EP01 – In the Stress Lab: Workplace Stress (A Podcast for HR Professionals)

Artboard 2.png

Examining Stress in the Workplace

In the first episode of In the Stress Lab, Cathy Harris and I sat down to examine workplace stress and explore the following questions: 

  • Why are stress-related illnesses on the rise?
  • Where does the responsibility lie?
  • What are the main culprits contributing to stress, and what do employees put their stress down to?
  • How can the design and culture of an organisation often be contrary to what we need as human beings?
  • What are the first, simple and practical steps we can all take to help address stress in the workplace?

Listen to Episode 1 of our podcast below! 

Comment

3 Surprising Ways to Break the Downward Spiral of Work Related Stress

October-Blog.png

A workplace programme I taught recently on Stress Management and Resilience Training, yielded surprising results.

It's always pleasing when people enjoy themselves, but particularly so when it is because they get (re-) acquainted with themselves. That is an invigorating and joyful experience.

Stress is pernicious. We often don’t realise how deeply it’s engulfed us. We let it creep up on us and accept its discomfort as our everyday normal. Be reminded that the word itself has little meaning. It is an abstract term and therefore takes on the meaning we each ascribe to it in our head.

For this reason it is important, to identify what we mean as a group, before we deal with it. The participants on this course identified the following important markers:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Poor focus
  • Compromised performance and joylessness
  • Feeling more isolated from those around them and an ebbing away of their sense of worth and trust in their own abilities.
  • Less trustful of each other, which affected team efforts.

If we witnessed this in our pets, we’d be up in arms. We’d know that this is not what nature intended. A stressed organism is in the process of imploding, and therefore shrinking. Compare this to a healthy life, the way it was meant: you see growth, creativity, joy and a sense of belonging and connection. Think only of a budding flower or unfolding fern. Our lives too, should be about expanding, growing and reaching out.

The course consisted of six 2-hour sessions spread out over 3 months and the feedback was pretty unanimous - a real reminder of how shared our experiences are; something we fail to notice in the isolation of stress.  I loved how simple it actually was to make small changes with high impact results.  After the course, participants reported:

  • Lowered stress levels
  • Increased clarity of mind
  • The ability to make better choices and comfortably set boundaries (without feeling guilty)
  • An improved sense of connectedness and communication with colleagues and family members.

It all begins with the realisation that you are an important enough person to make time for.

Time is finite and precious, as a result. Think carefully about how you spend it.

That realisation can breathe fresh oxygen into our minds and invigorate our intentions to make healthy changes.

Carve out time for yourself and do these 3 things to break the downward spiral of stress... 

1.    Re-engage with something that absorbs you

Hobbies and interests fully absorb us. They invite us to engage and develop skills. We change as a result.

One woman went back to playing the guitar on a very regular basis. A man realised how the disconnection from his routine environment would alter his perception of work-related problems and give him new ideas. He took up daily walks and although he wasn’t always able to change the walk, by focussing his attention outwards, these walks were always different. Nature changes itself continuously. The newness of each walk made him experience the fullness of life around him, which reduced the size of his problems.

Should you be wondering about the time such activities might take, put a timer on your mobile phone and find out how many hours a day you surf across cyberspace. If we aren’t accountable to ourselves for the time we spend on the internet it dulls the mind: social media reduces our sense of self-worth and we don’t develop skills nor does it offer the brain a complete break like being with real friends, pursuing a sport or other hobby. However addictive and seemingly real, the internet will never replace real life.

2.    Punctuate the day more clearly

Regularly press the pause button to stop, breathe and take stock.

Several people built in regular moments to create these mini clearings during their day:

At home: to set intentions for the day or the week ahead; to look back on the day before deciding what to do with the evening and plan for tomorrow. It could be by getting up a bit earlier and have some time to oneself before plunging into the day. We start to feel more present and better in ourselves if we regularly lift ourselves out of the fast moving stream of life and look down at it from the bank. That stillness offers a chance to hear more clearly your own inner voice.

At work: look for opportunities to consciously take a slow deep breath between activities, before responding or pressing the send button on the email. How often do we not make ourselves guilty of reacting to everything that happens or is said around us. Try encouraging others to ‘tell you a little bit more about that’.

