This is a fascinating book by Russ Harris. It’s a programme based on ACT: a mindfulness-based approach to overcoming anxiety and stress. He uses great day to day analogies we can all relate to with lots of practical quizzes, worksheets and exercises too.
The central idea is that it’s more effective to observe any unhelpful thoughts or feelings rather than try to control them or fight them. And then to ensure that you act on your values.
I’m finding the ideas helpful for me and for the leaders I coach. Try them out for your next presentation, big meeting or challenging conversation.
Here are some simple tips from the first part of the book to help you de-fuse those frustrations or anxious thoughts:
- Notice the thought or feeling is there
- Observe it, don’t fight it or challenge it
- Say ‘thanks mind’ or ‘thanks for sharing’. Notice what happens, or
- Pick a favourite cartoon character or movie character like Brian’s mum in ‘The Life of Brian’, (my favourite!), bring it to mind and ‘hear’ the thought in that voice. Notice what happens.
You can use these ideas yourself for day to day worries. The ACT programme is also used by counsellors to help with depression. Buy ‘The Happiness Trap’ by Russ Harris on Amazon here.
KineticFuture is a leadership coaching company specialising in communications. We coach one to one and in groups. Contact Karen Moyse if you’d like to discuss this on Karen@kineticfuture.com
The United States Army has put thousands through its Master Resilience Training Program – soldiers, family members of soldiers, and Department of the Army civilians – since 2009.
It gives people practical tools to stave off anxiety and potential mental health problems. Surely this prevention strategy is a better route to go than just waiting until people have a mental health issue and treating it.
It’s terrific that the Time To Change Campaign has just been given £20m to encourage companies to end discrimination around mental health. But surely this is ‘after the horse has bolted’. You also need a routine ‘inoculation’ programme.
Companies can help a great deal by giving training on simple strategies that help leaders and their employees deal with stresses at work. The kind of up-beat strategies used by Olympic athletes. We even have strong evidence demonstrating that these techniques create stronger performance, collaboration, enjoyment and engagement.
Kinetic Future’s Energising Leadership Courses show business teams what these techniques are and bring them to life by getting people to apply them to practical business problems. Our team also does pro bono work for Action For Happiness – where individuals can learn many of the skills and pay for themselves. So this could be another route to go.
Our Kinetic clients tell us their top 3 tools from everything they learn on our courses are:
- Learning how to find perspective and challenging negative thoughts
- Finding the upside in tough situations
- Increasing their positive to negative ratio.
Clearly if you are ill, it’s not going to replace clinical intervention but these tools can help inoculate you against anxiety so you not just survive but thrive. And have some fun while being coached.
If you’d like to have a copy of our recommended resources list, see the evidence on what really works or find out more about our courses please do contact us in confidence or check out our Energising Leadership Courses. You can also find Action For Happiness courses on www.actionforhappiness.org.
Scientists know how you can deliberately boost production of oxytocin in your brain to reduce personal anxiety and fear. You can also act in a way which will increase the oxytocin in others – your team, your boss or even your customers. Oxytocin supports ‘engagement’, relationships and trust and helps to mobilise action so it’s a useful place to focus.
Here are 10 scientifically backed activities for reducing anxiety and fear
- Sing, walk, listen to music, pat a dog
- Call someone you trust
- Aim for 8 hugs a day
- Think about someone you care deeply for
- Positive social interaction such as sharing a meal
- Use loving kindness meditation
- Give a gift
- Do exciting group activities – go on a roller coaster ride
- Behave kindly
- Deep breathing
Here are 5 ways to boost Oxytocin in others
- Discuss something you know they love
- Smile or recall humour
- Walking meetings in the sun
- Think compassionate thoughts about them
- Show kindness and consideration
This is an extract from our “Positive Leadership. Peak Performance course”. It combines the latest evidence from positive psychology and neuroscience and applies them to practical business challenges. For more information please contact us.