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IF YOU WANT TO FEEL VALUED – VALUE OTHERS

Feeling valued for the work you do is a foundation for wanting to give of your best. We all respond to being recognised for what we have done, what we contribute.

Yet for many of us, feeling valued is a rare commodity. What tends to get noticed is what we haven’t done or any mistakes we make. After all, if the boss asks us to go and see him or her, few of us are likely to think that they want to acknowledge our good work – we are more likely to worry about what they might say we have done wrong.

So how do we increase the likelihood of being valued for our work and our attitude? We would suggest that you start to value others more: those colleagues you can depend on to do what they said they’d do; that manager who trusts you to just get on with your work without interfering; that person who always makes you smile with their cheerful attitude; that more experienced team member who will explain something to you that you haven’t come across before; the one who speaks up in a meeting, voicing something you were thinking but didn’t want to say.

There are hundreds of everyday examples where someone else makes some form of positive difference to your day. By overtly recognising it, and thanking them for how they’ve contributed to making your day go better, you not only help to make them feel valued, you also are setting an example of valuing others that becomes infectious. By drawing attention to what someone does that is right, you are encouraging them to notice the same thing with others, including you!

I remember being asked by a senior manager to undertake some executive coaching with two of his team. He told me that they were great people to have in the team, and he wanted to encourage them to develop further because they would both be senior managers one day.

When I started to work with them, I realised that they had no idea he thought they were good at their job. In fact, both of them thought they were being coached because there was something lacking in their work or performance – It was a perfect example of not telling people that you saw them as valued members of the team.

I asked them how they felt about him as a manager and they both said that he was a really good manager, and they liked working with him. I suggested that they found an opportunity to tell him that they valued the way he managed them and had learnt a lot from hm. At their next coaching sessions, they both said that they had done what I suggested, and that he had been both surprised and pleased when they had said it. Moreover, he had told them both that he in turn appreciated the way they worked, and that was why they were being given the coaching – a great turn-around for both sides.

So why not try it out yourself? Go and find three people you work with today and tell them what they do that makes a difference to you. Why not make showing someone else that you value and appreciate them one of the daily things to do on your to-do list? There’s a great sense of well being to be had when you genuinely thank someone or let them know that they’ve made a difference to you. And interestingly, just by that subtle act of gratitude, you’ll be spreading that feeling of well being around your team and organisation too.

Have a wonderful month everyone!
In peace,
Di & Jo xx

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SPENDING OUR PRECIOUS TIME MORE WISELY..

We talk about time in the same way we talk about money: saving, spending, wasting, giving, and taking. And of course, time is like a form of currency. We have a set budget each day of 24 hours, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Fortunately, we get a new budget the next day, so we have plenty of opportunity to become better at spending it wisely.

So what does that mean in reality – spending it wisely?

1. Get enough sleep

Sleep is essential to our health. While we’re sleeping, our bodies have a chance to heal and renew, and our minds can process our day and relax. We all need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night for these processes to happen properly and leave us refreshed for the next day. For more information on why we need sleep and getting a good night’s sleep see Jo’s excellent articles on LinkedIn –

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sleep-your-most-vital-leadership-resource-all-jo-clarkson

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sleep-your-most-vital-leadership-resource-all-part-2-jo-clarkson

2. Identify what’s important to you and make it a priority

At work, these are the tasks that matter most that will make the most difference, both to the organisation and to your state of mind. At home, this is the reminder that time spent enjoying your children and your partner and your friends is more valuable than tidying up. I always classify as important those things I would regret not doing if I found out I was going to die next week!

3. Make sure you have some energy boosters in your day

If we have regular energy boosters during the day, we can be more productive and committed to what we’re doing, and we don’t get so exhausted. The first obvious energy booster that sadly most people are missing out at the moment is your 30-minute lunch break! It’s a GOOD use of your time to take that break, not only does it re-fuel you, but it also allows your brain time to re-build internal capacity that allows it to function at its highest level again for the afternoon, which means you.. Get more done! Other energy boosters are things like – 5 minutes laughing with someone, the 10-minute walk round the block, getting some fresh air, talking to a work colleague about non-work stuff, grabbing a coffee with a friend, sit down with a good book or TV programme for 30 minutes. Di had written a great blog all about energy boosters – www.dikamp.com/your-energy-bank-2

4. Be social

We all need human contact. We are wired to connect with other people, and it boosts our immune system to have friendly interactions. That brief conversation with someone at work, having a cuppa with a work colleague, talking with the check out lady at the supermarket, or having a natter on the phone with a friend is time well spent.

