Relaxation technique…

I recently discovered a great stretch that you can do for 5 – 10 minutes (or as long as you like) at any time of day. Personally, I found it a simple, quick way to step away from my desk, stretch out my back and leg muscles and re-set my body and mind for the rest of the working day.

Step 1: Find a chair or piece of furniture you can rest your legs on.

Step 2: Ensure your legs are at a 90° angle. You can add a cushion under your legs, back etc. Whatever is most comfortable for you.

Step 3: Take a deep breath in through your nose and release through your mouth.

Step 4: Relax your shoulders and arms.

Caution – I fell asleep trying this one evening as I found it so relaxing. No strain on any muscle, just resting.

Even my dog wanted to join in! I hope you find this a useful relaxation tool as well.

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#relaxation #unwind #relax # stretching #stretch #homeworking #quickexercise #mindfullness #selfcare #selflove

Grounding – A Trilogy of Blogs

Our latest blogs focussing on grounding are a trilogy and can be read in any order. Blog one is Grounding myself in the moment, blog two is Grounding and re-connecting as a team, and the third is Grounding ourselves by planning ahead.


Sometimes I am surfing the wave and sometimes it feels like it am about to get dragged under by the power of the current. Other times I feel like the waves are even more powerful and I am struggling to keep my head above water at all.  Over the years I have learned that there are things I can do to get back above the surf, regain a sense of perspective and calm. I have used the following three mini tools personally and professionally for years, as well as many other variations. Over time and with practice, they become more and more effective at managing unhelpful feelings and bringing a sense of calm, just when it’s needed most.

  • 1 2 3 4 5 – this technique is widely used in helping reduce the impact of panic attacks and I find it a strong anchor to the present and physical place. Its very simple to try, when you have feelings of anxiety, panic or a sense of being overwhelmed – Stop for a moment, take a few deep slow breaths and count…

5 things that you can see – What do you notice about each of those items?

4 things that you can hear – Are they loud? Soft? Inside or outside? What kind of sound is it?

3 things that you can feel – what are you touching? What is your body supported by? What physical sensations do you have?

2 things that you can smell – Anything? Something? Several things? Nothing at all?

1 thing that you can taste – Anything? Something? Several things? Nothing at all?

  • My Core – when things seem overwhelming, uncertain or negative, it is easy to lose touch with the things that are more positive, constant and psychologically safe. It can be really helpful at times like these to pause and encourage ourselves to reconnect mentally with some things that ground us. These mental images can be whatever works for you, although they do need to be, positive, real and meaningful . Examples could be;  what are you grateful for? Who cares about you and has your best interests at heart? What are your values? A memory of happy times, If you were at the centre of a spider diagram, what positive things would be around you? Here is an example from someone I have worked with who is happy to share.
  • My Anchor – When talking with a group of senior leaders who were experiencing exhaustion and ongoing stress I asked them to find (from home), a small physical item that had positive memories or meant something positive to them, once they had identified their object they held it tightly and closed their eyes, allowing their mind to explore what the item meant to them and what they wanted to think about and feel every time they held it in the future. The items ranged form a heart key ring to a small fridge magnet, a pendant necklace to a photo of a love one as a phone screen saver. By identifying a physical item and allowing it to symbolise something constant and positive in our lives we can use it every time we need a boost of positive calming energy to ground us in the moment. The more we use a anchor and the more powerful the positive thought it represents to more it will act as a grounding tool.

There are times when teams can experience additional stress and pressure for a wide range of reasons, some teams find themselves working in highly pressurised and challenging environments a great deal of the time. Having a range of tools and techniques to draw on when times are tough can make all the difference that reconnect and ground can be invaluable.

