Loneliness – Mental Health Awareness Week….

9-15 May 2022 is the Mental Health Foundation’s 21st awareness week on a particular mental health theme. This year’s theme is loneliness.

Not to be confused with being alone, a choice many make and flourish working remotely, living alone, shopping and banking online. It suits them completely. They are not lonely.

Loneliness is not a choice. People can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely. Over time, this feeling can grow and the noise of feeling lonely overwhelms and can impact all areas of someone’s life. The consequences can be devastating for the individual and those closest to them.

Recognising our body’s reaction when loneliness starts to intrude, enables us to do something about it – make arrangements to see friends, do something different with others – an art class maybe. Whatever our self-care toolkit is, we need to move quickly. The mind is a powerful tool designed to keep us safe. To do this, it overthinks negativity to such an extent we can become completely numb and unable to move if we ignore it.

Having our own, bespoke self-care toolkit ready for use when we need a bit of maintenance, in the same way we keep a toolkit for DIY repairs on our homes, is vital. It enables us to be proactive about our mind’s wellbeing which in turn enables us to be aware of any changes in those around us and be effective in guiding them.

Next week I will make a daily post on a specific area of mind wellbeing I’ve practised and taught over the past 15 years on my Twitter and LinkedIn pages in celebration of this vital awareness week.

What will you consider doing to honour this week?

Shining a light on our new Growing Talent Associates….

Last week was the 28th Orientation and Holistic element of Growing Talent! We covered a lot including:

  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence and behavioural impact
  • Conflict styles and management
  • The power of body language
  • Nutrition on a budget – the perils to avoid
  • Wellbeing windows and non-negotiables
  • Basic finance tips and tricks
  • Workplace ettiquette
  • Case studies – what would you do in these real situations?
  • Facing fear and overcoming procrastination to move forward
  • Fake it until you become it
  • Automatic habits
  • Challenging thoughts
  • Schedule in self-care

Working from etc venues in Fenchurch Place, London Monday – Thursday last week, we enjoyed an energising breakfast, mid-morning break, full on lunch with hot and cold options, desserts and cheeses. Smoothies, vegetable shots and tea, coffee (in many different compilations) as well as water!

On Thursday Paul, Ella and Suaad’s prospective employer was able to join us for a networking lunch along with Anna and Mick from DWP. Ella, Florence and Suaad shared some of their experiences over the week and questioned Paul, Anna and Mick on how they had dealt with a range of things from Covid to conflict both at work and in their personal lives. I sat and listened with pride at how their confidence had grown over that few days. Our guests were very generous in sharing past and present experiences. Mick’s previous life in the Met Police gave a lot of insight that maybe we don’t always think about. It was a powerful reminder that everyone has a back story we usually know nothing about.

After the ‘grilling’, We had a sumptuous lunch together before departing for the week.

The feature photo above shows Ella, Suaad and Florence completing their @I-act Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing ready to use some of the tools and learning to empower their resilience in the workplace as well as support those around them where they feel safe to do so.

So what did Ella, Florence and Suaad think of they journey so far?

“I enjoyed all of the workshops and found them very informative- I didn’t necessarily have the most open mind (I generally don’t about lots of ‘work training’ things) in advance of attending but Jane’s attitude and openness made me want to attend. What I enjoyed the most (besides the food which was phenomenal) was being able to openly share my background, hopes and fears, experiences with others in such a safe and encouraging environment. So much about looking for work requires us to be constantly positive in attempts to oversell ourselves. What Jane does so well, and what I enjoyed the most, was being able to be a whole person- with room for improvement but a clear pathway to that improvement. It was such a boost to my self-esteem and made me feel that there were practical steps to moving forward that didn’t involve berating myself for not having achieved them yet.”

“I found the ‘five second rule’ very practical- I could definitely recognise that in myself and the way my brain talks me out of doing things I am worried about. I also found the discussions around confrontation and interpersonal workplace relationships (and outside) really helpful. Also the continual emphasis on maintaining good channels of communication is definitely something I am trying to keep permanently in mind until it becomes second nature.”

