Why Do We Need Mindful Leadership?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

There is a lot to contend with being a modern leader in business. We live in an interconnected world that gives us access to the office 24/7 that often distracts us from what’s important and limits our ability to lead with excellence. It has been said that modern leaders feel like they are spending too many times putting out fires and wasting time rather than being connected with their employees.

Leaders are often incredibly busy and do not have the time to tune into their own feelings let alone those of their staff. How can they generate connections with colleagues to truly understand the needs of their staff if their minds are constantly distracted? Making decisions without a clear focus means most of the times leaders are reacting instead of responding or initiating. There is definitely the need for leaders to be more present in the workplace but more importantly, there is a need to be present in their personal lives. If a leader has a stable foundation he/she can be a rock for the company and wider community.

 

Mindfulness

 

How do we define a Mindful Leader?

 

A Mindful leader is present, connected and compassionate in the services of others. Those around a Mindful leader can feel they are leading from a heartfelt place that wants the best for the staff without ulterior motivation. There is an interesting concept called discretionary benefit. This term refers to going the extra mile. A mindful leader will inspire staff to want to work harder and put in extra effort even when they don’t need to because the team will want to give back to someone who truly cares for them.

Mindfulness encompasses awareness, connection and compassion. These qualities are what a mindful leader embodies. They are aware of what is happening within themselves (emotions, energy, physically) which helps them to be aware of the impact these feelings have upon the way they interact with their workplace. It also helps to relate to how their staff are feeling and what may be impacting upon those feelings. Being connected and present allows a leader to be fully engaged with their job and their people. What naturally flows from being more aware and present is compassion. Compassion is the heart of a person. The feeling of love we have for ourselves and others. The desire to help ourselves and others be the best we can be and provide the care and support to allow these positive qualities to flourish.

 

Become a Mindful Leader

 

Leading with excellence, being fully present for what we do and connecting with others are innate abilities we all possess.

The best leaders are eager to cultivate these abilities. Mindful leadership training helps you to hone your attention and your ability to be aware of what’s going on in your body and mind at any given moment, you can utilize all of your capabilities—clear minds and warm hearts and wise choices—and begin to see the results of leading from an authentic place.

Multi-tasking is seen as a skill in the modern world of work whereas in reality it means that no one job is being given adequate focus. This results in no one task ever being completed to the best of the leaders ability meaning that overall performance is vastly reduced. This mindset of not being able to truly focus on one task is known as continuous partial attention and it is through mindfulness training that leaders can learn how to focus their attention better on the task in hand which results in a dramatic increased in productivity.

Mindfulness training starts by teaching a leader how to become present with themselves and their environment so they start to become aware of how they are truly feeling. Once this presence is cultivated leaders are shown how to develop kindness and care for themselves so they can truly feel happy. Once this happiness is present it shines through like the sun and warms all it touches.

 

Written by John Earls – Director of Therapy at Satis

 

Wellness and Mental Health

 

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


What is Burnout?
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Recognising and treating Burnout

Burnout is the end of the stress spectrum. Essentially it is chronic stress that has built up to unmanageable levels and presents itself as over stimulation both psychologically and physiologically which results in tension.

Stress is a normal part of life. We experience it, to varying degrees, almost every single day. But when things really start to feel overwhelming, you’ll likely notice stress starting to affect your physical health. Maslach & Jackson state there are two generalised categories of stress. There is acute stress which is the body’s reaction to a short term stressful event. On the other hand chronic stress, otherwise known as Burnout, is usually a result of ongoing psychological or environmental demands, such as work, monetary problems, marital conflict, etc. Many studies have shown that stress responds well to interventions that work with the mind like Mindfulness and Yoga.

In Burnout, the acute sympathetic response, which is basically a fight-or-flight [reaction], gradually diminishes, but the cortisol levels remain high—which in the long-term can have adverse effects on the body. The long-term effects of stress in whatever form can negatively impact our bodies if we don’t use tactics that will keep it at bay. Maslach & Jackson claim the best way to beat stress is to become better at recognising the signs so that you can take action earlier. It has also been shown that Burnout is prevented when a person has a routine that helps you prevent the build-up of stress; like a regular Mindfulness or Yoga practice. Prevention really is better than cure.

 

Mindfulness

 

The signs of stress

After One Day

General symptoms are irritability, increased heart rate and difficulty concentrating.  Some people might experience fatigue. The overall consensus from experts is that your body can withstand a singular stressful day just fine. Using a simple Mindfulness exercise, like the body-scan meditation, for 5 minutes a day removes these symptoms. So a person is back to a normal functioning state. The best time to do this is first thing in the morning or just before bed.