Notice (i) what a relief it is to discover that it isn’t necessary to jump into every conversation with an opinion, (ii) how much energy you save, and (iii) how stopping yourself in this way deepens connection.

Pressing the pause button creates a space between a stimulus and your response.

3.    Coming home to yourself

You may laugh when I tell you that science is only just discovering how important it is to engage your body in your life.

The practice of mindfulness - whether through the breath, mindful movements or stretches or by connecting with the felt sense of your experience - gives people a stronger, safer and more satisfying experience of themselves. Coming out of our heads and dropping into our bodies changes how we interact with the world.

One last thought... 

There is no such thing as a stress free life. We can go as far as saying that a stress free life would atrophy the brain. It is healthy to step out of our comfort zone and have problems to solve. Just as exposure to germs strengthens our physical immune system, so too can we build and harness our emotional immune system.

Resilience training does just that. It empowers us to ride the turbulent waves of life and to emerge as stronger, bolder and more human.


Renée-van-der-Vloodt-V2-Small.jpg

About Renée

Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based in Woodchurch (near Ashford), Kent.

Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.

Renée provides executive resilience coaching and stress reduction programmes for teams. 

Comment

(Audio) Do you experience the phenomenon of emotional backdraft?

Emotional-Backdraft.png

After we recorded A Guide to Understanding AngerI had a niggling sense that there was an important question I'd missed. It was this: why is it that when everything is going well, I start to worry about everything that could go wrong and get a surge of discomfort?

So, Catherine Robson, who helps me pull together all these recordings, and I sat down to explore this question and the phenomenon known in the world of Mindful Self-Compassion as backdraft

When we begin to show ourselves self-compassion, the pain can often increase at first. Just as when everything is going right, we often worry about the future or get a surge of anger or discomfort.

As Dr Kristen Neff says, “Love reveals everything unlike itself.”

Backdraft is a firefighting term that describes when a door or window is opened or shattered in a burning building – the oxygen rushes in, giving the flames new fuel, and the flames burst out. The same is true when you open the doors to your heart.

Listen to this short audio recording where I speak to Catherine about what backdraft is and why it occurs. You may be familiar with the scenarios and examples we discuss... 

Listen now or download to listen later

If you enjoyed this recording and want to learn more, take a look at my online shop where you'll find A Guide to Understanding Anger and other audio guides. 

logo-first-name.png
 

About Renée

Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based in Woodchurch (near Ashford), Kent.

Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.

Renée provides executive resilience coaching and stress reduction programmes for teams. 

Comment

How we can all individually help reduce stress in the workplace

How we can all individually help reduce stress in the workplace

Recently, I spent a day at a well-being conference organised by the London branch of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). It was packed.  I knew things were bad in the workplace, but I had no idea quite how bad.

Read More
Comment

In the Press: Cool to be kind (Quietening the Inner Critic of the Creative Mind)

An active and vivid imagination often spurs creative people to achieve great things, but it can also conjure up doom-and-gloom scenarios that isolate and bring on feelings of self-loathing.

Perhaps it’s time creatives showed themselves more self-compassion?

Read my latest article for Breathe Magazine and discover: 

  • What being a 'creative person' really means
  • Why some creative people feel so intensely
  • How to quieten your inner critic
  • How being kind to yourself can lead you to develop a stable and more consistent sense of self-worth

Pick up a copy of the magazine, available in all good stockists or online – or download the article (for free) above.


Could you benefit from sessions of coaching or therapy via Skype?

Over the past year, I've been working with increasing numbers of people via Skype (or Facetime) as it suits certain types of of situations very well – including dealing with workplace stress and short sessions for parents to focus on specific difficulties as they arise.


Renée-van-der-Vloodt-V2.jpg

Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based between Woodchurch (Ashford), Kent and the Elysian Centre in Rye, East Sussex.

Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.

Comment

In the Press: 5 things a psychotherapist wants you to know

Telling people you’re a psychotherapist is an instant conversation stopper.

For all our interest in wellbeing, there remains a taboo about the topic of mental health and psychotherapy.

Perhaps it’s a fear of someone rooting around in your past, or anxiety about receiving confirmation of what so many fear: being flawed. Or maybe you dread the thought of being trapped into a lifetime of therapy. Or perhaps you have resigned yourself to always feeling this way.

