Tag Archives: Performance

24Jul/17

Improve staff fitness

Improve staff fitness

Call to improve staff fitness by the Chief Executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie

To improve staff fitness is a great idea all round. According to The Observer yesterday, the cost of staff sickness is £29 billion a year. Denis Campbell reports upon Duncan Selbie’s call for companies to encourage healthy practices. Imagine freeing up some of that cash for education, including educating the next generation to look after themselves. We may laud ‘great results’ in A*’s and A’s but at what cost? We continue to see the figures for mental health rising in kids? I would rather my kid had a D, had tried his best and was all-round healthy. What use is an A if you are suffering depression?

“To improve staff fitness is a great idea all round”

The main target for this message seems to be small and medium sized businesses. Naturally this draws responses about the costs and limited opportunities within such firms compared to bigger companies. However, this problem can easily be solved by creating guidelines and providing support ~ see below for some ideas. It would be well worth the investment.

We can look at the trend in big businesses of building gyms on-site, having physiotherapy and doctors available, bringing sandwiches to the desk and even a neck massage while your pour over your spreadsheets. However, you could also argue that this merely keeps people at their desk or in the workplace for longer, often in the very environment that is causing most of the problems!

“The skills of wellbeing easily weave into the day”

There are a vast number of different options for healthy practices and skills of wellbeing. Teaching people such practices each day, I am very familiar working with individuals who have decided to create new patterns (habits) to supersede existing patterns that cause pain and suffering. Most people I see have chronic pain together with varying degrees of anxiety, depression and other persisting ills (e.g. migraine, headache, IBS, pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue). Usually this is accompanied by perfectionism (expectations are never met resulting in ‘I am not good enough’ and consequential stress) and self-criticism to a unhealthy degree.

Many people spend their lives in protect mode. Occasionally they experience care-giving mode, but not often. Biologically these people are likely to be ‘inflamed’ much of the time, which explains many of the common complaints in the modern world for which medicine has no answer. The endless search for a medical explanation leads down a slope of decreasing expectations and hope. In essence, like chronic pain, this is not actually a medical problem. Once any sinister pathology has been excluded, the biomedical model offers nothing here as the problem is embedded in society; i.e. it is a public health issue.

To address a public health issue, we need society’s thinking to change. For thinking to change, existing beliefs must be shaken as we update our understanding. Understand Pain is a purpose led enterprise that works to change society’s thinking about pain. In the same way we can build upon the strengths in society with regards to being active. The ‘already active’ can become champions, spreading the right messages about the healthy practices that they have adopted. These people are living examples of the benefit.

“Staff fitness benefits business and society”

Staff fitness

Turning this on its head as I like to do, let’s think about living well and meaningfully. In other words, what can we do and what can we focus on? What positive action can we take as individuals and society? This is not just about small and medium sized businesses creating opportunity for healthy practices. Businesses must collaborate with staff who they themselves need to be motivated to live well. We all have this responsibility to ourselves, our families and society.

There is too much knowledge to sit back now, we all have a role to play, not just the business owners. However, if owners and executives take the right steps and lead from the front, they will inspire action. Do we have good enough leaders to do this and recognise the benefits for the business itself and society as a whole? That’s another question!

What could we do at our place?

Consider how staff will engage with the business and colleagues when the right environment and ethos exists. What are the company values? This is a great opportunity for small and medium sized businesses to engage deeply with its people. Even if this means re-writing the values in an effort to keep growing.

  • Create a space for exercise
  • Create a space for meditation
  • Link with local teachers: yoga, Pilates etc. ~ also an opportunity for staff to bond by doing something together
  • Encourage meetings that are mobile ~ where can we go? Let’s walk and talk
  • Encourage conversation over email/text ~ walk to that person’s desk
  • Compulsory lunch break away from the desk
  • Education programme for the skills of wellbeing

Using your imagination, you will be able to come up with some great ideas for your place. Your people are your greatest resource. Looking after them means looking after your business.


If you would like to know more about healthy practices and skills of wellbeing, please contact us. See what we can do for you as an individual and a business

Individual coaching and workshops ~ t. 07518 445493
24May/17
Are you ready for clinic?

How do you get ready for clinic?

Prepare for a successful performance

Are you ready for clinic?

 

Remember the excitement of those first clinics? The anticipation of that first patient, the challenge of working out their story and coming up with a solution. The opportunity to practice those skills. The fascination with the narrative blending with the body language and phraseology used by the patient. The feeling of pride wearing the uniform. And so on. All great feelings!

How do you feel now? Are you aware of how you feel now before clinic? Do you make time to notice or do you walk in on autopilot and crack on without any awareness?

