Learning Emotional Intelligence according to your Learning Style

Learning Emotional Intelligence according to your Learning Style

I’ve recently been engaging in a few Emotional Intelligence (henceforth EI) conversations on LinkedIn and it dawned in me that it might be helpful for people to see some tips for learning emotional intelligence according to their learning styles. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you already know what your learning style is. If you don’t already know what it is, the diagram to the right, which is based on Honey & Mumford Learning Style theories will help you determine what it (or they, if you have a blended approach to learning) is.

The next thing is to understand what EI is and which EI model is being referring to below. Salovey & Mayer (1990), prominent researchers in the field of EI defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s own thinking and action”. This line of work has helped us to understand that people vary in their capacity to recognise, comprehend, utilise, communicate and manage emotions and that these differences influence people’s performance in a variety of contexts, including relationships and work.

In 1999, Salovey, Mayer and Caruso developed a model that considers one’s ability as a set of competencies within the parameters of the above definition. This Ability Model presents 4 domains:

  • The ability to perceive emotions
  • The capacity to use emotions to facilitate thinking
  • The ability to understand emotions
  • The ability to manage (or regulate) emotions

The most recent model of emotional intelligence was developed by Petrides and his team in 2007 and consists of four components:

  • Wellbeing: Confidence & self-esteem, optimism, and happiness
  • Sociability: Social competence & awareness, assertiveness, and the capacity to manage other people’s emotions
  • Self-control: Stress management, low impulsivity, adaptability, self-motivation, and emotion regulation
  • Emotionality: Emotional perception of oneself and others, emotion expression, relationship, and conveying empathy.

It is this model, the Trait Emotional Intelligence model that I’m applying the Learning Styles to. Let’s explore how emotional intelligence can be learned according to your learning style. 

For the ACTIVISTS among you

The best way for activists to learn to perceive emotions, improve capacity to use emotions for thinking, and understand and manage emotions, is by experiencing these things personally and absorbing the lessons presented experientially. When those things are lived out in daily life or a life event, activists are better able to connect dots in their minds and hearts that were once hypothetical or assumptions-based about their emotional intelligence. Turning their personal EI into a life project or short-term practical assignment that is measurable and tangibly impactful is the most natural way for activists to develop those skills. Activists are generally self-development oriented, so they’ve got this motivation behind them.

A draw back with this learner style is that activists tend to look for the next big challenge without really having reflected on the learning from the previous lesson. Once this blind-spot has been recognised, it’s really important for the activist to take their time to reflect well, instill deep in themselves all the learning that they took out of those lessons, and to figure out how they can translate that learning into actions that improve their wellbeing, sociability, self-control and emotionality in the future. 

Here’s a few ideas for activists:

  • Take the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (short version) (you’ll need to make a £30 donation to the company) and then see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Decide what you might want to develop. Self-analysis is very important to do every 1-3 years of our life.
  • Seek feedback from others in order to gain wider perspective. You might come to an emotional conclusion on something that another has not come to the same emotional conclusion on. This requires real two-way communication.
  • This one will take a lot of humility, but it’s a super effective one: ask others to give you their opinion on your reactions to things. You will learn an awful lot, or an awful lot will be affirmed for you! This will serve to educate your self-control as well as your emotionality.
  • Perseverance is key for you to reach that potential for growth in emotional intelligence. Where the temptation is to skip onto the next thing that you might be good or better at, you are in the here and now… so don’t lose out on this opportunity that could potentially be a game-changer for you in the future. Think ‘slow down, reflect & absorb’.
  • Take responsibility for how you’ve made others feel. Then put into practice your action points. Here’s where you up your sociability game.
  • Connect with your own emotions, come to understand them in your inner reality and accept that they exist. People have different ways of doing that. My way is to shrug my shoulders, smile and say… OK! Well to wellbeing, I say!

For the REFLECTORS among you

Reflectors learn primarily through observing credible and experienced role-models. The method that works best for them is in-person but standing back from the action and pondering from the sidelines. They like to discuss reflections and plans with a mentor who they feel can walk the talk. Having said that, reflectors surprisingly also pick up these lessons from books, articles and case studies. As the most cautious and most reluctant risk-takers of all four types of learners, reflectors tend to come to emotional conclusions after they have had a good, long and thorough think-through of the situation, collecting and analysing as much data about the experience or event in order to come to the most informed decision possible. Is it any wonder they tend to make the best listeners, and be the last to speak in meetings and discussions! They’re often the last to jump to conclusions or make rash judgements too.