  • Team Tale – At a team meeting take a few minutes to talk about your team at it’s best, what are you like when you are fully on form? Come up with stories that are real examples of the great things about the team. Once you have talked it over, agree on one or two that seem to best represent your team strengths. Having agreed on the story, you use it to remind one another of how things have been and will be again at points when everything is tough or too demanding. The conversation, ideas, identification of positive memories all help to release ‘feel good’ hormones like dopamine which naturally reduce stress and increase a sense of wellbeing.
  • Team Talents – Another way of reducing team stress and increasing connectivity is by collecting a list of team talents, achievements, skills and qualities. A large sheet of paper can be attached to an office wall or a virtual list can be generated on a team communication platform or a list can be gathered collectively through group conversation. The important thing is that everyone has the opportunity to consider the positives that make up the team. We don’t often reflect on these things and hearing colleagues talk about strengths as well as sharing our own perspectives can be incredibly grounding and energising. It’s not to say that things aren’t tough right now or that sometimes things don’t go to plan, it is however about reminding ourselves that teams are greater than the sum of their parts and always have a strengths.
  • Team Motto – when things are overwhelming, exhausting or uncertain it can help to have an opportunity to chat with colleagues in a more light hearted and appreciative way. By generating a team motto that reflects the team in good times and when strengths are at play can be humorous, relaxed and release tension for a short while. It can also act as a reminder of better times and when used as a term of encouragement can provide light relief and support. A team I was working with recently decided that their motto was ‘all for one and one for all’ and reminded themselves that however challenging things seemed that they were there to support one another. The conversation to create the motto was actually more important and helpful that the actual motto they agreed, as it helped them all feel reconnected and more grounded during a very demanding period at work.

We all find ourselves making and keeping commitments, almost all them are to other people or to do things for our roles at home or at work. How often do we show true self compassion and make personal commitments to ourselves? Commitments that can support our wellbeing and our sense of being grounded?  When things are overwhelming, exhausting or particularly demanding it can help to make some additional ‘above and beyond’ commitments to our self and not just to others. Below are three good solid ways of adding in an extra layer of self care when needed and the process of deciding to make an extra self-compassion commitment is likely to help ground and calm in the moment as well.

  • Treat – When things feel too demanding or your reserves of energy and good will are running low, consider committing to giving yourself a treat. Something you like, don’t often have and something that you can look forward to however hard things are right now. Examples I have heard recently have been …. A virtual clothes shop on line, a stay at home spa, booking a trip, outing or event for the future, turning off all gadgets for an entire weekend, a positive addition to an exercise routine, a long lie in with coffee and weekend papers, reconnecting with a long lost hobby.
  • Promise – In moments of feeling overwhelmed or exasperated try making a promise to yourself, something tangible, needed and full of self compassion. Prioritise yourself in a way that shows that you matter too and that you have control over many things in your own life. Promises I have heard include…. a walk before work, taking a full lunch break twice a week, setting limits to working hours, speaking to a colleague about work related stress, mindful eating times and sleep when stressed, seeking out friendly colleagues regularly, adding in ‘thinking time and reading time’ to work schedules and sticking to it, giving positive feedback to others as a matter of habit.
  • New chapter – Many people like the idea of starting something fresh and feeling like it’s a new beginning full of possibility. A technique that I use myself and with people I coach is to choose that the next day or week or month or even season is the beginning of a new chapter. That way it can be viewed with an increased level of optimism and energy, its true that this method doesn’t change things beyond our control, however it can have a powerful impact on the things within our control….How we feel, how we respond, what we do and how we perceive things. By deciding what this new chapter is going to be called can help cement an increased sense of persona empowerment  into our lives and provide a helpful sense of possibility. It can be useful to actually name this chapter as if it were in a book or a pod cast.  Chapter headings I have heard recently include…. Snakes and ladders, the only way is up, counting my blessings, its not over till its over, spring is around the corner, in it together, hello to the new confident me, put your own oxygen mask on first… grabbing every opportunity… learning to fly…. Happy to be helped.

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#grounding #coaching #coach #personaldevelopment #wellbeing #empoweredteams #empoweredleaders #leaders #leadership #teamdevelopment #leadershipdevelopment #team #teams #development #personalmastery #wellbeingcollective #newchapter #treat #promise #12345 #motto #talent #tales #anchor #core #reflection #chapter #trilogy #plan #planning #connect #reconnect #inthemoment

New habits formed during the pandemic – what do you want to hold on to?