5. Have some fun!

Life is too short to miss out on the enjoyable bits! Whatever is fun for you will help to energise you, will enhance your positive attitude – well, it’s just good for you! It may be doing a puzzle, having a laugh, being silly with your children – just make sure you do laugh every day, and build in fun into your every week. Fun is for grown ups too, and having fun and laughing is SO good for your body, your mental well-being and your overall health.

Now even if you do all these things every day, you will have plenty of time left for those necessary things that don’t fall into these categories. In fact, if you do spend some of your time each day wisely, you will probably find you can do more of those necessities more effectively, because you are keeping yourself in a good state.

Now let’s look at some of the other ways we use to describe time.

Wasting time

We often describe something, as a waste of time because it hasn’t been productive – there is no clear result at the end of it. By this we mean a task done, something off that list of ours.

We need to extend this definition because sometimes it is good use of time to do something that has no clear end product. Many of the wise uses of our time come under this heading: being social, talking to work colleagues etc. The basic rule is that if it makes us feel better – more positive, more energised – it is not a waste of time.

Saving time

When we talk about saving time – by going to the supermarket in our lunch hour, by multi-tasking at home, by shopping online – we also need to consider what we’re saving the time for. Since we can’t ‘bank’ that time and save it for another day, I think we could decide to spend it on something that makes us feel good, rather than cramming in a bit more of the responsibilities and duties. Maybe you could just sit in the garden and daydream for a while, or do something else you find relaxing and pleasurable.

Spending your time wisely is making the best possible use of it, so that at the end of each day, you can say to yourself: ‘That was a good day.’

Let’s make the most of our 24-hour budget of time each day – Let’s make the time to think about how we do spend our time, and spend it well!

have a great month!
in peace,
Di and Jo xxx

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THE 6 INGREDIENTS YOU NEED TO BRING YOUR LIFE BACK INTO BALANCE

The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has been around for a long time now. The implication seems to be that they should weigh equally in some version of the scales of justice. Yet if you step back and reflect on it, it is obvious that life is the whole story, and work is a part of it – a balanced life is what we’re really talking about. If your life is primarily about your work, it’s out of balance!

If you look at it in this more holistic way, then you realise that we need a mixture of work/life ingredients, for our lives to be fulfilling, we may get some of it from work and some of it from other aspects of our lives. The important piece is that we look after our ecology. Just as the earth needs us to help balance its ecology, so we need to balance our own. Ecology means ‘the balance in the system’ and without balance we feel out of sorts, we get sick, we feel stressed. So if we can sort the balance in our lives, life and work funnily enough starts to just feel better! So what are the ingredients we need to get balance in our lives? Here’s a selection of the things that we think make the perfect recipe for a balanced, happy life. As with all recipes you’ll need to tweak it to suit your tastes, a little dash more of this, a touch less of that until it fits you just right!

  1. The bare necessities

We all need a roof over our head somewhere to call home. We need sustenance, food and drink, clothes on our backs and enough money to provide the essentials of life for ourselves. For most of us this means that we need to work, to earn an income to pay for these things. Without these bare necessities, life constantly feels like a struggle for survival.

  1. Relating to others

We are designed to be social animals and we thrive on relationships with others. This can be at work and at home, with colleagues, friends and family. Isolating ourselves from any of these social groups of relationship deprives us of something that is supposed to be part of our lives, a fundamental of life. Research shows that those who have more thriving and active social networks tend to have a more positive outlook on life and.. Live longer! Have you let your friends/family relationships slip because you’ve just not enough time? Maybe its time to get back in touch with that old friend and plan a time to reconnect.

  1. Mental stimulus

If we don’t use our minds enough, the brain loses its plasticity. Plasticity is the brains ability to create new neural pathways, in simple terms how we learn and retain information. We are designed to be learning creatures, and we love to be creative and problem-solve, so we need mental stimulus. Work may provide some of this, but we need life to create stimulus too! We need big conversations with friends, challenging debates that help us to shape our views of the world, to learn something new or just find out more about something that fascinates us – Where do you get your mental stimulus in life?

