A Change Of Perspective
Edition # 3
The journey of life that each one of us human beings makes can be touched by hardships as often as it is touched by joy. Sometimes it may feel like we have nowhere left to turn. In those challenging moments, we believe that all avenues have been closed and that all our efforts will come to nothing.
I have learned that even when it seems this way, there is always a solution waiting. Always. We are never without feasible options.
The stress we feel can sometimes erode our optimism, eventually convincing us that the issues we face can never be overcome. The truth is that there is no situation so terrible, no challenge so great, and no choice so perplexing that it cannot be overcome.
Our best course of action may well be enfolded in doubt, but it is there nonetheless. When we are honest with ourselves with regard to this simple fact, we can overcome anything because we will never stop looking for a solution to the challenges before us.
Sometimes all that is needed is a change in perspective to turn a difficulty into an opportunity to grow. If we can achieve this change in perspective in the face of our problems, then we will have found the hope that is an inherent part of all suffering.
Remember that it is always darkest before the dawn!
It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. - Hans Selye
Edition # 2
Thursday 10 January 2019
The very first step to managing and controlling stress, is to recognize the symptoms. However, doing so is not always easy to do. Some people are so used to being "stressed out", that they may not even know that they are suffering from chronic stress until they reach breaking point.
The Practice of Mindfulness
One of the ways of overcoming stress is through the practice Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a purposeful and meaningful way of paying attention to your present life. It is being aware of your emotions, your thoughts, ambitions, values and bodily sensations. Notice especially your impulses to act a certain way or the fears that inhibit your potential.
Mindfulness means becoming aware and making space for all of your experiences without judgement and using this awareness to notice what really matters to you, learn how to best respond to your current challenges and commit to the life you want.
Self-compassion, kindness and acceptance are at the core of what mindfulness practice aims to achieve while enabling you to find peace in a frantic world. This also applies to musculoskeletal tension and tightness we hold in our bodies due to stress, anger or fear.
Mindfulness creates awareness of your own body, movements and actions to enhance well-being and flexibility in your current life. By learning Self-Awareness, Self-Compassion and Kindness you can manage the stresses in your life more effectively. You can overcome stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, pain, fatigue and whatever obstacles may be standing in the way of your happiness.
The importance of Mindful Awareness - The 'glass of water metaphor'
The story is told of a psychologist who walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected that they would be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the psychologist inquired:
'How heavy do you think this glass of water is?'
Answers called out ranged from 8oz to 20oz. The audience was shocked by her reply.
'The absolute weight does not matter. It depends on how long I hold it the glass. If you hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. However If you hold it for an hour, you are likely to have an ache in your arm. If were to hold it for an entire day, your arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes.
The stresses in your life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel incapable of doing anything.'
So, you must remember to put the glass down!'
The practice Mindfulness helps you to notice when you are running on auto-pilot and forget to put the glass down. It empowers you to notice what is important in your present life and allows you to refuel your energy resources before you burn out. Mindfulness invites you to become more curious about what life has to offer off the beaten track.
Why are teachers in England suffering from so much stress?
Edition # 1
Wednesday 09 January 2019
There are many reasons why teachers are suffering from so much stress. Some of the most cited reasons are:
- Working more unpaid overtime.
- Long working hours. On average 55 hours or over a week.
- Pressures of an often punitive and non-productive accountability system.
- Constant changes to the curriculum and assessment system.
- Relentless policy onslaught which has left teachers rocking from stress and exhaustion.
- Frequent required assessment. (English children are among the most over-assessed in the modern world).
- Pressure to demonstrate and record pupils progress.
- Attending countless meetings, twilights and other "directed time" events.
The list goes on and on.....
The Hidden Threat Of Teacher Stress.
Unfortunately, the danger that threatens teacher well-being is often overlooked. That danger is -stress- and it is something that over half of all teachers surveyed say they experience at a high level every day.
When I was on half-term holidays as a teacher, I was often the subject of jokes and negative comments about how I was lucky that I did not have to work hard and was "always" on holidays from those who were not teachers. It is as though they resented the fact that I had regular holidays. They did not know how very much I needed a break from the relentlessness of the job. They did not know that silently I felt like a hamster on a wheel with minute-by-minute stress. They did not know that I would frequently lie wake in the night with my mind filled with thoughts of all my students who meant so much to me and I really wanted the best for them, I wanted them to do well and be safe and happy. My mind was so filled with all the things that had to be done the next day that I could not sleep. Over time, the lack of sleep, the constant worry, the anxiety took their toll on me both mentally and physically.
