Exclusive Concert Series: Lunch and Listen – with Irish Pianist Maire Carroll 🎵☘🎹

Wrkit take the wellness of our clients and their people seriously, bringing innovative initiatives to boost morale and complement culture – and to become your trusted Wellbeing partner.

🧬 Did you know?

Neurological researchers have found that listening to music triggers the release of several neurochemicals that play a vital role in brain function and mental health:

  • dopamine, associated with happiness
  • serotonin and other hormones related to immunity
  • oxytocin, a chemical that fosters the ability to connect to others

Here at Wrkit, we understand the science behind feeling good, which is why we’re thrilled to announce we’re hosting a 4-week Lunch and Listen Series with the wonderfully talented Maire Carroll, an Irish concert pianist who has performed across the world including performances at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, National Opera House in Tallinn, the Barbican, Royal Over-Seas League, St. John’s Smith Square, and the National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Each week is a different theme, starting with

🎬 Week One: “Movies” which includes classical renditions of famous movie scores, lasting a maximum of 25 minutes.

This session is open to all, and can be accessed by pressing the registration link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMucuutrzkoEtUoAKLXFXeOKpS-BlZNPlbl

The remaining three concerts are exclusively for Wrkit clients and will be themed as follows:

👩 Week Two: “Female Composers” – with pieces specifically created by some of the world’s most renowned female musicians

🎹 Week Three: “Hidden Piano” – taken from Maire’s latest album which beautifully entwines classical music with contemporary

💬 Week Four: “Requests” – which gives our clients and their people the chance to submit their favourite songs, and hear them played by a world renowned pianist

Just As A Puppy Is Not Just For Christmas, Mental Health Should Hold The Spotlight All Year Round

As Mental Health Awareness week is behind us once more, we think it’s important to remind ourselves that our mental health, and that of our work colleagues, is something we should focus on year-round.

We wholeheartedly welcome the focus on mental health and anything which throws a spotlight on wellbeing, particularly workplace wellbeing, is, in our book, something to celebrate.

But, just as all reasonable people understand that the responsibilities of owning a puppy stretch well beyond the 12 days of Christmas, you should not leave your focus on your own and your work colleagues’ mental health fallow for too long.

Keeping your glass half full

The NHS provides typically sensible and achievable evidence-based advice, suggesting five steps to mental wellbeing:

  • Connect with other people. We’re social animals after all. Call your friends or family, take a colleague to lunch and build bridges. If you know of a neighbour who lives alone, check in on them or put a note through their door.
  • Be physically active. You don’t have to run a marathon or cycle 100 miles, get away from your desk at lunchtime, walk a different route home or to the next bus stop along. Tune into your surroundings. There’s a whole world out there to explore.
  • Learn a new skill. This can help boost your self-confidence and provide a new purpose. What will you do next? What can your employer do to help?
  • Pay attention to the present moment. What are you experiencing right now? Build your self-awareness. Challenge yourself to understand your thoughts and feelings. And be honest.
  • Give to others. This can create positive feelings of self-worth. It could be as simple as helping somebody with a deadline or just saying thank you.

Wrkit are privileged to offer a product for every bullet point of advice, giving a 360 Wellness solution:

  • Connecting – with changing working environments, see each other face to face and even calling without purpose can be difficult to fit into the working day. Wrkit’s Recognition tool provides a social wall that takes less than 30 seconds to populate with stories of thanks, well wishes or congratulations.
  • Physical Activity – not just exercise, but movement. Moving every hour on the hour is so important for supple joints, and Wrkit’s Move module provides on demand movement, deskercise and exercise videos that take no longer than 2 mins to complete.
  • Upskilling – learning what you want, when you want, is even more of a breeze when it’s free of charge. Wrkit’s Learning tool offers over 4500 courses in Nutrition, Pet Care, History, the Arts and professional skills such as leadership, technology skills and management – and 92% of courses are free to learn.
  • Being Present and Self-Aware – Wrkit’s POWR module provides scores in 6 key pathways: Mind, Work, Life, Sleep, Active and Food, providing a visual representation of how you’re doing and where you’re in need of a boost. Self-awareness is the key to change, and the scores are just the beginning. Tips, tricks and plans are provided to improve scores, optimise resilience, and drive longevity of positive mindset.

