Wednesday 18 December 2019

Ways to stop overthinking your job

Overthinking our job is a common trap. When you consider that we can have up to 70,000 thoughts per day, according to a National Science Foundation study, with 95% of the thoughts being repetitive and 80% being negative, it’s no wonder we sometimes get bogged down by our minds.

Impact of negative thoughts

When we spend too much time thinking negatively, it can have a serious impact on our mental wellbeing, which in turn can lead to physical symptoms such as stress, anxiety and, ultimately, depression. Ongoing stress, if not treated, can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes, to name a few. So, it’s really important that we recognise negative thinking at an early stage and take action.

Work  life balance

When we break down how much time we spend at work compared to our private life, this adds up to a considerable chunk of our week.

Average time spent during a week: at work – 40 hours; personal time – 79 hours; sleep – 49 hours

Now take into consideration that we don’t just think about our jobs when we're at work and that these thoughts also spill over into our personal time. If you’re being honest with yourself, how many of those 79 hours do you spend thinking about your job?

Sadly, many of us have recurring, negative thoughts on a daily basis. Maybe you worry that you’re inadequate at work, fearful of losing your job, or afraid of what colleagues think about you.

Ways to stop overthinking

Fortunately, there are ways we can get on top of our thought process. Although we are still likely to have a similar number of thoughts per day, we can, however, choose to change the kind of thoughts we have.

1. Quiet time

Take time out from everything and spend some time on your own, even if it’s just for half an hour every day. It’s so important that we empty our minds from time to time in order to reduce stress and feel calmer. Relaxation techniques and meditation offer simple ways to clear your mind and help you unwind, especially before bedtime so that you have a restful sleep that isn’t interrupted by dreams concerning your job.

Another option is to put pen to paper and let your thoughts spill out. This can be extremely therapeutic and can help you deal with negative or unwanted thoughts.

2. Stop comparing

It’s easy to see the positives in everyone else and not in ourselves but this can be damaging to our mental health if done on a regular basis. Remember that everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. You may well excel at a task that a colleague is not capable of completing.

Social media is often a root cause of us comparing ourselves to others. If possible, try not to follow or have work colleagues as friends on your social accounts as this can create more negative thoughts about your job which could take over your personal time.

3. Occupy your mind

One of the best ways to stop overthinking your job is to occupy your mind with activities such as puzzles, crosswords or reading. You can also practise mindfulness (to bring your attention to the here and now), take up a hobby such as photography, or set yourself a physical challenge that will test your mettle and take your mental focus off work.

4. Talk about your thoughts

This may seem like a daunting task when work-related thoughts are in play but when you air your concerns in a positive way, you might find that they're merely just thoughts that you've created yourself. Perhaps you’re worried that your boss is angry with you or doesn't think you’re good enough at your job? Either way, whether our thoughts are justified or pure fabrication, talking about them can often put our minds at rest. Afterwards, you’ll probably wonder why you wasted so much of your time stressing over something that could be easily resolved.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

How to prevent workplace bullying

Unfortunately, bullying isn’t just something we experience at school or when we’re younger, it can continue into adult life. Workplace bullying is far more commonplace than you might expect.

What is bullying?

So, what constitutes bullying and how can we recognise it?

  • Gossiping – talking negatively behind someone’s back, spreading malicious rumours or trying to turn others against someone are bullying tactics that can cause problems in the workplace.
  • Exclusion – If you are being excluded from certain activities in or outside of the workplace, such as lunchtime gatherings and social events, this can leave you wondering whether you're disliked and whether you have done something to upset people.
  • Unreasonable criticism – There will be times for most of us when we don’t get things quite right and we may be criticised for our work or behaviour, but when you feel as though the criticism is unjust or becoming a regular occurrence, you could be experiencing bullying tactics.
  • Abusive language – If someone uses abusive or offensive language towards you, this can be extremely upsetting. Whether it’s directed at you because of your race, religion or sexual orientation, this is unacceptable behaviour that needs addressing. 
  • Sabotage – Very often, a workplace bully will do everything in their power to sabotage your work and reputation. Perhaps they have taken credit for a successful task you have completed, or maybe they put the blame on you to cover up their own mistakes.

Effects of bullying

Bullying can have serious, detrimental affects on our mental and physical health if it isn’t nipped in the bud. As well as causing low self-esteem, disturbed sleep patterns, anger, lack of concentration, and a feeling of helplessness, the physical symptoms can be quite traumatic. When we undergo a large amount of stress for long periods of time, our bodies react and you could experience high blood pressure, panic attacks and ulcers.

Whether it’s yourself or someone else that is being bullied, this can also have a negative effect on the workplace so it’s important for employers and employees to recognise when it’s happening. Working in a toxic and hostile environment is unpleasant for everyone and can have knock-on effects for the whole workforce. It can cause a drop in productivity, a rise in absenteeism, low retention and high staff turnover, if bullying isn’t dealt with appropriately, it can result in legal issues.

Reasons for bullying

More often than not, bullies are lacking in self-esteem and feel the need to bring others down in order to build themselves up. Maybe they are jealous of your position at work, your relationships, how much you earn, your intelligence or even your appearance.

If bullies feel inferior or see someone as a threat, they use bullying tactics so that they can feel in control and gain recognition.

How to deal with workplace bullies

  • Speak up – Try to speak to the bully in a calm manner. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice so that you don’t appear threatening or intimidating. Keep eye contact, a relaxed posture and explain why their behaviour is causing a problem. Sometimes, bullies aren’t conscious of their behaviour and when confronted, they might just take on board your concerns.
  • Speak with someone in authority – Discuss the situation with your boss, or if it’s your boss that’s displaying the signs of a bully, then speak with someone higher up or in HR. Before you do speak to someone, keep a record of the times, dates and events of the bullying.
  • Seek support – Spend time with close friends and family and talk to them about what you’re going through as they can offer support and reassurance that will boost your self-esteem. 
  • Look for another job – This isn’t the most ideal outcome but if you have taken action and done all of the above but the bullying continues and your mental and physical health is suffering because of it, perhaps finding another place of work is the only other option that remains. 

If you or someone else is being bullied in the workplace, the website GOV.UK offers helpful advice. Alternatively, speak with ACAS on 0300 123 1100 or read their advice leaflet.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Coping with depression at work

Not everyone who suffers from depression shows the obvious symptoms that we're familiar with, such as sadness, fatigue and being withdrawn. High-functioning depression is more common than we realise.

What is high-functioning depression?

When someone is suffering internally, but to the rest of the world it appears as though they're fine, this is classed as high-functioning depression. The person suffering might still socialise with friends, turn up to work every day and appear to be living a happy and ‘normal’ life, but on the inside and behind closed doors, they're suffering great pain.

Take time out and put yourself first

If you suffer from high-functioning depression and dread the thought of going to work and facing people each day, there are several ways to help you cope.

