Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Workplace Bullying - Self Care Strategies

Are you currently being subjected to workplace bullying, or have you been subjected to it in the past?

Looking after yourself is essential!!  Here are some strategies which may help.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Understanding and Preventing Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is rife in the media and can affect people's physical and psychological health greatly and can lead to the risk of mental illness.  

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Living in Green Spaces Improves Mental Health!!

Ever wondered why you feel happier when you're in nice surroundings?

A new study by Alcock, White, Wheeler, Fleming and Depledge (2014) examined the long term effects of living in green areas on mental health.

The study followed 1000 participants over five years.  Results showed that the participants who relocated to less green areas, showed significantly worse mental health in the year following the move!!  However, people who moved to greener areas felt an immediate improvement in mental health and those effects were sustained!!

Considering relocating?  Alcock et al, (2014) found that the positive mental health benefits of living in a greener space could be measured for up to three years!!

Are you like me and live in an apartment in the inner city?  More reason than ever to get out in the sunshine for a daily walk!!

Hat - Topshop
Sunglasses - Rayban
Shorts - Somedays Lovin
Lipstick - Mac - Impassioned

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Performance Anxiety? Get Excited!!

Struggling with performance anxiety?  The key to beating it may be in how your interpret and appraise your anxious thoughts prior to your performance!!

Brooks (2013) conducted a series of studies looking at performance anxiety across different settings including giving a speech, singing karaoke and completing a maths test.
The studies found that individuals who "reappraised" their anxiety into thoughts of excitement, performed better than people who told themselves to remain calm.  

Trying to deal with pre-performance anxiety?  Try re-framing your feelings of anxiety into thoughts of excitement!  Try some positive self talk with simple phrases like "lets get excited!" or "I can't wait to do this!!"  This is more effective than attempting to calm down.  

Also - remember, we have an optimum level of anxiety that helps us to perform better! A little bit of nerves may actually help you!!  (Just don't tell yourself to calm down!!)

Monday, 20 January 2014

3 Bad Habits to Stop Doing Right Now!!

1)  STOP Comparing yourself to others
We're all different in this world - the effort of constant comparison with others can be extremely draining.  
Why not focus on identifying what you value in life - then going on to set yourself some goals that relate to those values.
Why be jealous of Jim with the big salary and massive house when you could set your own goals to achieve and live your own dreams?  

2)  STOP Setting goals without considering your values
If your goals don't match up with what you value in life, you probably won't achieve them!!
Be mindful of your values when you set goals!!  Not sure of what you value?  Try my values and barriers worksheet here.

For example, Jenny's goal is to lose 10kg to fit into size 8 jeans - she diets for two weeks, then finds herself regressing back to her previous eating patterns and skipping the gym.  What are Jenny's values around health, fitness and her body?  Do you think Jenny is aware of these values?  

Suzanne values living a healthy life and looking after her body - because of this value, Suzanne eats lots of nutritious food and takes a walk every day.  Her strong values guide her actions.  

Try the following exercise:
Here is an example to start…
What do you value?
What are three small goals you can set to take you closer to that value?

Here's my example below:
*  I value the idea of having a good career where I can develop professionally and be successful.
3 goals in line with this value:
*  Commence a masters degree at uni this March to increase my skill set and complete the course by the end of 2015.
*  Apply for alternative roles within my company within the next six months
*  Become a member of psychology and coaching associations within the next six weeks and attend one event each month. 

3)  STOP avoiding your unpleasant emotions
The more we try and avoid a thought or feeling, the stronger that thought or feeling becomes.
Accept that unpleasant emotions - sadness, anger, grief - are normal and healthy emotions that all human beings experience.  When we acknowledge and accept that we can't control our emotions, often we can make room for that unpleasant emotion without it affecting our ability to be present and mindful of our surroundings and get on with what we need to do.  

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Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Psychological Benefits of Playing Music

Many studies show that listening to music can enhance performance on cognitive tasks for a short period.  This may be due to effect of music on mood and arousal....but what about playing music!?  Does this have more long term effects on intellectual ability?

