Blog Archives

Why you should look at yourself as a complete ecosystem

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Why you should look at yourself as a complete ecosystem, not just deal with the symptoms individually.

Why you should look at yourself as a complete ecosystem

I spent a lot of my life being unhealthy in mind and body and not very well at being. I can recall way back to my teens suffering digestive issues, mental health problems like anxiety and depression and these continued through the decades. I thought everyone was like me – worrying about future events that hadn’t and may not happen.

I learned to take back control over my mind and body, influence my well-being both physically and mentally and am a healthy happy and content person. It’s taken work, there is no quick fix but what I have learned is that there is no ‘one size fits all’; this interests me hugely as the mind and body is so inexplicably unique and complex we vastly underestimate the effects of our thoughts and what we fuel ourselves with, our environment and our experiences. These all shape our being.

My journey to wellness started with understanding the detrimental effect my thoughts were having on me. I have met and exchanged stories with many people and the most important lesson I have learned is that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, this is why the NHS is struggling. To achieve wellness is a personal journey and can be facilitated by many routes, both medicine and holistic. Find what works for you.

To read this contribution by Nikki Emerton, Be U in full and to find out what worked for her, please visit her website.

Category: B Positive

Standing in queues

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Are you are looking forward to tackling the shops and the queues when Christmas shopping?

Standing in queues

Practice your posture when standing in queues, it will stop your legs from aching.

Hints and tips from Chiropractor Sandie at Afon House

Did you ever wonder how soldiers on guard duty can fall asleep standing up?

It’s because they have perfect posture and then relax into it. The muscles are relaxed, and the skeleton takes the weight of the head (it weighs the same as a good sized bowling ball).

Many people stand really badly and walk really badly. I sometimes copy my patients’ posture and it’s easy to see why they have low back pain, stiff necks, and headaches.

Here are a few hints and tips on how to adopt perfect posture without looking like a soldier on guard duty.

  • Keep your weight back on your heels. Your weight should be mainly on your heels with the ball of the foot used for balance. You should be able to wiggle your toes. If you have your weight forward on your toes it will make the muscles in your legs tight and they will ache very quickly. Also, if you are wearing heel, the balls of your feet will burn. Get your weight back over your heels.
  • Have your buttocks slightly tense to gently tuck your tail in. There should be a slight sense of stretch in the front of your hips. We spend so much time sitting that the muscles in the front of the hips can shorten and will encourage you to walk with your bottom sticking out. You will get a flat, flabby bottom. So, tense your buttocks gently to feel that stretch in the front.
  • Lift your chest. Imagine having a tiny puppy on your chest and don’t let it fall off.
  • Let your shoulder blades drop down your back. Your arms should relax at your sides. If you are struggling with this, try turning your hands outwards so your palms face forwards. This will give you the flat shoulder blades. Once you know how your shoulder blades feel when they are flat, you can turn your hands back to a more natural position.
  • Gently tuck your chin in. Not such that you give yourself a double chin but elongate your neck with your chin tucked, so you are looking straight ahead.

 

If you find you are struggling with any of the above, or if you have any aches and pains which are not resolving book in for a free chat by calling Afon House on 01722 820400.

Category: B Positive

Multi-tasking isn’t a skill to aspire to after all

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Multitasking and maybe men have it right?

‘Multi-tasking’ could be defined as the ability to successfully do more than one thing at a time and it often seems to be discussed in the context of a considerable gender bias. Women are generally praised for their apparent prowess at it and men derided for their seemingly inherent inability to do it. It somehow seems to be thought of as BOTH an ‘innate ability’ as well as something that is a virtue resulting from hard work.

busy, busy, busy

In this article I would like to take the discussion of multitasking beyond the gender debate or perhaps even suggest, assuming the stereotype is true, that men might well have it right. I posit the hypothesis that in fact no-one is truly that good at multitasking and perhaps we shouldn’t even try to be!

But I thought I was good at multitasking

Not aspiring to be good multitaskers may be a rather controversial suggestion. You might well be relatively good at it, at least with activities that don’t require much mental capacity. Our brains, however, aren’t really equipped to deal well with more than one thing requiring any degree of thought processing at a time.

We all know that we live in an increasingly fast paced world and many of us feel challenged by this on a weekly, daily or perhaps even hourly basis. Much of the technology that now surrounds us can at times be both a blessing and a curse and I would imagine that a very large percentage of the population, if asked, would say that they feel stressed much more often and to a greater degree than they would like. We probably all listen to or engage in many conversations in a week expressing feelings of ‘overwhelm’ and ‘having too much to do’. In the bid to keep ahead of a seemingly never-ending ‘To Do’ list it surely makes sense to try to do as many of the items on it at the same time as we can, right?