After One Week

One week of stress makes us prone to viral infections, cold sore outbreaks, acute stress, and sleep deprivation. Elevated cortisol levels interfere with sleep, which can result in poor memory, lowered defence of the immune system, depression, fatigue, and weight gain.

While your body can probably endure bouts of stress every so often, elevated cortisol levels can make individuals prone to getting sick more often. A good example of this is an increased risk of viral and bacterial infections when someone has been working long hours to meet a deadline then gets a terrible cold.

Research into Yoga has proven that the stretches in Yoga release both psychological and physiological tension. Just going to one Yoga class a week for a minimum of 60 minutes can make a difference. It has the power to release most of the toxins and stress tension that has built up. This will relieve the symptoms and reset the body back to a restful state.

After One Month

If you’re constantly feeling high levels of stress, you may notice both psychological and physical symptoms of Burnout. You may begin feeling irritable, tightness in your body, a change in your appetite, and start having anxious thoughts.  Maslach & Jackson confirm that Burnout is characterised by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. In practice, this means that a person can seem exhausted and become cynical and detached. Burnout can also cause patchy hair loss, diarrhoea, or constipation. It is also said to be responsible for chronic gut issues as well as abdominal pain and bloating.

At this stage, this is where using both a cognitive and physiological approach is needed. The mind is overstimulated and the body is physically stressed. Over the last 4 years, researchers have tested Mindfulness combined with Yoga to treat both forms of the stress condition. Mindfulness exercises that work on conditioning the left hemisphere of the pre-frontal cortex like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy exercises aimed at thought relationships have proven to be effective at de-regulating mental stress. Certain Hatha Yoga stretches have proven just as effective at reducing physiological stress. The interesting thing about these studies has shown that when Yoga is used with Mindfulness participants have scored far higher for Mindfulness scores compared to when Mindfulness is only present.

After Six Months

If you’re constantly stressed out, you could experience all of those symptoms and reach a full-blown case of chronic Burnout. You might feel a lack of enjoyment, become really pessimistic, and unconsciously isolate yourself from others. Burnout is responsible for people not being able to go to work. Those people often look to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol. Burnout is serious and has also been linked to joint pain and development of arthritis in the long-term. Increased blood pressure and your risk of heart attack and stroke is dramatically increased if you reach a state of Burnout.

If things have reached this stage a person will recover quickly if they are referred to a Mindfulness & Yoga for Burnout programme. This treatment will use a combination of elements that are known to be effective at lowering perceived stress and increasing emotional resilience. Which is what’s needed for a person to make a full recovery. The good news is that this course lasts just 8 weeks. 70% of all people who have attended these courses have recovered from Burnout.

 

For more information on treating Burnout or the Mindfulness & Yoga for Burnout programme please contact john@satis.org.uk.

 

Wellness and Mental Health

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


The Corona Isolation Syndrome
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Auctioneers in Scotland are taking part in a campaign to tackle loneliness and mental ill-health among farmers during lockdown. With no auction marts, agricultural shows or normal summer events due to Covid-19, farming organisations are concerned many will be struggling. The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) says calls to its helpline have doubled in the last month. Farming is a lonely profession at the best of times; farmers work intensely at certain times of the year, spending long hours by themselves in the fields to maximise their yields. The global pandemic has just exacerbated this problem and it has also highlighted an issue that has been brewing in society for a long time.

 

The impact of loneliness

People were already lonely before the Coronavirus pandemic hit. A  2018 study from health care insurer Cigna found that 54% of 20,000 Americans surveyed reported feeling lonely. Generation Z adults (18-22) years old are supposedly the loneliest generation, outpacing Boomers, Gen X and Millennials, despite being more connected than ever. The most alarming part of this research suggests that being lonely for a sustained period of time could be bad for people’s physical and mental wellbeing. The health risks identified were on par with smoking and obesity. The Cigna report found that extended isolation makes a person irritable, depressed and self-centred, and is associated with a 26% increase in the risk of premature mortality. As a result of COVID-19, keeping a distance from others is the safest way to stay healthy, despite the fact it could compound feelings of isolation and be very damaging to our health.

