A study in the British Journal of Health Psychology claimed there was a significant reduction in stress and anxiety when people wrote about their positive emotions.
Previous studies have shown that writing about negative emotions is also good for your mental well being getting stuff “off your chest”. However not much has been written about the positive emotions.
Writing about positive experiences for 20 minutes a day for 3 consecutive days improved people’s mood and led to fewer visits to the Doctor. Even writing as little as 2 minutes a day was a positive experience and reduced stress levels.
For the study the 20 minutes of writing covered areas where people had been moved by a good book, painting, a piece of music or just a good interaction.
There were 71 healthy participants, aged 19 to 77 and randomly allocated into two groups. The first group was asked to write about the most wonderful experiences (as described above) of their life for 20 minutes for 3 consecutive days. The other group just covered neutral topics, such as their plans for the rest of the day etc..
At the end of the study the groups answered questionnaires to measure their levels of anxiety and the group that had documented the positive emotions were in much better place than the neutral group.
Write your happy thoughts down to reduce your anxiety levels, get into a routine of reviewing the day ensuring you highlight the positive.
Please do get in touch for a workshop on positivity email@example.com
In Denmark mattering is part of the school curriculum. During a weekly hour called Klassen Time, students come together to discuss problems and help one another. Danish children do this every week from age six until they leave senior school. To make the ordeal easier a different student each week brings cake. When the children present their problems they feel they are listened to and the others who provide guidance feel they are making a difference.
The children learn empathy by hearing other perspectives and reflecting on how their behaviour affects those around them. The emphasis is “how do others feel? and how do my actions make them feel?”
I am often saying the strongest leadership skill you can have is listening. People feel valued if they are given a “damn good listening to”.
People who listen then understand your situation and you feel that you matter.
Make time for those around you, whether it be at work or home and ensure that they feel that they matter. Look after yourself and also find some-one who will listen to you as remember “you matter”.
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Forgive the indulgence, the blog is of a very personal nature this week.
One of my “Best” friends died five days ago and it puts everything into perspective. What is the definition of “Best”. The dictionary says exceptional or outstanding which I think is perfect to define what you get from a really brilliant friendship.
The list is endless:-
- Best listener
- Best times to be had and full of laughter
- Best walker – with knowledge of all the Surrey Hills
- Best organiser – parties, events and fund raiser
- Best at giving an honest opinion
- Best advice – on parenting and life
- Best in giving – whether it be plants, time and numerous coffees
The synopsis stills feels inadequate in terms of the void it leaves. Think about what are the best things about you that you give your friends. Your self worth will grow knowing what your best attributes are and what you give others.
Cherish the best in friends and family as you may well be robbed without ever telling them what the best was.
What does “press the button” actually mean?
In classic experiments on stress, people performed tasks that required concentration, like solving puzzles, whilst being blasted at random intervals with uncomfortably loud sounds. The individuals started sweating and their heart rates and blood pressure climbed. They struggled to concentrate and made mistakes and many just gave up. Searching for a way to reduce the anxiety, researchers gave the participants an escape. If the noise became too unpleasant they could press a button and make the noise stop. The button allowed them to stay calmer and make fewer mistakes. The most surprising result was that no-one pressed the button. Knowing they could stop the noise gave them a sense of control and allowed them to endure the stress.
This story comes from the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. In the book they put the button into another context. Grant a lecturer sadly had a student who committed suicide and he regretted he had not spotted the signs of stress earlier. He struggled for a long time to overcome any guilt. To move forward he started every lecture by ensuring his mobile number was clearly displayed in the class, in effect this was the button.
Do you provide a button to your team, do they know that support is there. Think how you can instigate the button within your organisation. Coaching and mentoring being formalised could provide buttons. Buddy schemes for new recruits, and always ensuring your team members have a line manager who conducts regular 1:1 meetings. Larger organisations have well being help lines and by ensuring the number is displayed provides the button security.
At home we now all have our mobile numbers, however do we provide a “button’ service in other ways. How often do you sit around a table and ensure you really listen to each other? This is the best “button” you can ever provide.
Please do get in touch for a workshop on Resilience email@example.com
Is the environment you work in demonstrating a good balance.
Balance could include gender, skills, and experience. The first stage is to look at your existing culture, do you welcome balance by having the right set of values.
If you are focusing purely on results then you might not be attracting the right employees. Everyone wants to be part of something successful, however if they realise that there is nothing underneath the figures and they will feel unsupported and they will not care for the organisation.
Values have to come to life, with rituals and habits attached to them. If you promote collaboration what does it look like? Cross functional teams working together and meeting on a regular basis.
The balance of giving back to your team and your team giving back to others. You have the people you want to work with and you are proud to work with others.
The Swedish football team Ostersunds believed in giving its team members so much more than just football skills. They wanted to open their minds to theatre, art and literature. These experiences were shared and putting them in unfamiliar situations grew their minds and enabled them to think differently. The team have written book, created art and worked with local refugee centres and put on a stage show of Swan Lake. They are now in the top league and won the Swedish cup in 2017.
Balance does not have to be seen through the lens of automatically assuming that means a gender match. We have many layers to our personalities that need to be uncovered whether we are male or female. The answer is fostering the environment that means you are able to be truly authentic.
An open atmosphere where there is no blame and mistakes are learnt from.
Creating balance is about identifying the things that matter most to you as team and investing together to make them come to life.
Please do get in touch for a workshop on balance for better firstname.lastname@example.org
We unconsciously committ to life within a comfort zone as there are no guarantees in a stretch zone. However the more time we step into stretch the more comfortable it gets at doing its job and the more it stretches.
Has there been an occasion recently when you were forced to stretch and make that leap out of your comfort zone. It is often at times where we have no control and we have not made the choice that we grow.
For anyone who has attended a nuggets workshop will know I surround the room with flip charts and I have a mind map that I work from for the agenda. I arrived at a Clients without the flip charts luckily the trusted mind map was there. Not only were the flip charts not packed but also one of the key exercises a set of laminated headlines.
I was in stretch for the next 3 hours. The first job was to recreate the flip charts I had prepared. The exercise of headlines turned out better than the original, I asked delegates to use their phones to find sensational headlines. Of course trainers are always advocating phones on silent, however the liberation of using a phone was brilliant and also made the exercise far more current and relevant.
It is not a place that we choose to step into, however we adapt and survive, so try and step out more often of your comfort zone as stretch is there ready and waiting to grow.
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Listening is a skill that needs to be practised and refined. We often think we are listening, however have we truly connected and deployed the skill required.
There are five levels of listening:-
Hopefully ignoring does not happen too often. Pretending can be easily slipped into, you can have all the right facial expressions however the button for listening has not been pressed.
Selective is the one that we save especially for the ones we love the most. Currently my husband loves nothing more than to tell me the latest on US politics. I tune in and out, bit like when you are trying to find the right radio station, every so often he relays something amazing and the rest of the time it is that annoying buzz you get from an untuned radio.
In work we are often actively listening which means we know we have to concentrate so we expertly follow and reflect the facts. It is a place of comfort however you are using a skill and need to practice regularly to check that you are not interrupting with direct questions and hijacking the other person’s agenda.
The top listening is empathetic which takes the most skill. You are not only attending, following and reflecting, you are also calibrating any non verbal indicators. As a coach I need to listen at this level and I know if it has been a good session when I feel exhausted and exhilarated. It is a privilege to listen and follow some-one else’s agenda however it is tiring if done correctly. The joy of being listened to often means you say the things you really want to say. We so rarely get a dam good listening.
As with any new skill keep practising…
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