Perhaps not… But to take a side-step for a moment I’d like to briefly explore the concept of mindfulness.

Mindfulness

The Oxford English Dictionary offers us two definitions of mindfulness as follows:

  1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness has indeed become a relatively commonplace treatment amongst mental health practitioners, including within the British National Health Service, for conditions such as depression and anxiety. The practice of mindfulness itself can be traced back to the spiritual tradition of Buddhism. In this sense a person may aim to keep their mind ‘in the moment’ and reduce distractions from other thoughts or bodily sensations about things other than what is currently being experienced.

A trivial example of this would be to consider a mundane activity such as washing dishes. If you were to cast your mind back to the last time you did this I wonder how aware you were of the feel of the water on your skin? The changes in texture as you moved your hands through the water, the bubbles, the air? Did you notice the sound of the water or the dishes clinking? Did you smell the fragrance of the detergent or remains of the food? I could go on but hopefully you get the idea. I suspect that even if you can remember the last time that you washed the dishes, that you most likely did it in a very routine way whilst perhaps thinking about lots of other things and paying very little attention to the task in hand. You may even have also been cooking dinner, listening to music, shouting at the kids to wash their hands at the same times as trying to catch up with your partner after a day at work. Not very relaxing and whilst you may well have got dinner on the table and the dishes more or less clean, (as these types of tasks don’t require much brain power), did you particularly enjoy any of the songs playing or remember much of what your partner said and did the kids ever get their hands washed?

In constantly trying to multitask we are in essence training our brain to function by constantly splitting its attention between different things so it can then become harder and harder to stay focused on any one thing. Part of the idea behind mindfulness, as a therapeutic technique, is that by learning to pay attention to input from all our senses in each moment we can retrain our mind to improve its ability to focus on one thing. With practice we may as a result lessen our tendency to ruminate and worry over things or to experience negative thoughts.

There is much more to mindfulness than this short outline[1] but hopefully that gives you enough information, if you aren’t familiar with the concept of mindfulness, to see that, in a sense, mindfulness could be described as the ‘antithesis of multitasking’. We might think that successful multitasking involves doing two things in parallel but in fact because we are asking our brain to alternately switch between tasks we create an extra load on its resources and on our valuable energy supplies[2].

Time for tea?

This isn’t an academic paper but suffice to say that there are plenty of reviews and research papers to be found outlining the benefits of mindfulness practices on our mental health and wellbeing. Perhaps, therefore, continuing to try to do lots of things at once is not in fact something that should be aspired to or considered desirable. How many times have you tried to have a conversation with someone who was also trying to do something on their phone or who you know is just waiting to put their point across? How did that feel? I’m guessing it probably wasn’t the most inspiring and engaging of conversations and it doesn’t make us feel valued. How many times recently have you yourself been the one distracted from the person in front of you? How successful were you at any of the activities you were doing and how might that other person have felt?

The more we try to split our attention between different tasks the less efficiently and successfully we will complete any of them, never mind how much we will enjoy the experience. There is something truly wonderful about talking to someone who is giving you their absolute undivided attention. How often do you remember having that experience or indeed offering that experience to someone else? A friend recently told me that the person in her life who consistently makes her the best cups of tea is the one who when he makes the tea is only making tea: try it!

I know it is a big ask in today’s world to never do more than one thing at a time but perhaps we could start with throwing out the idea that multitasking is a good thing. Aspiring instead to doing one thing at a time and doing it well we may take us further in improving our own wellbeing and genuine productivity as well as perhaps even changing the experience others have of us.

I will leave you with an ancient Zen proverb:

“When walking walk, when eating eat…”

Written by Dr Karen Janes, Natural Healing Energy (October 2017)


 

[1] For more comprehensive information about mindfulness I would suggest looking up books by the author Jon Kabat Zin.

[2] There is an interesting article published by Psychology Today, which explores this further if you’re interested in a bit more of the science: The Perils of Multitasking: Your smart phone can make you dumb. (2016). William R. Klemm: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201608/the-perils-multitasking

Category: B Positive

3 Ways to have Health and Wellbeing all Year Round

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It is GB Health and Wellbeing week and many of the trending posts are focused around exercise and diet. Here are three tips that will help build a healthy mind – the real powerhouse of the body.

3 Ways to have Health and Wellbeing all Year Round

1.      Experience the NOW. Many of us spend much time worrying about what has already passed or fearing what lies in the future. We miss what is happening right now. Do this little exercise to increase what is now being called ‘mindfulness’ – living in the present.