To find out more about how Wrkit can support your company with its talent engagement and wellness strategy, visit www.wrkit.com.

The Proof Is In The POWR

There has been a massive increase in digital technology and wearable devices over the last decade and many of us are striving to reach that daily ten thousand step goal, even if this means doing laps around our bedroom just before bedtime. The buzz of acknowledgement when we reach our target goal is like getting a pat on the back from our very own 24/7 personal trainer and the sense of pride we feel before we rest up for the night is indeed very satisfying.

These little prompts and notifications really do help us to stay motivated and these days these same technologies can really help us set and achieve goals across a wide range of areas and activities, helping us more easily monitor our healthy behaviours over time.

This digital health technology boom now includes apps and online platforms providing interactive tools and information on wellbeing guidance, mood tracking and practical advice across a multitude of wellbeing areas including Life Satisfaction, Physical Health, Emotional Wellbeing and Social Support. POWR is one of these innovate platforms, leading the way and contributing to the wellbeing needs of employees across Europe, the US, Australia and the UK.

Over the last 3 years, Wrkit, the company behind digital wellbeing platform, have been developing POWR which has grown and evolved in response to the ever-changing landscape of wellbeing. The wellbeing of employees, ease of access to information, and effectiveness of online self-help tools are at the forefront of everything that POWR strives to provide. The user-friendly and interactive nature of the platform ensures that support is available at the click of a button and provides instant advice and access to hundreds of behaviour change plans, that have been created by a team of psychologists and health experts to specifically meet the needs of each employee, in a personalised way. These plans help improve wellbeing based on Self Awareness, Goal-Setting and ongoing Self-Monitoring and gives individuals the chance to take an active part in improving their overall health and wellbeing. Designed to recreate a professional health consultation experience, with a variety of ongoing supports.

Companies have always faced the challenge of effectively supporting employees to improve their levels of health and wellbeing and these challenges have increased significantly in recent times, considering the amount of employees now working from home. Research shows that the promotion of employee wellbeing in the workplace has many long-term benefits, not only for employees but also for the overall health of the organisation. From an employer’s point of view, it can be hard to monitor the mood of staff and to check in with team members who are away from the office, as they don’t have the same opportunities for casual chats or to notice visual signs of how colleagues are. The pandemic has certainly highlighted the need to be proactively supporting employee health and companies know that it is not easy to motivate their staff to engage in daily self-care and invest in on their wellbeing at work, however recent engagement statistics for POWR are showing that this can be achieved!

Within POWR employees are given the opportunity to not only track their mood every day but are encouraged to engage in the behaviour change plans which are specifically created to improve mood and wellbeing. These plans provide people with the skills to ‘Understand Worry’, to manage ‘Feeling Overwhelmed’ and ways to overcome being ‘Stuck in a Rut’, common stressors seen in the everyday lives of many employees during the pandemic.

The ‘Breathe’ and ‘Listen’ exercises within the POWR platform are particularly popular among employees across the globe according to our engagement statistics. Medical research shows that taking just a few minutes out of your busy work day to focus on your breathing, activates the parasympathetic nervous system which has been proven to significantly reduce stress levels! Employees can then go back and log their wellbeing after the completion of these exercises or having completed a plan and figure out which coping strategies and skills work best for them. POWR also provides short informative blogs and videos which include feel-good, educational pieces on a wide range of health and wellbeing topics, providing employees with the opportunity to learn useful ongoing health strategies.

Employee wellbeing is of the utmost importance during the ongoing challenges of a pandemic and as we spend one third of our adult life at work, POWR is an effective tool to help make it somewhere employees can thrive.

Recognition Trumps Reward…Every Time

I recently came across a letter I received from a former employer a long long time ago. It was in recognition for my participation in a major incident and finding it again caused me to pause and reflect and ultimately has prompted me to write this short article.

On May 02nd 1981, I was a fledgling co-pilot on the Boeing 737 fleet with the Irish national carrier Aer Lingus. My duty on this day was to check-in and be close at hand in the pilots lounge for the next 8 hours. This we did to ensure all eventualities were covered and to be available to replace any other co-pilot at very short notice.