Most days will feel like an uphill struggle but there will be certain times when everything becomes too much to deal with. Give yourself some breathing space, literally. Even if it’s just for five minutes, escape to another room, or outside if possible, take some deep breaths and try to quieten your mind. Your mental and physical wellbeing should always take priority – work can wait five minutes!

Share your feelings

Whether it’s your boss, a work colleague or someone in HR, try to talk to someone at work about your depression and how you're feeling. Not only will it help ease the burden a little, if they're understanding, they'll give you some leeway for the times when you really need it. They might even let you work from home if you really can’t face the work environment. You might find that people are a lot more understanding than you expect.

Practise self-care

Remember to practise self-care both at home and in work. Although on some days it might feel like the most difficult task, if you persist, in the long run you will benefit. Try to get enough sleep by sticking to a bedtime routine, exercise when you can, and eat a healthy diet. Drink plenty of water and take a walk outside or even take up yoga or mindful meditation. These are all things you can incorporate into your working day - perhaps in your break times - and they don't have to take long.

Prioritise and delegate

A busy work schedule will undoubtedly add to your stress levels and make your depression even more difficult to deal with. Prioritise your jobs for the day or week and learn to delegate work wherever possible.

Remember, you are only human, and you can only achieve so much.

The World Health Organization produced an information sheet on 'Mental health in the workplace' earlier this year. It identifies work-related risk factors for health and offers steps that businesses can take to create a healthy workplace environment.

For more information on promoting and enhancing mental wellbeing in the workplace, please visit our website for organisations and businesses

Wednesday 13 November 2019

How to maintain your identity at work

Spending too much time trying to please your boss and work colleagues and being in a constant state of fear that you’re not good enough, can have detrimental effects, not only on your wellbeing but also your self-identity.

Earlier this year, Rice University undertook a study, “Be yourself at work — it’s healthier and more productive”, which examines identity in the workplace.

By changing our mindset and taking a few simple steps, we can learn to maintain our identity and keep our mental health in check.

Recognise your behaviour

Initially, we might not even realise that our behaviour at work is different to how we act in our personal lives. Over time, however, you’ll start to notice that your mood changes and you lack confidence and feel like you can’t be yourself in certain situations.

Begin by listing your positive qualities and try to recognise what is missing from your personality when you’re at work. Perhaps you hold back with speaking your thoughts, you feel uncomfortable in your work clothes, or it might be that your sense of humour is missing.

There are many reasons why we might lose our identity at work, whether it’s because we’re afraid people won’t like us or that we could lose our job if we don’t fit in. If we continually strive to please others, it’s easy to lose our self-worth.

If we go for long periods of time when we feel we can’t be ourselves, we can become introverted, fearful and depressed. But the good news is, there are ways we can regain our identity.

Dress comfortably

There are many workplaces where we must dress a certain way to suit the ethos of the business and sometimes that can make you feel like you aren’t presenting the real you. However, there are ways of introducing certain aspects of clothing that help you retain your personality. Even if it’s the socks that you wear or the colour of your shirt/dress, these small changes can you make you feel more comfortable and more confident in yourself.

Dealing with negative feedback

There may be times when we receive negative feedback from our boss which knocks our confidence, but it’s important to recognise how the feedback is presented. When we’re criticised for our work, it can sometimes feel like a personal attack rather than constructive criticism.

Does your boss speak differently or behave differently towards you or are they the same with other employees? If it’s the latter, then it isn’t just you and this could reflect more on their personality than yours so try not to take the criticism personally.

However, if you feel as though it is only directed towards yourself in a negative manner, speak with your boss and ask how you can make improvements with your work. This can also give you the opportunity to discuss the way they speak to you without it appearing like you’re challenging them. Don’t let any harsh words knock your self-esteem as this can lead to self-doubt, lack of confidence and, ultimately, losing your identity.

Spend more time with people you can be yourself with

Particularly when we start a new job, we try so hard to fit in, we forget to be our natural, authentic selves. There are usually one or two people that we may gravitate towards because we feel more comfortable around them. By spending more time with these people, we’ll gain more confidence to be ourselves and show the true sides of our personality.

Make sure you also spend time with your closest friends and family outside of the workplace, as they will remind you of your positive qualities and will help you maintain your identity.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Are you a team player?

Most businesses rely on great teamwork to be truly successful. No matter what job a person has, each role makes up an important part of the bigger picture. So, for an organisation to run smoothly and achieve its goals, it’s vital for every member of staff to work effectively in a team.

In order to become a better team player, there are several attributes we can focus on developing.

Be committed to your team

Although some roles might require you to work autonomously for some of the time, undoubtedly you will also need to interact and work alongside colleagues. By being committed to your team, you should learn to listen to what others have to say, respect their opinions and be helpful whenever possible.

Take accountability

We are only human and, from time to time, we make mistakes. By shifting the blame onto someone else and denying our part in any kind of oversight or error, we’re likely to create negative feelings in the workplace. When we take accountability for our actions and take complete responsibility in our individual roles, we can avoid these kinds of negative situations and are likely to gain more respect from our colleagues. More importantly, we can learn from our mistakes and move forward with better judgement in the future.

Communicate effectively

Communication is one of the greatest parts of becoming a great team player. By sharing our ideas and taking on board the ideas of others, we open the communication gateways and create a more powerful rapport with our co-workers. By contributing ideas and actively taking part in meetings, we can inspire others by displaying a positive, can-do attitude. Try to refrain from monopolising discussions and be mindful of your body language. Making eye contact, keeping an upright posture and speaking clearly will make you appear more confident and colleagues are more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Be adaptable

To work collaboratively, we must learn to be flexible and adaptable. Some situations may arise that require us to take a different approach in our day-to-day roles and if we are able to adapt accordingly, we can encourage others to do the same - overcoming obstacles and achieving greater success.

Be reliable

We all know how frustrating it can be when someone lets the team down by not turning up, being late or not completing a task on time. One of the most important attributes of being a good team player is reliability. When our team members know that they can depend on us, we create a level of trust that is integral to becoming a successful team player.

John J. Murphy, a business specialist and author of books such as The i in Team and Pulling Together: The power of Teamwork offers some great insights into the power of teamwork as well as useful tools and techniques that can improve collaboration in the workplace.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Returning to work after the holidays

Rather than totally clearing your mind of your happy holiday memories, why not embrace all the things you loved about your holiday and incorporate them into your working day? Not only will this ease you back into your normal routine, you might just find there are some feel-good factors that you want to adopt permanently. After all, there’s no reason why we can’t feel just as happy every day of the year.

We’ve got some nifty little tips that will help you make the most of your time once you return to work - making every day count.


Many of us love to get lost in a good book while we’re on holiday but what’s stopping you from picking up where you left off and imagining you’re back on your sun lounger at the side of the pool?

Treat yourself

There are no rules to say that we can only treat ourselves when it’s a special occasion so why not enjoy a spot of retail therapy and buy some new clothes for work? It might just help you feel as great as you did on holiday. Perhaps your desk could do with a little colour therapy, so treat yourself to some bright new stationary that will bring a smile to your face.