Close your eyes and then imagine turning up the intensity to each of your sense in turn. Tune into smell – what can you smell? Tune into sound, what can you now hear that you weren’t aware of before? Tune into your skin, what can you feel against it? Then tune into your feelings, what are you now aware of? Finally, open your eyes and just look around and take more notice of what is around you.

2.     Stop and breath. Breathing is something we rarely concentrate on because it is run subconsciously. However we can take conscious control over it to reduce the ‘fight or flight’ response that we get when anxious. The simplest and most effective technique I use is:

As you breath out, take control and breath out until it feels as if your lungs are empty. Then just relax and the air will flow back in all by itself. When you have finished breathing in, assume control again and keep pushing the air out beyond that natural point. No need to count, no need to hold your breath – just deflate the lungs as far as you can – that’s it! Just doing this half a dozen times is enough to override the sympathetic nervous system and release different chemicals into the blood stream to support relaxation.

3.     Smile at strangers. We are fundamentally pack animals and the more connected we feel, the happier we tend to be. So make it a habit to smile at people you don’t know, or just say ‘Good morning’ as you pass. Not everyone will respond but most people will react positively and this, in turn, will create a positive emotion in you.

Anxiety and depression are fed from a perception of a lack of control.  All of these activities will increase the perception of control, stimulating a  different neurochemical functioning of the mind leading to the ability to access more positive feelings.

#BPositive #GBWellbeingWeek

Provided by Caroline Cavanagh an award winning therapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy.

Category: B Positive

Tackling Workplace Stress

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Whilst a certain amount of pressure is normal in every job, when that pressure becomes excessive it results in stress.  Stress can not only impact on your work productivity and performance but it can also have a debilitating effect on your physical and emotional wellbeing as well as on your relationships and home life.

Tackling Workplace Stress

We are increasingly finding more employees coming to us for legal advice who are suffering burnout or are on long term sick leave because of work place stress.  Here we outline your legal rights and the practical steps you can take to deal with stress at work.

What is stress?    

Stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or demands put upon them.  Frequently cited causes of stress at work include work overload, long hours, lack of support and fear of redundancy.  Outside influences, such as relationship issues or illness, can also result in stress and affect a person’s ability to cope with the normal pressures of the workplace.

Whatever the causes of stress, it is important not to suffer in silence.  Whilst stress is not an illness in itself, excessive or prolonged stress can lead to mental and/or physical illness.

What are your legal rights if you have workplace stress? 

There is no specific law aimed at workplace stress, but employers do have duties under common law, statutory law and under the employment contract to have regard for the health and safety of their staff.

In common law, an employer is under a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of employees in the workplace which includes providing a safe system of work.  If an employer breaches this duty of care and the employee suffers an injury as a result, this can give rise to a personal injury claim.

Under statutory law, the main legislation is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees.  Employers also are under a statutory duty to carry out risk assessments to identify, eliminate or reduce any risks to their employees’ health and safety. Stress is one such risk that must be assessed.

In the context of the employment contract, it is an implied term that an employer will take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of its employees at work.  It is also a fundamental term of the employment contract that an employer will not do anything to undermine the implied duty of trust and confidence.  An increasingly common stress related claim is that of constructive dismissal where an employee argues they were forced to resign because of their employer’s breach of one or both of these implied terms.

Employers also have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to the work or workplace where an employee is disabled, which can include employees who are suffering from certain stress related illnesses if the illness amounts to a disability.   An employee may have a claim for disability discrimination if their employer fails to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to alleviate their stress.

Practical steps towards dealing with stress at work

Whilst it can be helpful to know your legal rights, the first step to addressing work place stress is to bring the matter to the attention of your employer.  There can be a tendency to keep quiet and soldier on in the fear that you will be perceived as weak.  However, not only will this fail to resolve anything but could take a serious toll on your health.  It is also no good hoping your employer may notice – your employer is likely to be unaware you are suffering from stress and so can’t help you if you don’t tell them.

The best way to raise the issue is at an informal meeting with your manager or HR to try and find solutions and support.   To prepare for such a discussion, consider if there are any adjustments that can be made to help you and what you want the outcome to be.  Examples of what you can ask for could be:

  • additional training or support in relation to your work overload;
  • shifting deadlines/setting realistic deadlines;
  • clarification of your exact roles and responsibilities – ask for this to be in writing;
  • regular work meetings or a new reporting structure;
  • reduced hours of work or other flexible working arrangement (e.g. working occasionally from home).

 

If you are a member of a union, contact your union representative to ask what support they can provide.  Finally, be sure to confirm any discussions you have in writing even at the early stages.