“Personal well-being and learning how to structure your work day to make sure your mood is optimal and you’re making the most of your day. If you take a proactive stance and not react to what life throws at you, you can be in control and change the quality of your day to day experiences.”

“Jane has been wonderful over the week. The way the programme was delivered over the week shows this is something Jane deeply cares about and enabling participants with the right information and boost of confidence/morale is just as important as securing a job. After facing unemployment you have to mentally prepare yourself before starting a job, you may feel out of the loop or in a low mood. By completing a holistic short course beforehand, it allows you to evaluate how you are doing on a scale and gives you insight to what to work on going forward.”

“The I-Act course is a great source to keep around and use as a reference, it provides a great summary of different types of mental health issues and illnesses. Once again, it is a tool you can use to see how you’re doing on scale and can be used to advocate for yourself and others. Courses such as this are needed to destigmatize the issue of mental health, a simple heartfelt conversation may change the trajectory of someone’s health and even their life.”

“I am very grateful and happy to be given this opportunity, it is a unique and lovely programme that would not be possible if curated by someone who didn’t understand how to genuinely help people (to help themselves!). It’s clear this is a labour of love and it really shows in the quality of the programme and the impact it has on me over just one week. Bravo, thank you!”

“Jane made us feel very comfortable and secure enough to share our personal stories as to what led us to Growing Talent.  I also enjoyed the company of the other people on the journey with me. There was nothing that I didn’t enjoy.  I looked forward to each day!”

“The whole concept of having a “Holistic Employment Programme” is such a great idea and perfect in my situation.  It provides a level playing field for everyone.  Thank you!”

If you are unemployed, live in London and interested in a different route to employment – check us out and or speak with your work coach at JobCentre Plus.

If you are an employer with permanent jobs in London which you are willing to train in, why not consider Growing Talent? Like Ella, Florence and Suaad you will have empowered, resilient, enthused, empathetic new talent before you formerly hire them with qualities you wouldn’t usually see in traditional recruitment – and it’s free. Get in touch to discuss.

How fit is your brain?

I had a really interesting conversation with Kate from Food For The Brain Foundation an innovative charity that teaches the impact of nutrition on the brain – all backed by academic and scientific research.

Check them out – it’s free to register and receive their newsletter also free to take their cognitive test – see if your lifestyle and nutrition is going to impact your brain health in the future.

What do I mean? Did you know only 1% of Alzheimers is caused through genes?

Check out their website below….

https://foodforthebrain.org

A huge amount of information can be found on the drop down menus from nutritional advice for different mental ill health issues through to the ideal nutrition for different ages throughout life – currently under development.

There are diverse articles with tips on issues from sleeping well to how gut health affects moods and so much more.

So check out this mine of information website and analyse how fit your brain is now and how fit will it be in the future!

Workplace in a post pandemic era – scary?

Its essential employers do everything possible to ensure their workplaces – physical and virtual – are operating at peak wellness and wellbeing especially with the nearing post covid era we are entering – emotions can be in turmoil.

Delivering training on how our behaviours impact those around us (Emotional Intelligence), how to communicate and collaborate effectively, how to build a resilient, productive environment where individuals at all levels learn skills and tools to look after themselves – and those around them – is critical in these constantly changing and uncertain times.

Where to start? We can overthink and procrastinate for ever trying to identify the ‘perfect’ solution but end up not actually doing anything.

Working during Covid has been a unique experience for everyone depending on their own particular situation. Not everyone has worked from a safe home with its own garden, financially secure with a solid network of support.

Coupled with this is everyone’s unique level of resilience. This is a key area for employers to look at as it directly impacts their business, brand reputation and bottom line. How to give some tools to ensure their people know their level of resilience, how to increase it and thereby be more able to deal with the curve balls life throws.

Having delivered many accredited courses and my own bespoke workshops in this critical area over many years, i-act is the most effective, robust commercial product for staff and their businesses on the market in my view. Why?