Plan something for the weekend

If your holiday hasn’t left you totally destitute, maybe make plans for the weekend. This will give you something to look forward to and keep you motivated throughout the week. How about a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant, a night out with friends or a cheeky getaway?

Book a buffer day

The thought of returning to work after a holiday can leave us feeling anxious and stressed knowing that we’ll have to face countless emails and catch up on all the work we missed while we were away. Not to mention the endless loads of washing and shopping we have to face. Booking that extra day off after we return from our holiday gives us time to get organised and acclimatise to reality, ultimately relieving some of the stress and allowing us to sleep better at night.

Take a full lunch break

Missing lunch break to catch up on work is a bad habit that many of us fall into but remember that you are entitled to your break. Making the most of this time gives us a chance to rest our minds and recharge our batteries.

Replace those times when you would be lounging in the sun or exploring an exotic location for something enjoyable in your lunch break. You might want to take a walk outside to get some fresh air – this is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness and appreciate your surroundings. Or, instead of sightseeing, maybe you could venture somewhere new and learn a bit about the area.

Enjoy a tasty treat

It’s not uncommon for us to over-indulge while we’re holiday, devouring delicious goodies without giving it a second thought, so adjusting to our usual eating routines can play havoc with our sugar cravings. Think about livening up your usual lunchtime sandwich with an exotic wrap or a something from home that will take your thoughts back to your holiday or instead of your mid-afternoon cocktail, why not stop for some flavoured water, which will also keep you hydrated and your mind alert.

For more tips on returning to work after your holiday, visit the mental health charity website,

Thursday 10 October 2019

Mindset affects how we approach high workload

It's World Mental Health Day - a day for raising awareness of mental health issues.

If you're at work, drowning under the various tasks you have to complete, you won't be surprised to learn that this is a common scenario in the workplace and a cause of unnecessary stress for many employees. But what can you do to deal with the increasing demands at work? Well, according to researchers Casper, Sonnetag and Tremmel, your mindset is the key. 

Their study found that employees differed in their approach to workload anticipation based on whether or not they believed stress to be harmful to their productivity and health (their stress mindset). Employees with a positive stress mindset (i.e. those who looked at work as a challenge) found coping strategies to deal with the high workloads. However, it's not just how we approach tasks that helps us improve our productivity, but also how we anticipate them. The research indicated that people respond differently to the anticipation of high workload and these differences also affect our performance. This could be because some people view a high workload as a challenge, whereas others see it as a hindrance or a threat, causing them to avoid it. 

So, what's best way of dealing with a high workload? Nurturing a positive mindset and using coping mechanisms for managing workload goes a long way according to the researchers. But most importantly, in order to maintain wellbeing and health, it's essential to have a manageable workload with time to rest and recover after each working day.

Further reading 

Casper, A, Sonnentag, S, and Tremmel, S (2017), Mindset matters: the role of employees’ stress mindset for day- specific reactions to workload anticipation, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26, 798-810.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Wellness at work

RAND Europe, a non-profit research and analysis organisation, undertakes ongoing studies into wellbeing in the workplace and states: “Emerging research indicates that a healthier workforce is a more productive workforce, with fewer sick days taken and higher productivity when at work”.

When we take into consideration the amount of time we spend at work and the constant pressures we face each day, it’s no surprise that many of us, at some point in our careers, have taken time off work due to stress, anxiety or depression.

But with forward-thinking employers who recognise the importance of wellbeing at work, many companies are now putting wellbeing practices into place. Wellness programs that include yoga, meditation, free counselling sessions, training courses on mental wellbeing, fitness challenges, or gym memberships can help maintain a healthier workforce, which ultimately results in fewer sick days, higher retention, increased productivity and a happier work environment.

Middleton Murray, a UK based apprenticeship training provider, takes an holistic approach to wellbeing in the workplace and since introducing meditation techniques using the popular Headspace app, they have managed to retain all of their 120 staff since the initiative began.

Innocent Smoothies is a well known brand that puts wellbeing at the forefront of its success. The company provides many perks that contribute daily to the wellbeing of its staff. Free gym membership, flexible working hours, yoga club, free breakfasts, and training courses for understanding mental wellbeing are just a few of the initiatives that the brand has implemented.

There are lots of wellbeing initiatives that can be cost effective, providing benefits for both the company and employee. Good employee wellbeing increases productivity and motivation; boosts team spirit; and reduces stress, anxiety and depression.

Onsite yoga

By operating a yoga class at lunchtime, it not only encourages staff to take a break, it can also improve levels of concentration, ease muscle pain, and increase energy levels.

Nutritious snacks

Employers can try avoiding the mid-afternoon slump by ditching the vending machine and providing staff with a choice of healthy snacks such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Flexible hours

We all have different commitments and responsibilities in our lives, therefore not everyone works to their optimum at the same times of day. Flexible working hours allow staff to work the hours that best suit their personal lives which, in turn, can reduce stress and enable them to focus better on the job at hand.

Walk or cycle to work initiative

As well as playing a part in reducing our carbon footprint by operating a walk or cycle to work initiative, we can help improve both mental and physical wellbeing of the workforce. Under the government’s Cycle to Work Scheme, employers can loan out bicycles to their staff as a tax-free benefit.

Training workshops on mental wellbeing

Mental health issues are often misunderstood in the workplace and as a result, people are reluctant to seek help. In addition, managers and colleagues may not recognise the issues that an employee is facing. Training workshops can include topics such as mindfulness, stress, assertiveness, managing difficult people, managing conflict at work, effective listening, motivational interviewing, etc. They can help provide relevant and helpful information to everyone or specific groups of people as well as guidance on techniques that people can use at home to alleviate symptoms. 

Counselling or CBT sessions for employees

More and more companies are offering counselling and cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) sessions to their employees. These are evidence-based approaches that can help employees improve mental wellbeing and also support recovery from stress, anxiety, low mood and psychological difficulties.

If you'd like to find out how First Psychology Assistance can help your organisation better understand and improve the mental health of employees, visit our website

Wednesday 25 September 2019

How to gain respect at work

There’s always that one person who seems to command respect from bosses and colleagues without even trying. Perhaps on the outside that’s how we see it but, the truth is, they probably work extremely hard to gain that level of respect.

If you want to achieve the same kind of respect at work, you should try to recognise the kind of traits that others look up to.

Show respect

There’s no point complaining that nobody gives you respect if you are incapable of giving it to others. How we speak to people and interact with them can have a powerful impact on how they treat us in return. When we are polite, attentive and understanding towards others, they are more likely to reciprocate.

Remain professional

It can be tempting at times, particularly at the annual party, to be the centre of attention, but remember that getting attention and gaining respect are quite different. It might seem like fun at the time to have one too many drinks and hog the dance floor, however, this could lead to negative comments and gossip once you’re back in the office.