What steps should your employer take?

While your employer may not have an easy solution for your being overworked or under too much pressure, once they are made aware that you are suffering from work related stress, they are required to take reasonable steps to prevent it.  The key word here is “reasonable”.  What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances but it will involve considering what changes or adjustments can be made to improve the situation.  For some employers, particularly small employers, this can be a difficult assessment to make because of budgetary restraints, the need to take account of the welfare of other employees (who may have to take on extra work) and the need to maintain standards of service.    Nonetheless, your employer cannot ignore the situation because if it does so and your stress leads you to suffer physical or mental harm, they will potentially be liable.

What if your employer fails to take action?

If you feel that nothing or little is being done to address your situation, you may wish to raise a formal grievance by following your employer’s procedures.   This tends to have the effect of focusing an employer’s mind on resolving the situation.

However, if after going down the formal grievance route, you still believe your employer has not done enough to resolve the situation then you may want to take legal advice before doing anything further.   Your employer may be in breach of their health and safety duties to you under statute or common law and if so, you may have a potential claim against them.

Summary  

Seeking help and support at the earliest opportunity is the key to addressing work place stress.  Not only should it result in improvements to your working life but reducing workplace stress will benefit your employer in the long run.  After all, stress is one of the main causes of sickness absence and is responsible for over 11 million days lost at work a year according to the Health and Safety Executive.  If, however, stress at work is not managed properly and allowed to continue unchecked, employees do ultimately have legal rights that they can rely on.

If you are suffering from workplace stress and you feel your employer is not doing enough to help you, Real Employment Law Advice can advise you on the best way to approach the problem and, ultimately, if the situation cannot be resolved, your best legal course of action.

A blog post provided by Miranda Amos, Solicitor for Real Employment Law Advice

Category: B Positive

Make A Difference to Workplace Wellbeing

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Your team are your most valuable resource and when they are mentally healthy are more likely to enjoy their work and fulfil their potential. By creating the right working environment, you as an employer can make a positive contribution to the mental wellbeing of your staff. Supporting staff via good practice and management structures as well as positively employing people who have experienced mental health problems will make a huge difference.

Workplace wellbeing

If employers can make a difference to the wellbeing of their workforce, they are also likely to see improvements in workplace performance!

Awareness
Awareness of mental wellbeing is key. Why not ask a mental health professional to give a presentation on mental wellbeing at work and if you have them, make staff aware of your organisation’s personal support services.

Beat Stress With Activities
You can also enhance good practice through activities for your team. Stress-busting sessions can involve stretching, relaxation or perhaps a massage. We asked a local reflexologist to spend an afternoon in our office for example. Organised classes might be worth considering so that specialist practitioners can teach relaxation techniques that your team can not only use at work but also use outside of the workplace at home.

Having a Break
It’s important that your staff can get away from their desks for lunch or when they need to clear their minds and re focus. It’s a great idea to create a ‘chill-out’ area where staff can take a proper lunch break or have a few minutes away from their desks during the day.

The blog kindly shared with us by Personnel Placements goes on to cover how to engage with your people, paying your staff enough and treating them well. You can read in full here.

Category: Uncategorized

Maintaining YOUR health and YOUR wellbeing

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Health and well-being is made up of four factors, physical, intellectual, emotional and social. How are you taking care of yourself?

Maintaining YOUR health and YOUR wellbeing

We tend to think of health as a physical thing, while wellbeing a little more complex, but they are without doubt linked. When we are more active it can have a very positive impact on our emotional wellbeing. Spring is here which means we are more likely to get back on the sports field, grab those trainers or walk to work, which is fantastic for a happier you!

On the flip side pain can have a very negative effect on our wellbeing, from an old injury to new ache or recovering from an operation it can be frustrating and very debilitating in our daily lives. We can help in several ways and our practitioners work together to ensure you get the right treatment to get you smiling again.

Physiotherapy involves looking at the body as whole and we can offer further guidance on exercise, how to prevent pain and injury and general health and well-being. It can play a vital role in the relief of pain and healing and no referral is needed to access the service. Physiotherapists are the experts in human movement, from the way we move our backs and limbs, to the way we breathe. Their purpose is to restore function, activity and independence, and prevent further injury or illness.

At Sarum Physio you can also access our Sports Injury Clinic which offers treatment for pain relief and to reduce swelling, strapping and joint support, expertise in orthotics and advice on footwear, not forgetting sports massage. The team can also provide you exercises to restore movement and strength. Keeping you off the bench and on the field, court, course or in the gym.