  1. Being active physically

Our bodies are made to move. If we lead a mostly sedentary life, we become more prone to illness and disease. Most of us no longer have a physically active component in our work, we’re mostly sat at our desks in front of our computers, so we need to ensure we do something active outside of work. This doesn’t mean we all have to go to the gym three times a week and life weights or do a zumba class, it could be: walking, swimming, cycling, gardening, getting out into nature, all get our body moving again – What do you do to keep your body active?

  1. Feeling fulfilled

We all thrive on feeling we’ve done something worthwhile. This may be through your work, but it may be that you need other elements: pursuing a hobby; helping out as a volunteer; making your home and garden beautiful; helping your children to learn and grow; working for the environment; working with animals. Without purpose, life just doesn’t feel quite right, so what are you doing that helps fulfils you?

  1. Enjoying yourself

Last but not least, we are supposed to enjoy our lives. If it’s not fun, what are we doing? We could die tomorrow! Anything that brings the fun in is GOOD in our books. Activities that make us laugh, relax us, bring us pleasure, are all essential for a balanced life. They help us to keep perspective and research shows that those that laugh more and have more fun tend to live longer and healthier lives – So what do you do that enables you to enjoy life more?

Now all these elements may overlap and some months you’ll need more of one and less of another but it’s essential that they are all in there. Work may provide you with some of the ingredients you need to make your life feel good, but it will never be enough on its own. It’ll lack that certain something, the spice of life that makes the adventure called life so interesting!

The recipe for a good life is an individual one, there is no one ‘catch all’ recipe, and you will need to perfect it for yourselves. You can tell whether the recipe is right or not by how your life feels: a balanced life feels great! You have an inner resilience and capacity to deal with almost anything life can throw at you when your life is in balance. And when it is out of balance, you can feel it; your fuel tank always seems to be running out of juice.

So check in with yourself today – what else do you need to bring the balance back into your life? What do you need a little more or a little less of? Get the ecology of life right, and that’s where the magic begins!

We hope this has been a useful blog for you! We write these blogs to hopefully give some insights into life and work and some practical things to do to make life and work that bit better, that’s what we’re in business for.

We think it’s important to get these messages out there to the wider world so many people are out of balance right now, so if you found it useful please DO share it, using the buttons below.

All our love,

Di and Jo xxx

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Don’t sweat the small stuff! – making the tasks we avoid easier to do

We don’t think we’ve ever come across anyone who genuinely loved every aspect of their job. We all have some tasks to do as part of our responsibility that we would prefer to drop if we could. It may be all the emails, or some of those meetings or certain phone calls, but there’s going to be something that makes your heart sink when you think about it.
The effect of these tasks spreads beyond the task itself. When you know you have to do it, it can negatively colour your whole day:

• It brings out the most developed avoidance procedures we have
• We generally don’t do the task itself as well as we might
• It uses up a lot of our energy that could be better expended on things we get satisfaction from

This is too high a price to pay, so it’s worth re-examining our attitude towards these tasks.

What can you do about it?

1. Divide the task into smaller chunks
These tasks can easily become ‘elephants’ in our minds, so break it down into smaller parts: plan to make 1 phone call, not 5; clear 5 extra emails, not 10; avoid back-to-back meetings (at the very least make sure you’ve got 10m minutes between each one); give yourself a little space to breathe – diary in some reflection time; plan a little time each morning to plan your priorities and a little time to get back your perspective at least once a week.

2. Experiment with when in the day you do the tasks you don’t enjoy
We are all better at doing the less attractive tasks at certain points in the day. For example, you may find that first thing in the morning you can tackle something you don’t like, and then feel virtuous for the rest of the day. Or it might be that the end of the day, you’re only fit for something tedious!

3. Do something different
Look for ways to make it more enjoyable or at least interesting. What motivates you? It may be listening to some music, if appropriate, while doing it, or having a little competition with yourself – how many can you do in the next half hour? Or it may be giving yourself the added task of finding something to take away from that meeting, or something delightful about that person you don’t normally connect very well with.

4. It’s OK to avoid things sometimes
There’s nothing wrong with avoiding things if a) it’s not something that makes your priority list that day b) that actually it’s something that you don’t have to do or you’re not the best person to do it i.e.: it’s not really something that you need to do at your level. Ironically sometimes something you don’t like is something that other colleagues are happy to do – so can you delegate it to someone? Or swap it for one of their tasks that you wouldn’t mind doing?