Because of their extremely cautious nature, reflectors may delay their learning in emotional intelligence. This is mainly due to the foreseeable risk-taking involved in being emotionally intelligent. Reflectors will understand well that emotional intelligence is proven in practice.

Here’s a few ideas for reflectors:

  • Start. Just start. Trust in your own abilities to learn along the way. Once you’ve started, don’t stop. Build up your courage to keep going. Learning by mistake is a much better outcome, than by not learning at all.
  • Approach role models for their stories and/or ask friends, family, acquaintances to share with you how they learned to manage risks, build confidence, become socially aware, develop self-control and regulate their emotions.
  • Watch YouTube videos on the subject.
  • Observe yourself as much as you observe others. Since reflectors generally love taking notes, note down how you react to people and how you make judgements about a situation. Reflectors tend to do really well with journaling.
  • Learn more about risk management.
  • Use your wonderful observational and reflection skills to spin the mirror on yourself. What are you learning about yourself? What needs working on, or a different approach? If there is a blockage on self-reflection: a) imagine this experience took place in third person (don’t habitualise this though) and write down your learnings, and b) address the inability to self-reflect.
  • Self-evaluate against the 2007 EI components above.

For the THEORISTS among you

Concepts. Theorists love to understand and rationalise concepts. Consider concepts and theories as the foundational building blocks to a Theorist’s learning. Anything nonsensical is often anathema to a Theorist, and therein lies a potentially huge problem since some of the most acute emotions we experience are seldom logical! So emotions can become a problem to be solved in the Theorist – and they’re likely to do that through theory-based courses with well-qualified and experienced trainers, well-written manuals or books and articles. Our Theorist friends are the most analytical and rationalistic of all four learning types because of how much they naturally value principles, theories, models and systems thinking. 

The greatest struggle for the Theorist when it comes to learning emotional intelligence is the two-way blind-spot of assimilation. Firstly, the theorist may automatically separate one’s own personal experience from the analysis – as if it were a hypothetical situation. Take for example, grief. To learn and grow from grief requires a genuine lived and felt experience of every nuance that comes as part and parcel of grief. Theorising the situation removes from it authentic human experience. Sometimes, the human experience is beyond theory and logic, so must be lived rather by mystery and what is super (above/beyond) – natural: supernatural. Secondly, should the theorist be able to rationalise the experience into a logical scheme and thought, the risk is to leave it as such, and not use this new-found knowledge to learn about oneself, and to reach the deep human lesson of the self from it. The potential detachment between theory and lived experienced, and discomfort caused by subjective judgement is something that theorists need to watch out for in their learning.

Here’s a few ideas for theorists:

  • Spend time, on occasion, focusing solely on knowing yourself. I’ll repeat that. Knowing yourself. Not rationalising yourself. Just… knowing yourself. There is a greater intimacy between knowing a person and rationalising a person. EI is personable. Yes, it might be unnatural at first… but build a routine habit of it. Getting to know yourself will be a huge step in learning EI.
  • Get in touch with your perception of the world – living and non-living things. This will boost your wellbeing and emotionality levels.
  • Yes, facts and the objective is very, very important. In fact, it’s critical. But so is the subjective experience – otherwise, how can one say something is ‘real’? Philosophers have spent many years exploring the balance between the intellect (the guiding force behind rational thought) and the will (the guiding force behind subjective experience).
  • Theorise on this: Realist Phenomenology
  • Find a way to systemise or analyse your emotional reactions over a longer period of time. Study the data, what does it reveal to you?
  • Even though you may be able to detach your subjective experience from a logical occurrence, it doesn’t mean that others can do that as easily. If for example at some point you’re perceived as ‘indifferent’ or ‘uncaring’, this is a sign or a signal that someone else’s feelings have been triggered or impacted by your actions or words at a deep emotional level.
  • Take responsibility for your words and actions, and make efforts to listen ‘to the heart’ of the people in your life. Learn to be sincere in your apologies.