A study by Schellenberg (2005) showed that music lessons in childhood provide "small and general but long lasting intellectual benefits" and that these benefits could not be attributed to other factors like family income and the education level of parents.

With Shellenberg's study in mind - playing a musical instrument may make it easier to perform well at other non-music related intellectual tasks.

Thinking of taking up music lessons!?  It's never too late!!!

After playing the guitar since the age of eight, there is no gift I am more grateful for having!!   It's fun, relaxing, and there is always something new to learn!!

Cushions - Country Road Home
Lipstick - Lancome Rouge 132
Photos by Lachy Doley

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Art of Relaxing on Holiday

Does anyone else have trouble switching out of "work mode" when you go on holidays?

I have this problem!!  It took me a long time to switch off this Christmas.

How did I fix my problem?

1)  Go on an amazing holiday, here, at Paperbark Camp!

We canoed down a river, got visited by possums (who drank the leftover coffee in our empty coffee cups in the middle of the night and scared the hell out of us - one of the possums was particularly large!!) swam, rode bikes and more.
Sleeping out amongst nature was so amazing!!  Although, the noise of cicadas were so overwhelming loud!!  I easily would have stayed for longer though!!

2)  Swim with Australian Fur Seals!!

It's amazing how life suddenly gets put into perspective when you get away from work and enjoy yourself.  I always feel so much more connected with my values and motivated to achieve my dreams when I'm able to switch off and wind down!!
Who agrees!?  How did you wind down these holidays?

Monday, 13 January 2014

ACTing in line with your values

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT, is a mindfulness based behaviour therapy, which has been shown to be successful in both treating mental health disorders, as well as in coaching people to reach their goals and live a more meaningful life.  In a nutshell, anyone from executives, athletes, performers, people suffering from depression or anxiety, people wanting to improve their relationships etc, can benefit from the principles of ACT.

Russ Harris is an internationally renowned trainer and coach in ACT.   Harris (2009), states that "the aim of ACT, in lay terms, is to create a rich, full and meaningful life while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it."

In order to live a rich and meaningful life, we need to understand our core values and what matters to us in the greater scheme of things.

How often do you think about your core values?  If someone were to write a biography about you, how would you like to be portrayed?

I created my own worksheet based on the guiding principles of ACT to help you to identify your core values and  if you're currently behaving in line with those values.

Would anyone like to have a go?  Download it HERE

If you'd like some help or some examples, please send me an email or comment.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Baking Therapy!

Do you have a "flow" activity, that helps you to disconnect from the drudgery of everyday life and get caught up doing something fun?

Today my flow activity was....

I decided to make Tollhouse cookies!!  It was my first attempt, but they turned out pretty darn good!!

I followed this recipe, but added chopped and whole hazelnuts and crushed walnuts.  

Here are the results!!

Yellow tapas bowl from Country Road Home

Yellow picnic tin from Country Road Home

and here's how I enjoyed the splendour of my work... 

Cake Stand by Donna Hay
Flippy Skirt by Country Road
Lipstick - Impassioned, by Mac

Thanks to Lachy Doley for the wonderful photos!!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Amazing Workspaces

Do you find you're more productive when you're in a more desirable work environment?

Customising your workspace can be just the inspiration you need!!  

Here are a few of my favourite inspirations.

What tips can you share to add some spark to your work area?

Office of Camille Styles, blogger - see the full article at Apartment Therapy

Another design by Camille Styles

The fabulous workspace of Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere

Monday, 6 January 2014

Small changes in your workplace can make you more productive!!

Feeling the afternoon slump?  A study by Muench (2012) examined two groups of workers - one group spent a six hours day working inside an environment with artificial lighting (Fluorescent lights) and the other group worked for six hours in an environment with natural light exposure.

Low and behold, the workers in the artificial light work environment displayed more dramatic feelings of sleepiness in the evening than the group in the natural light work environment.  Participants who worked in the natural light group also performed better than the artificial light group at a cognitive task in the evening.

Why the difference?  The fluorescent lights may possibly disturb our natural circadian rhythms.