This day was to be very different for our team. Moments after checking into the lounge and settling down for a long afternoon I got a call from Crew Control to say that I was needed immediately and to hurry.  I was informed that an aircraft had been hijacked as it was approaching landing in Heathrow and I was being called up to be the co-pilot on a second aircraft being organised to follow the hijacked aircraft. This meant I was heading to Iran, the destination the hijacker had announced he wished to go.

Another aircraft was quickly made available with politicians and advisers gathered and onboarded as we flew to Shannon to pick up a person the hijacker had requested to talk to in person. Meanwhile the hijacked aircraft had landed in Le Touquet in Northern France, which was the fuel limited endurance of the aircraft that had only expected to fly to Heathrow.

My duties were focused on supporting the Captain and maintaining constant communication with air traffic control and phone patch to allow the Irish Transport Minister of the day, Albert Reynolds, to talk directly from the aircraft with the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Charles Haughey, back in Dublin, keeping the Irish Government and the Aer Lingus team at base up to speed on developments.

We got to Le Touquet and landed.

After a relatively short period, 8 hours, on the ground the French special forces stormed the aircraft and brought the lone hijacker under control, avoiding casualties. The passengers were checked and fed and eventually we flew back to Dublin that night and along with the passengers, politicians and advisers we all went home. I was 20 years old at the time.

Three days later I received the note pictured below.  It was from the Deputy Chief Pilot Europe (DCPE) Capt Jim Brady. Three lines, thanking me for my help during the incident, typed out, signed and posted to me.

I have valued and held on to this letter ever since and to me this was how employee recognition works.

The positive and lasting effects of being really valued and appreciated by a colleague or in this case by a senior leader, has carried me through a long career and has stuck by me always on my journey in the last 40 years. I ended up having a pretty uneventful 35 year career at Aer Lingus following this initial drama…..as an airline pilot you want to be uneventful!

For me this single gesture by Capt Jim Brady was an exemplary behaviour recognition, taking the time from his position of authority to reach out and individually recognise my efforts on that extraordinary day. He didn’t have to, but he did. He simply took the time to write to me personally.

There was no voucher, no bonus at the end of the month, but a note to personally thank me for doing my job on that day. This has proven many many times since, to be far more powerful and personal to me, and one which I have appreciated more than a reward might have been at that time in my fledgling career.

The note also aligned with a change in management culture at that time at Aer Lingus, aligning to a new and more modern intent that cockpit workload was to be shared across the cockpit crew. This was being done in order to maximise the effectiveness of the team and on this day the Captain, being the most senior crew member, was allowed to share many of their tasks and responsibilities, so that they could devote themselves to the tasks and experience that allowed them to perform most effectively.

So powerful was this note of recognition that I stapled it into my pilots log book almost 40 years ago, as a permanent reminder that good behaviours should be recognised and lauded and as a reminder that I was grateful at the time for this personal touch. Also as a reminder to me to adopt the same attitude to my peers and colleagues throughout my thirty five years as a pilot.

I don’t fly any more but as CEO at Wrkit, employee recognition is central to my effectiveness as a leader and a key component to our employee engagement portal. Every week I encourage our team and leaders to recognise each other through the work we do together. It is an important part of our culture and our Wrkit behaviours. Peer to peer recognition is statistically proven to have a positive effect on employee performance, and is even more engaging then top-down recognition. Hats off to Capt Jim Brady in 1981 for having the vision and the courage as a leader to reach out with this brief but valued letter of recognition and for setting me on the path to emulate these behaviours; to be a leader that encourages employee recognition and to be able to provide organisations with the tools available for them to do the same. If you can, socialise the recognitions in your company whenever you can, because three shorts sentences really can go a long long way.

This year we are celebrating International Womens Day by showcasing women in leadership.

V is an experienced tech leader, presently leading and growing Slack Engineering teams in EMEA. She works in complex environments and thrives on bringing people from multiple disciplines together to create robust and resilient applications. Having previously led engineering teams in Spotify, she is passionate about leading and growing high performing teams and achieving the best possible results through collaboration and empowerment. She thrives on the ability to convert learning into tangible actions that lift team capability and is a champion for change. She consistently supports, educates and encourages her team through the change process.

Hi V, what advice would you give to women who want to be leaders?

