Pathways is moving to the Mornington Peninsula. Watch this space for our new location.
Wellness in the Workplace
For many years I was involved in managing and paying the bills for employee health programmes. I saw millions of dollars spent every year on injured or sick employees, with a large proportion from stress and/or back and neck injuries. We managed hospital and insurance costs, employee absenteeism, return to work approaches while trying to maintain overall company employee engagement.
The best company I worked for was one where the preventative strategies far outweighed the treatment provisions. Employees were provided with access to allied health professionals and were encouraged to manage themselves in the workplace- to take breaks, to exercise, to actually have some fun.
Employee Wellness Programmes are not just a passing trend. They are proven to have sustainable results.
Victorinox in Switzerland actually decreased their absenteeism by 42% by having an Alexander Technique Teacher on staff.
So whether you are an employer or an employee, think about the type of workplace you want to work in and see what changes you can make. The best changes are the ones that come from within!
Ever felt your hairs stand on end, when you hear a bump in the night? What would you do if there were an intruder, would you stay and fight or would you run? This is hopefully a hypothetical scenario, but you can no doubt imagine, your heart starting to race, your breath becoming shallow, your eyes wide open and sensations pulsing through your body awaiting the next signal. The release of adrenaline heightens the body’s readiness to flee or fight. Fear or heightened stress prompts a complete emotional, physical and chemical response.
Fundamental fears such a basic survival, warmth and being eaten by an animal have been minimised and now replaced by running for the bus, meeting that deadline or getting the kids to school on time. Extended or repeated stress and fear places strain on the body resulting in high blood pressure, heart disease and anxiety. You need to learn how to manage your fears and stressors. The first level of defence is subconscious evidenced by pulling your head back, changes in breath etc. Secondly, your conscious mind comes into play, where you are able to influence and potentially choose your response. Emotional and physical response can be retrained and relearned. Maybe you don’t have to be scared of speaking to that crowd after all.
In closing, don’t forget that a little fear is actually a good thing, the stressful situations challenge your brain to create new options and pathways for processing and the chemical release actually aids to create new memories and improve your mood. Be honest, a little excited buzz is great once in a while!
Can you remember back to the first time you noticed that you couldn’t quite see as well as you thought? For me it was when I was 26, playing about with a friend’s glasses at the office and suddenly realised the venetian blinds actually had very crisp edges. I then went on to wear glasses and contacts for the next 10 years. During my Alexander Technique training we were not encouraged to wear visual aids and to work with our eyes naturally. Well I must say they improved dramatically and others in my class even went from a 7 to a 5 “in glasses speak” in only 12 months.
We were guided by the principles of Ophthalmologist William Bates (1860-1931) who through his works including Better Eyesight Without Glasses, found that eye strain and poor vision was commonly related to one’s habitual strain and misuse of the eye and its proper functioning. My eye teachers have come from a wonderful group called Altevi (www.altevi.com) who specifically focus (excuse the pun) on addressing habitual eye strain and how it can be relieved to improve eyesight naturally.
So what can you do about it now? We firstly take off your glasses or contacts at least once a day, in a place you feel safe and explore seeing without them. We often push our eyes out of our heads in an attempt to focus and see better. This causes more strain and tension on the eye and surrounding muscles, stops us blinking and narrows our overall field of vision.
Try this: Step 1- Allow your eyes to release naturally back into their sockets, as though they are resting back onto their own little cushion. Notice what that is like. Allow yourself to blink and lubricate your eye.
Step 2: Now allow what ever you are looking at to “come towards you”. So instead of you trying to see out… allow the picture to come in towards your soft, relaxed eyes.
Step 3: Notice how much you can actually see around you. Not only can you see directly in front of you, but also your peripheral vision will be activated to allow you to see to the left, right and up and down. (Hint: Pop our eyes out and see how far your peripheral vision extends….hmm, what a difference hey?) Ok, I know, let them relax again, a much nicer and clearer place to be.
Step 4: Notice how often you tense your eyes and try to “concentrate”. Once you notice, can you allow them to release and start to form a new healthy eye habit?
There are many activities that can be integrated into your day to improve your vision naturally. If you are in Rural Victoria, come along to our workshop at Beechworth on 21st May and we will have a workshop in second half of 2012 for our Melbournians colleagues. For our international folks, check out Altevi for a workshop near you!
“All I need is a low stress job then I will be fine.”
Whilst jobs do vary in their level of intensity, all jobs have a level of stress that is just part of the deal. It may be tight timelines, a demanding boss, productivity targets, bitchy co-workers or even not having enough challenging work to do. If we let it there will ALWAYS be something that can trigger our stress response.
A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 July 2010 quoted work as the number one stress factor, followed by uncertainty about the future and finances. Lifeline CEO Dawn O’Neil said that the result of the crisis support agency’s annual survey equated to a rise of 650,000 in the number of Australians under stress, compared with the previous year.” The only thing that we can control is ourselves and our own response to workplace stress.
Think about it, have you been stressed in all your jobs? You are you after all and a friend once said to me as I claimed ‘in my old life I was a ‘workaholic’, that it didn’t matter what job I did, the potential for overwork and stress was always there if I let it be. So what can you do about it?
When you are stressed your body goes into a state of tension, your muscles contract, you breathe heavily and you are unable to think clearly about your options. What are your own stress responses? Does your jaw lock, are your eyes fixed, do your legs tighten or do pull your head back and down and tense your neck?
As you run on the treadmill of life you need to be able to hit the “STOP” button and give yourself a moment… a ‘critical moment’? to decide what to do. So next time, remember this blog and allow yourself a split second to notice your own reaction to stress and commit to changing just one thing. It may be to release your jaw or allow your eyes to soften. It may be to take a deep breathe. Just this one change can alter your overall response and allow you to see things a little differently. Try it, what have you got to lose, just your stress!
Take a look at:
What is better posture? Well it’s probably not what you think… remember when your mother or teacher told you to sit up straight and you held yourself so tight you might burst. Holding excess muscle tension will actually make you tired and cause aches, pain and possibly injury. Good posture is actually about easeful co-ordination and freedom of movement.
Your body is designed to hold itself up. Think of a tent. There are guy ropes distributed around the tent to allow it to stand upright, each of the ropes as a counter balance to the others. Well that’s what happens in our bodies. (It’s actually called a tensegrity structure.) We have layers of muscles, all designed to expand and contract to allow us to balance and move.
Most people hold far too much tension in their bodies and often overwork or misuse themselves to the point of stress or pain. The Alexander Technique is a process of educating our bodies to address harmful habits of posture and movement. In 2008, the British Medical Journal published an extensive study on the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique for the relief of chronic back pain. Significant pain relief was experienced with at least six Alexander Technique lessons and regular light exercise. See our Resources section for further information
The heading of our first blog is actually taken from the Panadol Australia website. The makers of medicated pain relief advocate better posture for pain relief. We’ve known it all along.
So for a little less pain and a little more ease contact the team at Pathways to Performance® and ‘…rethink your potential™’.