 

stress management

 

Our natural state

Humans are not made to live in isolation. We are tribe people. “It’s very distressing when we are not a part of a group,” said Julianne Holt-Lundstad, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University. “We have to deal with our environment entirely on our own, without the help of others, which puts our brain in a state of alert, but that also signals the rest of our body to be in a state of alert.” Staying in that state of alert, that high state of stress, means wear and tear on the body. Stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine can contribute to sleeplessness, weight gain and anxiety over extended periods of exposure.

This global crisis is possibly the most stressful experience many people have had in their lifetime. Daily life has been upended, unemployment has skyrocketed and more than 6 million people around the world have been infected. Normally, immense challenges like those would have you seeking the reassurance and support of family and friends. But due to the nature of the virus, people are more physically alone than ever, making it that much harder to cope. This means there is a desperate need to provide help to people experiencing isolation syndrome.

 

Limiting the effects

Luckily, Dr Richard Davidson has been studying the effects of Mindfulness upon the regions of the brain related to cognition and emotion that are said to be affected by loneliness. The research into these areas of the brain in other studies showed genes associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory diseases expressed in those who were lonelier. This evidences there is a network of connections between these different genes by which they can affect each other. Dr Davidson’s work has shown that Mindfulness exercises can change the structure of the brain. To such an extent that our emotional personality can be altered. Thus the damaging effects of loneliness can be reversed in those who are suffering and prevented in those who have not yet been affected.

It is clear we are living in unusual times where isolation can have a negative effect upon us. But with techniques like Mindfulness available, we can learn to adapt to a healthier and happier new way of life. For more information on Mindfulness services please email john@satis.org.uk.

 

Wellness and Mental Health

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


Mindfulness for Lawyers
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Increased awareness of mental health problems within the legal profession has led many firms to introduce wellbeing programmes. One practice that has gained in popularity in recent years is mindfulness. The benefits of mindfulness are universal to all professions. There is a reason though, that Mindfulness is a skill that is particularly advantageous to lawyers.

 

Mindfulness

 

Firstly, lawyers are centred on people-related skills and tasks that use a high degree of emotional intelligence. Allowing them to understand their client and their opponent’s psychology to win their cases. Mindful awareness of emotions can help lawyers avoid getting sucked into the reactive state of fight or flight response that can get activated in a fight against an opponent. Mindfulness helps to maintain this objectivity by downregulating the emotional response. So that the situation is not perceived as a threat.

Unfortunately, lawyers are so used to living in a stressed state they accept the feelings as their normal. This constant adrenaline state could be responsible for the results in The Junior Lawyers Division’s 2019 Resilience and Wellbeing survey. This survey reported that over 93% of respondents felt stressed in their role the month before completing the survey, with almost a quarter being severely or extremely stressed. Importantly, over 77% of the respondents felt that their firm could do more to tackle stress at work and that stress was negatively impacting upon their personal lives.

 

Mindfulness in Practice

The above survey’s highlighted a problem that the legal profession had known all along – that the culture was damaging not only to health but also to the results for clients. The answer to solving the adversarial fight or flight culture was not clear until mindfulness began to be introduced to law firms.

Mindful awareness is an antidote to the adversarial nature of the legal profession. It helps to provide a natural breathing space in which we can see things more dispassionately.  In this space, it provides the time to respond in a more reflective way that both looks after our own interests and takes into wise consideration the other side’s interests. Taking this further, this enhanced ability to understand human interactions can lead to a more holistic meeting of the minds between opposing parties. In other words, it leads to better and more robust agreements and resolutions.

Indeed, since mindfulness has been introduced to law firms it has been a massive hit. For example, the international law firm Dentons appointed its first chief mindfulness officer. Other firms and chambers also look set to follow suit, with the growth of wellbeing committees, officers and other mindful initiatives, such as the Mindful Business Charter. Mindfulness has also gradually found its way to the bar. Following the first Wellbeing at the Bar report in 2015, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn held mindfulness sessions for barristers – the first such wellbeing initiatives in this field. In 2018, the Mindfulness in Law group was created as a resource for all legal professionals and others working in the legal industry to learn and deepen their mindfulness practice and promote wellbeing and mindfulness education within the profession. The group now meets monthly in London with the support of the Law Society. Alongside the initiatives taken by firms across the country, the institutional framework of mindfulness is strengthening as the Bar Council and Law Society recognise its importance.

 

Mindfulness legal research

Currently, empirical research on how practising mindfulness affects members of the profession is thin on the ground. There are growing calls for more professional-specific research which is currently being tested and researched in universities throughout the world. The evidence soon will catch up with the results that are been seen practically. What is known currently is that regular mindfulness meditation can enhance self-awareness and interpersonal relationships. These have been shown to have a dramatic effect on a lawyers’ stress levels, their ability to concentrate at work and their personal lives.