Don’t gossip

There are many places of work where idle gossip is rife. Not only can this create a toxic environment and be damaging to the wellbeing of others, it’s not the way to gain respect. You might believe that joining in with gossip is a great way to fit in with your colleagues but in the long run, it can have the opposite effect.

Be confident

There’s a difference between having self-confidence and being arrogant, so be careful to get the right balance. When we're self-confident, we have belief in ourselves and have the skills or qualities to back it up, yet arrogance can be seen as egotistical and smug so try to remain modest and humble.

Take accountability for your actions

It can be extremely frustrating when something goes wrong at work and the person responsible doesn’t take accountability and, worse still, they try to put the blame onto someone else. We all make mistakes from time to time and by owning up to them, we can find ways to rectify the issue. You’ll find that your colleagues and boss will have much more respect for the fact that you owned up to your mistake, and it is more likely to be quickly forgotten.

Help others to succeed

One of the best ways to create a more positive environment at work and to earn respect is by helping others whenever possible. We all know how frustrating it can be when you're unsure of something and no one is prepared to help and would rather keep their knowledge under wraps so that they can receive all the glory. If you go out of your way and sacrifice some of your time to give help when it’s needed, people will most definitely respect you for it.

Work hard

You can do all of the above but if you turn up for work late every day, take too many breaks and don’t complete the work you’re supposed to have done, your colleagues won’t respect you and, chances are, your boss could give you a warning.

In order to gain the respect that we’d like at work, we must consider what kind of character traits and qualities we admire in others and demonstrate the same.

In 2018, Harvard Business Review produced this interesting report based on research that explore respect in the workplace.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Stepping up to a challenge

There are many reasons why we might want to feel appreciated or recognised for the work we do in our job; we may want to feel good about ourselves, dream of a promotion, or gain respect from our colleagues.

So, how do you feel when your boss has chosen you to undertake a challenge at work? Initially, you might feel excited or self-satisfied that you have been trusted with the important task. But what do you do when those initial feelings begin to turn into fear and anxiety?

Yes, it feels great that you’ve been given such a responsibility but perhaps you start to question whether you’re capable of stepping up to the challenge.

If feelings of self-doubt have started creeping in, you’re probably questioning your abilities to succeed. You may be fearful that you won’t achieve the desired results, you can’t handle the extra workload or you’re not sure how to even go about the task at hand.

Overcoming the fear

Fear can lead to negative self-talk and can even, in some cases, convince you that you’re simply not good enough. But you must remember the positive feelings you had before fear took over your mindset. It’s likely that, before you were given the challenge, you believed in your abilities and you were full of self-worth.

Make a note of everything you have accomplished so far in your job and all the positive skills and qualities you are proud of. Don’t forget that your boss must also have seen your value to consider you for the task in the first place.

Once you start to focus on the positives, your confidence will start to grow, and the niggling seeds of doubt will fade into the background.

Challenges are so-called for a reason and most likely you’ll come across problems along the way. It’s your job to find solutions rather than make excuses. Understandably, you might be worrying about the security of your job if you don’t succeed, but don’t forget to think about the rewards when you do succeed.

Think of the challenge as a series of tasks that will test your determination and cognitive skills. As you start to overcome each step, you will prove to yourself that you are the right person for the challenge. Compliment yourself for every obstacle that you overcome and savour that incredible feeling of satisfaction, which will spur you on to achieve the end goal.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask co-workers or those more qualified in relevant areas for help. Management and organisation skills are equally as important and can often lead to making the wisest decisions. Building allies can be a smart move.

If you’re really unsure of the best action to take during the challenge, think of several solutions and perhaps sound them out with your boss. That way they will recognise that you’re not just approaching them with problems but rather offering alternative strategies to overcome them.

The more times you step up to a challenge and achieve the end goal, the more you’ll grow in confidence, making the next challenge easier and less daunting. Try to remember the familiar saying: “challenges are opportunities in disguise”.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Confidence tips for interviews

At some point in our lives, we all must face the 'dreaded' interview. Interviews can often be a stressful experience because so much rests on the outcome.

When we take the plunge and decide to make a change in our career, we may already be feeling vulnerable. It might be that we didn’t get along with our colleagues in our previous job, we weren’t earning enough money, or we weren’t achieving our goals. Whatever the reason, many of these contributing factors can weaken our confidence and negatively impact on our mental wellbeing. So, before we even begin to apply for our dream job, we may have low self-esteem and be feeling like we’re on the back foot.

To move forwards with confidence, it’s important to start feeling more positive about ourselves and have belief in our capabilities. Remember, the employer has already seen your CV or application form and clearly thinks that you could be suitably qualified for the job. You need to be able to build a rapport with the interviewer and prove that you not only have the right skills, but your personality suits the company.

Recognise your achievements and skills

It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting yourself down or tricking yourself into believing that you aren’t good enough, so it’s important to dispel any negative thoughts and start thinking positively about yourself.

Make a list of all your qualities and skills and recognise how much you have already achieved. If you struggle with this, ask a friend to help you. Sometimes when your confidence is low, you need a helping hand to spot the positives about yourself. Within no time, you’ll start to appreciate all the positives and spend less time putting yourself down.

Practice relaxation techniques

When you’re nervous or anxious, your body may react negatively and you may feel out of breath, shaky or over-emotional. By practising simple breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques, you can help yourself return to a state of calm before the interview. Taking slow, deep breaths and emptying your mind can help you think more clearly.

Visualise positive outcomes

Visualisation techniques can be extremely powerful in stressful situations and can help overcome fears. Imagine yourself in the interview and how you would like to be perceived. Do you look confident? Do you speak confidently? Do you give a confident handshake? Body language is a huge giveaway for any interviewer so the more you picture yourself acting confidently, the more likely you will feel confident.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare!

There is nothing worse than turning up to an interview unprepared. Employers want to know that prospective employees are willing to go the extra mile. Research the company thoroughly and find out what you can about your interviewer/s and what they do for the company as this can help you build a rapport with them. Re-visit the job specification and your CV and make sure you highlight any occasions in a previous role where you have demonstrated the required skills and qualities.

Practise confident body language

In our day-to-day lives it’s easy to forget how we appear to others from our body language. Observe how you act when you’re speaking with present colleagues, family or friends and make adjustments accordingly.

  • Make eye contact
  • Don’t slump and keep an upright yet relaxed posture
  • Unfold your arms and use open hand gestures when speaking (but don’t overdo it)
  • Smile
  • Mirror positive body language of whoever you’re speaking to
  • Don’t fidget

More useful interview tips are available on the graduate career website Prospects.

If you feel you may benefit from working with a coaching professional who can assist you with any confidence issues and support you as you work towards your goals, visit our coaching page.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Ways to cope with returning to work

There are many reasons why we might have a significant amount of time off from work. Whether It’s maternity/paternity leave, illness or unemployment, the mere thought of returning to work can be quite unnerving.

