Introducing… Little Bit of Calm

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“A calm mind helps our human intelligence to assess the situation realistically”

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Being a great business leader, role model, mentor, partner, parent, carer, sibling or friend is not easy in today’s “always on” culture. Frequently we see these roles, and others we perform, competing for our attention and converging, regardless of time and location. That’s before we even begin to think about making time for personal development, exercise, hobbies oh and of course sleep. And that’s where Little Bit of Calm comes in…

Imagine a scenario where you have invested heavily to brand your organisation and your culture as a people centric business that wants to attract, develop and retain high calibre individuals who are central to the current and future success of your business and bringing life giving and saving products to market; people who will work hard, give the best of themselves in an environment that will at times be challenging, uncertain and require your people to work across cultures, functions and time zones dealing with multiple and sometimes conflicting priorities in this “always on” culture we live in.

Then imagine that same scenario but add in the word support to “attract, develop and retain” and what does that make you think of? A company that has a culture where mental health or mental illness is not stigmatised and spoken about in hushed terms or brushed under the carpet, a culture where it is ok to say “I am struggling” and “I need some help”.

Key statistics:

  1. The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) used in the UK Health and Safety Executive’s 2016 statistics report* on work related stress, anxiety and depression reported that stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health in the UK
  2. The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days which was an average of 23.9 days lost per sufferer
  3. This same report defines work-related stress, depression or anxiety as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work*
  4. These numbers quoted only relate to the UK and the cost of mental ill-health at work to the UK economy alone is £26bn**

When I took a career sabbatical 18 months ago I knew I wanted to take some time out for me, to recharge and decide what my next career chapter was going to look like. I knew I loved the Life Sciences industry; the intellectual challenge; learning every day and knowing that collectively all of us were making a difference and changing peoples’ lives for the better around the globe. During this sabbatical I also realised that we ask (and give) a tremendous amount of ourselves to our companies, colleagues and roles and at times, this may be to the detriment of our own health, be that physical or mental.

Having launched MLA, I really wanted to see how I could contribute to helping our industry help its people and so, in early 2016, I then became involved in Minds@Work. For those of you who have not heard of it, or Geoff McDonald, one of its founders, Minds@Work was launched in 2015 and their mission is to help break the stigma associated with mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety, in the workplace.

Most people who know me know I have a passion for health, wellness and having a positive impact on the health of others. What perhaps is not so well known is that I am also a qualified yoga instructor.

Over the last 12 months as MLA has evolved, so has my thinking. My career to date has afforded me direct insight and understanding of the challenges and growing pressures of working in our industry and hence the creation and now launch of MLA’s Corporate Little Bit of Calm workshops; structured and bespoke workshops designed to help you help your team maximise their well-being both in the workplace and at home.

We do great work in the Life Sciences industry developing and bringing lifesaving products to patients around the globe and you look to identify, attract and retain great employees to do this. Surely you and they deserve that bit of calm to be and give your best?

Click here to find out more about our Corporate Little Bit of Calm workshops.


 

*‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence’.
**Centre for Mental Health

International Yoga Day 2016 -quietening your mind and improving your physical and mental health

Today, June 21st 2016, is International Yoga Day. Big deal you may say, why should that make any difference to you, your family, your team or your business?  Well if you take a few minutes to read some of the growing body of evidence of the benefits of yoga perhaps it can help you make very positive impacts on all of these areas in your life.

Firstly let’s kick some of the preconceptions of yoga into touch … yoga is not about being  the bendiest or stretchiest in a class ; it is not only for super fit individuals in sprayed on lycra who can manoeuvre and contort their body into positions others may only dream of or pay to see in adult rated films ; you don’t need to be a muesli eating, practical sandal wearing, single person of a certain age ; and most importantly of all, you don’t need to be able to touch your toes to practice yoga. So pushing these stereotypes firmly aside, what is yoga and what benefits could it bring.