As a psychotherapist who has been practising for more than 20 years, there are five things I’d like you to know – and I wrote an article for Breathe Magazine detailing exactly what they are. 

Pick up a copy of the magazine, available in all good stockists or online – or download the article (with the most beautiful illustrations) above.


Could you benefit from sessions of coaching or therapy via Skype?

Over the past year, I've been working with increasing numbers of people via Skype (or Facetime) as it suits certain types of of situations very well – including dealing with workplace stress and short sessions for parents to focus on specific difficulties as they arise.


Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based between Woodchurch (Ashford), Kent and the Elysian Centre in Rye, East Sussex.

Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.

Comment

AUDIO: Do you struggle to implement healthy changes in your life?

AUDIO: Do you struggle to implement healthy changes in your life?

There are many reasons why we may find it hard to reach a personal goal or to get a new project off the ground. One thing is for sure – labelling yourself with a derogatory term isn’t going to solve this problem.

Read More
Comment

In the Press: All we need is...

Nature predisposes us to thrive and flourish.

Yet more and more people are struggling to find their place in the world, and mental health problems are on the increase. What do we need to reverse the trend and to build health, happiness and resilience into the fabric of our lives?

Maslow and, more recently, the Human Givens Paradigm offer us real answers that are in keeping with the rules of nature to which we are subject. Rather than looking immediately at stress-related symptoms, they suggest we first take a step back and look at the bigger picture: getting our emotional needs met.

In Issue 5 of Breathe Magazine, I explore our nine emotional needs and how you can get them met.

Pick up a copy of the magazine, available in all good stockists or online – or download the article (with the most beautiful illustrations) above.

In the Press: When Life Tips out of Balance

Don’t we all love that effortless feeling of flow?

The times when life unfolds with ease and we experience a clarity of mind and levels of energy that imbue us with what seems a permanent sense of optimism and inspiration. I often wish I could bottle that feeling and pull it off the shelf when life seems more of an uphill struggle.

It’s curious, though, how difficult we find it to notice ourselves drifting away from that ‘happy home’; how long it can take us to realise that our life is out of balance, and in fact, that we’re not very well at all.

In Issue 5 of Breathe Magazine, I explore what to do 'when life tips out of balance' – and how to return to that feeling of flow. 

Pick up a copy of the magazine, available in all good stockists or online – or download the article (with the most beautiful illustrations) above.

breathe-magazine
Comment

AUDIO: How to break out of your irritable mood

When you're feeling irritable and snappy, it can feel like you've drifted far away from yourself.

With the added pressure and uncertainty of life, we lash out at our partners, family or co-workers. But how to break out of your bad mood?

The answer lies in 'returning home' – back to your kind, resourceful self. 

Below is practical, guided exercise I use with clients to help them reconnect with their inner resources. The more you strengthen your connection to your calm and wise inner voice, the more "bounce" you'll develop and the quicker you'll be able to snap out of your moods. 

Keep coming back to this exercise when you need a tool to help you when you're feeling snappy – and let me know how you get on! 

 

HOW TO HELP YOURSELF AND OTHERS MANAGE ANGER SUCCESSFULLY

A ONE-DAY WORKSHOP WITH RENÉE VAN DER VLOODT

SATURDAY 6TH MAY 9.30AM – 4.30PM
REGENT'S COLLEGE, LONDON

This practical workshop is for health professionals, teachers, line managers, and anyone interested in truly comprehending and learning to deal with this most misunderstood of our human emotions.

This workshop will give you: 

Up-to-date insights and understanding            

  • New insights into the real causes of (excessive) anger that often go unnoticed — even by health care professionals
  • Understanding of the upside of anger    
  • Ways to identify the patterns of angry behaviour and an insight into the different and often hidden ways anger disorders manifest themselves including subversive behaviour
  • The latest scientific understanding of how anger is generated and how chronic anger affects physical and emotional health
  • and much more!

About Renée

Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based between Woodchurch (Ashford), Kent and the Elysian Centre in Rye, East Sussex.

Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.

Book a session with Renée » 

 

In the Press: Why Bother?

In Issue 4 of Breathe Magazine (January / February 2017), you'll find my article: "Why Bother?".

We can be our own worst critics – and this negative internal voice can wear us down. We wind up wondering, "why should I bother?". 