There will probably be countless negative thoughts running around in your head. Will I remember how to do my job? Will my boss be angry with me? Will my colleagues treat me differently? How will I manage to get up on time every morning?

Forward planning

Returning to work doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, it can also be an exciting time. A bit of forward planning can help to avoid niggling worries and ease anxiety.

Before you return to work, ease yourself into your new routine by getting up at the required time and going to bed earlier so that your body starts to adjust to any new sleep patterns.

Do a practice run for a usual working day, from getting up in the morning and taking the kids to school (if necessary) to taking the commute to work. By doing a practice run, you can plan your time accordingly and minimise stressful situations.

Prepare meals and do household chores at the weekend (or on the days you’re not at work) so that you have less to worry about once you get home.

Catch up before you start

To lighten the load, it’s a good idea to spend a day at work before your start date to discuss your role and responsibilities. If someone has covered for you during your absence, they could run through both old and new procedures to refresh your memory and introduce you to any new systems. This could also be the perfect opportunity to catch up with work colleagues before you dive straight into work mode. Perhaps you could spend some time reading through emails and organising your workload. By easing yourself in gradually, you’ll hopefully find returning to work a little less intimidating and you might even start looking forward to it.

Stay healthy

Returning to work after a long break can be extremely tiring when you’re out of the swing of things. By eating a healthy diet and enjoying some exercise, you’ll not only find you have more energy and feel physically fitter, your mental wellbeing will benefit too.

Take a lunch break

When we’re snowed under with work and find ourselves constantly playing catch up, it’s tempting to work through our lunch breaks to get ahead. Although this might work as a quick fix, in the long run it can do more harm than good. It’s so important to take time out to clear our minds and escape from physical, emotional and mental stress. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, try to get outside in the fresh air, eat your lunch away from your desk and replenish your water bottle.

Switch off

So many of us continue to think about work once we’re home, whether that’s discussing the day with our partner, reading emails or chewing over what we need to do the next day. Even though it can be difficult to switch off, we should try to avoid negative conversations, turn off the media and do something that relaxes our mind and body. You might want to put your favourite music on and cook up something special in the kitchen, take an evening walk or watch a film.

The website A Return To Work features a number of case studies about returning to work, which lets you read about real life situations.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Tips for reducing mental fatigue at work

Many of us will have experienced mental fatigue at one time or another in our lives and it’s no wonder with so many pressures from work. Continual strain can leave us feeling drained both mentally and physically, which can affect our motivation and energy levels as well as causing mental block, irritability and insomnia. If we ignore the signs of mental fatigue, it can eventually lead to stress and anxiety and, in some cases, depression or heart problems.

There are, however, a number of ways we can help prevent mental fatigue by taking a few simple measures.

Clear your workspace

When we’re busy, it’s easy to neglect our workspace, but the mere act of tidying and decluttering can have a positive effect on our minds. Not only will you be able to find things more easily, you will start to feel less stressed.

Allocating time

We all have different times of day when we feel that we're most productive and motivated, so try to allocate the right times to the right tasks. Completing the more mentally demanding tasks when you feel you're at your peak and leaving the simpler, more monotonous jobs for when you've less mental energy can massively increase your productivity at work.

Create achievable to do lists

Making lists is a great way to prioritise your workload and gain perspective on the tasks ahead. However, we can sometimes overdo it and cause ourselves more stress by trying to overachieve. Create realistic goals so that you actually see your list decreasing rather than increasing. By writing a new list each day, you're more likely to see your accomplishments rather than your failings and you will leave work feeling positive.

Pay attention to your sleep patterns

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for avoiding mental fatigue and for refreshing your mind so that you're more alert and focused. Try to get into a bedtime routine where you give your mind time to wind down and quieten before you actually go to sleep. Switch off your mobile devices or the television and spend half an hour perhaps having a bath or reading before you attempt to sleep.

Take regular breaks at work

We're all entitled to breaks at work so it’s important to take time out when you feel like your mind is getting weary. Even if it’s just for five minutes to refill your water bottle and rest your eyes from the computer screen, these little breaks will work wonders.

Eat healthy snacks

Choose healthy snacks such as bananas, seeds and nuts to munch on throughout the day. As well as being a great source of energy, they will stop the temptation of grabbing a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate, which will inevitably result in a slump in energy. Try to drink a couple of litres of water each day to help keep your brain sharp.


Make time for some form of relaxation every day when you're at home. Even ten minutes meditating, practising yoga or even just going for a walk can lower your heart rate, reduce blood pressure and calm your mind.

Take a proper holiday

Although an exotic holiday in the sun may be our idea of heaven, this isn’t just what taking a holiday is about. Taking a proper holiday means switching off from everything that could be damaging to your wellbeing. Turn off your phone, put your out of office on your emails and totally escape anything that may cause brain drain. If you let those closest to you know that you will be unavailable for a weekend or a week, hopefully you can switch off without feeling guilty.

Forbes offers more advice on how you can overcome mental fatigue but if you feel that need further help, speak to your GP or health professionals like First Psychology.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Perfecting a work-life balance

We’ve become so used to juggling a hundred things at once, such as demanding jobs, family life and finances, that we can become tied in knots and forget to make time for ourselves.

How often does a mealtime get interrupted by an urgent call from work or how much time do you spend trawling through emails hours after you’ve left the office? Sometimes, because we lack the confidence to say “no” to our boss, our workload becomes so impossible that time management completely goes out of the window.

For the sake of our sanity and our health, it’s so important that we take some time out to assess the situation, otherwise it could result in serious health issues.

We have some useful tips that can steer you in the right direction and help you take control and get back on track for achieving that positive work-life balance.

Stop to think

Before you can move forwards and begin to make changes, you need to pause for a moment and clear your head so that you can gain perspective on your life. Whether it’s at a quiet spa, in a local park or in your bedroom with the door closed, some initial alone time is highly recommended.

Make a list

Once you’re feeling a little more relaxed and your mind is quiet, think about all the things that cause you stress or anxiety and make a list. Just by putting pen to paper, you’ll feel a weight lifted and it will help you to prioritise and put a plan into action.

Organise your workload

Once you can see everything in front of you, allocate realistic amounts of time to each task and try to stick to them without being distracted by the next task on the list. If your workload is a serious concern, speak with your boss and see if there is something they can do to help. Remember, it's okay to say “no” sometimes.

Don’t neglect your home life

Unless it’s absolutely necessary, leave your work at the office door and ensure that once you're at home, you switch off. It’s important to make time for your friends or family as this will help you clear your mind. When you feel happy and more relaxed, this will have a knock-on effect in all areas of your life. You’ll feel your stress levels start to drop and your mind will become clearer, which will help you to focus better on each task at home or work.

Take up a hobby

Whether it’s some form of exercise or a leisure activity, occupying your free time with something that you enjoy can improve both your physical health and mental wellbeing.