Before reading this blog, we highly recommend watching Hilary’s discussion around Organisational Development with Tim Coupland, on our You Tube channel.

The end of my working day has become characterised by a daily ritual of shutting down my laptop and moving into an outdoor space.  It is a habit that has only  emerged during lockdown and  it has frankly been a revelation.  The link between spending time in the natural world and the positive impact on mental well-being  is well-understood and yet it is only in the last three months that it has become a consistent reality in my own life.   I came across this piece of writing recently that sums up the essence of this uniquely human experience so beautifully, that I wanted to share it, in its entirety:

“When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves. The slowness and stillness gradually takes us over. Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm and our hungers relent. When serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can begin to seem like an invitation to new growth.

This invitation to friendship with nature does of course entail a willingness to be alone out there. Yet this aloneness is anything but lonely. Solitude gradually clarifies the heart until a true tranquility is reached. The irony is that at the heart of that aloneness you feel intimately connected with the world. Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind.”

(Excerpt from Divine Beauty by John O’Donohue)

Of course our capacity to get out into nature can be severely hampered by  any one of a number of challenges;  from living in a built-up urban environment to the demands of family, life  or health limitations.  And yet I have heard so many stories of people developing a connection with the natural world in a way they have not previously considered – growing veg on a small balcony or seeking out their nearest green space on a daily basis. 

We are indeed creatures of habit, and for me, the ritual of spending daily time alone, outdoors has been re-enforced for long enough for it to have started to seep into my identity.  It is who I am now.  I am the kind of person who likes to get out into nature every day to recover, recharge and recuperate. The challenge will be  holding on to these rituals as life returns to a different pace.  I was about to wander into the garden earlier this week at the end of the working day  when  my son dashed into the kitchen to remind me that he needed a lift to football training ……. And so, some of the  challenges of the next phase start to emerge. 

So, have you developed any new habits that you would like to hold on to?

If you can anticipate what might get in the way, as our everyday activity starts to shift back to some kind of normal pattern again, you will  have time to develop  strategies that will enable you to retain them and the sense of enrichment that they have brought.

Hilary Charlton, Consultant for The Wellbeing Collective

#organisationaldevelopment #learning #lockdown #pandemic #covid #covid19 #coach #youtube #freeresource #smallbusiness #thewellbeingcollective #wellbeing #personalmastery #teams #habit #change #development #OD #workplace

Change without threat

Is there such a thing as change without threat? The Wellbeing Collective have built a team of like-minded people wanting to make a tangible difference in other people’s lives. We coach, facilitate and support for a living, and in some ways our world is as simple as that. However, we are also a small business trying to hold on tight and become even better.

change

We have used Covid as an opportunity to review our business model. We have run a business review using techniques we use with other organisations such as Appreciative Inquiry and dialogic organisational development…. and so far, so good!  Our small team has come up with creative ways of redesigning what we do, and how we do it and to date it’s been a testament to team cohesion and trust.

The real issue now is that the ideas generated include a range of changes to our roles, responsibilities and probably more.

This has led me to ponder the question …. Is there such a thing as change without threat? Really is there?

Our team have been involved in the process, we share values and a purpose and yet as the leader I want to find ways to take these next potentially disruptive steps without causing a threat response in my valued colleagues. This is the first blog of a trilogy – today I will share my plans for trying to implement sweeping change without threat, the next Blog in this trio will be in the middle of the change and hear from those most affected (if they are still talking to me) and the last Blog will be a reflection on our journey and our overall learning. These really are important steps to shaping a desired future as part of the ‘D’ for destiny in Appreciative Inquiry.