Now is a great time to be or become a female leader. With so many companies embracing diversity and inclusion there are lots of opportunities to step up and into leadership. For companies today, inclusion is not just about getting the numbers right, it is about leveraging unique experiences, creating real opportunities for diversity and seeking out other points of view. Women have a huge amount to offer organisations, in leading teams at all levels and being actively engaged in company boards. The opportunities are far greater now than ever and women can confidently go for these roles.

What has helped you build your confidence in the workplace?

Knowing my strengths really well and relying on them. One of the key strengths that I know I have and that others have acknowledged in me, is that I am a relational person. People and connection are really important to me. This has helped me be a strong collaborator, as I seek out my team members’ ideas and opinions, and I rely on their feedback, as well as looking to others who have experience and provide input and guidance. Often I am not the most experienced in the room on a certain topic, so I look to my other members to chip in and I help support their growth and confidence to do this – whether it is presentation skills, critical or strategic thinking etc. So another key strength is openness and a willingness to learn, sometimes then being in a support role as a leader.

Amongst the women you’ve worked with, what are some of their traits you admire?

I really admire women that are inclusive of difference, kind to others in the workplace and supportive of other female leader journeys. I am particularly interested in the support and growth of other women leaders as I have experienced this in my leadership journeys. Leaders who were willing to take a chance on me and to provide a guiding hand when needed, to speak up for my competence. These female leaders help bring our voice and influence to the table.

Can you name a woman who has inspired you the most?

Cliche I know, but I would have to say my mother. She came from a difficult background, worked really hard and made me feel like I could be or do anything in life. Like the female leaders I admire, she actively encouraged me and did not put obstacles in my way. She helped facilitate me and my sister being the first in our family to go to university.

Another inspiration to me is former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I loved how she could articulate issues of diversity so well and so clearly, with the skill of keeping the dialogue open, non-threatening and moving forward.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned as a female leader?

In my role I am learning all the time, as it is a fast paced ever changing landscape, so I have learned to be myself. With so much rapidly changing and with Covid being a good example of needing to be able to adapt quickly, I have learned to rely on my own abilities. I don’t shy away from or apologise for being a woman. I openly share my challenges and experiences as a woman in tech. Openness and vulnerability is a strength and I trust that whenever I am honest and vulnerable with my team they are there for me, as I am for them.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve success in the workplace, especially in male-dominated industries?

Seek out mentors. Consider a more senior male from your company as a mentor. They can help you navigate the internal landscape and help you unlock your impact. In return, you may open their eyes to some of the struggles women face and help them by becoming an ally for other women. With other female leaders I encourage them to also be a good ally for other women along the way, so more women are encouraged into leadership and the numbers get better.

What do you think are the biggest challenges ahead for the next generation of female leaders?

The biggest challenge I see is women trusting their own inner voices and embracing the unique aspects of female presence, female experience and acknowledging them as both personal and organizational assets.

Can you recall any biases or assumptions made about you?

I have seen times when I am held to a higher standard than my male counterparts or when I feel like I have to prove myself over and over again. Sadly, I have seen this play out around project assignments – e.g. This project is tough. We better give it to Bob. Although this may be happening unconsciously, it is an impediment to female leaders as they need to be given a chance to show what they can do. Leaders, whether male or female, need to open the doors wider to give women that chance to prove themselves. When we do this more often, I believe the culture will be enriched for our doing so.

October Wellbeing Workshops

Globally 2020 has been the most significant Wellness focused year of all time

In this year full of COVID Challenges, Wrkit is here to help. This October celebrate human health and wellbeing with Wrkit, as we focus on a variety of wellness events and workshops in connection with World Mental Health Day.

A leading employee benefits provider, we can help you arrange speakers, supports and events to celebrate not just Mental Health lone, but a whole spectrum of human health.