It’s daft to continue to let a part of your job, and often a small part, bring down your mood for other things you have to do. When we let the small things disproportionately affect us, it can ruin our motivation for the entire day. Experiment with ways of making it work for you, and save your energy, creativity and drive for making a positive difference to the things that really matter.

We hope this blog has been useful to you, we think it’s about time that we began to really use the precious time that we have at work to do what needs to be done in a more effective way, working at a sustainable pace that ensures quality and creativity – we’re sharing this because we believe you can and DO make a difference to the organisations you work with, and if we can make your work day that bit easier, well, that’s what we’re in business for!

Have a great month,
In peace,

Di and Jo xxx

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CREATING TIME TO REFLECT

So many people these days seem to have no time to breathe, let alone reflect! Diaries are full for months in advance, the lists of things to do are never-ending, and then you go home and try to catch up on the tasks there despite your weariness.

Our belief that enhanced technology would free people up has well and truly backfired. In those moments between meetings, the phone is pinging with emails and messages, and there is an expectation that we will respond quickly, even if it is the evening or weekend.

What this constant barrage does to us is push us this way and that, without a clear direction. We end up doing whatever is next on the list, or whatever seems most urgent, and we lose our perspective of the bigger picture. And this leads to constant busyness, but not necessarily any feeling of progress or achievement.

Carving out a little time to reflect can make all the difference. We don’t mean just sitting there, exhausted, taking time to breathe – although that’s important too! – we mean reminding yourself of the bigger picture of your life and work.

When we are under stress and pressure to deliver our thinking tends to become very narrow and we lose the breadth of our vision. We can only seem to focus on the immediate ‘what next’ and because we are stuck in the stuff we struggle to see what’s really important, to get proper perspective.

It’s actually relatively easy to get some perspective, we just need to find a little time (could be as little as 15minutes) to stop and ask ourselves some reflective questions.

Reflection questions part 1 – to broaden the context beyond work:

Firstly we need to remind ourselves of the big context: what our lives are about. So we need to consider questions like:

  • What’s really important to me?
  • How do I want my life to be?
  • How do I keep some balance in my life?
  • How do I look after myself?

We don’t believe that any of us would spend the last few months of our lives on the things that so often fill our time. The time we had left would become precious to us and be about what really matters to us and gives us joy. So lets’ make sure that we have time for some of these things now. After all none of us know when those last few months may be. Let’s live our life rather than surviving it.

Reflection questions part 2 – to help us regain perspective on all those tasks that drive you along:

When we are stuck in the day to day tasks that we face at work, we forget that actually we are more in control of our to-do lists than we think. Sometimes just sitting down and asking ourselves what we really want to get out of our week can make all the difference – questions like:

  • What do I want to achieve in my work life this week? 
  • What do I want to achieve in my home life this week?
  • What will give me a feeling of progress towards my outcomes this week?
  • What would make my life easier and more enjoyable this week? 

When we stop and think about it, we can sort out our priorities rather than being driven by the urgent stuff. It gives us back a sense of control, of being in the driving seat, and it reminds us that, most of the time, we are not dealing with life or death situations, and some things really don’t need to be done at all! We all have an innate wisdom, that part of us that knows how to make our lives work. It requires a bit of time and space to switch it on – it gets buried when we just rush from one thing to the next.

So, turn off your phone and your computer for half an hour, once a week. Go on, why not put it into your online diary now – time for REFLECTION – Ask yourself these questions, or remind yourself of the answers you’ve come up with. Give yourself time to reflect and regain your perspective, and take back control.

It’s your life, don’t waste it on things that, when you reflect on them, don’t really matter as much as you think they do!

We think that reflection time will make a real difference to how you feel, and the only cost is 30 minutes from your working week. We reckon it’ll give you a great return on that small investment of time!

Have a great month everyone,

Jo and Di xx

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Tips for thriving in challenging times – developing our allies & creating a real support network

Over the 20 some years that Meta has been in business now, we’ve seen the best of business practices and the worst. We thought it was time to share some of the best practices we’ve seen in action that can help you to thrive rather than just survive the current challenging workplaces most of us face.

One of the fundamentals is remembering that work is not a solo sport, that we work at our best not when we isolate ourselves but when we feel part of a cohesive team and are valued members of the organisation that we work for.

