Tag Archives: Wellbeing

Mindfulness at workplace

What Is Mindfulness

Mindfulness at workplaceMindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as the “process of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgmentally”. But what does this actually mean?

Research from Harvard has shown that we spend almost half of our lives distracted, not living in the present moment, bemoaning the past or catastrophizing the future. We spend very little time living in the present moment.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help people to slow down, and connect with the present moment. Mindfulness not only trains people to experience the world through our five senses and be more open to what life has to offer. Mindfulness also helps people develop greater self-awareness and an opportunity to reflect on their thoughts and feelings objectively. This helps to alter our habitual responses, by taking a pause and choosing how we react to a situation.


Read more on mindfulness and wellbeing….


Mindfulness training is evidence-based education that effectively reduces stress, anxiety and depression, and can be offered alongside other organizational leadership and wellbeing initiatives, to improve engagement, creativity, performance and wellbeing.

According to PWC, creating a mentally healthy workplace for your organisation with workshops of this type, can bring you a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3.

If you would like to know about our Mindfulness At Work course for your team, please contact us at admin@wmhi.com.au or give us a call.

Author: Tania Young
Tania Young

Tania is an experienced Mindfulness Facilitator who has delivered training to organisations across Australia. Tania is also a Human Resources professional with almost 10 years experience working for medium to large corporate businesses across different industries in London and Sydney. Tania combines her a wealth of HR knowledge and experience implementing wellbeing initiatives, to support employee wellbeing, drive engagement, performance and productivity.

Managing-Work-Stress-Prior-to-Christmas

Managing Work Stress Prior to Christmas

It’s around about this time of year that many people in organisations look at their calendar and realise they’re on the downhill run to Christmas.

It’s a time when managers and HR professionals notice an increase in the number of employee complaints, performance issues, absenteeism and team conflict. In the counselling and psychology professions, Christmas / New Year is also when we see a sharp increase in the number of people reaching out for help.

Managing-Work-Stress-Prior-to-Christmas

So I thought it timely to explore some of the common challenges your staff may be facing during this time and how, as leaders, we can support our team members through it to help them enjoy their break and to welcome them back refreshed in 2015.

Financial pressures

For some people who are just keeping their head above water during the year, living month to month with a maxed out credit card, Christmas can be an anxious time. Many people worry about how they’ll give their family a nice Christmas experience with the associated cost of food, drinks and gifts.

Presence or absence of family

Extended families coming together over the Christmas holidays can be a source of stress, be it from arguments or conflict between family members, or a keenly felt absence of a family member. Quite often people feel dragged back into old family roles and dynamics that they have worked hard to distance themselves from and this can be very frustrating.

On the other hand, absence of family and friends is also an issue. Employees who are estranged from their family or have few friends outside work can feel isolated and despondent over the Christmas break as they’re left with their own thoughts and without their usual routines to distract them.

‘Wrapping things up before Christmas’

Christmas is one of those deadlines that seem tidy and appropriate, but unless you are in fact Santa Claus, can be fairly arbitrary. When clients, project managers and senior managers are all requesting a ‘pre Christmas’ deadline, it can certainly crunch the employees further along the value chain who then need to put in the extra hours.

General exhaustion

It’s no surprise that the pace of work these days is intense, and getting to the end of the work year can feel like crawling across the finish line of the Hawaiian Ironman. The realisation that after a week or so of rest, a person must back it up and do it all over again, can be overwhelming.

So given we now know this is going on for some people in our team, as leaders and as team members, how can we help?

3 things we can do for our staff and colleagues

1. Be on the lookout for warning signs

While some level of stress is normal – actually desirable for high performance – there is a point where it stops being ‘just stress’ and becomes something more. Symptoms like irritability, conflict with coworkers, angry outbursts, avoiding people or difficulty completing tasks, where these symptoms present for an extended period and are out of character for the individual, can indicate a mental illness.

2. Review workloads

Under-resourcing is one of the fundamental contributors to chronic stress and burnout in organisations – particularly those with a fast-paced, ‘just get it done’ culture. Leaders who see patterns of stress claims and absenteeism in parts of their business might look closer to see if the workload and resourcing are appropriate in those areas.