Many leading law firms are now appointing mindfulness programmes. This is because they recognise the positive effect mindfulness has upon their staff, their clients and their services. If you haven’t already done so, why don’t you bring a mindfulness session to your practice? So you can experience the power of mindfulness for your firm. As part of research into this area, it would be good to have a list of law firms who would be happy to be a part of mindfulness research.

Would your firm like to participate in enhancing the body of research contributing to mindfulness at work? Then please send an email to the address below and it can be arranged for your firm to be involved. Likewise, if you would like to experience the Mindfulness for Lawyers programme – a mindfulness programme developed just for lawyers with lawyer based outcomes in mind – then also send an email to the address below.

For more information please email john@satis.org.uk or visit www.satis.org.uk

 

Wellness and Mental Health

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS IS COMING
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Centre for Mental Health says that the Covid-19 is a health emergency like nothing else in living memory. It has already been widely recognised that the pandemic will have major effects on mental as well as physical health. The evidence the Centre for Mental Health has reviewed shows that this must be taken seriously. Centre for Mental Health says that we need to be prepared for a rise in the number of people experiencing poor mental health, both short-term and potentially for some time to come.

 

stress management

 

Future Implications

 

The global Covid-19 pandemic is likely to increase the number of people in Britain experiencing a mental health problem in the next two years. To levels far greater than the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. If the recession that follows the economic effects of the virus is similar to 2008, about half a million more people will experience a mental health difficulty over the next year, according to an estimate by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. But if there is a second wave of Covid-19 and the economy is damaged further, the effects on mental health will be greater still, and last much longer.

These negative mental health effects are not just limited to people who are worried about their own employment. It is thought that there will be other stresses and strains. Brought about by the worry surrounding loved ones losing their jobs, health concerns and outlook for the future. Overall, even though we have the initial shock of the pandemic it is important we look after our mental health now. So that we are not brought down by the mental health hangover that is likely to come in the next few months.

 

Returning to work

 

The advice being given to companies returning to work is that although you might be feeling okay now it is likely there will be an after effect. Worries about finances, health concerns and loved ones can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed.  This can represent itself in feelings of heightened anxiety, hypervigilance, fear and loss of meaning. You may have gotten so used to these feelings that they feel normal. However, the best advice is to introduce something into your life now that can help prevent future mental health issues developing. One of the most effective treatments in the workplace for stress and anxiety is Mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. It also increases feelings of positivity and resiliency to future stresses. Mindfulness helps by teaching us that we can’t control what happens with the coronavirus or the economy. But we can control how we respond to it. It does this through a series of exercises designed to reset your thinking patterns.  So that you are better able to choose how you respond to any given situation. Mindfulness techniques are simple to do and easy to implement into a working day. This is one of the reasons they have become the most popular method to improve mental health in the workplace.

To learn more about mindfulness at work please contact john@satis.org.uk.

 

Wellness and Mental Health

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


Kindfulness
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

People often ask me why Mindfulness is so important to Mental Health Awareness. Some people are confused by Mindfulness and think it is simply a present moment non-judgmental awareness, as researchers say. But to develop the beautiful peace, gentleness, and stillness of meditation, a kindly awareness is required or, as termed by the renowned monk, Ajahn Brahm, we should develop Kindfulness!

I think rather than using the word mindfulness, perhaps kindfulness is better—it reminds you to be forgiving and friendly as you practice.

Mindfulness without kindness becomes dry, boring, and cold. Kindness without mindfulness is hard to imagine. How can you be kind if you’re not aware of what you’re being kind to? Most good meditation teachers encourage a warm, kind, and friendly awareness.

 

Mindfulness

 

How to Apply Kindness to your Daily Practice

Kindfulness is not just for stress. You can also apply Kindfulness to your daily practice.

Begin by noticing the effect of your practice, whatever that is—meditation, yoga, mindful movement, jogging, consciously swimming backwards with one arm. Whatever your thing is, notice how you feel afterwards.

Then try these simple steps:

As you’re meditating, place your hand on your heart. The warmth of your hand encourages a compassionate feeling to whatever you’re focusing on.

Smile (please). This is mindful time for you, not self-torture. And if you can’t smile, use your two fingers to push up the corners of your mouth and hold them there for a while….I’m serious!