Workshop Series Topics (Interactive Webinars, each lasting 40 – 60 minutes)

  • Covid Mindfulness
    Learn to appreciate and practise calming techniques during episodes of COVID worry
  • Anxiety Management
    Learn how to recognise and manage worrying or anxiety provoking thoughts
  • Reframe with a Positive Mindset
    Explore ways to look at life during a challenging time differently, with a positive mindset
  • Coping with Uncertainty
    Manage the uncertainty of reopening of schools and workplaces with some practical psychological tools
  • Setbacks and disappointments
    Learn to manage a variety of disappointments related to COVID with a selection of mind enhancing techniques

Contact Details

Jason Brennan
CTA in Psychotherapy, BA in Psychoanalysis, Certificate in Humanities, CBT practitioner’s cert, Member: IAHIP, TAI, EATA, ITAA

Tel 089 6127812 | Email jason.brennan@wrkit.com | Web wrkit.com

Jason Brennan is a coach and psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience. He supports clients suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, grief & loss, trauma, relationship issues, short and long-term therapy, obsessive thinking, lifestyle, work, and life stage challenges.

He authored his first book Win: Proven Strategies for Success in Sports, Life and Mental Health with friend and mental health advocate Brent Pope – having worked with corporate and sports teams of all levels providing training, workshops, and coaching.

Stress awareness with others

Now many weeks into lockdown, most of us are adapting well to the new way of working and being social in more creative ways. It is without doubt that for everyone it has been a struggle at times and although the lockdown parameters will be loosening over the next month, it is still a very challenging time for staff, managers, colleagues, parents, families and children.

COVID-19 is a truly global experience with so many countries clearly affected and having to adapt as best they can. Each household has its own unique set of challenges with individuals self-isolating on their own, single parents working and trying their best to manage alone, large families having both parents working and juggling childcare with the disappearance of supports like school or day care and having to try and work and educate at the same time. There are also many people isolating by themselves and at times challenged by the loneliness and repetitiveness of each day.

The stress and strain on everyone is real and is being felt in all households throughout the country. So, it is extremely important to be mindful when connecting with colleagues and staff working from home, to be conscious and alert to some of what is happening for them emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

After the first two weeks of lockdown in the UK, a working from home survey produced these results:
– 60% exercising less
– 60% more fatigued
– 64% acknowledge that worry is affecting sleep
– 41% health concerns for family

Now after 4-6 weeks in, survey stats are showing that:

  • 44% of people currently working from home find they are working longer hours and finding it hard to switch off from work
  • 51% of employees find that they are interrupted during their working day by family members and that multiple roles placed on parents is very challenging  
  • 79% of employees surveyed are missing their usual working environments
  • 89% say missing the socialising with work colleagues ranked as the main reason for this

Spotting employees who are struggling or stressed

*10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety during COVID-19

1. Late to meetings, taking more time off work than usual or general regular lack of communication

2. Greater obvious use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco

3. Increased irritability, poor concentration, reduced productivity

4. Deteriorating personal or work relationships, as experienced directly or indicated by others

5. More ‘emotional’, moody or over-reactive to what others say

6. Acting differently or unusually, that is out of the norm for them, or not being their usual self

7. Changing of eating or sleep patterns and personal appearance such as visible hygiene indicators – consistently not caring so much about appearance

8. Physical reactions such as sweating, fast paced breathing, very nervous, talking anxiously most of the time

9. Feeling continually low, depressed, and focusing on negatives, preoccupied with Covid 19

10. Overly tired and fatigued

What can you do?

If you are worried or concerned about someone’s health and wellbeing, or have received feedback from others who are concerned, the first thing to do is arrange some time to talk with the person one to one, and in the most private and confidential setting as possible. Let them know that you are connecting with them to talk about how they are finding working from home during this challenging time.

Explore what is happening for them and specific areas they are struggling with.

Check in on their wellbeing by asking about their general daily routine and if they are making time to connect with others regularly and getting out to do some exercise.

If you have some concerns, discuss with the person what your concerns are specifically.

Let them know that you are there to help support them and explore ways of doing this. Ask them how you can best help and if they are struggling to come up with ideas, suggest somethings you can do based on the areas that were discussed. Agree a plan and offer various supports available in your organisation such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) and ensure you agree to meet again soon after. Agree regular ongoing support meetings for a while, to see positive change occurring.

*Ref: Hughes, R., (2013) 10 Signs an employee may be suffering from stress and anxiety, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) – adapted from.