  • Quick deliver – 4 hours – delivered virtually making it accessible for hybrid workers across the globe
  • Robust, easy to access 168 colour co-ordinated manual, containing over 50 tools for self-care and 95 referral organisations. Digital version also available.
  • Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and carries 3 CPD points -for delegates
  • Accreditation lasts three years with access to I-act’s website for news, updates and downloads
  • Designed specifically for the workplace
  • Proactive – not reactive. Focus is on early intervention, building resilience
  • How to set and maintain personal protective barriers
  • So much more!

Collaboration and learning together is the best way to grow. Some of the key findings delegates shared on recent courses from diverse industries and levels of seniority include:

“A complex topic nicely categorised by the book and the ‘I-acted’ approach – so ordered, accessible and useable”.

” The self-care and wellbeing advice and activities was a key takeaway for me. It has given me more concrete ideas of where I can improve, particularly as someone who has a diagnosed mental illness.”

“Learning the simple scale tool to start a conversation was my standout. I will definitely use this going forward.”

“From some of the past support I’ve given my team, having the opportunity to understand more about some of the classifications of mental ill health was really helpful.”

“Learning how to ask the suicide question really helped me, It’s a difficult subject”

It seems to me the title ‘First Aider’ gives the impression delegates are ‘qualified’ to deliver first line intervention. This isn’t always the case. The emotional intelligence to speak to others at the time of emotional vulnerability whilst looking after yourself is critical and not something everyone can do naturally.

Yet, many employers don’t assess their employees before putting them on these kind of courses. Are they in the right headspace to do this kind of course? Do they have the communication skills to support someone else? Do they have the insight to know when to get involved and when they need to pass it on to protect themselves? Do they make their self-care a priority? It seems to be more a ‘tick in the box’ exercise. How much damage could that potentially do to both parties – not to mention brand reputation of the business?

I’m often asked what I would do if I wanted to make sure my staff and workplace thrived – not just survived. I would use a journey of steps – ensuring collaboration with staff at every step:

Step one – discover what the emotional temperature of my workplace and people is? To know and not just assume where the pressure points are I would run an Emotional Culture Survey. A quick survey which takes just a few minutes to complete online and examines 10 key areas of pressures across all departments and levels of staff giving results in minutes.

Step two – workshop to understand the impact our behaviours have on those around us which we may be completely unaware of but this impact can last years. Not an issue if that impact is positive – but what if it isn’t?

Step three – run the developmental, global Genos Emotional Intelligence assessments across all levels of staff for them to see any gaps between the level of importance of six core competencies and the level of demonstration raters see followed by coaching sessions to enable them to see insights, actions and benefits leading to stronger 360 connections and increased personal development.

A global programme delivering specialist workplace and leadership critical tools.

Step four – deliver I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing – for line managers and Understanding and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing for non-managers. Both deliver the key tools noted above.

Step five – run continuous workshops, discussions, fun events during which work is not discussed. Instead focussing on empowering staff to break the stigma and fear our emotions can have by talking without fear about emotions. In addition have fun getting to know each other as humans working together who have lives outside of work not just colleagues doing a job.

Now, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Government has announced the end of restrictions in England next week.

Is now the time to start preparing your teams and workplace to thrive?

Control what you can – ignore what you can’t!

What a roller coaster the past couple of years have been.

It seemed we’d turned a corner with the Government lifting restrictions, more and more people leaving their hybrid workplace and returning to their offices – even booking holidays, events and Christmas family gatherings! Life getting ‘back to normal’?

Then, earlier this week came the news of yet another variant. Omnicron had arrived!  A vortex of fear, dread, overthinking fell on some intensified by the re-introduction of some restrictions by the UK Government.

Scientists in South Africa alerted the world to this new variant. We know by the time a new variant has been announced, it’s already out there in the world’s population. They couldn’t control the reaction of countries closing their borders. Had they known, would they have shared their discovery?

Borders are starting to close.  Restrictions are being re-introduced.  It can feel like news channels are on repeat cycles of doom without any context or balance.  There is no evidence of which way this new variant will go. The UK Government’s consistent guidance of ‘we have to live with this’, seems to have now been reversed.

It’s no wonder anxiety, fear and overthinking is rising in many of us.  So, what can we do? 