The sad truth is that I thought that I was the only teacher in the school who felt the way I did. So I kept quiet and carried on until frequent physical illness took hold and I had to take time off and go on sick leave. When it was time to return to work I would be overcome with intense feelings of dread and impending doom. I would return to my classroom and put on my game face on. With each return to work, the cycle would begin all over again and carried on in that way for 10 years!
Sadly what these people who resent the holidays teachers are entitled to fail to realize is that teachers do much more than teach academic lessons. Apart from planning and marking, teachers manage classroom behavior, monitor the children's social and physical development and also ensure that their mental health are met . They liaise with other adults (parents and other staff alike) and are expected to keep records of everything they do.
Teachers are expected to perform these tasks effectively, even when their students face difficulties outside the classroom, from unmet needs to mental health issues. These unmet mental health needs often translate in challenging behaviour inside the classroom. The greater the students needs, the more teachers are expected to do. It is not surprising then that teachers face high levels of occupational stress.
The charity Mind has a workplace well-being index that has shown public sector workers are more likely to say their mental health is poor than their private sector counterparts, with over half reporting that they felt anxious at work on several occasions over the past month.
Julian Stanley, chief executive of the Education Support Partnership reported the result of recent research which showed significantly higher levels of stress for teachers than for the overall population. The results were that three-quarters of all school and college staff had experienced psychological, physical or behavioural symptoms of stress because of work.
Some of the causes provided were budget cuts, fewer staff, bigger class sizes and recruitment difficulties.
The Cost of Teacher Stress on Future Recruitment
Despite expensive advertising campaigns, in recent years there has been a steep decline in teacher training applications.
This is not at all surprising in view of the fact that teachers are being put under such impossible pressures. It is sad, and simply unacceptable that teachers who play such an important role in our society and do such a valuable job in doing their best by working tirelessly to prepare a new generation for the future have to see their physical and especially mental health so compromised as a result.
I hope you find this Blog entry useful in some way.
Talk again soon
Tuesday 18 December 2018
The Teacher Well-being Index 2018 present a comprehensive picture of mental health and well-being of education professionals.
It highlights a stress epidemic and rising mental health issues across the entire education sector.
The Education Support Partnership (EPS), the UK only charity committed to the well-being and mental health of all those working in education, is now demanding urgent action be taken by the government and sector to address this Stress epidemic and raising mental health issues that has now spread across the entire UK education workforce.
Some recent statistics:
More than three-quarters of teachers surveyed experienced work-related behavioural, psychological or physical symptoms, and more than half were considering leaving the profession due to poor health.
When it comes to work-related Stress in the educational sector, it was found that senior leaders were the most affected, with 80% suffering from work-related Stress, 40% suffering from the symptoms of depression and 63% considering leaving the profession.
Moreover, 76% of education professionals experienced behavioural, psychological or physical symptoms due to their work, compared to 60% of UK employees. 57% considered leaving the profession in the last two years due to health pressures.47% experienced depression, anxiety or panic attacks due to work.
When compared to the Education Support Partnership's Health survey carried out in 2017, the 2018 results revealed a significant rise in several mental health and well-being related symptoms. The most common factors were the rising levels of insomnia and irritability and mood swings.
Let go and let it happen.
Letting go of the desire to control unpleasant, stressful feelings and thoughts is hard to do. This is especially true when trying to deal with intense feelings. This is called the 'unworkable change agenda'.
Have you ever noticed that the more you try to do something or not to feel something, the stronger the feeling seems to get? The truth is the more we 'try' to do something, the less likely we are to succeed. Whatever we resist, persists. This is also known as the Law of reversed effect or the law of paradoxical intent.
Emile Coue, a French psychologist and pharmacist (February 1857-July 1926), talks about the will versus the imagination. Coue deduced the following laws from his experiments: The will always yields to the imagination. When to will and the imagination are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins without exception.
The answer? Become willing to accept what ever you are feeling in any moment.
When we are fundamentally unwilling to accept psychological pain and discomfort , they will surely turn into genuine intense emotional suffering. Accept whatever you are experiencing in the moment. Accept the experience for what it is.