Building the healthy daily habits for Wellness Success

In recent years there has been a substantial rise in various online and mobile wellness apps. The main areas of focus being on measuring sleep, promoting meditation, engaging in physical exercises such as steps, running or cycling, mood monitoring, an increased awareness of nutritional intake and measuring the effects of positive psychology on thinking and on mood.

Why is this?

Research now shows that the regular practise of a variety of healthy habits can have a significant impact on increasing physical health and psychological wellbeing. Findings show that one of the keys to this is completing some focused wellbeing actives in a manageable and integrated way. The message here is: Little and often.

Various apps such as Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer have been created to attend to many of these areas, as has our employee wellbeing tool POWR – Positive Occupational Wellness Resources which has taken it one step further. Not only does POWR measure overall health and wellbeing, but it provides unique personalised health plans to help easily enhance a person’s overall wellbeing and education. Sitting within POWR are over 420 clinical plans designed to help staff engage with their wellbeing, with built in push technology to provide some much-needed encouragement in achieving greater results. POWR plans target the 6 keys areas of wellbeing – mind, life, work, sleep, active and food; with plans added each month, alongside a huge number of new blogs, articles and videos.

How to get the best from a wellness application?

With an app like POWR and others such as Calm, the design taps into several scientific research findings which shows that key areas to invest in and create healthy habits with are:

  • Regular meditation
  • Focused breathing
  • Mild exercise
  • Positive thinking

The analysis of various research shows that regular meditation significantly improves areas such as stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and emotion regulation (mood). Longer term it also improves other areas such as general positivity, self-generated positive emotions and can provide real benefits to close relationships and social outcomes.

Further research shows that regular mild exercise also has a significant effect on psychological wellbeing, while more moderate exercise has a significant effect on depression and anxiety, comparable with usual psychological care. Based on these findings and others, POWR brings this research all together and provides easy access to hundreds of clinical plans in each of the 6 targeted areas, making it accessible, available and easy to log into to work on wellbeing, every single day. With built in meditations, visual and auditory breathing exercises and a positive psychology reinforcing reflection tool, it really supports and promotes the benefits of these finds.

Take the challenge!

POWR is the ideal tool to help employees create healthy habits. To encourage this we have also created the POWR Formula for Success, which includes challenges in the areas of exercise, meditation, positive psychology journalling, wellness and stress relief articles and focused breathing challenges, to complement the 6 pathways in POWR which are always available for users to interact with, complete plans in and grow their wellbeing. This POWR challenge is designed to quickly get staff involved over a two weeks’ timeframe as a company challenge to help them feel healthier, socialise what they are doing, be more active and be more in tune with how they want to be.

Coping with COVID – Appreciating our Humanness

Happy elderly couple having a video call looking involved

This is the 4th in a series of 6 articles on supporting employees during this unusual and difficult time in businesses and in our lives. With the expansion of lockdown and restricted movements, many employees will be realising that this will go on for a while and that the last 4 weeks may become the norm. While most employees will naturally accept the present state of affairs, for many it will be a difficult mindset to adjust to. Some will be feeling anxious, frustrated and worried about the uncertainty the future holds.

It is important therefore to recognise that all Humans react in unique personal ways. We all struggle with and accept big changes in our own time and in our own ways, as we all move along the change curve at different rates and stages.

Many employees over the last few weeks will have enjoyed aspects of working from home, such as getting up later, not having to battle with public transport, more time with family and even getting in a bit of sunbathing. Others will have struggled with the sense of confinement, missing the social aspect of being with colleagues, not able to enjoy their usual coffee routine, their regular exercise groups and lunch catchups. Additional challenges are also appearing for some employees, like having to become a teacher to their children, or single parents isolating alone without their usual support network.

So where are we finding ourselves and what can psychologically help?

For me personally, at the weekend I had a zoom call with a group of friends I met while living abroad. We all zoomed in from different corners of the world – Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It was wonderful to see them all again but what was really fascinating, was how we were all adapting to the same experience. We were all isolating in our houses, with our families, unable to wander far, working from home as best we can, using similar technology, struggling with similar issues and even talking about the same shows we are watching on TV – sharing further viewing recommendations.

These zoom calls have really deepened my appreciation of this being a truly global and specifically Human event and it is bringing our Humanness to the fore in some very lovely ways. In psychology there is a practice called ‘reframing’ which is a mental skill that is applied often in sports psychology but is also a good strategy to practice in everyday life, especially given the present situation.