Can you increase your exposure to natural light throughout the working day?  This is more reason than ever to take a lunchtime walk!!

Turn off those fluros and open those curtains!!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Back to Work Blues

Is anyone else feeling a bit down in the dumps about returning to work after the Christmas holidays.
I for one, sure am!!!
I have two blissful days of holidays left, but those awful anxious thoughts are starting to creep back brain is telling me to "avoid avoid avoid!!"  Even a sneaky peek at my emails this afternoon left me feeling in a bit of a spin.  

Here are some tips to help you avoid emailing in your resignation so you can sleep in on Monday!!

Reflect on the positive aspects of your role
It might seem bleak now, but what satisfaction does your job bring you?  What are the perks of your job?
What does being employed and having a wage enable you to do in your spare time?
What social benefits do you enjoy at work?  
Did your job allow you to have the holiday you just went on?  

Ease yourself back into the swing of things
Try and allow yourself a day or two to settle back in - return calls and emails, schedule appointments and meetings for the following week and to catch up on anything you're behind on.   Give yourself time to re-adjust -  I suggest that you have two cappuccinos on your first morning back - just to help the transition!!!  Push back non-essential meetings to later in the week if you can.  

Remember you can't change the past, but you can change the future!!
A holiday might have been a well deserved break from overdue reports and deadlines, but if they weren't completed before your break, they'll still be there, lingering!  Make time to catch up on anything that's overdue and confront your outstanding work head on - the more we avoid those dreaded tasks, the worst they will be!! You can't fix mistakes you made in December, but it's a new year!  Focus on ongoing good quality work.

Be mindful of healthy habits
Whilst you might feel a shock to the system when waking up at 6:30am on Monday, resist the urge to sleep in and grab a croissant or calorie laden takeaway breakfast on your way in.
Try and be prepared by starting the day with a healthy breakfast, and even try packing a healthy lunch the night before.
Diarise your exercise schedule for the week - it might be tough, but getting back on track with your usual exercise routine will help you to feel calmer and happier throughout the week.  Make sure you plan ahead by packing your gym clothes/yoga mat etc in the car, so you have no excuses not to get out there and exercise.  

Make your horrid workday more pleasant with small rituals that make you feel good!!
A nice coffee in the morning, scented hand cream on your desk, going for a walk on your lunch break, a new work outfit, some delicious leftovers packed for lunch.... a glass of wine catch up with your favourite co-worker-drone after work hours - whatever it is, try and pack as many small pleasures into your working day as possible!!

Good luck fellow worker drones!!  After all, it could be worse!!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Halo Effect - looks truly can help you to succeed!

The "Halo" effect is a distortion of thinking that leads us to judge a person's particular characteristics based on our overall impression of that person.  For example, people rated as attractive are also more likely to be perceived as trustworthy and friendly. 
The role of attractiveness in our judgement of other characteristics such as warmth, trustworthiness and intelligence has been greatly are a few examples!!

How smart is Miranda!?

Attractive Students get Higher Grades!!
A study by Gordon, Crosnoe and Wang (2014) looked followed a sample of 9000 American students from high school through to their 30s and showed that students who were rated as above average in attractiveness received better grades by teachers and were more likely to go on to university studies.

Jurors may be Biased by Physical Attractiveness!!
A study by Efran (1974) showed that participants in a simulated jury task were more lenient in sentencing attractive individuals than unattractive ones even when the same crime was committed. This has been attributed to people with a high level of attractiveness being seen as more likely to have brighter futures in society thanks to socially desirable traits they are believed to possess.

Good Looking People Earn Higher Salaries....but hold on, intelligence also helps! *Phew*
A study by Judge (2009)  interviewed 191 men and women between the ages of 25 and 75.  Each participant was interviewed three times, six months apart, commencing in 1995.  
The participants were asked to answer questions about their income, education and job and achievement satisfaction.  They then completed several intelligence tests and had photographs taken to assess their physical attractiveness.  
Findings of the study showed that physical attractiveness had a significant impact on how much people got paid, as well as their education level and how they evaluated themselves....good news is though...a person's intelligence affected their income more so than looks!!!