My plans for minimising a threat response in my team during this next phase of our change project include:

  • Regular one to one time with each person to talk without judgement about the impact on them, their hopes, fears and any feelings of anger or vulnerability.
  • A crystal-clear vison as to where we are going, why we are changing, and their part in our future.
  • Opportunities for each team member to have as much control as possible in this process and to offer clarity over the things beyond their control.
  • A focus on each person strengths and talent conversations to support development plans that will run alongside the formal HR processes.
  • Meaningful communication and positive feedback for each person help people see that even though there is significant change that they are valued.

Amy Hobson, CEO  – The Wellbeing Collective

A different conversation

Conversation

Over the last few weeks we’ve all been impacted in some way by the tragic death of George Floyd. The impact of a single event has resonated with many lives and reminded us how little progress has been made in tackling deep seated racism in our world. The surge of voices, the protests, the tearing down of symbols have conveyed absolute outrage that we continue to live and tolerate so many things in our societies and communities – our history is bleeding through from our past and ever present in our day to day lives. This is sometimes explicitly seen, but most of the time hidden, subtle and insidious.

We can no longer ignore racism’s presence! We are all having to deeply reflect, face uncomfortable truths, and engage in profoundly difficult conversations about how racism manifests in our thoughts, feelings, our conversations and the communities we live in. Indeed, recognising, valuing and celebrating difference and diversity is easy to do when everyone around you is white and from similar socio-economic background, but to step out, and seek out conversations with a black person about their experience of living as a black person is so much harder, but so needed right now.

As I’m thinking about how I may do this, I’m aware of how I could face my uncomfortable truths with a desired future in mind – one with hope, connectivity, reparation and restoration. I’m minded of my work around Appreciative Inquiry which can sometimes be viewed as just focusing on ‘feel good’ and positive things but is actually more about a deep sense of self-inquiry, a deep reflection on something the really matters. Using an AI lens, I’m wondering how I can discover a time from my past when I’ve had a deeply uncomfortable conversation that’s brought positive, enabling and powerful change. I wonder what dream I can have. What destiny I desire? It’s now time for me to act, to address my own ongoing dissonance, to find a future that values all human beings equally.

 

“Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of [what is morally] right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways.

 

I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

 

Theodore Parker

 

Tim Coupland – Consultant, The Wellbeing Collective.

The Future in View

glasses

If we had asked ourselves in 2015 where we might be in 5 years’ time, we would never have said at home for 2-3 months, hardly going out and in the midst of a global pandemic.

Whilst the word unprecedented may have been overused in recent weeks, these are, indeed, unprecedented times we find ourselves in. It is in this context that I find myself reflecting on the number of times I have thought (and said) that I wanted the hamster wheel to stop for a few moments, for life to slow down, to have time to take stock, to now find myself in a world that has given me time to pause for thought.

Aside from my own experiences of these strange times, I have wondered how these times are experienced by others – undoubtedly covering a very broad range of events perceptions and feelings. There will be those people who are dealing with the premature loss of loved ones to Covid-19, our NHS staff have reconfigured their services at a remarkable pace and worked tirelessly to save lives. We have changed the way we live our lives and how we relate to others via the wonders of modern technology.

How we live with and/or move on from difficult times can vary depending on our approach. I am reminded of the inspiring story of Alex Zanardi, a former formula 1 racing driver, who lost both of his legs in a 200 mile per hour crash in 2001. This was a life changing and career ending accident, one from which some would struggle to recover their confidence and purpose in life. For Zanardi, in an interview with the Independent (September 2016), he says, “Even my accident that happened to me, became the biggest opportunity of my life… All of the things I am doing today are related to my new condition”, this was 15 years after his accident, at the time he had won a gold medal at the Rio Paralympics, to join the 2 he had won at London 2012. Zanardi concluded this interview stating, “I feel very lucky, I feel my life is a never-ending privilege”.

With this story in mind, I have been contemplating what I learn from this experience of lock down, which may help me as I continue to journey through life. Here are some of the questions I have been reflecting on:

  • What have I learned about what is most important to me in life?
  • What do I value more, that I have previously taken for granted?
  • What has pleasantly surprised me about my relationships with others?
  • What have I learned about how best to look after myself?
  • What have I learned about myself which may help me in the future?
  • What are the changes I want to make (or maintain) based on this experience?

