March is a time of year that often inspires a good spring clean! It tends to involve clearing unwanted items from the home/ garage/ wardrobe, reorganising personal space, and generally going a bit Marie Kondo… or for the green-fingered among us, perhaps creating a fresh and improved outdoor space. Whatever it is, once it’s done, the results often leave one with feelings of great satisfaction (and mild exhaustion).
I for one will probably embark on some sort of ‘spring clean’, or at least think about it!
So - whilst we’re on the topic, how about a spring clean for yourself? I don’t mean a shower (let’s hope that’s already a regular occurrence…) but more of a pause and reset. Many of you reading this article are committed to helping others – it comes naturally and is also part of your profession. In the midst of unpredictable and demanding working environments, I think it’s important to be reminded that before you can help others, you need to help yourself… And this is not something to be sniffed at or overlooked!
Here are 6 ideas to get you started with your pause and reset:
What else would you add? Let me know in the comments!
This month it feels very timely to be reflecting upon media use and the potential impact on both ourselves and our young people today. Childline says children now face a "constant onslaught from cyber-bullying and social media." The charity says social media is leading to youngsters "comparing themselves to others, and feeling inferior, ugly, and unpopular as a result." The difference for children in our modern society, is that there is no escape after 3.30pm... Bullying continues on, whatever the device.
For many parents out there, there is a need for more equipping in technology - not only to keep abreast of new developments but also to be empowered to step up. Maintaining an open relationship that enables our children to share their online world, is increasingly as important as knowing about their face-to-face experiences. For many more vulnerable young people (especially those who are socially anxious) , their online world, may feel more real and dominant than day to day life. We hear from our expert Zoe Dale, as she shares her thoughts and experiences:
If you work with young people and are concerned about self harm and media use, join us in London on Thursday 21st March where Zoe will be leading our specialist study day.
See more here.
So... what about you? Do feel like you might be addicted to social media? If you've got some spare time and fancy listening to a quick podcast, check out this 'Beyond Today' episode from BBC Radio 4 on 'How bad is social media for my mental health?'
Some interesting ideas for consideration and well worth a listen!
It's well-known that staff feel more valued and happier in their work when employers invest in them, prioritising their wellbeing and job satisfaction. One of those ways is of course putting time aside for meaningful training, so that individuals feel encouraged and equipped for the days ahead. I don't often blog about feedback - however at this time of year for any individual, reflecting on all the positives can be inspirational and help prepare one's mindset for the year.
The staff at Marymount International School gathered together before their pupils arrived back for a new term and what a warm bunch they were! In the pictures above, star presenter Esther delivers a morning workshop on 'Building Resilience in Young People'.
Here's what the headmistress said:
"This is great professional development...really! Faculty enjoyed terrific tips from Olive Branch today at our in-service. Joy, self-care and resilience: What a way to start the new term!"
What did the staff think? Here are a few snippets:
"Well presented, reassuringly positive."
"Much needed insights into resilience building with teenagers."
"It was very useful for my students, especially in my PSHE class. Also, I will out these contents into practice in my personal life."
"I really enjoyed the entire workshop."
"Increased understanding of mindfulness. Great techniques in calmness and caring for others."
"Insightful and thought-provoking."
If you decide you'd like to invest in your staff in this way, give us a try!
Following on from last month's post, I've started to notice more success stories - it's unsurprising because certain things tend to jump out when they're already on your mind.
One story that has really got my attention is that of Patricia Bright, beauty blogger and YouTube sensation - I'm sure everybody under the age of 25 knows of her, but I only heard about her very recently thanks to an article I was reading! It's easy to scoff at people like this because it seems too easy and almost unbelievable that entire careers can be built in such a way... one assumes they came from wealthy backgrounds already or have special 'connections'.
It's not the case with Patricia at all. In fact, she's a first-generation Brit of immigrant parents and spent much of her childhood watching (and helping) her Mother toil away because her Father was deported. Although it was tough, she didn't resent her parents for not being able to fund her. She began earning money for herself aged 13, as a playground hair stylist. When she was 14, she spent an entire summer door knocking and earning commission delivering catalogues and taking orders. The income was tiny, but by the end of it she'd saved £200 and was truly proud. The work experience she'd built up easily gained her a 'real' job and by 16 she was working part-time in retail whilst studying. It wasn't all enjoyable, but she knew she had to work hard if she wanted to make something of herself. Here's a recent quote of hers (from Twitter):
Patricia is now a huge success although she admits it hasn't been easy along the way. It clearly takes a lot of time, grit and determination, but she is proof that anybody can make something of themselves. Our past doesn't have to define our future and often the biggest limitation is our own mind. Patricia has a new book out next year called "Heart & Hustle: What it Takes to Make it to the Top." If you know of somebody who needs inspiring, perhaps it will be a good buy? Either way, her experience certainly inspires me and I hope that more people learn of stories like this.
As always, if you'd like some inspirational training delivered on your site - give us a shout.
When people think back to their own childhood and compare it with how childhood seems today, there is a growing concern that children are becoming softer – essentially, lacking in perseverance and tenacity. Evidently this is a general feeling that's shared among Teaching Staff, parents and indeed most adults across the UK.
Despite the positive aspects of modern technology, it is no doubt partly to blame for the noticeable changes we have seen in recent years. Children relying less on their own creativity when bored, spending less time outdoors, exercising less, and becoming addicted to screens - not to mention the impact of social media. You could also add to that increased Health & Safety hype, leading to a somewhat ‘cotton wool’ effect on today’s younger generation. Let's not be too gloomy though...