I want you to imagine, with your eyes closed,if you prefer, that in front of you is a blank wall and on the wall there is a dial which can be turned up from 0-10. Now imaging now that you are turning the dial to the number 5. Pause for a moment. Now, slowly turn the dial to number up to 6 then 7 and so on.
Now, imagine what it feel like to experience an ever growing desire to control your body and relax your muscles.
Notice how your body reacts to this increased preoccupation with relaxation. When you are ready, turn the dial all the way up to 10, one number at a time, and notice what you experience in response to extremely intense desire to relax. What do you notice? Does the strong desire to relax actually makes you feel more tense?
Now, slowly turn your dial back down one number at a time all the way down to 1 or even 0. As you do, imagine that you are letting go of any effort, or even desire to relax. Notice what changes are occurring. Notice how your body responds to this radical letting go.
Alternatively you can turn your attention to consciously increase and decrease the desire to relax your breathing.
Experimenting in this way should help you learn from experience what it means to completely let go of any effort to control your feelings.
What is really happening here is not so much that you do not have any control at all over your thoughts and feelings, it is just that you have a lot less control over your physical actions, speech and movement, etc.
Ironically, the best way to 'control' them may sometimes be to stop trying, abandon the struggle for control, accept them, and allow them to come and go naturally over time.
By analogy many people who suffer from insomnia lie awake at night, tossing and turning, worrying about lack of sleep, and trying to force themselves to drop off. In doing so, they appear to be fueling the very problem they are trying to solve. When these individuals stop struggling and willingly accept that they are lying awake in bed, paradoxically, they often fall asleep more quickly.
Unfortunately, this unworkable agenda, this desire to control or avoid what we find painful or unpleasant, seems to be very deeply ingrained in our culture, and many people take this for granted.
Hello there and welcome!
Thank you for being here and for reading this post.
Today I thought I would share this wonderful Mindfulness meditation I have just used. It helped me so much that I thought I would share it with you.
Sometimes I find it difficult to accept what is happening in my life in the present moment. My natural tendency is to fight and resist and to want events and circumstances to bend to my will.
With time I have learned that the more I resist, the more the condition persists. So I have had to learn to let go and to go with the flow, knowing that the Universe is governed by laws which never fail.
One such law is the Law of Rhythm. Simply put, this law explains the changes we experience in our lives everyday. Everything goes in cycles. The seasons, our own stages of personal development, our moods and so on...
According to the Law of Rhythm, the energy in the Universe is like a pendulum. When the pendulum swings to the left, then it must also swing to the right. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What goes up, must come down. When the tide goes out, it is sure to come back in.
Everything that exists, is affected by the law of rhythm. Everything sways and flows and swings backward and forward.
Armed with the knowledge of this law, I endeavor every day to become more mindful and more accepting of the Universal master plan for my life.
Mindfulness and meditation are two of the most effective tools I continually use to help me retain balance and focus, especially in times of trial. In these difficult times, I usually find it very difficult to sit still with my eyes closed and to focus on the present moment meditation. This video offered me a wonderful alternative and I hope you find it useful.
Mindfulness and meditation are also my two favorite therapeutic tools when helping clients overcome stress and stress related disorders such as insomnia, anxiety and depression to name only just a few.
For further information on the true impact stress can potentially have on our lives if left untreated visit my Stress page.
What the video is about:
This is a Jon-Kabat Zinn style Mindfulness Meditation. As you listen you learn to value the transient nature of life and realize that you can tolerate anything for the moment. It's great for those who may have tried silent meditation and found it difficult. Traditionally, Mindfulness Meditation is done with your eyes closed. However, this video offers you the ability to refocus your thoughts should you feel the need to open your eyes.
Wednesday 21st November 2018
Blog entry 1
In order to lead a stress free life it is important that you are able to:
1. Be able to differentiate between stress and pressure and how it affects you
2. Recognize areas that are compromising your well-being.
3. Have some practical tools and techniques to help improve your well-being.
4. Have set goals for your well-being improvement.
Thank you for reading my blog.
Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist and stress management specialist. I am committed to helping individuals who so desire it develop better minds so they lead better lives, ultimately becoming the person you most want to be.
I am also teacher aspiring author, singer, motivational speaker, life coach, spiritual adviser and strong advocate of personal development.
In my free time I like to run, ride my bicycle or my scooter and to play the keyboard and the guitar.
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