For me, this is the essence of working appreciatively, taking the best from the experience to shape a desired future! However challenging I have found these times, I try to take a ‘glass half full approach’, to take the best away from this experience, projecting to a desired future where life will be richer, better and more rewarding.

Interested in having your own Appreciative Inquiry? Click here

Amanda Clark – Consultant, The Wellbeing Collective.

 

Everyone benefits from kindness, so let’s be generous

In preparation for writing this blog I decided to undertake an experiment to see if Kindness is real and what if any impact it has in my life on a daily basis.

bekind

My highly scientific experiment saw me counting every identifiable act of kindness. I jotted them down every time I spotted something that looked like Kindness over a 24 hour period……. Lets look at what I found.

  • 14 times food or drink were provided, including a colleague kindly being passed bowl of fruit by his husband while on a video call.
  • 12 emails, texts or messages that included a clear message of kindness, compassion, helpfulness or concern
  • 3 occasions where a neighbour kindlysmiled, waved and or stopped to chat for a moment or two
  • 1 example of kind and helpful customer care, as our summer holiday was having to be cancelled
  • 6 stories of work related kindness that I was told while virtual coaching people as part of my job
  • 1 time that a colleague kindly offered up time to help me unlock my password
  • 1 occasion when I saw someone being kindby helping someone they didn’t know with their shopping.
  • 8 examples of people in my household doing something kind with love, patience, service or generosity for someone else
  • A late night message from a friend who was recently bereaved reaching out for a little human contact received kindness from me

This rough and ready piece of action research highlighted over 50 acts of kindness that I received, offered or witnessed in one day. Being kind and having someone be kind to us raises our dopamine levels which means we get an increased sense of wellbeing.

I genuinely have felt more cared for and calm in the last day just because I have been looking forkindness and compassion all around me …… in all its forms.

Kindness when provided generously and recognised frequently can help us all live happier lives, kindness can come in all shapes and sizes and I wonder how many examples you could spot?

The Wellbeing Collective team choose kindness as a way of life and we know that by being generous with our time, compassion and experience that we get to be part of better outcomes for everyone we work with.

Amy Hobson CEO – TWBC amy@thewellbeingcollective.co.uk

We don’t need restoration, we need regeneration…

Tim, one of my colleagues from TWBC heard a really interesting quote this week when discussing with a health leader about how to tailor the right type support for NHS staff at this time. They were reflecting on systems working, particularly integration, and how things had been achieved in weeks that normally would take months or even years to achieve. In considering what actions the NHS should take next, the health leader said to him:

“we don’t need restoration, we need regeneration…we need to create something new, innovative, different…to learn from this rich experience, to reshape radically from what we know”.

daisy

As lockdown is eased, so are many organisations beginning to move away from living with the urgency of the situation and taking more time to reflect on how to re-establish a sense of normal. Things feel calmer. The fight or flight response that emerges in times of crisis, whilst still in view, is less prescient. We are now beginning to take more time to reason, to judge, to assess and to learn.

Staying connected and learning mindfully about our emotions is now more important than ever. It is covered in our CALM modules https://thewellbeingcollective.co.uk/introduction-to-calm and I am reminded of them when I think about what opportunities are set before us all now.

There are new powerful opportunities being presented to us – to change our way of life, to change the way we do things, to learn in a deep and profound way, to discover the keys to delivering long held ambitions. As I always say with most great opportunities, grasp them, they’re like gifts on offer, like rewards for dedication, commitment and focus.

