photo-1584913471394-357df3e47aee

Always Connected?

The Cov-19 pandemic has meant that many of us have been working from home for some time. But this has been a mixed blessing. While there is more time to spend on yourself and family due to not having to commute, the line between working time and leisure time has become blurred. Take email for example. You take a long lunch because it was a nice day and the dog was really enjoying her walk. So you log back into work for an hour after the kids are in bed. There is an email from the boss, do you reply? It’s going to take more than an hour to research the answer and reply to him.

The culture of companies can have an enormous impact on the mental health of employees. Some companies have an “always on” / “always connected” culture. Meaning it is expected that you are available at all hours of the day or night. I personally believe a balanced approach to extra hours is fair and reasonable. So, there are busy times (the end of a project, month end, year end, etc.) and an employee should expect to have to work harder / longer at these times. Correspondingly, when there is less demand employers should redress the balance (added time off, leaving early, etc.). An employer that always wants you to work at 100%+ all the time will only be rewarded with high sickness levels, high staff turnover, stressed employees and burnout.

Recently, some European countries have passed “right to disconnect” laws. These laws mandate that employers must have a policy for email use after working hours. The idea is to reduce the number of employees having to use email after work and over the weekend.

Today, email is an integral part of business and is an incredibly powerful communication tool. So much so, that employees often feel pressured to check email out of work hours. According to one recent study, the average employee spends 28% of their working day on email and 45% of employees check their work email out of hours.  This means you never properly switch off from work to recharge, recover and relax. And this, in turn will impact your relationships with friends and family. As Jacqueline Leo (American magazine Editor and media Producer) said, “One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship”.

And Jacqueline Leo’s point is supported by research. Soviet era Psychologist, Bluma Zeignarik, found that people can recall tasks that are uncomplete or were interrupted 90% better than tasks that were completed without interruption. This Zeignarik effect means that uncompleted tasks stay in our minds much longer than completed tasks. Our minds see emails as mini-tasks and so email can be on your mind 24/7. As the inbox begins to pile up, you can’t stop thinking about all of those incomplete tasks. 

So what can we do? Well here are some suggestions.

  • Learn to switch off, unplug from work and be strict with yourself.
  • Develop a non-digital hobby – physical sport, a craft or gardening.
  • Use the features of email to help you. Set an auto reply when busy or unavailable, block spam, Inbox rules (auto file some emails in folders without reading them immediately).
  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters, mailing lists, etc.
  • Allocate and block out time for email, for work, for lunch, etc.
  • Use the calendar and set reminders to do things.
  • Follow and encourage other to use good etiquette – Avoid reply all (should this be a meeting?), send emails in normal working hours, think about who you copy in, etc.

As Gretchen Rubin (American Author) said, “Technology is a good servant but a bad master”. Make technology work for you – be its master, not its slave.

Hypnotherapy can be an effective way to help you with stress, anxiety and burnout. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.

Freedom1

Could it be true?

Is Lockdown really coming to an end? What do we do now?

After more than a year of lockdown, fear of catching Covid19 and the rising death toll it does seem we have turned a corner. My partner  recently had his first vaccination and I feel things do seem brighter. The end does now seem to be in sight, but there is still some way to go. Perhaps, we can all start to think about how we will celebrate “getting back to normal”. It does occur to me as I write this in early April 2021 that this blog post may not age well if things go wrong from here, but this how things look to me now.

So, what is getting back to normal? We have all led different lives in the last year and have new routines. After lockdown I, for one, will have less free time and I will have to organise myself much better. I will have to think seriously about what activities I will continue with and which ones to discards. A year is more than enough time to develop new habits and even addictions. Perhaps you are not very active anymore or are drinking more alcohol than before. Now, addiction is an overused word.  An addiction is a condition where you do something and cannot stop, or have strong cravings if you stop, even though it’s harmful to you. So, being addicted to EastEnders is not really an addiction unless you cannot stop watching it and it’s somehow harming you. I know it can be depressing sometimes, but harmful? Similarly, if you have developed an “addiction” to regularly exercising during lock down, firstly well done and secondly it’s not really an addiction.

I have seen in the media that the feelings associated with coming out of lockdown have been given a name. The most common one seems to be re-entry syndrome. Going back to doing something you may not have done for a year or more will feel odd, be it traveling on a bus or train, being in the office or hanging out with friends and family again. This is normal and nothing to worry about – you will quickly adjust. But, it you are struggling to shed now unwanted habits or returning to how things were before, then help is at hand.

Some long ingrained habits that worked for you during lockdown, may not work well when you are not locked down. And these can be difficult to change. Lack of time or feeling outside your comfort zone can be stressful. Any major change in your life, not least society as a whole, can make you anxious and worry about the future. Hypnotherapy can help with addictions, unwanted habits, stress and anxiety. From mindfulness, to relaxation to hypnotherapy there are a range of techniques that can help. If you need assistant then ask. There is no need to struggle alone. Click here to find out how I can help. 

photo-1587113020436-d7df11a08f8e

I get locked down, but I get up again

Lockdown has been hard for many of us, but how can we make the most of it?

Like many of us, 2020 didn’t really play out the way I thought it would. Before it really got started the world changed and many of us were confined to our homes. Everyone’s experience of lockdown is different. Some lost their jobs while for some their jobs changed or became a lot busier. But for whatever reason, many of us found that we had more time on our hands. If you did, what did you do with that extra time?

Now, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. One friend of mine started reading again, having stopped in her early twenties, and is still working through the list of novels she has been wanting to read for years. Some of my friends put on weight and started binge watching TV series. So, between episodes, I took some  time to reflect. I decided I wanted to do something constructive with my time and I found, for me, the perfect solution. I trained to become a Hypnotherapist.

I had been interested in hypnotherapy and other talking therapies for many years and this situation gave me the time to do something about it. Now, on reflection, I was perhaps a little optimistic about how soon life would return to normal. So, I did an online, condensed, course over several months to gain a Practitioner Diploma in Hypnotherapy with Hypnosis World. Doing this has kept me sane and busy. But not everyone is so fortunate.

Many people have found themselves isolated both physically, emotionally and psychologically.  Not being able to see your mates at work, down the pub or at the school gates can have a massive impact of your wellbeing. When we have negative emotions you would be forgiven for wanting to get rid of them as soon as possible. The quickest way is often to self-medicate with a vice of your choice, be it food, sugar, alcohol or even something more damaging.

A more helpful and productive approach is to examine why you are having negative thoughts or emotions. Doing this is the first step to resolving the underlying challenge that is causing your distress. Negative emotions left unaddressed can be destructive and disruptive. We are all an accumulation of our experiences, thoughts and emotions. In extreme cases unaddressed, repressed, emotions can cause unwanted habits to form or be expressed through psychosomatic symptoms such as pain, anxiety and disease. Hypnotherapy can be used to explore the causes of these problems and help you to resolve them.

So, regardless of your lockdown experience, be mindful of your own needs, be kind to yourself and if you need help then reach out to your friends, family, support network or professionals for support. To find out more about my services click here