Sunday, 24 February 2019

Michael Carr-Gregg - 10 Ways to Optimise Well Being

Fortunately, one of our local Catholic school principals is a friend of the well respected Dr Michael Carr - Gregg. Dr Carr-Gregg gave a presentation to twenty principals at our first network meeting for 2019. I have to admit, having been away from Australia for many years, I wasn't familiar with Carr-Gregg's immense portfolio of work. "Michael is one of Australia's highest profile psychologists working in all form of media..." You can read more at this link.

Here are ten research based steps for supporting leadership, staff, student and community well being. Let's all find time to action this valuable advice.

Michael Carr-Gregg presents to the South Eastern Catholic Principal Network

Carr-Gregg commenced by sharing a number of recommended resources:
  • The first one focused on exercise and brain function in Brain Rules by John Medina. Spending time with family & friends is valuable for managing stress.
  • K10 test is a screening instrument and it can be downloaded from the Beyond Blue website. It only has ten questions and takes two minutes to complete. It is great for all of us. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. We all need to recognise this.
  • Mental Health First Aid Australia Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they are concerned about. 
  • A starting point for us to take back to schools or workplaces is to think about our current life energy as  psychological eggs in a basket. We have 30 eggs and 3 baskets. One basket is for life/self, a second for family and the third for school/education/work. What’s the distribution of our own eggs ? If too many eggs are in the work basket - it is a disaster for us and our health.

Image from  FreightWaves
The optimal balance is: 15 eggs for self, 10 eggs for family and 5 golden eggs for work. If we function at our optimum level, then the quality and output of work is very high. It's time to start thinking about how we can put eggs into our own baskets.

Here are 10  research based proactive strategies for an optimum work life balance:

1. We can change the way we think about things by reframing what’s happened to see the positives. Change your thinking by Sarah Edelman is an excellent read. Online e couch (effective for many/ researched and approved) developed by Australian National University - free online Australian therapy, valuable for everyone.
This Way Up (Victorian) therapy

2. Gratitude: See life as it is and focus on the good bits. Three blessings technique. Free app. Three Good Things - A happiness technique. Research has proven that we can rewire our brain for the positive. We can be quantifiably happier and have a higher level of well being (16 years of research has shown it is sustainable). The more positivity in your life, the more it expands - you sleep better, have an effective immune systems and this reduces any anxiety or depression.
Gratitude Journal app

Three Good Things app

3. Why Kindness is good for you. The more volunteering we do the longer we live. Supporting and helping others sends feel good endorphins through our bodies. Feel good, do good. Apps for classrooms - The Kindness App 
The Kindnes App

4. When we’re together, everything is better. Greatest predictor of well being is a rich repertoire of friends. We need to support and encourage the importance of socialising and doing things together.

5. Be active - 10,000 steps is beneficial. Relax with mindfulness, meditation and prayer. We require eight hours sleep. Sleep hygiene is vital. Ted Talk Professor Russell Foster - Prof Sleep Studies - Oxford. Include link for staff. This video is a crash course on the science of sleep and suggests to dim the lights half an hour before bed to prepare for a good night’s sleep. Reading with a lamp is much better than looking at a device. The room needs to be cool, quiet and dark so that the body temperature drops and melatonin is produced.
Couch to 5K app is a great challenge for staff, a 13 week challenge. It is a gentle exercise programme. You can lose weight and oxygenate the brain. This gets the endorphins flowing. Exercise means less anxiety.
Couch to 5K app
Relax App is the mental health app of the year. It helps you to get a better night’s rest
Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds

6. Mindfulness App - the favourite one is smiling minds. It has developmental stages and has revolutionised the whole practice.  We can all benefit from 10 mins of mindfulness per day. It will lower blood pressure. If students practise in schools, there are lower levels of bullying and mental health for children

7. Find time to lose yourself in something your love. Learning new stuff - research shows the more you learn the higher your level of wellbeing.

8. It helps to know what you are looking forward too. Have a bucket list. Bucket List app
We benefit psychologically by creating our very own bucket list.

9. Don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides. Accept your own strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the good bits of us. Good Blocks 
Improve your mood, self esteem and body image
10. The meaning of life  Finding a sense of connectedness that transcends the material world is beneficial to our wellbeing. We cannot underestimate the benefits of spirituality. Findings from psychological literature have proven the value of this form of connectedness.
Image from Spiritual Healing
As leaders, modelling these 10 ways to optimise well being will help ensure that we put more eggs into our self basket.

I wish to acknowledge Dr Michael Carr- Gregg for the material shared above. Anyone wishing to contact Carr-Gregg can do so directly through his website at this link.

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