness to understand our triggers, so we can pause before reacting, and therefore move from compulsion to choice - Stop. Breathe. Notice. Reflect. Respond. 

3. Motivation - we dug pretty deep in this section, understanding our alignment and core guiding values, and using these to envision our future self. Only by daring to dream about what we may wish our future lives to be like, do we give ourselves the chance to realise this - 'we learn from the past what to predict for the future and then live the future we expect’. We also explored resilience, our capacity to bounce back and get back on track. 

4. Empathy - empathy is NOT about psychologising or simply agreeing with people. It’s about seeing similarities & offering kindness. By connecting with Self Awareness and Self Management, it gives us the ability to experience and understand what others feel, and therefore navigate difficult conversations more skilfully, and also simply connect with a greater sense of compassion. 

5. Social Skills / Leadership - by bringing together all that we learnt, this enables us to lead with greater impact. When we are fully present, we are more effective and can make better decisions, which allows us to connect with others on a deeper level. 


What I Took Away: 
I feel that the impact of those 2 days is something that I will carry with me, and infuse my being ever more so over time. There was so much to reflect on, and so many ways in which to integrate the practices into my daily life, but these were some of the most impactful things for me: 

Looping Back - so when in conversation with someone, instead of projecting my own views on to them, and quickly drawing conclusions about what they’ve just told me, use the technique of looping back to repeat and clarify what they mean. When we practised this, it was incredible how much room for mis-interpreation there is, and how very often, we can draw the incorrect conclusions and miss the point of what someone is trying to tell us!

Mindful Listening - when in conversation, instead of trying to prep my next response to someone, or pre-empt what they may say next (which most of us do!), allow myself to listen entirely, and not say a word. This was pretty uncomfortable and difficult when we practised, as for many of us, it’s a natural instinct to want to relate to what the person is saying, interjecting with our own references of ‘me too’. By intentionally avoiding this though, and simply listening, it was amazing how much more I heard. 

I Am Not My Emotions - something which I often forget, but when you experience an emotion, it is simply that, an experience. Emotions do not define who we are. We feel emotions, we are not them, so e.g I feel sad - not I am sad. This simple technique of reframing allows us to have increased acceptance for the feelings we feel, we don’t need to control or try and push the ‘negative’ feelings away, they are just part of the full range of human experience. 

Stop. Breathe. Notice. Reflect. Respond - by pausing and breathing before responding to a situation or trigger, it allows you to physically feel some emotions as they rise in the body. This greater awareness gives you a head start, as you begin to associate certain physical sensations, with certain emotions, which provides the window of opportunity to choose how you’d like to respond rather than the emotion completely blind-siding you. 

Impact Is Not Intention - we all walk around inside our own 'bell jar', our unique window on the world, made up of all of our experiences to date. This means that when looking solely through our own window, sometimes we can misinterpret the intention of what someone says to us - impact is not always intention. By being aware of this, it allows us to consider other people’s perspectives. 


If you’d like to find out more about bringing the SIY programme to your workplace, then drop us a line - louise@work-well-being.com.

Louise x 

 

Lets Talk About Sleep

Lets Talk About Sleep

Why So Many Of Us Struggle With It & Things You Can Do To Help

Sleep; how much of it we’re getting and the quality of it, is becoming more and more talked about. From Arianna Huffington declaring that a sleep revolution will allow us to better solve the world's problems, to claims that not getting enough sleep is as bad for us as smoking, it’s no wonder we’re becoming a little obsessed with our shut-eye time. 

This shift from the days when being able to claim that you could survive off 4-hours per night was seen as a badge of honour, to the importance of sleep and it’s ability to help us thrive now being acknowledged, is certainly a positive. Opening up the conversation around sleep is also helping to highlight just how many of us struggle with sleep issues from time to time, in fact around 30 to 40 percent of adults indicate some level of insomnia within any given year. For many of us, a bad night is the first signal that our minds are spending too much time in over-drive. In these times of incessant stimulation, with so much information bombarding us 24/7, it’s no real surprise that our ability to switch this off when the time comes for slumber is a real challenge. 

We recently attended one of Ruby Wax’s walk-in centres here in London, which she is aiming to roll out across the country as a support service, not necessarily for those with mental illness but for those who feel they're on the cusp of burning out or simply going up the ladder of ‘stressdom’. The session which we attended was all about sleep, our relationship with it, and it’s connection with our mental health. Chaired by Ruby, the session was hosted by Dr Russell Foster, a professor of circadian neuroscience. 

Russell eloquently discussed what many of us experience the day after a bad night; the desire to prop ourselves up with caffeine and sugar, and then bring ourselves back down again with alcohol or other sedatives when the time comes for sleep once more - he called this the sedative-stimulus loop. Of course his advice was not to get caught in this loop, and instead ride the wave of tiredness the following day by fuelling your body with vitamin & nutrient rich foods, and avoiding napping, so that by the time the evening comes around, your body at least feels ready for sleep. 

Cortisol is the key hormone which keeps our minds from quietening into a peaceful slumber. Particularly when we’re anxious about the fact that we’re not asleep, and desperate for this to occur for fear of what the consequences may be if we don’t the following day, cortisol levels can soar. Russell’s advice was that we each need to find our own ways to bring our cortisol levels down, that could be a warm bath or reading before bed, running, meditation or yoga, whatever it is that rids your body of some of that anxious energy and helps to get you closer to a place of peace and calm. 