The Independent looks at a study that shows two thirds of British employees are unhappy with their work-life balance. Although it can appear daunting to make initial changes to your life, once you have established a better routine, you will become more productive and happier in the long run.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

The benefits of volunteering on your mental wellbeing

Whether you’re a busy professional with a hectic lifestyle or retired with plenty of time on your hands, there are lots of opportunities for volunteer work that you can fit into your schedule.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to volunteer, you’ll find that volunteering your time can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.

Social contact

Working alongside other like-minded volunteers is a great way to make new connections and improve your social skills. Having this kind of support network around us can give us a sense of belonging, thus creating more positive thoughts about ourselves.

Combats stress and anxiety

As well as enjoying social contact, helping others can be a huge mood booster. Volunteer work helps you forget many of your own personal worries and, instead, encourages you to focus your attention on someone else’s needs. You’ll find lots of outdoor volunteer work too, which can release endorphins and provide you with some much-needed vitamin D.

Helps fight depression

When we’re suffering from depression, we tend to feel worthless and self-critical as well as lethargic. By surrounding ourselves with other volunteers, we increase our social network, and this can prevent feelings of loneliness. Helping others gives us a purpose in life and it can increase our self-esteem and self-worth.

Giving makes us happy

When we put others’ needs before our own without expecting anything in return, it gives us a great sense of achievement and makes us feel good about ourselves. For many people, the act of giving is far more rewarding and brings us more happiness than receiving.

Physical wellbeing

Studies have shown that taking care of our physical wellbeing can have a knock-on effect on our mental wellbeing. A lot of volunteer work involves activities that keep us exercising without us possibly realising it. As well as lowering blood pressure, exercise is one of the best ways to keep us mentally in shape and it’s great for boosting mood too.

Working with animals

Studies have shown that animals can play a part in improving mental wellbeing. The mere act of stroking or playing with an animal can help us to feel relaxed and calm. If you’re an animal lover but are unable to keep a pet at home, then voluntary work with animals could be the perfect choice for you.

If you would like to find local volunteer work, the Do-it Trust has lots of information and advice as to where to find suitable opportunities, from first aid and fundraising to support work.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

How to overcome shyness at work

Not everyone is blessed with confidence and for those who suffer from shyness, many situations that others might not even give a second thought, can appear daunting, especially in a place of work.

The Effects of Shyness

Shyness can be almost debilitating to some and can hold a person back from achieving their goals at work. You might avoid public situations, be too scared to speak up for yourself or suffer from anxiety,  and you may feel lonely, but remember that you're not alone and there are ways to overcome your shyness at work.

Be Kind to Yourself

Besides your family and close friends, your shyness might not be quite so obvious to people who don’t know you. Often our inner critic is eager to put us down when others most likely wouldn’t. Try to focus on your positive attributes rather than the negatives and make a list of everything you love about yourself. Remind yourself that you do have a lot to offer and that your thoughts and opinions are equally as important as those of your colleagues.

Face your fears It’s not uncommon to play out a situation or conversation in your head that hasn’t even taken place, so try not to overthink and create negative outcomes where there are none, although this might seem easier said than done. Ask yourself what you're afraid of and what’s the worst that can happen.

Avoid negative people
Regardless of whether we're shy or confident, there will always be negative people who like to put others down in order to make themselves feel better. Remember - this isn’t personal towards you and it’s more of a reflection of their insecurities. If you do come across these types of people, try to avoid them and don’t allow them to steal your energy.

Push your boundariesThis might seem like an impossible task, but once you start to step outside of your comfort zone and push your boundaries, the next time becomes a whole lot easier. Set yourself achievable goals such as contributing to a discussion in a meeting, and take note of people’s responses and reactions – are they really as bad as you’d imagined?

Small steps like this can really help increase your confidence over time and you might even realise that others appreciate your input.

Observe yourself and othersMake a conscious effort to observe people you admire. Listen to how they speak and take note of their body language. How does this differ to yours? What do you admire about them? Practise imitating some of their traits on your own in a place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. Try looking at yourself in the mirror, keep eye contact, keep a confident posture, smile and speak clearly. The more your practise this, the more natural it will feel and the easier it will be to put into practice in the workplace.

Practise confidence building techniques Try building your confidence up outside of the workplace with people you don’t know. Perhaps introduce yourself and start a conversation with a stranger – they don’t know you and you’ll probably never meet them again, so what does their opinion matter? Initially, you can keep the conversation short and build it up over time.

You can then try something similar at work. Maybe break the ice with a colleague on your lunch break by asking how their weekend was.

Visualisation techniquesFear is often caused by our own thoughts rather than actual events, so try to change your thought process by visualising positive outcomes. If there’s a presentation coming up at work that you’ve been dreading, imagine everyone listening intently to what you have to say and praising you afterwards for your excellent delivery.

Consider the benefitsRemember what you have to gain from overcoming shyness at work. Maybe you’ll make new friends, you’ll gain greater respect from your colleagues and boss, or you might even get that promotion and pay rise you’ve been hoping for.

The more you practise these techniques, the easier it will get and the more confident you will become.

For more techniques to boost self confidence, take a look at the Very Well Mind website. 

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Why it’s important to find a job that suits you

Have you found yourself going from job to job feeling unfulfilled or stressed, or have you been stuck in a dead-end role that makes you unhappy?

In the UK, the law states that we should work no more than 48 hours per week (averaged over a number of weeks), however, many of us rarely stick to this. Work can be stressful, draining and exhausting, even more so if you’re in the wrong job.

Because the majority of us have to make a living to pay the bills, we often rush into a career, accepting the first job role available without giving it too much thought. Further down the line, this could be damaging to both mentally and physically.

Have you ever considered that you may have chosen a career that isn’t suited to your personality type? Do you dread the thought of group meetings for fear of having to speak in front of a room full of people? Perhaps your role requires a lot of data analysis but the mere thought of it leaves you anxious. These kinds of fears could not only cause you mental health issues, they will ultimately impact on your success and career satisfaction.

How to find your personality type

Wouldn’t you love a job that you find rewarding, exciting and that brings out the best of your capabilities? You might never have stopped to think about whether your role suits your personality or even what your personality type is, until now.

On this Career Shifters website, you will find links to lots of online psychometric tests that can help you discover your personality type and the types of careers you may excel in. Not only are they really interesting, they can also be great fun. Rather than looking at the skills and qualifications you have, these sorts of tests seek to find out how to react in certain work situations and the types of scenarios which you enjoy, over others. This practice of self reflection can really help us to look at careers that we wouldn’t normally consider.

We spend such a lot of time at work that it’s really worth investing some time to check that the job you’re in is giving you the satisfaction that you deserve. Choosing the best career for your personality could help determine your future happiness, so it makes sense to consider all of your options.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

How to be brave at work and face your fears

There’s a saying that goes: why fit in, when you were born to stand out! However, many of us have a deep-rooted fear of failure or criticism in the workplace, which means we are more than happy to stay beneath the radar and remain unnoticed. While this may work for a time, there are occasions at work – when negotiating pay rises or promotions, for example – that we have to stand up and be counted.

