Hello PPMA Members and Friends
Here’s the second in our series of Action for Happiness guest posts from Lisa Sibley, Employee Engagement Manager at Essex County Council – we’ve had some great feedback following Lisa’s first instalment, so we hope you enjoy this one just as much!
“Hello there – Monday and week 3 of the Action for Happiness course arrived quickly, and recommended pre-course viewing was : The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Stress. It’s just over 10 minutes watching time so why not grab yourself a cuppa, sit down, relax and listen – a de-stressor in itself. The key point I took away from the video is that we always have control on how we choose to respond to a stressful situation – being mindful of the fact that we have this control/choice is empowering and helpful.
So, our Expert View this week was from a guy called Jon Kabat-Zinn, a real charismatic speaker – a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the ‘daddy’ of modern mindfulness practice and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MSBR). When I was talking about the course with a few friends at the weekend they were asking me what exactly is mindfulness, we keep hearing about it but what is it? Well, yes there is a lot in the media about this right now and there is now evidence to show that mindfulness significantly reduces stress and improve health and wellbeing so come on, let’s spread this wonderful thing. In simple terms, Action For Happiness describes it as ‘choosing to pay attention to what’s happening in the present moment – it involves having conscious awareness of what you are thinking, feeling, your surroundings and being curious, open/accepting to what is happening right here right now – in other words really living in the moment. Simples huh?! Hmm, it takes practice but believe me, having been practicing this for a few years now I know that it has made a huge difference to how I manage my own stress and choices I make in response to tricky situations beyond my control – so I highly recommend it. I really liked Jon’s messages, here are a few of them:-
Grow your muscle of mindfulness and heartfulness – engage in the moment, be rather than do – this is essential self-care
You can’t grow a muscle without a certain kind of resistance, a certain amount of discipline, a bit of pain & discomfort so growing your mindfulness muscle will take patience and practice
Switch off the commentator in your mind, you can self-regulate – oh, yes, you know, that little voice that jabbers away telling you how bad you are, you didn’t do that, you should have done that….blah blah…incessant crazy thinking
As long as you are breathing, you are more right than wrong
We talked about how one deals with sorrow, tragedy, illness – things that happen which are out of our control and Jon’s view on this is that you don’t have to get rid of the sorrow to be happy – the latter is in our control and living in the moment, avoiding the ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ thinking helps us discover that we’re okay as we are. Jon’s slot concluded with the poem: Love after Love by Derek Walcott, you might like to take a moment to read it here.
And now for this week’s factoid:-
Mental illness is a huge hidden problem in our society – accounting for nearly 40% of all illness – more than the combined impact of all cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, digestive diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, cancer, diabetes and accidents PUT TOGETHER!
Stress and anxiety are on the increase and antidepressant use in the UK has grown by around 500% in the last 20 years and the proportion of adolescents with emotional or behavioural problems is twice as high as in the 1970s..
Mindfulness can help us find peace of mind and has been found to bring benefits in the treatment of people with clinical levels of anxiety or depression
Resilience comes from the Latin word ‘resilio’ – increasingly used to describe our ability to cope with and bounce back from adversity. Resilience can be learned and again, a contributor to that is how we choose to interpret events which in turn affects our emotional responses and our behaviour.
…okay, factoids, I’m not disciplined enough to limit it to just the one so forgive me ….it’s important that we spread the word on these sobering facts and build hope about how each and every one of us CAN make a difference.
I’m sure that many of you are already familiar with this quote but always worth reminding ourselves of it and so very relevant to this week’s topic of mindfulness, peace of mind and choice……….
‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.’ Victor Frankl
Thank you for reading and I will be back next week with some more insights, meanwhile why not make time to: pause, be curious, be in the moment, be aware and just see how that makes you feel. Lisa”
As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop us a note in the ‘comments’ section above.
Lisa Sibley, Employee Engagement Manager, Essex County Council