When we fall in love, we will do anything for that other person. Take the bins out — yes please! Clear the dishwasher — anything for you!! Six years later…. take the bins out — you gotta be kidding! I’m not your servant! Wash up — no chance, why can’t you do it….. How about acting like the first few months, always? How about acting like those first years of clinic, always?

“have you warmed up?

You go to watch your favourite team. The excitement builds, the crowd are singing, you can’t wait for the whistle to start the game. Then you see the players wandering in aimlessly, not paying attention, just moments before the kick off. Have they prepared before the game? Have they warmed up? Got their thinking in the right space? Attuned to the situation? Players prepare. Musicians prepare. Actors prepare. Should we prepare? Of course!

Let’s create a routine of warming up for our performance today. Let’s get our thinking aligned with our values; what’s important right now? Let’s get focused. Let’s be the best we can be and notice when we are distracted and come back to the focus. In clinic, we are performing. This is our centre court, our pitch, our stage where we work with a person to present them with the opportunity to commit to change to improve their life.

“what’s your kindset?

What were the reasons you went into this job? Why did you choose this career? What is your ‘WHY’? Think about this each day to refresh and renew and drive yourself to be the best you can be. It’s a choice. Feel motivated, feel great about it!

It’s a mindset that you choose. It’s a ‘kindset’ for the people coming to see you — what a privilege that people come to see you. That is an opportunity to practice gratitude as well. What is a kindset? It’s a mindset driven by kindness!

RS

1:1 Pain Coach Mentoring for Healthcare Practitioners and Clinicians: practice the very skills that you present to patients to improve your life, improve your relationships, improve your performance. Feel inspired because you CAN! See more here
27Aug/16

Busy

BusyEveryone is busy. We are busy doing all sorts of things: working, cleaning, gardening, studying, exercising, reading, watching TV, listening to music. In fact, when we are occupied, we are busy doing whatever is occupying us, even if this is lying on the sofa; ‘I am busy lying on the sofa’. So it is a given that we are all busy, even if someone else deems us to be doing nothing, because I am still busy; busy doing nothing. When I am asked if I am busy, I always think about how to answer because in essence it is like being asked whether you are breathing. We are always breathing, we are always occupied with something.

Naturally, some occupations require more energy that others. The exertion of exercise or the concentration upon a piece of work would be deemed effortful, utilising our finite energy resource that is built from our intake of nutrients and rest, including sleep. Good sleep is fundamental for health so it seems — we know what it feels like the day after a bad night’s sleep. Building up our energy reservoir is important for engaging effectively with life: moving, thinking, focus, performance, communication. What fills our consciousness is impacted upon by how much energy we have in that moment. Tiredness tends to cause our attentions to drift towards the negative. How do children react when they are tired? Adults are not necessarily very different!

Sleeping well does not come easily to many people. Crafting a good sleep habit takes time and perseverance, and not just on the way to bed, through the day. With so many people suffering the effects of stress, which switches their biology to survive instead of thrive, night time continues to be a period of alertness, on the lookout for danger. Of course there is no danger, except thoughts that pass through the embodied mind as past is re-lived and future anticipated. Being present is the antidote, and there are simple practices to achieve this (next blog: simple skills).

Sleeping at night is not the only time we need to refresh and renew. We also benefit from regular bouts of relaxation during the day that allow us to recharge. Recharging underpins performance, as to perform optimally we must engage and focus, which we can only maximise if we have energy. Every 90 minutes, taking a break and refreshing with simple practices is a good start point, diarising if necessary. Additionally, each day a period of 10-20 minutes of deeper relaxation is important. Some people will have a longer bout of rest between 12pm and 3pm — the siesta is a great idea. You may be thinking that you don’t have time for all this rest, however, the gains in energy allow you to perform with greater efficiency. Multi-tasking is a red herring; it simply means we are doing several things without our full focus. In summary, without refreshing and renewing, energy levels dwindle and performance fades so in fact we cannot afford not to factor this into our day.

Athletes periodise their training. This is a habit we can adopt day to day to optimise performance as individuals: e.g./ work, relationships, activities, communication. It is easy creating a new habit. It just needs practice. So, be busy, but make sure you have enough energy.

Pain Coach Programme to overcome pain problems and to optimise performance | t. 07518 445493

30Jan/14

5 reasons why mindfulness is part of our treatment programmes

1. Mindfulness reduces suffering: pain, anxiety, tension.

2. Mindfulness promotes clarity of thought.

3. Mindfulness develops a sense of calm.

4. Mindfulness creates an ability to focus ones attention where you want to, and not in response to the wandering mind.

5. Mindfulness changes physiology, triggering restorative processes: e.g./ healing, digestion, sleep, anti-inflammatory action.