Reframing is looking at and thinking about a situation by applying a different ‘psychological’ lens. Literally framing it up differently, putting on a different set of metaphorical spectacles and seeing some of the not so obvious aspects of a situation as positive and beneficial.

To do this, ask yourself:

  • What aspect of this present situation is an improvement?
  • What do I actually like about some of my routine that has changed?
  • What might I like to continue doing more of?
  • How am I learning about myself and my abilities in adapting to this situation?

Some quick reflections might be:

  • Liking more time with family, which is helping with relationships
  • The lack of commuting is a welcomed relief for me and for the planet
  • I am getting to know my neighbours more and creating a better connection with my community
  • I am thinking more about how others are getting on and reaching out more often to intentionally connect
  • I am reconnecting with some old friends and some old pastimes that I love but didn’t have time for

While employees are struggling with uncertainty and the need to adapt each week to new and unfolding information, it is important for managers and leaders to help foster some of the positives that each employee is experiencing amidst the many challenges.

To be Human is to be relational and some of our present experience is opening the door to deepening relationships in a very human way – connecting and sharing genuine and real daily experiences. Employers can take this opportunity to share stories, allowing some vulnerability and foster a culture of checking in on each other and of course sharing the positives inherent in reframing aspects of our shared situation. 

Challenging COVID-19 – Eustress

This third article in our series of 6, looks at the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 restrictions. The article will focus on how these challenges are affecting employees physical and psychological health and most importantly how they can lean into difficult times using the Eustress mindset.

As the weeks roll on and restrictions continue in our battle with COVID-19, this is the time that staff will begin feeling some of the negative side effects of spending so much time cooped up at home. They will naturally be getting more frustrated or anxious at the situation and unfortunately more irritated with each other because of what is going on. Their sleep will start to be affected as their routines are shifting, as they are not required to get up at the same time as they used to when they were traveling to work, or school drop off. A new routine will be settling in which requires them to perform a few other extra commitments such as extra child minding, schooling, cooking and cleaning and an extra effort to be committed to exercise.

Our bodies love routine and structure, so the shift in adapting to this new routine will be causing some tension psychologically, emotionally and even physically with tiredness, broken sleep and sometimes skin irritations like eczema flaring up. 

Now is a good time to invest in Eustress!

Eustress stems from the ancient Greek word ‘eu’ meaning well or good stress. Unlike common everyday stress, and unlike distress, Eustress is very good for us. The best way to think of Eustress is to imagine it as the feeling we get when we focus on something we enjoy doing, over an extended period of time. A hobby or project that we invest time and energy into, not for anyone else but because we want to do something for ourselves, something new, where the challenge is reward enough. Eustress actions are personal challenges we set ourselves that are not too easy but are ultimately rewarding.

These activities bring a healthy distraction from what is going on in our world at any time. Allowing us to commit and focus our mind and bodies in a very productive, engaging way which will ultimately provide healthy results.

Examples of Eustress include learning to:

  • Sing, draw or paint
  • Speak another language
  • Author a short story or book
  • Play an instrument
  • Code
  • Create a website or understand graphic design
  • Clothes design and creation
  • Practice calligraphy
  • Understand more about the cosmos
  • Take a course in DIY
  • Complete a professional course of interest

The Eustress mindset is about committing to something that requires an ongoing regular focus, leading to the success of achieving a larger goal. There are many Eustress activities that staff can sign up for and accomplish over the next number of months. One of the keys is for them to find an activity that has structure to it and could lead to a test. For example:

  • Find a competition that they can sign up for in the future e.g. a marathon, performance, test or exam 6 – 9 months away
  • Set a timeframe based on this deadline and work backwards, with weekly or daily sessions
  • Be creative and really commit to a challenge to create some personal pressure

Encourage them to enjoy these focused sessions as a break from the norm, so choosing something they are genuinely interested in is important. By applying their time and energy, employees will begin to feel better over the coming months as they progress their Eustress strategies.

To find out more about what is available check out the Wrkit learning section for ideas and courses staff can sign up for. POWR also provides hundreds of plans, articles, blogs and daily, weekly and monthly goal setting measures, including workplace challenges.