Us human beings are social animals, and it’s important that we develop our own social support networks in order for us to thrive. No I’m not talking about online social networks but real social networks with real people we meet and contact on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. Research has shown that people with the most active social network links are more likely to feel supported and to have a more positive outlook on life, and those that do not have a strong social network tend to feel isolated, unsupported and have a tendency towards a more negative outlook on life.

So what does this have to do with us at work?
Well, the workplace is essentially an extended social network. If we are to thrive and have a more positive outlook about work, it’s important that we develop our support network within our team and wider organisation.

At Meta we’ve often talked about how important it is to have ‘allies’ within your team and organisations, people you can ally with on certain topics that are important to you that you wish to influence. We also think it’s important to have at least one ‘rant buddy’ someone you can talk to about anything in absolute confidence and have a good ‘rant’ with and clear your chest with. And what’s interesting is, that when we share our concerns with others, we often find a kindred spirit, someone who is feeling if not the very same thing, certainly something similar!

When we are under pressure and under stress there is a tendency to try and do everything ourselves. We struggle to see the broader picture and as we become more pressured and the demands on us grow so our focus narrows and narrows until we can literally only see what is next to do on our to-do lists! The irony is that as workloads get bigger we actually need to think more broadly, get perspective on things in order to accurately prioritise and plan what needs to be done.

Our state is incredibly important. Many people now are not getting enough sleep; many of us are running our fuel tanks on empty. So the first step is to notice where our fuel tanks are, are you running on empty? If so, make sure that you consciously make an effort to re-fuel your fuel tank so that you are more resourced.

The second thing is to ensure that you are not doing everything by yourself. There is strength in working with others, and it’s important to share the problems you face. In this case, the old adage is most certainly true; a problem shared IS a problem halved. By opening up to others we can begin to see that it’s not just us that feels like this, that is encountering these issues. Once we realise we are not the only ones feeling this way, we can start to do something about it. Often other people have a perspective that we’ve just not thought of. They help us to see the problem from other angles, to get a clearer picture and often can help us to come up with a way forward out of our ‘stuckness’, into a more sustainable solution.

So who are your allies in your business? Who are people that it’s important to have as a part of your work support network? If you are a leader, who is in your leaders network? Who do you turn to for advice on best practice and leadership advice?

And of course our support network is not just IN work, it’s also outside of work. We often call on our partners and our friends, but its important that we develop other networks of support, involve others who are perhaps in similar positions in other organisations who can understand the particular issues we face.

There is something to be said about developing a community, a network of people that you can share and learn from, it helps us to build our own inner resilience and to deal with the increasing pressures and workloads we all face.

So look to yourself and your network. Do you have a strong, vibrant active support network? Or could it do with a bit of tweaking, re-building and growing?

We at Meta are here to support you in anyway we can. So remember to include us in your support network and if you’re a leader why not come and take part in our new Meta leadership network? The first event is on April 6th and you can find out more about it on our events page – www.meta-org.com/.events
Have a wonderful month everyone, and if you would like some help with the challenges you face, remember we are here in your corner and are only an email or call away!

Jo and Di xxx

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WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY? – consciously learning from what work and life sends our way

We may ask this question of children when they’re at school, but we rarely ask it of ourselves on a regular basis. And yet it is an essential aspect of being human: our continuing to learn and develop ourselves. Now when we’re at school, there is an expectation that we will learn new facts and new skills, and we are tested and judged on our ability to do so. As we grow older, there is not generally the same encouragement – or pressure! – to continue to develop our skills and capabilities. One of the things we seem to learn at school is that learning is about coming to grips with something new, and there is less necessity for that as we settle into our particular career and way of life.

However, learning is so much more than that! When we talk about learning from experience, we are talking about the real process of learning: it is the gradual refining of our awareness, our understanding, our skills, and applying them to enhance our lives. We do this by reflecting on what our experiences are like, then taking the parts that work best for us and looking for ways to improve things that don’t work so well.

You may not realise you do this, because it is a natural process – our brains are designed to help us to do it. It is what Darwin described as the survival of the fittest – the process of adapting and refining the way we live our lives, so as to fit into and thrive in our world. We can’t help but do it as we go through our experiences.