It’s not uncommon to have sleepless nights at the thought of having to give a presentation in front of a crowd or when faced with the prospect of being more assertive with a colleague to resolve an issue. But in order to move forward it’s absolutely necessary to overcome our fears and step outside of our comfort zone for time to time.

Fortunately, there are strategies that you can practise to build your confidence and give you the courage you need to be brave and assert your ideas.

What’s the worst that would happen?

The moment you choose to overthink and imagine outcomes of a situation, you fill yourself with fear. Let’s face it, you’re unlikely to lose your job just because you’ve expressed a well-thought out idea or asked for a pay rise. So sometimes, it really does help to think about what the worst outcome would really be – and it’s never as bad as your initial emotional reaction. When you approach any situation from a calm, logical perspective, you’ll realise the outcome is usually much more positive than you imagine. Practise this and you could save yourself days of stress in the process.

Building confidence

In order to be brave at work, you need to build confidence and have self-belief that your ideas are worthy and that your opinions matter. Begin by expressing your thoughts clearly and make sure you back up your views with research – people can’t argue with facts! Practise the conversations in your head – or engage your friends and family members in some role play exercises. Remember, not everyone is going to agree with you all the time, but everyone brings a unique perspective to their work, so chances are your opinion might address something that others hadn’t even considered.

Attitude is everything

Our automatic reaction to addressing a colleague who doesn’t agree with our opinions is usually to become defensive. We take criticism personally, when it’s usually not intended to be. The best response is to give people the opportunity to address their issues with you personally and answer them as best as you can – calmly. Remember, it’s about working as a team for the best interests of the company. Defend your views confidently but be willing to listen to others’ views at the same time. No-one gets it right all the time. One of the best ways to overcome your fears is by accepting constructive criticism. Sometimes, it can be a hard pill to swallow but it’s a great way of increasing your confidence. When we accept our own flaws and mistakes, we learn how to improve ourselves and will find that people will begin to respect us more as a result.

For some more tips on how to build confidence, read one of our previous blog posts here.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Making the leap to leader

It’s not uncommon to experience a change in attitudes and relationships when making the transformation from co-worker into leader. Peers who were once your friends are now the people whose performance you are driving and whose potential you are hoping to realise.

It can be an extremely difficult move from co-worker to leader, but there are ways that you can avoid any negativity and make a smooth transition. This article from The Psychologist looks at some of the ways to make the successful leap from co-worker to leader and whether it’s jealousy from your peers that you’re facing, or a lack of respect, here is some helpful advice.

Skill up

Your employer must have seen your management potential, but your peers may not – yet! So a great way to help you manage the transition to leader is by attending a management course. It may not teach you anything you don’t know, but it's a good way to validate your new role with your co-workers and meet other people in a similar situation as yourself. Training also gives you the opportunity to discuss your concerns with someone other than your boss or former peers.

Set expectations

Being open and honest about the change in your role is the first step to acceptance. Arrange one-on-one meetings with your team and discuss what these changes will mean to the team. It’s important to clear the air and get any grievances out in the open from the word go. This can resolve any initial resentment and sets a precedent for the future. Allowing employees to share their feelings can also prevent them from discussing any issues with their colleagues, and promote an open door relationship going forward.

Manage your attitude

One of the reasons former co-workers may fear your new position is that they expect your attitude towards them to change. Although this will be true in some ways – you’ll need to manage their performance, for example - it’s important that you don’t take a dominating or oppressive management style. There’s a fine line between being over friendly and being dictatorial but once you’ve found the balance, they are more likely to respect your position.

Listen and include

Often, employees get frustrated at work because they don’t feel appreciated or included in management decisions. Ultimately, decisions need to be made by management but that isn’t to say you can’t take their thoughts into consideration beforehand. When planning goals, speak with your team and listen to their ideas – you could find that they have valid points and appreciate you asking for their input.

Give praise

There’s nothing more disheartening than achieving something great at work and either not being recognised for it, or management taking all the glory. Make sure you praise or reward your staff when they've gone the extra mile or have exceeded targets. You understand the job that they’re doing, so remember to make a point of recognising their efforts regularly.

Look and learn

One of the best ways to learn how to become a great leader is by observing how other managers behave towards their employees. Not only can you see how they create positive relationships, you can also learn from those managers who have yet to gain the respect and support of their team. Listen to how they speak to their staff, observe their body language and watch how their employees respond to them.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Successful stakeholder relationship skills

It’s International Day of Happiness today. Most of us will have a good sense of what makes us happy outside of work but, given that we spend most of our waking life at work, it makes sense that a feeling of contentment at work contributes to our overall happiness.

Positive personal interaction makes the world go round and one of the keys to happiness at work is the relationships we form with our colleagues and other stakeholders. By learning how to build productive connections with other people, we can improve our overall happiness and mental wellbeing.

Stakeholder management is usually regarded as a business process. This assumes that relationships are rational and that we can manage these interactions in a documented way. What this fails to address is that stakeholders are human beings and, as such, operate on an emotional level. By appreciating both the rational and emotional aspects of stakeholder relationships we can build deeper connections that deliver mutually beneficial results. Here are some tried and tested tips to help you connect with your colleagues and co-workers.

Accept that you are dealing with people, not processes

The first step in relationship building is appreciating that people don’t always behave in a consistent or predictable way. Every relationship requires effort and an appreciation of where other people are coming from. That’s how you build trust – and people work better with people that they trust and respect. When building relationships with people at work, it’s pays to try and look beyond their job titles to see what drives and motivate them on an emotional level. You can read more on how to do this in this article from Psychology Today.

Give and take goes a long way to building goodwill

Learning the art of compromise is essential to building mutually beneficial relationships in the workplace. Far from it being about giving in, it’s more about understanding and accepting that there are always different viewpoints in any given situation. Give and take is about respecting the opinions of others and being prepared to change your own expectations and priorities – perhaps even your proposed plan of action - for the good of your personal relationships.

Say what you mean and do what you say

Decisiveness is essential to building productive stakeholder relationships, especially if you want to take people with you on a particular course of action. Collaboration and consensus have their place and are laudable, but ultimately people respect those colleagues who are not afraid to make decisions when needed to. Working with people who constantly sit on the fence or are always looking to others for approval and agreement can be very frustrating for co-workers. Taking decisions shows that you are responsible and this is a solid basis on which to build trust with stakeholders.

Successful stakeholder management takes time. It’s worth remembering that difficult relationships with colleagues and stakeholders at work can be emotionally draining and very distracting, which can impact your own performance, so it really pays to make the effort to make your work relationships positive. You can find more tips on how to build beneficial work relationships in this Psychology Today article.