As an occasional poor sleeper myself, one of the simplest yet most profound things that has helped me over the years is mindfulness, and learning to compassionately accept my state of restlessness for what it is, rather than try to fight it. By making friends with my fear, accepting it and allowing it to be, I avoid the drama around the inability to sleep, which prevents the cortisol levels from racing, and eventually allows me to drift off peacefully. Another tool which I have recently discovered is Sleepio an online personalised sleep improvement plan, which draws on techniques of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, giving you access to ways to adapt your patterns of thought. 

So it’s good to talk about sleep, knowing that if you’re battling with it, you’re certainly not alone, and there are things you can do to help yourself - starting by not battling with it!

On Wednesday 17th February, our friends at publisher Penguin Random House are running an event all about how to get a good nights sleep! Hosted by Dr Jason Ellis, professor of sleep science at Northumbria University, he will share ways to recapture the joys of a really good kip. We are able to offer an exclusive 50% discount, meaning the tickets to this event are just £5. Simply use the code workwellbeing when booking here: Eyes Wide Shut with Dr Jason Ellis

Louise x 

 

How to Find Work You Love (and that will love you back)

How to Find Work You Love (and that will love you back)

Uncovering & Embodying Your Values

A little while ago we attended a workshop hosted by our friends at Amazing If, designed to help identify what our own unique mix of values are, explain why they are important, and how to use them to make better decisions, build stronger relationships and most importantly, to live a life which is full of passion and purpose. 

Over the course of the workshop, we dug deep, explored some of the big choices we’d made in our lives to date, and examined our own sense of the people we believed ourselves to be. The outcome for me was landing on two core values, which (it turns out), are at the heart of all the big decisions I make in my life - FREEDOM and PROGRESSION. 

By understanding this, I began to reflect on my career patterns and job choices, and in doing so I realised that what had seemed to be a path guided in the main by luck & circumstance, had in fact been hugely influenced by my own underlying values. From my very first job after university, where I was confronted with the choice of two roles, one in recruitment (which paid far more), or another in a graduate position with a media agency (where the starting salary was much less but it promised an exciting path for growth & development), I had in most cases gone with the option which provided the prospect of greatest freedom, or progression. 

Those roles that I had loved the most, were in fact when there was an equal balance of both freedom and progression, where I had been given autonomy and space to grow and develop. 

It all made sense, and also explained why I had now finally landed at my true calling of creating something of my own, Work Well Being. 

If I had unearthed these values sooner in my career (and had had the courage to follow them), I think it may have influenced some of the choices I made. It would have provided me with greater clarity to make decisions based on those roles which were honouring my true self, not simply following others, or doing what I thought I ought to. 

So, I encourage you to do the same, dig deep and challenge what it is that truly is important to you. Once you have that understanding, along with the conviction to trust in that, you’ll see that things begin to flow much more naturally. 

Louise x

Because understanding our values is such an important part of feeling and working well, we offer workshops in the workplace on this subject. You can find out more here.

Staying Balanced

Staying Balanced

Unplugging from the external and reconnecting with the internal

Last week I was feeling emotionally out of sorts, anxious, fearful, exhausted and drained, and I had no clue as to why. On Friday evening I went to the most beautiful candlelit meditation and yin yoga session, and all became clear. My teacher explained that right now we are dealing with unparalleled levels of fear, distrust, hatred and anxiety in the world (fuelled unhelpfully by the media). As an intuitive person with an open heart, we cannot help but absorb the energy that it around us, which can sometimes feel like we are literally carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. 

These feelings of emotional exhaustion are intensified by the inevitable chaos that the festive season brings! Don’t get me wrong, I am loving spending time with old friends, over indulging, and consuming my weekly alcohol limit daily (!), but because this is so out of the norm for me, it had really sent me off kilter. I had thrown many of the things that I know keep me grounded (yoga, eating a balanced diet, quiet time etc) out of the window, and was getting completely out of balance - having far too much of a good thing, and becoming preoccupied by the world around me, and I somehow hadn’t noticed this!

I think many of us are feeling this way right now, getting so caught up in all of the external stuff, that we lose sight of the fact that we determine our own reality, not anyone or anything else. I was so preoccupied in my mind, ruminating over some of the things I was reading in the media, panicking about gifts still left to buy etc etc, that I had forgotten how important it is to me to get out of my head and into my body, through yoga and meditation. 

I concluded that there are some key things that I need in my life to keep me feeling balanced, and ultimately allowing myself to be the best version of me. Perhaps writing them down here now will remind me next time!

  • Make space daily for getting out of my head and into my body through yoga and meditation
  • Remember that whatever is going on around me, this planet is part of something much bigger than itself and ourselves - i.e get some perspective!! 
  • Consume my news wisely, avoiding those sources who themselves are unbalanced and full of fear - yes I’m talking to you Metro, Daily Mail, Daily Express and other such offenders!
  • Try to spend at least 2 evenings per week at home - home is where I come back to to recharge
  • Choose what I say ‘yes’ to more wisely, I don’t have to accept every single invitation of fun, or work for that matter, be more protective over my energy and with whom and what I give that to