For the PRAGMATISTS among you

Pragmatists who actively develop their EI are their own real-life project and are perhaps the most keen of all learning types on self-development and self-growth. Transforming their learning into practical use is one of a pragmatist’s greatest strengths, and this is why they greatly value the help of someone who gives valuable feedback and coaching. Knowledge can’t just remain theoretical to the pragmatist… they’ll want to see it brought to life in practice, and enjoy trying out new things, new ideas and experimenting. So when it comes to learning EI, they are generally open to constructive criticism and tend to be more open to change in themselves. Pragmatists really do thrive on knowledge and have a special love of learning. Others who support pragmatists would be encouraged to champion the energy and excitement of some new idea or project proposal that has generated a speed of action, confidence and motivation. They’re fast learners and fast movers generally though – so supporters can equally be encouraged to help pragmatists pause for a moment and consider all option.

The danger of the pragmatist is that they can enjoy experimenting so much, that they risk bringing this ‘experimentation’ into their most valuable and important relationships, doing some serious damage along the way. In order to progress and develop themselves, pragmatists might be willing to, or adopt an attitude of, using or ignoring the other person to achieve this. The warning signs of this are when the subjective reality (the feelings and experience) of the other person is no longer of concern to the pragmatist. This is when the pragmatist has the most amount of learning and self-reflection to do! Having said that, they are real natural problem-solvers, and an emotionally developed pragmatist will have both the knowledge and the means to restore relationships (at least from their end). 

Here’s a few ideas for pragmatists:

  • Know that a lot of decision-making is pragmatic for you. Sometimes, this isn’t always the best course of action. Consider other options on occasion too, before taking action.
  • Take the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (short version) (you’ll need to make a £30 donation to the company) and then see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Decide what you might want to develop. Self-analysis is very important to do every 1-3 years of our life.
  • Attend an EI course or workshop.
  • Have a long-term coach in your life who will help you increase your awareness of personal wellbeing, sociability, self-control and emotionality. Hire a coach specifically for this, and watch your EI growth accelerate! 
  • Don’t forget to examine your reactions to distressing situations. Develop action plans for mitigating risks in making same mistakes over and over.
  • Check in on your emotional wellbeing for yourself, but also through the feedback and opinion of those closest to you.
  • Accept that you’ll always be a work-in-progress (WIP)!
  • Build in a routine of ‘preparatory work’ into the early stages of your learning journey. Ask yourself: “how will my actions affect others?” “How will my decision impact others?” “How can I help others manage the impact of my decision?” 
  • Remember that we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves. Other people aren’t problems to be solved, but human beings to be loved.

I’ve opened up this post for comments and discussion! Feel free to share your thoughts, corrections, opinions, suggestions etc! 


I’m Claz, a Life & Career Coach working with individuals as well as organisations, accredited in the UK. I am also a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.

2021 REVIVE ME CHALLENGE

 

FB cover - 12 week healthy eating wellbeing programme - Jan 20-3

A 12 week action-focused community-led Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Programme designed to progress you into looking, feeling and BEing healthier by Spring 2021!

Education. Accountability. Support. Action plan. Fun. Achieve.

 

Dates: On Tuesdays from 6th January – 31st March 2021 @ 20:00 GMT (London time). Half term (17th February) is taken into consideration.

Location: LIVE online webinar (Presentations delivered live online) + Live community forum available for accountability and community support.

Presented by: Claz Gomez – Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Therapist and Accredited Life Coach.

Cost: £54 for the entire programme. Includes online forum support. Individual coaching is available at additional cost. No refunds permitted within 7 days of the start of the programme. EARLY BIRD TICKETS COST 25% LESS UNTIL 23RD DECEMBER 2020!

Format of the session: 20-30 min of webinar teaching. 10 min breakdown of weekly activities. 20 min live Q&A with coaching.

Format of the week: Each person will be challenged with a set of tasks or activities to strive toward throughout the week. One of these is to motivate and support each other on the Winter 2020 Healthy Eating & Wellbeing Programme online forum (only nicknamed the HEW crew).


Outline

Week 1: Your Current Lifestyle & History

  • Description: Change behaviour and its impact on our general wellbeing, Personal eating history, Assessment of daily routine, Your weekly diary, Identify ‘red zone’ issues, Your body type.
  • Knowledge: Know thyself and thy history!