So the question is not whether we have learnt anything today, but what we have learnt. When we are not conscious of what we are doing, we can be learning things that seem useful to us, but are not really helping us to be the best we can be and live our lives well. We may have learnt that it’s a good idea to keep your opinions to yourself if you want the boss to approve of you; or that you always have to put others first and be useful to them if you want to be seen as a good person; or that suppressing your values of what’s right and wrong is necessary to fit in. Of course, you will also have learnt some more useful lessons that do help you to be more of who you really are, but for many of us, our continuing learning has diminished rather than enhanced our lives and the way we live them.

It’s important that we set time to reflect on our learning. It might be at the end of the week or perhaps at the end of a month. When we become conscious of this form of learning, we are constantly evolving ourselves, refining our approach to work and life to ensure it becomes better and easier for us. When we learn from our mistakes, and as importantly when we learn from what we do well, then work and life just works!

It’s easy to dismiss our personal development as something that is a ‘nice extra’ to our life and work, however if we don’t give it any importance or any time, then we can get the feeling that we are going round and round in circles, hitting the same blocks and making the same mistakes. It can be very disheartening.

As human beings we love to learn and grow and when we aren’t consciously learning we can feel that we are not moving forward, that we are in stasis. Organisations rarely have the funds these days to do much more than the most essential of technical training, and so our personal and professional development is often left down to us. So what will you do to ensure that you are consciously learning?

At Meta we are committed to identifying easy and useful ways in which people can develop and grow into being the best of themselves, and sharing those ways with as many as possible. We know it’s possible to learn in ways that transform your life into one of possibilities rather than constraints. Isn’t this what we’re really here on earth to do?

Our Journey to Mastery programme is one of the vehicles we have developed that helps you to identify ways of enhancing your life through conscious application of your natural learning process, and we are starting a new programme in January 2017.

So if you’d like to kick start your own personal development plan for 2017, why not consider joining us for this transformational programme?

For more information and some testimonials from those who have already done the programme check our events page – www.meta-org.com/events

And we are not just pushing our programme, we believe its time for everyone to start reviewing their own learning. This year? I’ve learnt so much (often through adversity!) and you know what? When I stopped recently to say ‘what did I learn from all my challenges this year?’ it really amazed me just how much I got from it, and it really made me feel better to know just how much I had learnt. I’m also sure that as a result that NEXT year will be far better as a result.

So why not put aside sometime in your work-diary to review what you have learnt this year, we think that if you do, it’ll give you plenty to think about and might just make you feel a lot better about the year you’ve had!

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STRESS – THE SILENT KILLER – isn’t it time to admit we have a problem?

There is no doubt we are living in a speeded up world. We are working far harder and for longer hours, than we ever have. The increased demands of the workplace are causing many of us to become far too tolerant of stress. Right now all of us will know of someone (possibly even us if we’re honest?) who is suffering from stress.

Stress related illness is the number one cause of visits to UK GP’s so what are you doing to monitor your own stress levels? ~Do you know your own physical and mental signs that you’re under too much stress? Do you suffer from difficulty in sleeping? Waking up in the middle of the night? Waking up with butterflies in your stomach? Suffering from low-level anxiety? Making snap or bad decisions? Not able to get over a cold? Getting ill easily and then being ill for a long time before recovering? Not being able to stop yourself saying something before you’ve said it? Feeling out of control? Wired? Short tempered? Being snappy? Uptight? Being grumpy for no particular reason? Not being able to motivate yourself? Bad neck or back or shoulders? Stomach issues? Gut or digestion problems? Struggling to eat? Smoking or drinking too much? All of these symptoms can be signs of stress.

At Meta we have looked at the science behind stress. We look at how the stress hormones affect the body and mind and look at practical ways to recognise the signs of stress and combat stress in the workplace. With some simple tools you really can change your relationship to stress.

We believe its time to highlight this silent killer. Too many of our friends in senior leadership positions have suffered from the long-term effects of stress. We’ve seen what ignoring stress does. It’s not pretty and it’s not clever. We have to admit that as a working culture we have a problem. We have a problem that we are not paying enough attention to. With increased workloads comes increased pressure, with increased pressure comes increased stress levels, with increased stress levels comes mistakes, inefficiency, inability to problem solve, the death of creativity and innovation and more importantly – serious illness. This is something that businesses and leaders need to address. Not just for the health and well being of their staff but for the health and well being of their organisations!

We can’t change how much you have to do on your to-do list but we can help you to truly change the way you work so that you don’t suffer quite so much from stress. Its time to stop ignoring what is right in front of our faces. It’s time to do something about stress.

