3 Strategies for Minimising Stress, Improving Teamwork & Maintaining a Healthy Life Balance

By Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 06-Nov-2019 08:15:00

Stress has become a part of everyday life – and dealing with it is hugely important for our happiness and the happiness of those around us.

We don’t see ‘dealing with it’ as managing the stress itself. Rather, we see tackling it as ‘managing self’ in a high-pressure, always-on world.

Until recently we all (that is mankind) had natural rhythms of work and recovery – work during daylight and rest during the night.  But it is not like that now. Technology makes us and our work accessible to each other at all times, so we are having to learn new skills of self-management.  This self-management is effectively saying no, even to good things, so we have the energy and bandwidth to be our best selves.

You are going to be too busy – that is a fact of life. You are going to worry about money – everyone does. But you can implement the cycles of work, rest and recovery to manage yourself.

This #InternationalStressAwarenessWeek – and on #NationalStressAwarenessDay in the UK (Wednesday 6th Nov 2019) – we wanted to share three strategies that everyone can implement to help minimise stress, improve teamwork and maintain a healthy life balance.

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3 things to know and do to get through conflict in your relationships

By Jonathan Taylor-Cummings on 17-Oct-2019 08:41:12

Today, 17 Oct 2019, is Conflict Resolution Day.  Hands up who hasn’t had some kind of argument that didn’t go so well in the last week… okay the last month then!  Why do you think that was?  Was it them?  Was it you?  Well, if you’re anything like me, hopefully you’ve learned by now that HOW you say what you say in a conflict situation can easily be the trigger for a whole new argument and things can quickly spiral out of control. So, whether or not we think it started with them, we all need to take responsibility for our part in conflict situations.  You know what they say, it takes two…

In this blog we take a quick look at 3 top tips for keeping conflict confined when it eventually rears its ugly head (and it will) - 1) to help you get ready for it however it comes, 2) to help you manage the situation during the conflict, and 3) to help you restore the connection afterwards – a really important step that most people overlook.

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Managing Remotely - Three Key Factors for Success

By Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 01-Oct-2019 17:05:00

At a recent city event around “Mentally Healthy Remote Working” (minds@work), three of the major problems cited by remote workers were: a) feeling isolated, b) feeling guilty or judged by colleagues “back at base”, and c) lack of boundaries and clear structure.

Technology has made it possible for us to connect across distance and time zones, and work with people from other cultures and global markets… but why is remote working fraught with so many challenges? The answer, I believe, lies in our ability to build the emotional intelligence needed for successful remote working. As is always the case with technological progress, we need to get better at managing the human interface. The following three factors are critical for successful remote working, but often get overlooked:

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What else can be we doing to get that Happiness feeling at work?

By Jonathan Taylor-Cummings on 24-Sep-2019 11:45:00

This year, 23-27 September 2019 has been declared “International Week of Happiness at Work”! So, we thought it would be interesting (and hopefully fun given the theme!) to check in and see just how happy people are feeling and which solutions are making a difference both at a corporate and a personal level.

As I looked into it, I was intrigued to see that this self-declared “International Week of Happiness at Work” was apparently born out of The Netherlands only two years ago. That said, it has been picking up momentum fast and last year, organisations in over 30 countries joined in. This year, the expectation is that even more will join the swelling numbers.

No surprises!

The very fact that there is a felt need to develop an awareness campaign, should tell us that we have a problem in the happiness (or indeed lack of happiness) arena!

As someone once said, the day we no longer need initiatives to address Gender Pay Gaps, Diversity & Inclusion or the Stigma of Mental Ill-Health in the workplace will be the day we no longer have problems in those areas.  From where I stand though, it really shouldn’t come as a big surprise that initiatives to promote Happiness at Work are gaining speed at such a rate.  Here's why...

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Staying emotionally connected with your teens!

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 14-May-2019 12:11:00

This year, the theme for #MentalHealthAwareness Week in the UK is “Body Image”.  As the Mental Health Foundation rightly put it, Body Image issues can affect all of us at any age. And given that our body image can impact the way “we feel”, which can in turn impact our sense of self and mental health, their specific focus for 2019 is on opening up this debate. 

Learning ways to process our feelings well, is right in line with the principle of building strong “fences” at the top of cliffs rather than just having more “ambulances” at the bottom.  It promotes healthy thinking, and helps maintain positive mental health.  When we don’t process feelings well, we are more likely to head downhill in more ways than one.

The problem… as we see it

As parents of two teens ourselves, we know that often the greatest nightmare is not knowing what is going on inside our children’s heads, especially in a world in which teenage mental health is off the charts and suicide rates continue to rise.