For pain, stress, anxiety, performance, concentration, call us to make an appointment: 07932 689081

30Sep/13

‘Gentle’ exercise is good for the brain | #performance #health

We know only too well how important it is to be physically active. This may mean formal exercise or sports, but equally we can be on the move and using our bodies when undertaking day-to-day tasks.

Researchers have previously found that exercise affects the brain in positive ways, including enhancing learning and memory. How to go about exercising is yet to be defined, the reality being that it is likely to be influenced by our genetic make-up, i.e. ‘personal training programmes’. It has been thought that the benefits come from vigorous exercise, however this may not only be the case.

A recent study by Michelle McDonnell and her team has found that gentle exercise affects the brain in very good ways. Low to moderate physical activity for 30 minutes stimulated neuroplastic activity. This is the basis for how we learn.

This is also excellent news for chronic pain sufferers who are trying to become more active. It shows that we can use low intensity exercise to affect the brain positively. Many people in pain describe a loss of energy, resources, focus, concentration, memory and resilience. To improve this situation, exercise is needed yet often feared. By creating a baseline and reducing the threat of being active by developing understanding of pain, you can gradually build tolerance and confidence as well as improve brain function. This usually takes the focus away from the pain as you are able to engage in more meaningful activities.

For those seeking to improve their performance at work there are a number of strategies that can be used. Developing improved focus and attention using mindfulness training, taking refreshers and renewal breaks to sustain energy levels, cultivating skills of resilience and clear thinking to deal with situations and regular exercise to sharpen the brain and maintain physical fitness.

For details on programmes that incorporate these techniques for chronic pain, injury and developing performance, contact us on 07932 689081.

See the article below:

A single bout of aerobic exercise promotes motor cortical neuroplasticity.

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 May;114(9):1174-82. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01378.2012. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

McDonnell MN, Buckley JD, Opie GM, Ridding MC, Semmler JG.

Source

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. [email protected]

Abstract

Regular physical activity is associated with enhanced plasticity in the motor cortex, but the effect of a single session of aerobic exercise on neuroplasticity is unknown. The aim of this study was to compare corticospinal excitability and plasticity in the upper limb cortical representation following a single session of lower limb cycling at either low or moderate intensity, or a control condition. We recruited 25 healthy adults to take part in three experimental sessions. Cortical excitability was examined using transcranial magnetic stimulation to elicit motor-evoked potentials in the right first dorsal interosseus muscle. Levels of serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor and cortisol were assessed throughout the experiments. Following baseline testing, participants cycled on a stationary bike at a workload equivalent to 57% (low intensity, 30 min) or 77% age-predicted maximal heart rate (moderate intensity, 15 min), or a seated control condition. Neuroplasticity within the primary motor cortex was then examined using a continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) paradigm. We found that exercise did not alter cortical excitability. Following cTBS, there was a transient inhibition of first dorsal interosseus motor-evoked potentials during control and low-intensity conditions, but this was only significantly different following the low-intensity state. Moderate-intensity exercise alone increased serum cortisol levels, but brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels did not increase across any condition. In summary, low-intensity cycling promoted the neuroplastic response to cTBS within the motor cortex of healthy adults. These findings suggest that light exercise has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of motor learning or recovery following brain damage.

16Jul/13

Two excellent talks for athletes

Both talks are inspiring and demonstrate courage, perseverance and motivation in the face of the enormous challenges that were presented. In performance and rehabilitation, mindset is a key determinant and in many cases several skills must be developed, including resilience and coping strategies.

In the first video, Janine Shepherd talks about her experience of recovery following a severe injury.

In the second, Aimee Mullins talks in 1998 about her record-setting career as a runner, and about her carbon-fiber prosthetic legs.

Call us now to find out about our comprehensive treatment and training programmes to tackle persisting pain, recurring injuries and chronic pain: 07932 689081

05Jan/13

Enhancing performance with imagery

We can improve our performance with visualisation. By stimulating the neuronal activity in the brain, you are rehearsing to improve the efficiency of firing and communication between the brain cells and diminishing any threat value. Combining practice with imagery is a potent way of tackling the stress associated with a particular task (e.g./ a speech, a penalty) and developing skill.

When we visualise, mentally rehearse and use motor imagery (imagine movement, but really creating the sense of the activity), the brain is very active in a similar way as to when you are actually doing the task.

Here are some simple ways. Sit comfortably in a quiet room.