We have a 1-day workshop on precisely this topic, so why not use your next team away day to do something really useful for you and your team? And help reduce stress in your workplace?

I hope that at the very least this update will make you think about your own relationship to stress. Are you in denial? Are you more stressed than you think? If you tick more than one of the possible symptoms highlighted in your article, you might want to think about it some!

At Meta we believe that everyone should have access to what we’ve learned, so if you’d like to find out more about the ‘science behind stress’ and ways to tackle it, from the extensive research we’ve done, we’d love to help. So get in touch and we’ll see what we can do to help you and your team tackle this silent killer before it’s too late!

Have a great week everyone,

Jo xxx

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WHY WE NEED TO TAKE OUR SLEEP MORE SERIOUSLY

Why one hours extra sleep is good for you and good for business! 

Right now at Meta we see so many of our friends and customers suffering. You’re tired, actually forget tired you’re exhausted and the work/life balance well lets just say there’s not much balance in it at all! So what can you do about it?

Well, one of the places we THINK we can save time is by shaving time off the amount we sleep, however if we interrupt our REM sleep (which if you have 7 hours or less a night you ARE) then your mind doesn’t get the opportunity to process the information/emotions/problems from the day before, so when you wake up you’re still processing the information from the previous day. Think about that for a moment – as you read this article do you struggle to absorb the information? When you get to work, do you already feel like your mind is half full and that it won’t take much to fill it? That’s because it is!

You see because many of us are under medium to high level stress it means that the stress hormones in our body are controlling which part of our brain is activated. When we are not stressed we utilise our conscious brain (this is about 1% of our brain by the way). Its used to analyse, process and is good for making good, thought out and rationalised decisions. However when we are under the stress that most of you will be feeling right now the body shifts to the ‘fight of flight’ response and switches to use the sub-conscious part of our brain (the other 99%) that is excellent at making quick decisions (should I fight or should I take flight?), but not about thinking things through! The sub-concsious brain, although able to process things  about 1 million times quicker than our conscious brain, does not have the capacity/ability to think things through and analyse the data to come up with an informed response. Its an instant YES/NO, this or that – its binary thinking. So when you think about this for a moment, it makes sense of some of the short-term knee-jerk decisions that are being make in the workplace and indeed in the wider world!

Our body requires sleep, its not a luxury, it’s a necessity! We are an amazing feat of co-operation; 60 trillion cells all working together to make us. Those cells need time to regenerate and get themselves working properly and that is why we need to sleep. We need time to absorb and process the day and to heal and regenerate at a cellular level.

In recent sleep research it has been proven that just ONE hour more sleep has an exponential effects on the body. Not only does it enable our conscious mind (that bit we use in our work day to day) to analyse, make good decisions, be more effective, process things quicker, and improve problem-solving skills. But when we get more sleep it re-activates our immune system (which for most of us is not working due to the amount of stress hormones running around our bodies which shut it down – more on that in another update) and it activates genes in our DNA that are beneficial to our health.

The study compared those that got 6.5hours sleep compared to 7.5 hours sleep, so 7.5 hours sleep is what we all should be aiming for. Personally I’m a big guy and I KNOW I need my sleep, I get at least 9hours which according to the research is what teenagers need  – so I guess I’m just a big kid! However many of you will be reading this getting an average of 7 or less hours sleep. So if you want work and life to feel easier, if you’re sick of being tired, getting sick and feeling like there’s not enough hours in the day to get everything done, then get yourself an extra hours sleep!

Don’t take my word for it, do your own empirical research and see what that extra hour of sleep can do for you. Ever since I found out about this I’ve been passing this information on to people that I’m working with. The response I’ve got from those that have given it a go has been really encouraging, it really does seem to work!

For more information on this check the BBC website where the programme ‘Trust me I’m a doctor’ explored this very research in a brilliant episode at the end of last year – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24444634

Have a great month,

Jo xx

CEO of Meta

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BEING FREE TO LIVE YOUR LIFE

You can also listen to a podcast of this Workshop.
[audio:metaspirit_workshop_being_free.mp3|titles=Being free to live your life]
Download this podcast

Life is for the living.

At least that’s what they say. I’m not quite sure who ‘they’ are, but one thing is for sure, there are not many of us who can honestly say that they are free to live the life they want to?

We like to blame circumstance, or others for our life not being how we’d like it to be, but ultimately I feel that the block lies with us. Continue Reading →

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