3. Say thanks

Send a personal email or better yet, sidle up to the person and let them know you appreciated their help this year and that you’re looking forward to working with them next year. Whether you’re a leader acknowledging a team member or a team member saying thanks to a colleague in a support department, it shows that we respect that person’s abilities and their contribution to the team. It doesn’t have to be a formal presentation or elaborate awards night – sometimes a quiet, genuine and personal thanks works better.

3 things we can we do for ourselves

As leaders, if we stay calm and unflappable when the pressure is on, our staff will follow our lead. And the things we can do at the end of the year to restore ourselves are the same things we can do throughout the year to remain resilient to the challenges that crop up.

1. Do what restores you

Is it reading a book? Listening to music? Throwing a party? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as they say. Try getting some regular exercise and quality sleep – both are proven ways to combat chronic stress and improve your mood.

2. See a counsellor or psychologist for some practical strategies

Say you have a challenging relationship with a family member, and you’ll be spending a bit of time with them over the Christmas break. And say you’re worried they might end up in a shallow grave under the mango tree at your hand. Well, a good counsellor or psychologist can help unravel the dynamic between you and that person and give you some strategies to resolve the issue or at least lessen the likelihood of being triggered.

3. Undertake some structured life planning

New Years resolutions are a great idea, but lots of people go about them the wrong way, and that’s why many are in tatters by the second week of January. Consider doing some structured life planning, where you set a goal for each domain of your life: career, family, relationship, artistic, spiritual, etc. Consider involving your partner and family in the process (and with meddling auntie now under the mango tree it should be easy). Set small, achievable and measurable goals that will help you build confidence and therefore momentum to tackle the bigger ones.

The concerning statistic that we’re hearing more and more these days is that 1 in 5 adult Australians suffers from a mental illness. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate in who it chooses and it can happen at any time. But there are things we can do to minimise the chances of it taking hold in our most valuable business asset – our people – and degrading creativity, productivity and happiness.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Screaming

Unlocking The Mysteries Of Workplace Madness – Part 2

Good mental health at work can be tricky. The workplace is a place where rules of behavior need to be observed. So, what room is there for madness at work? Is there any?

In Part 1 of our interview, Mary O’Hagan made the point that madness should be respected. But how? This comment in itself stretches some of the common (mis-) understandings on mental illness, or ‘Madness’ as Mary likes to call it.

In part 2 of our interview, Mary makes the following fascinating points:

  • Madness doesn’t turn you into a saint
  • How having a mental illness can shape you
  • Bringing mental illness into the workplace benefits your customers
  • How to talk to someone with a mental illness
  • Flexible supports are not specific to people with mental illness at work
  • Some accommodations important to people with a mental illness

What do you think? Is there a place for madness at work?

Would love to hear from you

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Mary O’Hagan

Unlocking The Mysteries Of Workplace Madness – Part 1 of 3

I love talking about mental health at work. In our Mental Health First Aid courses, I especially love talking to people about tips and strategies for dealing with a mental health emergency. So when I thought about interviewing Mary O’Hagan, I knew I had to make it happen! Mary brings a distinct flavor to mental illness or, as she likes to call it, ‘madness’. Her approach is easily aligned with the way we view mental health here at the Workplace Mental Health Institute (former Mental Health Recovery Institute). That’s why I feel that, if we are to unlock the mysteries of workplace madness, we need to listen to Mary.

For those of you who know Mary, she needs no introduction. She is a former National Mental Health Commissioner, author, and someone I consider a giant in the field of Mental Health Recovery. I have the utmost respect for Mary’s opinion and it’s an opinion the mental health field needs.

What you’ll get in this Part 1:

  • Hear a little of Mary’s fascinating journey
  • When it’s important you don’t listen to mental health experts
  • Get some real tips on mental health recovery at work
  • When madness is ok and why it deserves respect
  • What madness has to contribute to the workplace
  • How a mental illness can increase resilience at work
  • How the workplace can help people feel better

You can watch Part 1 of this interview here on Workplace Mental Health Institute on VIMEO also

We’ll be releasing Part 2 in a couple of days. Talk soon

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Ten Essential Elements

10 Essential Elements of a Workplace Wellness Strategy

Ten Essential Element1 in 5 people are impacted by mental health problems (Read our discussion paper) every year in Australia. That means that at least 1 in 5 of your employees will either experiencing a full blown mental health crisis, or an unidentified one.