But there are things we can do to reignite our sense of joy and optimism – and feel connected to ourselves and motivated to explore our innate potential and the world beyond. 

Pick up a copy of the magazine, available in all good stockists or online – or download the article (with the most beautiful illustrations) below.

Comment

Celebrate with Generosity of Spirit

Celebrate with Generosity of Spirit

Like Tennessee Williams, ‘I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.’

This is not to say that I haven’t been particularly blessed with a loving family and extraordinary friends, but it is that ‘uncalled for’ generosity and connection to me and my fate that has deepened my sense of belonging, by being made to feel that my life matters.

Read More
Comment

In the Press: Breathe Magazine (November 16)

Breathe Issue 3 cover.jpg

In Issue 3 of Breathe Magazine, you'll find my article: "Calm the chaos of the creative mind".

Inspired by my work with creative people and audio CD, this article gives you practical ideas on how to stay focussed, tackle time management, work on your relationships and discover the 'real you'. 

Pick up a copy of the magazine, available in all good stockists or online – or download the article (with the most beautiful illustrations) below.

 

Want to learn more?

This article is based on my audio CD: Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind. It provides an in-depth guide to unearthing and harnessing your true potential.

For more information and to purchase the CD (including a free ebook) click here


About Renée

Renée van der Vloodt ( M.A. , FHGI ) is a psychotherapist and coach – and has had a private practice for over 20 years, which is now based between Woodchurch (Ashford), Kent and the Elysian Centre in Rye, East Sussex.

Renée is the author of the CD Calm the Chaos of the Creative Mind and works with children and adults as a coach and therapist to help them overcome life's challenges and emotional difficulties including stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anger or addictive behaviour.

Book a session or explore the website

Comment

The Hidden Face of Anger

The Hidden Face of Anger

Subtle and subversive bullying tactics are rife in families, organisations and in society at large. How often have you come across the ‘polite’ cold shoulder or other blanking tactics, the perpetually sullen face or malicious gossip thinly disguised as concern?  What about manipulation through ‘illness’, or other forms of sabotage?

Read More
Comment

NOW FULL: FREE Wellbeing Talk at The Elysian Centre: The Hidden Causes of Anger

NOW FULL: FREE Wellbeing Talk at The Elysian Centre: The Hidden Causes of Anger

In our stressed and over-stretched modern lives, anger outbursts, and chronic anger, affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Untreated, anger comes at a high cost to individual lives, to organisations and to society at large.

Read More
Comment

How to keep your anxiety in check

How to keep your anxiety in check

Learn how to keep your anxiety in check with this guide – PLUS download your free printable poster with a helpful acronym to help you (even when you're busy or on the move). 

Read More
Comment

Supportive Parents: 5 Ways to be more whole-heartedly present for your child

Supportive Parents: 5 Ways to be more whole-heartedly present for your child

When a parent becomes present for her child in a whole-hearted way, the child’s whole autonomic nervous system can calm down. The resulting openness will enable him to stay connected and think creatively about any of the challenges he faces. He’ll experience what it’s like to be the master of his own ship.

Read More
Comment

Making the Most of Your Summer: Reconnect with the Joy of Living

Making the Most of Your Summer: Reconnect with the Joy of Living

When we regularly break out of our habitual, unconscious patterns, we begin to feel more alive and indeed more connected. Here are some thoughts on how to move out of feeling stuck – and reconnect with the joy of living PLUS a worksheet for you to set your intentions for your summer! 

Read More
Comment

A surprisingly simple way to counter everyday fatigue

A surprisingly simple way to counter everyday fatigue

Do you ever feel tired and lack lustre without knowing what to do about it?

Have you stopped to ask yourself what might be sapping your energy and vitality?

We have busy lives, worrying about money, jobs, our families… If you dig a little deeper you’ll uncover one of the greatest and most hidden causes of fatigue: our inner critic. 

Read More
Comment

NEWS: The Human Givens Institute’s Register of Therapists is awarded PSA accreditation

NEWS: The Human Givens Institute’s Register of Therapists is awarded PSA accreditation

The Human Givens Institute’s (HGI) register of therapists has now been awarded the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) accreditation for Health & Social Care – read this to find out more...

Read More
Comment