These are our ideas for building successful stakeholder relationships. What would you add to the list? Please comment below and let us know…

Monday 18 March 2019

Leaders need to recharge their batteries too

We get it. Everyone is working hard, business conditions are extremely tough at the moment – especially with the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU – and employers are expecting their teams to deliver more, with less.

As a leader, there can be an added pressure of being seen to be extra resilient and hard-working. Your team look to you to take the lead and you want to set a good example. It’s true that as a leader, you set the bar for your team. They embody and emulate the work values and ethic that you project. However, it’s also true that when you work too hard, neglecting your own self-care, this can negatively impact the team around you.

When a leader is fully engaged and emotionally / physically well, your team will flourish. Driving your people forward when your own battery is running low is nigh on impossible. Not only will your ability to make decisions confidently be impaired, the energy you project onto others is catching and will result in an apathetic work environment.

It’s not easy to see for yourself when you are functioning at less than your optimal levels, but there are a couple of red flags to watch out for.


When we're running on empty, even the smallest of things can irritate us. Events that we'd happily navigate previously, really irk us. If you're finding it difficult to take everyday events in your stride, it’s time to take some time out!


Our natural instinct, when we're well rested and focussed, is to put the needs of our team before our own. A sure sign that you need to practise some self care is when you're more concerned with what’s going on in your own life, than the wellbeing of others.

Of course, identifying that you need to recharge is just the first step. We need to do something about it. This article from Psychology Today  gives some valuable insight into how well-known leaders mix business with leisure to give their best to their teams. And while most of us are unable to follow Bill Gate’s example of a regular ‘think week’ in a wood cabin, we can all find ways to regularly give our brain the break it needs. Here’s how:

Build some short bursts of reflection time into your diary – mark it as busy / do not disturb – and use this time to really think about something totally unrelated to work. Complete a crossword, do some colouring, read a chapter of a book. Switching your brain up from time to time actually helps to rewire your thinking and make you more focussed.

Living in a digital age is exhausting, we never switch off. Promise yourself – and your family – that you will set regular time aside every day when you will unplug completely. The freedom this gives your brain cannot be underestimated, as it allows you to be fully ‘present’ in other activities.

We talked about getting closer to nature in one of our previous posts - it’s a great way to recharge - spending even a small amount of time outside everyday can really help to clear the mind and re-energise the soul.

These are our ideas for recharging your batteries – what works for you? Share your ideas below…

Wednesday 20 February 2019

The art of positive self-talk

Self-depreciation is the default setting for most of us. We see only the negatives or areas for improvement, rather than our many qualities and skills.

Ironically, when we see this same behaviour in others, we criticise them for it: "If only she didn’t put herself down so much", we say, or "why can’t he see what a great catch he is".

The fact is, most of us are humble people. Bragging and blowing our own trumpet does not come easily. And that’s fine – arrogance is not a good quality – however, what we could all do with is some positive self-talk. It’s time to reassure ourselves of our own abilities and recognise the progress we’re making.

Positive self-talk makes us feel good about ourselves and can push us to perform even better – fulfilling our true potential. It’s the optimistic voice on our shoulder that fosters our self-belief and drives us to do bigger, better things with our lives.

On the flip side, negative self-talk, brings us down. It dampens our enthusiasm and stifles our performance. It doesn’t rejoice in our successes, rather focuses on what we didn’t do, or where we could have improved.

All of us could benefit from more positive self-talk in our lives. When it comes to how to do it, this article from Psychology Today suggests that using the third person in self-talk can help you step back and think more objectively about our responses and emotions. It can also help you reduce stress and anxiety.

All too often, our inner voice is predominately negative. We tend to remember the negative comments from our childhood and school days. The problem with negative comments is that they can become self-fulfilling. We replay them over and over to the point that we believe them to be true.

The sad truth is that we are often much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on other people. It takes a lot of positive self-talk to override our negative conditioning, but it can be done. Look at this article from Psychcentral for some examples of the things positive people tell themselves.

As a bare minimum, we should aim not to say anything to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to other people. Let’s afford ourselves the same respect and self-restraint that we would direct towards others.

Positive self-talk will not stop us from messing up from time to time. We all make mistakes. Positive self-talk is not about brushing over the negative or challenging events that happen in our life, it is about looking at what happens to us with a constructive eye, and with a realistic perspective. It’s about recognising the truth in situations and looking at how we can learn from our mistakes to help us grow in to better human beings. To expect perfection in yourself - or anyone else - is unrealistic. So let’s try to be kind to ourselves - always!

Wednesday 6 February 2019

How to identify your bad habits at work and sort them out

Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to find fault in others yet we seldom take the time to review our own working practices? Nobody is perfect, that’s true. It is only by recognising and acknowledging our own failings at work that we can start to do something about addressing them.

We’re not talking about the big things either – like the kind of development issues that should feature on your annual training plans for example – we’re looking at the annoying little habits that have crept into your work routines. The behaviours that are likely infuriating your co-workers and stopping you from achieving your full potential.

We take a look at some of the most common bad habits at work – and what we can do to nip them in the bud.

(Not) ready for anything
Do you pride yourself on getting through each working day by the seat of your pants? Do you consider yourself an expert at winging it in team meetings? Being unprepared is unavoidable at times – but managers and co-workers can easily see through colleagues who do not take the time to organise themselves. They don’t think you’re too busy, they take it as a sign that you don’t value what you are doing. Our top tip is to plan as much time into your diary to prepare as you will spend at the meeting itself. If you find time management an issue, there are lots of resources you can use to help you. Read these tips from Psychology Today, which  are designed for home-workers but apply equally to people who are office based.

Too late!
There’s always that one co-worker who never arrives on time! We’re all busy people – so if this is you, perhaps it’s time to think about two things: 1) the impact your tardiness has on your team mates (why are you so special that everyone must wait for you?) and 2) what is it that makes you late? This article from Psychology Today suggests that often it is through the fear of wasting time – unfortunately, the impression that constant lateness makes is the exact opposite: that you couldn’t care less about the meeting – or your job and colleagues.


Loose lips

It’s great to get to know your colleagues and co-workers on a social level, it really helps to develop a collaborative and constructive team environment. However, if you find your chitter chatter usually involves talking about the people that you work with, then you need to do something about it. Although fun at the time, gossiping can make you look untrustworthy, not only that it also wastes a lot of valuable time, which others can resent. Try to make all your chatter constructive and work-related, keep away from the personal stuff – that’s best left for the pub!

Dream on

Every team needs a dreamer – they’re the ones who keep others motivated by reminding us all of what is possible and the dizzy heights we can all aspire to. Daydreamers are the ideas people, they are creative and help us to solve problems. However, daydreaming can also be a sign of someone who isn’t fully committed to their job, or their employer. If you like to let your mind wonder, do it constructively – and set yourself a timer, so that your full day isn’t ‘wasted’ looking up to the stars while the everyday toil gets neglected.

These are just a few of the most common bad habits people display at work. What would you add? We’d welcome your comments!