For whatever reason, an increasing amount of teens and young adults are finding themselves in “downward spiral thinking” that can lead to self-harm in various forms all the way through to fatality.  The increased “pressure to conform” to conjured-up standards of “ideal” has a lot to answer for when it comes to how people perceive the reality of their own body image.  These “ideals” have become even more unreachable by the latest fine-tuning / face-tuning software and social media’s ability to serve up a constant barrage of images of perfection and perfect lives.

The reality of life and “progress”, is that we’re not going to be able to change outside influences… well at least not overnight.  The more rational approach seems to be finding ways to help our young people deal with the outside world and develop a healthy sense of self and self worth in their “inside world”.

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A framework for Mental Health Initiatives?

By Jonathan Taylor-Cummings on 01-May-2019 09:15:48

As we prepared for Mental Health Awareness week this year (now only two weeks away, 13-19 May 2019), it struck me that having a framework for thinking about the various initiatives on offer would be a good thing. And what better framework than the wise counsel (and one of my favourite quotes) from Medical Scientist, Denis Parsons Burkitt… we need better fences at the top of the cliff, rather than just more ambulances at the bottom!

Now that’s not to say we don’t need any ambulances at the bottom! It’s clear that when it comes to mental health, many people are already feeling like they’ve started to fall. So, initiatives like Mental Health First Aid and making evidence based mental health promotion tools like mindfulness and exercise available to all staff are a great start.  However, the question we all need to be asking ourselves is “do we have the right mix of fences and ambulances in place in our business?”

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Partners in Life & Business? How to Ensure Your Relationship Survives

By Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 26-Apr-2019 18:16:10

Have you’ve ever worked together with your partner or a close family member? If so, you’ll know the grit it takes to deal with the extra relationship dynamic that enters the frame when you mix home and work life, and the fact that the challenges you face in the workplace often follow you home!

We learned this one the hard way when we first set up in business together almost 25 years ago. It almost killed our marriage back then (still only in its second year at the time)… and our finances too!  But we managed to pull through by learning some key skills in the school of hard knocks and embracing the lessons along the way. As a result, if ever there was a topic we’ve earned the right to speak on, we believe it’s this – How to survive and thrive as partners in business and in life!

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Brexit: How not to do relationships...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 03-Apr-2019 21:39:53

BREXIT!  We all have our opinions on it.

Some are convinced we’ll be better off in the long term. Some are convinced we’ll be worse off. Most people in the corporate world would say worse. Time alone will tell…

What cannot be disputed though, is that this period of separating the UK from the EU is both painful and damaging. As Britain seeks to leave the club it’s been a member of for over 45 years, the external negotiations and political posturing with the EU are to be expected. However, it’s the internal arguments that seem to be causing the most problems.All the rowing, all the wrangling. The process reeks of self-interest and politicking.   

As a result, the UK is not performing very well at the moment.  It’s like we have been put on permanent pause. Brexit has taken over our world. There seems to be no energy or enthusiasm for anything else.

It’s the same when couples find themselves wrangling over a gnarly issue from opposite sides. It’s distracting and draining on everyone. It affects our ability to function well.

That’s why marriage issues and relationship breakdown are especially problematic in corporate environments like professional services, where the nature of the work demands strong mental presence.  Just like the wrangling over Brexit is costing the UK economy, breakdown of personal relationships is costing companies, big time.

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Shall we talk… about money?

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 23-Mar-2019 11:46:55

It’s (been) National Conversation Week this week, March 18th – 24th and, this year, the focus has been on encouraging people to talk about finances.  Good call. Money challenges or issues over finances is one of the most commonly articulated reasons for relationships falling apart. We need to get better at having this conversation.

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Productivity, Performance... and Personal Relationships

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 18-Mar-2019 17:49:37

Happy people are more productive. Common sense tells us that. One of the things that can make us happy and content – or not – is our marriage or relationship with a “significant other”.  In fact, it’s probably the main thing that makes us happy or sad.

Which means it’s one of the main things that makes us productive or not at work.

There’s a whole raft of research confirming that people who are happy in their home relationships are more productive at work.

But the issue of the quality of people’s domestic relationships is rarely, if ever, addressed by employers. That includes the really good firms that invest heavily in the wellbeing of their staff.

When people are emotionally distracted, productivity inevitably takes a dive through absence – physical and also mental.

This mental absence makes relationship breakdown in the corporate world especially damaging because the nature of the work is so mentally demanding… that client pitch that could spell the difference between missing or hitting your targets for the year… that £multi-million deal (or was that multi-billion) that requires super focus to close without losing several people’s net worth!

The challenge in the corporate world is that the very nature of the work itself can create or exacerbate relationship problems.  High stress, long hours and often extended time apart to travel on business, take their toll.  And when you add to the mix the high-octane combination of power, success, the trappings of wealth, and multiple rounds of corporate entertainment that often abound in these environments, temptation is generally in no short supply.

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