Control what we can – ignore what we can’t.

Accept some things we cannot control.  Governments and scientists will make their decisions. But, here’s the thing.  When we accept these things are out of our control, we can stop focussing on them and look at what we can control.  The fear, anxiety and negative thinking starts to dissipate.  We start to grow stronger and move forward.

Change your thoughts – start by questioning them.  What evidence do you have to think that way? Often, we think negatively because our minds are designed to keep us safe and so they over amplify negative thoughts. Merely by questioning our negative thoughts, their power starts to dwindle.

Control – what areas of your life can you focus on, control and inject positivity into? Building in some self-care windows to everyday routines, learning new skills these are some of the building blocks to growing self-esteem, empowerment and resilience. Doing something for somewhere else makes us feel better and them. Start with a simple smile. Watch – it’s infectious!

For employers, what additional things can be considered? 

Emotional Intelligence behavioural assessments – our emotions impact our thoughts.  Our thoughts impact our behaviours.  Our behaviours impact our actions which impact everything and everyone around us.  Thing is how we see our behaviours can be very different to how those around us experience them.

i-act’s Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing delivers all the tools to proactively build a resilient workplace. The 50+ tools taught in i-act are life-long skills that enable us to deal with all life events. Accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, designed specifically for the workplace and global.

Therefore, I’m going to control what I can and ignore what I can’t – how about you?

Do we have the will to examine and question our behaviours and their impact on others?

Thanks to Netflix, I watched this brilliant film over the weekend. I was struck by many things. Yes, it had all the emotions – happy, sad, courage, loyalty, generational parallel lives, hope, adversity, ignorance, acceptance, bullying and likely many more. Overall, it left a feeling of hope, that’s it’s ok to be your authentic self and life can be fun if we drop the judgements we give others – without even speaking with them.

I originally wrote this for my LinkedIn in page. Why? because the film is a place of work comprising actors, camera crew, runners etc as is the school central to the film’s theme. Without the Emotional Intelligence to accept all work colleagues – direct reports, peers, line management, clients, supply chain etc in all sectors, as well as recognise and understand how our emotions, thoughts and behaviours impact others, businesses and their people will never thrive.

As the credits to the film rolled, we see the ‘real’ Jamie Campbell and his mum Margaret from County Durham who the film was based on. A three part documentary in 2011 featuring Jamie and his mum’s fight for him to be allowed to wear a dress to his secondary school prom.

For me, the most poignant feeling I got from the film was how little has changed. Ten years since the documentary on Jamie’s fight to be authentic yet we don’t seem any further forward. In the film, Jamie’s guide to becoming a drag queen is Hugo played by the brilliant Richard E Grant. Snapshots of Hugo’s life as a drag queen during the explosion of AIDS, had parallels with Jamie’s fight and illuminated the lack of acceptance today.

With training in how our behaviours impact ourselves and those around us, change is possible – but only if we want it.

Final thoughts – the film ended with a real shift in change of attitudes by many. I wonder how much more businesses would grow if they looked at the behaviours and impact of all within…..

A step too far?

Some years back, I was introduced to Adam who had just started working with Jamie at a national recruitment company.

Sharply dressed, seemingly able to talk to anyone at any level confidently and make up really good raps for audiences ‘off the cuff’. A real ‘presence’ in the room, Adam was late teens when I met him not sure of the path he would ultimately take.

Several different jobs over the years followed before Lockdown hit. At Christmas 2020, after almost a year of uncertainty the global pandemic has brought us all to trying degrees, Adam took the massive, in my view, step of getting on a plane and going to Tanzania. Without a job/home to go to there, Adam wanted a complete change.

He reached out to me to discuss his next moves and explore his thoughts – I was honoured.

I was shocked by the reality of Dar es Salaam from the photos Adam sent me which were the polar opposite of my perceptions of what this African City would be like.

Curtesy of Adam, I share a photo of his new home City:

According to Adam the pace of life is much slower compared to London and has given him time to think what he really wants to do.