Pay attention to whatever your focus is, using your heart, not just your head. Feel the breath with emotion if you can, rather than noticing the sensation in a cold, non-judgmental way.

 

I am interested to hear how you mix mindfulness with kindness? What practices work best for you personally? Please let me know in your own time 🙂

 

John Earls

Director of Therapy at Satis

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


Essential Online Mindfulness for Work
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

Mindfulness for your team

When organizations invest in preventive and supportive mental health solutions, a little goes a long way. Employees should not need to travel to access the resources they need to cope with and reduce stress. Mindfulness training can be done online or through a mobile app, making it accessible to almost everyone. Research shows that Mindfulness accessed online is as beneficial to the majority of participants as doing Mindfulness in person.

Recent studies into the effects of Mindfulness show it can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and isolation brought on by being stressed and isolated working at home. Megan Bell Jones, Chief Science Officer at Headspace says “Our brains have developed to focus on the threat. Short-term stress and anxiety can be part of a healthy range of emotional experience. At times they can even help us stay safe”. What Mindfulness does is helps us to stop focusing on the symptoms of threat so our central nervous system can relax.

 

stress management

 

Physical health

However, when we experience chronic stress from working at home it can tax our immune system. Working at home with not being able to leave work at work at the end of the day. Experts feel this scenario is being made worse by working from home as there is no element of leaving the office. We are permanently at work. This can cause more severe problems like anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. This threat reflex that releases powerful hormones like cortisol acts like a drug and keeps us hooked to news cycles and fuels chronic stress.

 

Support & prevention

There are different forms of help for stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation helps deactivate the emotional center of the brain which is responsible for emotional reactivity. So in effect, you can detach from that part of you through medication but this does not help to address the root cause of the condition. When we help our brains stay grounded we are better able to engage the rational part of our brains. This can help us understand information and make decisions from a place of fact versus panic. Mindfulness works by helping people regulate emotions, changing the brain to be more resilient to stress, and improving stress biomarkers. This process effectively changes the structure of the brain meaning that our brains develop during Mindfulness; changing to be more resilient to the effects of stress, anxiety and depression.

A good Mindfulness programme is easy to set up, cost-effective and accessible online. During COVID19 it is essential employees and employers look after their mental health to ensure they are ready to bounce back quickly from COVID19. For more information on Mindfulness visit www.satis.org.uk or email john@satis.org.uk.

About the Author:

For the last five years I have studied an undergraduate degree and masters in Psychology and Mindfulness (MSc). This has led me to continue this research through a PhD at Warwick University. During these 5 years I have taught Yoga and Mindfulness as a full-time job to businesses. My hard work was rewarded with a contract to work as a lecturer teaching wellbeing, Mindfulness and Yoga courses throughout Coventry for Coventry Council.

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


How practicing Mindfulness can help to prevent Burnout
Danielle Meakin - 6 Comments - 29 Sep 2019

The power of mindfulness

 

Recent studies have shown those scoring higher in mindfulness tend to report higher levels of pleasant affect, higher self-esteem, optimism, and self-actualization. Also, lower levels of neuroticism, anxiety, depression, and unpleasant affect are reported in those scoring higher in mindfulness.

This means that those people who practice Mindfulness regularly are more likely to stay positive despite changes to their lives than those who do not. This is important because those same people are more likely to embrace the changes the pandemic brings. Evidence also suggests these people will thrive during this crisis. By seeking out and exploring new opportunities this new situation brings.

 

stress management

 

Easier for some than others

 

It must be considered that some individuals are more proficient at putting themselves into a state of mindfulness than others. Not all people find mindfulness an easy practice to continue regularly. Studies have shown that the willingness and practice of mindfulness varied as well.

The evidence here showed that all humans have a “radar” for internal and external experience. But this awareness must be cultivated like any other skill. Consciousness is built through harnessing the focusing of that awareness, which is attention. Mindfulness is enhanced attention to and awareness of current experience and the acceptance of things as they are which brings higher levels of consciousness.

 

To find out more about how mindfulness could help you during COVID19 contact john@satis.org.uk

 

About the Author:

For the last five years I have studied an undergraduate degree and masters in Psychology and Mindfulness (MSc). This has led me to continue this research through a PhD at Warwick University. During these 5 years I have taught Yoga and Mindfulness as a full-time job to businesses. My hard work was rewarded with a contract to work as a lecturer teaching wellbeing, Mindfulness and Yoga courses throughout Coventry for Coventry Council.

John Earls


Director of Therapy at Satis - The Mindfulness Movement


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