Amy, CEO, The Wellbeing Collective

#learning #reflection #regenerate #mindfulness

Every conversation still counts

Hi Amy here, my colleague Tim Coupland really tries to live out our values. In these difficult times, they have become an anchor for him and as he reflected with me last week some aspects of life really do go on and the need to be courageous and compassionate is just as important than ever…here is just an example from him.

puffins

Is it ok to write a non covid-19 related blog? Whilst most days deviate from the normal pattern of things, some aspects of life really do go on; the day to day interactions with all those mini tensions or frustrations still surface. Is it right that I still find some aspects of my relationships with other challenging or difficult? Probably not, life really does go on and the pattern of things that I find difficult don’t just evaporate. The difference, at the moment, is they go largely unspoken: to share something difficult for me feels somehow misplaced, inappropriate or in the bigger scheme of things just not that important.

This week has not been straightforward where relationships are concerned, I’ve worked hard, yet one of my colleagues raised an issue with me about the way I’d gone about a specific task. I experienced a range of feelings, some uncomfortable – some of them not very adultlike! Like most situations like this, my way of working it through it to go for a run. It somehow seems to calm the emotional centre of my brain and activate those higher functions of reasoning, logic and judgement – to bring about some deep reflection…akin to what the CALM mindfulness module [insert link] describes as the ‘what?’, ‘’so what?’, and ‘now what?’ (Rolfe’s model of Reflective Practice).

So, what did I discover? I do love it when deep reflection brings about something unexpected…halfway through the run I realised that my error in judgement was due to something initially out of my awareness, an unconscious judgement about something that made me behave as I did. Unconscious bias is the common term for the implicit assumptions or quick judgements we make about others in the context of our values and background. They are often about deeply hidden stereotypes that surface unexpectedly and shape our responses and/or behaviour. To capture these, in the moment is difficult, I am only human, but I’m certainly glad my colleague raised it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again, some things are quite difficult to shift. It just means that I’m now aware of it. Whilst still uncomfortable, it revealed something hidden and presented an opportunity to address it in the future.

I can’t speak for others but can be fairly sure that, even in the grip of such unprecedented times, difficult and uncomfortable exchanges will still occur. To find time to reflect, to talk these through, to tap into things out of your awareness, like unconscious bias, is still just as important. I’m now off to talk with my colleague about it…

Discovering your inner child

From Amy,

Like all companies, we’ve had to make some tough decisions in recent weeks. Here’s Becca, one of our staff talking about her experience.

Discover your inner child

Living in the moment – not something I do very often. I like plans, I worry about those plans, I look forward to those plans. I don’t really like change. Well, that’s pretty much all gone out the window whether I like it or not. I’m on furlough, at first I was worried what that would mean, how it would affect my plans. However, after a few days I have noticed something. I don’t plan past what I am going to do with my toddler in the next few hours and what meals I will make from our essential shop. I’m playing, having fun with my child, being a child myself. Getting back to what makes me happy. Not caring if someone sees me pretending to be a turtle or lion on our walk. Not worrying if my hair desperately needs a cut and roots dyed, not worrying I am in muddy jeans and no make-up, just enjoying being in the sunshine and having this unique time. I’ve learnt how to make a car out of cardboard, pretend to be a firefighter with chalk fire on the walls and the hose, hunt for colours on our walk… I am taking in what I wouldn’t give a second glance to usually on a commute to work, or in a rushed weekend when we try to squeeze in so much. The stuff we thought was essential chores, but now we know, they really weren’t or aren’t!

At TWBC, we often use the PAC part of transactional analysis  (Parent, Adult, Child). We share some of this as part of our CALM model https://thewellbeingcollective.co.uk/connected. Going back into my Free child state, living in the moment, relishing every additional second I have with my child, remembering the carefree fun I used to have at his age – it’s life changing. No more adult ties to abiding by the societal rules we are taught and place on ourselves.

We can take every opportunity and either focus on the negative or the positive. I choose positive. I will have my up days and down days, but I have the power to choose how I remember this time. I have many more months and years to worry about plans, but right now, for the remaining time we are living in this situation, I am going to enjoy every minute of not planning and just being my childlike self.

How are you viewing your furlough journey?

Becca Godfrey – Business Development Lead (TWBC)