At the simplest level, I was taught that yoga is about calming the mind and through this process becoming open to experiencing our true self – this is achieved through breathing (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), exercise (asanas), diet (sattvic) and relaxation (shavasana). Now if I have nearly lost you at this stage, and I know you have limited time,  let’s pull you back in with the article below that was published by Greg McKeown in the Harvard Business Review in October 2014 where a Microsoft Exec found over a period of time that using a number of tools helped reduce his stress and longer term proved life changing for him.

http://gregmckeown.com/blog/reduce-your-stress-in-two-minutes-a-day/

Today, on International Yoga Day 2016, why not try your initial introduction to yoga  through breathing ? No muesli, lycra or gym membership needed and certainly no toe touching required – see if this helps you to feel calmer and more engaged and if it does then tomorrow try if for longer. As you progress and feel the benefits then perhaps introduce it to your team, family and friends. If like me, you embrace new  technologies as you strive for health and wellness, then a great free app to help you on your breathing journey is the biobeats “Hear and Now” app. This app, based on clinically validated stress-reducing and mindfulness practices, will remind you to breathe and guide you through the process, showing you how your heart responds to deep, focused breathing using just your mobile device.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/hear-and-now/id977650202?mt=8

Wishing you a more enlightened introduction to yoga, happy breathing and Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

Are you going to positively impact on Global Running Day 2016?

Today, June 1st 2016, is Global Running Day, “a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running…to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving”.

What does running mean to you? Is it the far distant memory of a cold, wet and muddy cross country field at school and the knowledge that you only had to go round the course one more time and you could hang up your trainers for ever? Is it cheering your kid as they run in the school 100m race and you crossing your fingers that they wouldn’t be last to finish? Or, is it you smiling, punching the air in triumph, falling to your knees in sheer exhaustion or gratitude as you / your run buddy cross the finish line at the end of that 5k / 10k / half marathon / marathon / ultra-run you / they have trained so hard for? Whichever it is, I’m with you – well save for the kid’s 100m race, that was my parents crossing their fingers…

Whilst I have always been physically active and enjoyed sport, until my early 40’s I was never a “runner” and the mere word scared me. Fast forward 8 years and today I cannot imagine my life without running in it and all it has taught me along the way. In addition to sharing fantastic experiences and friendships, running has had a positive impact not only on my physical and mental wellbeing but also on the wellbeing of friends and family who have put on their training shoes and joined me on the paths /trails. Being a catalyst and seeing another person’s self-esteem and confidence grow is hugely rewarding – knowing that in parallel they are improving their physical and mental health whilst having fun, well fun most of the time, is a true privilege.

Last month saw the launch of Heads Together, a campaign spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to end stigma around mental health. Heads Together is the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year and Heads Together “aims to change the national conversation on mental health and wellbeing, and will be a partnership with inspiring charities with decades of experience in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges.”

https://www.headstogether.org.uk/about-heads-together/

Whilst a marathon of 26.2 miles may be 26 miles too far, perhaps today, Global Running Day 2016 is a great day to call your partner, kids or friend(s), leave the office on time and together start your running journey of 0.2 miles and see where it takes you from there. You may be surprised where you get to and what you get out of it…. Enjoy, I plan to with a couple of my friends.

 

 

Digital Age in Life Sciences, is your business tackling the challenges and embracing the opportunities?

As the behaviours, expectations and demands of patients, carers, payers and healthcare providers change rapidly in today’s digital world, in the attached article, I spoke with a number of cross industry digital strategists and specialists to gain their views on how well Life Sciences companies are adopting new technologies, and where there may be opportunities to create competitive advantage by learning from other industries.

At MLA we are HUGELY excited by this digital evolution, all it entails and  the opportunities it presents to dramatically improve healthcare and wellness for current and future generations. How about your business? Are you embracing these changes and do you have the right digital savvy people in place to devise and implement the appropriate strategies to create and maintain competitive advantage?

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