Or why not try Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), which is deeply relaxing and helps to cleanse the body of any accumulated waste products and toxins. The practitioner uses a range of specialised and gentle rhythmic pumping techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow. MLD promotes healing, may strengthen the immune system and relieve fluid in the body helping with swollen ankles, puffy eyes etc.

This blog was provided by the Sarum Physiotherapy Centre and was first published on March 26th, 2017.

Category: Uncategorized

Could your Fitbit shape well-being strategy?

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Could wearable technology in the workplace improve employee well-being and could the data captured help shape an organisation’s wider well-being strategy? Collecting data through employee surveys to monitor well-being is nothing new, but increasingly companies are looking to new methods such as wearable technology, employee advice lines and internal social media channels to do this. People Management magazine explores what employers would do with this data and the impact actions could have on employee well-being.

FitBit

Employers in support of incorporating well-being data analysis would argue that flagging up potential health problems across the workforce could prevent more serious problems further down the line. However, as discussed in our wearable technology podcast, the flipside is a wider question around the ethical responsibility of how, when and in what capacity this data is used. Refresh your knowledge on well-being at work with our factsheet and hear about cutting-edge research on technology adoption at CIPD Applied Research Conference 2017.

Credit: Kristian Adams, Editor of the CIPD Update

 

Category: B Positive

Poor Lighting Equals Poor Performance at Work

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Consider how the workplace has changed in the past decade. Collaborative trends encourage employees to have dynamic interactions, not remain stationary and isolated in a cubicle. Employees need comfortable lighting so they can switch between work modes and devices wherever they are.

work lighting

Proper lighting is a cornerstone of indoor environmental quality. It encourages better learning in students, increased purchases in retail settings, faster healing in patients, and higher performance levels in workers.

Eye strain, headaches, low mood, poor concentration, absenteeism, and job dissatisfaction – even a few minutes working under the wrong lighting can kill productivity. No matter the cause, inappropriate lighting isn’t just a waste of energy. It contributes to low or high contrasts, glare, poor colour rendering, and inadequate distribution. When employees are distracted and frustrated, their productivity and job satisfaction substantially decreases.

Your interior layout will likely change long before lamps burn out or fixtures need to be replaced. Companies will rearrange their office but never touch the lighting. Fixtures that were originally positioned over workstations are now shining on the aisles, making what was once appropriate lighting all wrong. When the workplace evolves but the lighting remains static, employees will suffer.

You can easily keep employees energetic in well-lit spaces without sacrificing your utility bill. Improve the quality of your lighting by focusing on glare reduction, positioning and good maintenance of your lighting.

Poor Lighting = Poor Performance at Work
by Ira Blake,  www.lightmyspace.co.uk

Category: B Positive

It’s Dark In The Mornings And That Makes Me SAD

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The above statement is a very powerful one, especially on a Monday morning, but why? Did you also know that it is also a disempowering and destructive statement?  This morning I woke up and did actually, momentarily, get grumpy because it was dark when my alarm went off. Why do we do this?

It's Dark In The Mornings And That Makes Me SAD

There is no short answer to why we react this way to the Autumn nights drawing in, it’s a mixture of chemical releases in the brain, our own preferences and emotions. The reason the statement is so powerful is that it is disempowering, what does that mean? We have no control over the weather, the seasons and yet we respond to them negatively. The nights draw in every Autumn regardless of what we want, mother nature does her own thing yet we still grump about it. The weather is one of those things that we truly have no influence or control over therefore allowing ourselves to be negative is only going to be detrimental to our mental wellbeing. However, we are the only ones that can influence our own thoughts, responses and emotions – we choose to respond to the inevitable in this way and that opens up the following statement of ‘if we can choose to respond negatively then by default we can also choose to respond positively’.

The reason that this statement is destructive is that by saying that the season (nights getting longer and days getting shorter) makes me SAD we put ourselves in a passive, negative place. We limit ourselves. We then believe that it is something outside of us that is making us SAD. We believe that our mental wellbeing is linked to the seasons or even the weather – who has ever got cross because they’ve arranged a barbecue and it’s rained! The seasons and the weather will continue to do what they do. You can’t influence that. You can’t change that.

But what you can change is your response. I very quickly had a quiet word with myself as we all always have conversations with ourselves and I made a choice. I made a choice to enjoy the dawn arriving, the birds singing and I will, if it is still raining, find the time to enjoy the sound of the rain. I will also remember to retrieve the jumper I left on the clothes line outside last night as it is now wetter than it was when I out it out there 🙂

This article has been kindly supplied and shared by Nikki Emerton of Be U.
M: 07817 885 810
T:  01722 711 999
E: nikkiemerton@hotmail.com

 

Category: B Positive