Taking the time to ask ourselves ‘are we happy?’ and ‘does it feel right’ enable us to take the pulse of where we are and helps answer those questions of whether to keep going down a certain path or change.

Adam’s had the time and space to figure out his next move by relocating to Tanzania – even if to some of us it feels like a step too far.

Of course, it may not be practical to relocate to the other side of the world to find what we want to do. We don’t have to. Giving ourselves some space alone to think about our own happiness and whether what we are doing ‘feels right’ will give us the same ignition for our own next steps.

L’enterprise des Possibles

Watching French24 tv, I was heartened by the amazing work French billionaire Alain Merieux has achieved. He set-up L’enterprise des Possibles or Company of Possibilities just two years ago.

In the interview he explained why he chose to set-up this initiative up at the age of 80. Looking back to his childhood – which many of us seem to do as we get older, he noticed there was no homeless when he was a child. People shared what they had and took care of each other. Over recent years, he noticed that caring and sharing has been lost and homelessness is everywhere. The same could be said of countries around the world.

Alain’s idea was to join businesses with homeless charities. Companies and their employees could donate their time, annual leave or volunteer for the charities to make a real long-term difference.

Over the two years L’enterprise des Possibles has been operating, 60 companies have signed up raising over €1.1m and housing 550 people in Leon alone. One of these was a Congalese asylum seeker and her two young children who had been sleeping in fear wherever they could find space in the three years they had been in France. Now she proudly showed the news team around her chalet provided by L’enterprise des Possibles and spoke of her feeling of safety now. One of seven chalets she and her children now had a real support network in which to flourish and rebuild their lives.

The calmness on her face and positivity for the future was inspiring. The woman and her family had literally nothing. Now they have peace, security and a future – how rich is that?

Just as inspiring is Alain. Most 80+ people would be looking inwards, not what they could do for others. In the week that Captain Sir Tom Moore sadly died we are reminded of the amazing difference someone can do, no matter their age or ability, to make a difference and inspire others on what is truly the richness of life.

Making a positive difference when you don’t even know it….

Earlier this week I was contacted by someone who had been selected to take part in Growing Talent in 2019.  Growing Talent is an employment empowerment programme I run, which has been on hold since March 2020 due to Covid (www.growing-talent.co.uk).  

At the time they had many personal pressures to deal with which had reduced their self-confidence to an all-time low whilst greatly increasing their anxiety – exhausting as we all know.

They worked hard to complete the Orientation Week – confidence building workshops – prior to going on the employer’s site working well with their peers on team and individual challenges.  Gradually shoots of growing self-confidence started to appear.  More importantly, a smile returned to their face.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t maintain the routine of work back in 2019 and left before completing the programme.  This made their contact this week even more thought provoking.

They have been a carer for over a year working extensive shifts caring for the vulnerable is tough enough for anyone let alone doing this role in the middle of a global pandemic.  The people this person supports all have varying stages of dementia – challenging for individuals, family, friends and carers.

Finding the strength to make decisions and changes in their personal life took massive courage.  With everything going on, they still put others first and decided to move into the care home to support their peers and residents as much as possible.  Unfortunately, they got Covid themselves and had to self-isolate.  Now the residential care home is currently Covid free – a big relief for all.

As I’m reading all of this information they sent, my pride and admiration swelled.  Their growth from 2019 to now is inspirational.  The reason they wanted to get in touch now was to not only share their journey but thank me for my teachings.

Anyway, my point is, that, no way could I have gotten through the turmoil of Covid in a Dementia Care home and self-loathing induced by personal pressures if it hadn’t been for your teachings and even that week of lessons really in prep for growing talent. Thank you for the lessons, thank you for the courage and the self-belief you instilled in me, before I could really believe in myself’.

As a trainer/facilitator passionate about encouraging people and businesses to be the best they can, I often wonder about those who aren’t ready to move forward.  I know see, even instilling a short time of self-belief and proactive personal nurturing makes a difference to them long term.

What’s the point in sharing this with you?  To share we may not always know the outcome of something we do – that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful and positive.

Never stop trying to do what you know is right.  You are having a bigger, positive impact than you may realise.