This is well known to impact on productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, workplace injuries and accidents, and team morale.

Not only that, but the expense of these problems to Australian businesses has been identified as up to $3.6 billion every year. The average psychological injury claim itself costs $250,000.

When compared to the tax on time and money, a business with a solid Workplace Wellness Strategy makes good financial and human sense.

Many businesses are now implementing a Workplace Wellness Strategy as part of, or alongside, their Workplace Health & Safety plan. But a Workplace Wellness Strategy doesn’t always come easily. What are the essential elements of a Workplace Wellness Strategy?


You can also read:


This week we look at the first essential element……

Essential Element #1: EDUCATION

Education is absolutely vital, and is usually the first place to start.

A good Workplace Wellness strategy includes training in mental health and workplace wellness for all staff, as well as specialist education for leaders.

Traditionally, organisations have not made themselves responsible for the mental and emotional wellbeing of staff. In fact as a society, we have very poor mental health literacy. So before a Workplace Wellness Strategy can really be developed and implemented, organisations, and the individuals within them need to educate themselves about mental health.

The whole team, but especially the leaders, need to understand how the human brain works and what will hinder or promote wellness within the team. Gone are the days when bosses didn’t need to know anything about psychology. This generation has higher expectations of support from their leaders. Leaders have to be well prepared, in order to have the stamina necessary to meet the new expectations of their workers.

By providing education in mental health and workplace wellness, leaders of an organisation are also sending the message that this conversation is not only acceptable, but welcomed within the culture of the company.

But is education enough? We don’t think so. Stay tuned for the next essential element for your Workplace Wellness Strategy

 

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” Harvard President Derek Bok

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

When your body speaks

When Your Body Speaks, Its Time To Pay Attention

When your body speaksFeeling run down? Aching muscles? Sore head? Listen to your body!

Your body is always speaking to you, giving you directions about which decisions to make. It wants you to live a life in line with your path and your purpose. It’s just that it is speaking in code!

Too many of us blindly ignore our body, thinking of it as a machine – that as long as we keep feeding the body, it’ll keep running. Not true!

An easy example of this is that many of us could come up with a list of signs telling your immune system is weaker than usual. Some of the physical signs include headaches, a cold sore reappearing, even eczema or thrush. The big one is picking up the office colds or flu regularly.  Emotional signs you would notice include increased irritability or feelings of fatigue. It’s not rocket science. Our bodies are remarkable messengers. We just choose not to listen. Or we can choose to listen.


You can also read:


When you notice that funny feeling in your stomach or you start to get a headache around a particular topic, listen to the message from your body. Maybe this is not your path. Maybe it’s telling you to slow down. Maybe you need to reconnect with an activity or person.

Your gut instinct will tell you when you are out of alignment with your path. There are a variety of physical and emotional messages your body tells you every single day.

Feeling tense about a situation you’re not comfortable doing? Feeling forced to do something you’d rather not? Notice the tension in your neck, shoulders and gut. That’s a sure sign you are drifting off your path.

Whatever it is, make it a practice to listen to your body and carefully consider what its message might be. If you don’t listen to your body, it will send you even louder signals!

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

programming_light_candle_671658_l

7 Ways To Enhance Hope

One of the common themes that emerges from stories of people who have recovered from mental illness, is that of Hope. In studies of consumer recovery stories, it has been found that having Hope for a better future is a major, if not essential element of recovery.

So, how do we help engender hope for someone living with mental illness? Here are 7 ways you can help a person find hope for their recovery.

1. Have Hope Yourself

We must first hold the hope that a person can recovery, even if they themselves do not. Even beyond ‘hope’, have a certainty that Recovery is possible. While we can never know for sure what the future will hold for a person, it definitely won’t happen if they don’t believe it is possible.
Candle

2. Say it

It sounds so simple, but many people have been told that they will always have a mental illness, that their condition is ‘chronic’ and that they cannot expect any better, essentially ‘this is as good as it gets’. Simply saying ‘recovery is possible’, can have a huge impact.

3. Look at the Statistics

There are plenty of longitudinal studies that show that over time, up to 68% of people will experience either total (clinical) recovery or significant improvements which are considered ‘psychological’, or ‘personal’ recovery. Those studies also show that we cannot predict which people will experience this recovery based on the severity of their symptoms at any one time. It doesn’t matter how bad it seems, Recovery can happen for anyone.