We think there is a lot to be said for passion and perseverance. So - what about you? How long do you stick with a task that’s not going your way, before you conclude "I can’t do this"? What about your children, students, colleagues?
A critical factor that many of us need more of, is Grit! Angela Duckworth famously came up with her theory of ‘Grit’ as a predictor of success. She found that IQ was not the only factor that separated successful students and those that struggled, with the same principle applying to any discipline. There are many talented individuals out there who simply do not follow through on their commitments. Motivation and psychology are a huge factor behind how well people do, and we believe this is something that needs much more attention!
So, what are the 5 characteristics of Grit? Angela Duckworth defines them as:
Perhaps you would add more in there, but it's certainly a great start! We have a brilliant workshop focussing on ‘Growth Mindset’, which is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed – it can change with your effort. So with that in mind, we need to be 'Gritty' about helping others become 'Grittier'.
Whether you’re a school, organisation or business, we want to work with you to help you improve your outcomes. We’ve got a superb presenter who regularly receives outstanding feedback. He is open for short sessions and talks as well as full day workshops. Contact us today!
As average statistics go, there are just over 6,000 suicides in the UK each year. When you start to think about how many individuals that is per day, it's a sobering thought. Most of us have known of somebody somewhere, who has sadly ended their life. Regardless of how or why it happens, it is an incredibly shocking and devastating thing... perhaps the worst part being that it's rarely inevitable.
But what can we do?
It is hard understand if one has never contemplated it, but for the people that do contemplate it, you have to assume they must be experiencing unimaginable pain. Perhaps they've been suffering from mental ill-health, maybe their self-esteem is at rock bottom or it could be that they've got themselves into seemingly inescapable difficulties. Whatever the root of it, too many people feel ashamed and this often one of the biggest things that prevents them from asking for help.
I believe that we shouldn't let this subject be a taboo. As the #talkingsuicide campaign suggests, "Talking about suicide doesn't make suicide more likely to happen - but not talking about it does."
If you're on Twitter, you can tweet your support using that hashtag, or follow journalist Bryony Gordon (@bryony_gordon) who is a fantastic supporter of all things mental health.
So as one of the main keys for making a difference is listening to people, I want to encourage you to do that because it could save a life. The Samaritans are a FANTASTIC charity and if you want to grab a few ideas for listening well, check out their tips! It's always worth raising awareness about The Samaritans or supporting them in any way you can. A free 24 hour helpline is available for anybody who needs to talk - whether it's the sufferer themselves, or if you are worried about someone else. Another great charity for suicide prevention is CLASP (Counselling Life Advice Suicide Prevention). You can view the website here.
Finally, if you'd like any staff training in your organisation about suicide prevention or related topics, you know where we are.
Thanks for reading!
We've had a wonderful year running training events around the UK. Several of them have been in-house sessions (held on client sites) and others have been public events designed for individuals to attend. As ever our presenters have excelled themselves and shared a great deal of inspiration... Our favourite part of all was meeting and hearing from the wonderful variety of people who chose to attend. These our some of our best bits!
Sometimes it's useful to be reminded that as simple as it sounds, talking can be incredibly helpful and therapeutic for all of us. Open communication builds trust and it's essential for healthy relationships whether that's with colleagues, family, friends or partners. Not only that - it's brilliant for mental health too!
Recently we heard an experience from somebody who had struggled with addiction in their past. Coping alone was the worst thing about it; resulting in insomnia, increased shame and anxious thoughts among other things. When they finally opened up and told somebody they trusted, the sense of freedom was greater than they could have imagined... Talking about it was that crucial first step to recovery.
For most people who suffer with a mental health condition, talking is an essential element to recovery. For some people, being able to talk about their experiences almost becomes the cure itself... So, talk to the people around you! There might be somebody suffering with a mental health condition, a bereavement or perhaps going through a low patch in their life. BE that person who is willing to give them the time of day; help them talk, and then listen.
Sometimes you need to be intentional with the kind of questions you ask. In particular, open questions cause a responder to reflect and reveal a bit more about themselves. Whatever your reason for starting a conversation, here are some handy openers that you could try:
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
So next time you think of it - put down your newspaper, turn off your TV or gadget... and start a conversation. Who knows what may come of it.
So.. what's new? We recently ran a practical training workshop in London; 'Building Resilience in Young People.'
It was a fantastic day together and - as ever - it was wonderful to meet such a dedicated collective of teaching staff and school nurses. Apart from the obvious benefits of gaining knowledge and training, it was a great opportunity for encouragement and replenishment.
Anybody working in a school will know how much effort and sacrifice it takes to persevere, especially in increasingly tough conditions... Many staff choose to continue in the profession out of genuine care for children and young people - and this isn't something that should be overlooked! It's so important to be valued and appreciated, and for many reasons that we could list, this just isn't happening enough.
For those of you that can, make it a priority to take a day out and attend some quality training. Let us look after you, enjoy networking with like-minded colleagues and feel enthused as you return equipped with new ideas.
Strategies for building resilience can be applied to people of all ages. We'd like to share a couple of useful tips from the training workshop which you can implement as part of your practice:
If you notice that yourself or the person you're working with has an intrusive/ distressing thought, is reacting to an image/ memory or trigger, try STOPP.
S = STOP
T = Take a breath
O = Observe - describe the feelings, sensations, thoughts etc
P = Pull back or Perspective - what's the bigger picture? Is this fact/ opinion? Is there another way of viewing this?
P = Practice what works - what is the best thing to do right now? For me, others, the situation
Our Building Resilience training workshop is also available as an in-house event. Get in touch if you'd like to know more!
I'm Jemima, founder of Olive Branch Consultancy and passionate about delivering excellence with sensitivity and care.