1. Imagine an orange on a plate in front of you. Note it’s colour, size and texture. Imagine taking a knife and cutting the orange into segments, each slice accompanied by a light spray of juice. Feel the knife slicing the fruit. Imagine taking a segment and placing it in your mouth. Taste the flavour, feel the consistency of the pulp and the juice on your lips, teeth and tongue. What is it like? What are your body responses?

2. Athletic or business situation: mentally rehearse the task in hand, trying to include as much detail as possible: the location, people, your clothing, the weather etc. Similar to the orange task but in a context that is challenging. You will be working with the potential threat value and be grooving neural pathways that improve your skill.

3. Snapshot after success: imagine yourself after being successful. Note how you feel, your posturing and body.

4. Starring in a movie: imagine you are watching a film of yourself being successful at the task in hand. It could be a business meeting or an important move in a match. Play out the detail as mentioned above. The more real that you can make it, the more engaged you’ll be.

Take responsibility for your thoughts, build confidence and develop skill by training your brain with imagery.

For further information on these techniques and others contact us on 07932 689081.

06Dec/12

A brief mindfulness exercise: just a few moments to foster clarity

There are significant health and performance-based benefits that come from brief periods of mindful practice during the day including:

  • An ability to focus with clarity
  • Avoid being ‘bogged down’ by negative thinking
  • Emotional regulation
  • Clear thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Awareness of self and others (empathy)
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and tension
  • Tackle stress
  • Pain relief
  • Improved performance through increased focus
Brief mindfulness can be practiced by spending a short time focusing upon breathing or scanning the body to develop the ability to be aware of the present moment rather than dipping into the past or the future. Neither the past or the future exist but our brains cannot tell the difference between thinking about them or actually being there, hence the emotional and physical responses are the same: anxiety, tension, pain etc. The breath brings you to the present moment and anchors you. It is of course readily available.

Just breathe

Focus your attention upon your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.

If your mind wanders, which it often does, gently bring your attention back to the breath on each occasion. As you practice, you will find that the time you spend observing will increase, translating into an ability to focus your spotlight of attention where you choose as opposed to following the mind and responding.

Mindfulness – being aware but without judgement

You are aware of thoughts but become increasingly skilled at just noticing them and choosing to respond as you wish to. With compassion.

‘It is just a thought’

Repeat the exercise 3-4 x day, lying or sitting. Initially it is good to practice in a quite space but in time you will be able to be mindful wherever you are situated: at work, at play and at home.

We are often on autopilot or have recurring thoughts that are unhelpful or become barriers to achieving our potential. Mindfulness practice breaks down these barriers.

The mindful task: choose a daily task such as washing up or tying your shoes. Pay attention to all the sensory qualities of the experience. In other words be fully present. Practice this as often as you like.

 

21Aug/12

Rehabilitation of thinking – A key element in maximising performance

The rehabilitation journey following an injury must be traveled with full commitment and completed. Usually when we talk about rehabilitation, it is the exercises that are focused upon: the movement, the task, the goal and how much to do. Nothing wrong with this of course as the training parameters are important to understand the effects of the exercise and how to subsequently progress. An aspect that is vital, yet less frequently mentioned, is the thinking both behind the activity and that of the individual undertaking the training.

Each exercise must have a meaning that needs to be explained. Full understanding of how, when and why the particular task is being undertaken is vital for full engagement, both physically and cognitively. In addition we have to consider the context of the exercise including the time of the day, the environment, the mood of the participant, level of discomfort, general health factors and other variables. Being aware of these influences and how they affect performance permits accurate assessment of the outcomes and where to focus upon for future improvement. In essence it is a learning process similar to that of learning a language or a musical instrument. Feedback plays a key role via the trainer correcting movement verbally and physically, and other means including exercising in front of a mirror.

The thinking of the participant before engaging in the exercise, during and afterwards will have an impact on success and hence learning. We can call this his or her mindset. Carol Dweck talks about a fixed mindset which describes a thought pattern underpinned by inflexible beliefs: it is how it is, this is my lot, change does not happen etc. Clearly this thinking can limit success and progression. A growth mindset on the other hand, is characterised by a belief that we can learn, change and grow. This mindset is one I encourage and seek to nurture as part of moving forwards following an injury or in progressing with a painful condition. In essence we are designed to change and adapt to our environment and circumstances. Given the right opportunity, input, motivation and timeline, we can evolve and develop healthier notions and actions for life both physically and in thought.

In summary, rehabilitation is not about simply going through the motions of certain exercises. It is about taking the opportunity to grow and develop physically and cognitively. In many cases we have to address thinking that is affecting the rehabilitation process, for example, thoughts that would be of a fixed mindset. Working upon these with strategies can and often are as important as the physical activities for optimum outcome. Our comprehensive rehabilitation programmes encompass these details so that you can progress from pain to performance.