You can also read:


4. Look at Others who have Recovered

For some people, the statistics may not be enough, but actually seeing, reading about, or meeting people who have recovered from mental illness can be a very powerful experience, and help them to have hope for their own future.

5. Help Create a Vision

Snyder and colleagues have studied Hope and found that there are 3 components of hope. The first is that people must have something to be hopeful for. As practitioners, we can help people to consider some of the things they would like to have for their life. Exploring personal values, what is important to the person can help them to identify a picture of how they would like their life to be (see next month’s newsletter for ways to explore values).

6. Set some Goals

It has been said ‘the tragedy in life does not lie in not achieving goals, but in having no goal to reach’. Sometimes we worry about setting people up for failure. While it is important to consider the timeframes we place on our goals, we do need to have something to strive towards. Research has shown that simply having a goal improves wellbeing, whether or not the person achieves it.

7. Build Self Confidence

The third of Snyder’s components of Hope is ‘agency’. This is the person’s own belief that they can achieve their goal. You can build agency by helping the person to identify all the things they have accomplished in the past. Help the person make a list, a song, or a drawing about those achievements. Ask them what their strengths are, or use strength cards, to help them identify their own internal and external resources.

Hopefully, we have given you some new ideas on how to help a person find Hope for recovery from mental illness. Do send us an email at admin@wmhi.com.au to let us know how you go with these ideas, or if you have any others to suggest.

Smiles,

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

Jim – Avoid Burnout

Avoiding Professional Burnout

No matter how much you enjoy your job, there are times when pressure or stress can start to take an emotional toll on you, particularly if you are in a service or healthcare related field. It is important to be able to spot the symptoms associated with professional burnout.

Burnout occurs after a prolonged period of stress under which a person feels that their emotional resources are not good enough to endure or overcome the obstacle. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness and a host of emotional and physical symptoms.

Jim - Avoiding professional burnoutLet’s take a look at Jim, for example. Jim is a healthcare professional who is very committed to his job and genuinely cares for the patients he sees on a daily basis. His job is rewarding but he is also often witness to pain, confusion and sadness as his patients are often ill or dying. Jim works long hours and often takes work home with him or comes in on days off just to check in. Over time the emotional strain begins to build up until eventually Jim starts to feel exhausted, unmotivated, and helpless. He starts to experience sleepless nights, jaw clenching, and elevated blood pressure. His family and friends worry that he “isn’t his usually happy self.”

Jim is experiencing burnout caused by prolonged stress that he did not take the time to deal with properly. There are several self-care actions that you can put into place before letting burnout take hold. Self-care is the practice of activities that individuals perform on their own behalf to maintain life, health and well-being. Jim was dedicated to his career and to his patients, but he neglected to take care of his own personal needs.


You can also read:


You can start by taking the first few minutes of each day and making them about you. Most people rise from their beds at the sound of an alarm clock and immediately start to “work.” They might get dressed, check e-mail, care for a spouse or child and rush out the door quickly. Instead, take the first ten or fifteen minutes of each day for meditation, or reflection. Spend time mentally preparing yourself for the day by focusing on positive thoughts.

Another way to practice self-care is to be mindful of your diet and exercise. Proper nourishment gives us energy and stamina to get through our day. Building a healthy body through wholesome foods and physical activity decreases the chance of sickness, improves sleep and makes us feel happier.

Limit the burdens you place on yourself. Do not take on more than you can reasonably do in a day and enlist the help of people that care about you when you feel overwhelmed. Do not stay connected to your technology all day long, occasionally take a break. It’s alright to be “unreachable” from time to time. Remember that by not focusing on your own needs and your own health you could be impacting your ability to do your job or take care of your loved ones. By practicing self-care you will become healthier, more positive and more focused than ever before. And obviously you can consider attending to our Mental Health First Aid Training where you will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems, where and how to get help, and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
Peter Diaz on Google Plus Peter Diaz on Face Book Peter Diaz on LinkedIn

  • 7 Fatal Mistakes image
  • Don't make these 7 fatal mistakes with your team.

    As leaders, the decisions we make and how we communicate has a huge influence on the mental health of our team members.

    Discover the 7 fatal mistakes managers make when managing their team that undermine engagement and frustrate performance.