Week 2: Goals

  • Description: Establish your SMART goals for long-term effective change.
  • Knowledge: Your Why, Set Better Goals, Behaviour Goals

Week 3: Integrative energy intakeTOC - 8 Wellbeing Keys - White Background

  • Description: Enhance your intake of energy into the ‘healthier’ zone in all 8 areas of wellbeing. Primary focus on nutritional energy.
  • Knowledge: Essential nutrients for the human body, choosing the most appropriate diet for your goals that doesn’t allow you to compromise on the other 7 areas of your wellbeing. Time vs money vs wellbeing.

Week 4: Menu Planning & Healthy Food Preparation Skills

  • Description: What’s in your kitchen? What shouldn’t be in your kitchen? Re-arrange your diary so that you make time to prepare your own meals. Plan for the week.
  • Knowledge: Kitchen clean up, Being prepared, Weekly meal planner, Healthy snacking available from your own cupboards.

Week 5: Self-awareness, Moderation, and Portion Sizes

  • Description: Eat for your body type. 3 strategies to prevent overeating. Self-awareness, body awareness. Tracking your fullness level. Change what isn’t working.
  • Knowledge: Macro breakdown for your body type, Recommended portion size guide, Moderation, Calorie education.

Week 6: Healthy Eating Check-in + Review

  • Description: Use this week to catch up on the lessons and guides, really plan your shopping list and meal prep, ask questions, share where you are stuck, get involved in the community forum, etc.! Repeat often until things become a habit!
  • Goal check in – how are you doing? Struggle? Schedule a meeting/call?

Week 7: Wellbeing Check-in + Review

  • Description: Use this week to review your progress, assess the impact of your changes on the other 7 areas of your wellbeing (e.g. emotional, occupational).
  • Overall wellbeing check & impact assessment. Behaviour change checklist.

Week 8: Metabolism & Physical activity

  • Description: Adding exercise to the picture.
  • Knowledge: Metabolism education (incl. hormones leptin & ghrelin), HIIT + Strength Training

Week 9: Sleep, Stress, + Self-care

  • Description: The difference between self-care and self-comfort, the impact stress has on your body (and goals), and creating a healthy sleep routine.
  • Knowledge: Hydration, Good + Bad Stress, Caffeine effects, Self-Care, Sleep, Recovery, Wellness Pyramid

Week 10: Detoxing, Fasting and Finding what might be right for you

  • Description: Detoxes, gut health, and intermittent fasting…
  • Knowledge: Detoxes, Gut Health, Pre-biotics and pro-biotics, Fasting

Week 11: Movement

  • Description: While strength and cardio work is useful, your most optimal results you will come from NEAT movement and healthy eating as becoming a daily priority.
  • Knowledge: NEAT Movement

Week 12: Living out your sustainable change

  • Description: Your change journey
  • Knowledge: The Change Formula & using it to your advantage moving forward.

 

Bookings now open

with a 25% discount until 23rd December 2020!

 

hewsum19 booking button

Refund policy: No refunds beyond 7 days before the event.

Tackle procrastination with something so… SIMPLE

Simplifying life, goals, objectives and tasks is part of the solution to procrastination as simplicity purifies and clarifies the path ahead, making it more attractive to bear. Here are 6 suggested approaches to make things more… SIMPLE! This works best in reverse order!

 

S – STREAMLINE

Streamline any processes by designing a system of working that presents very little resistance to flow of intentionality, increasing productivity and efficiency of those less enjoyable tasks. One example of this: schedule a specific time to allow for distractions. Otherwise, 100% focus. Another example is to schedule timed bursts of productivity like the Pomodoro method.

I – IDENTIFY

Get to know and understand the root cause of the procrastination. Work with a coach to get clarity on the root of procrastination so that it can be addressed and overcome moving forward. This needs to be addressed in order to avoid ‘regular bouts’ of procrastination. Importantly, there could be deeper issues there making procrastination an outcome.

M – MILESTONES & MOOD

Set deadlines. Enter specific milestones into a diary (or a project planning software if the objective is big enough).

Sometimes a particular mood is required for optimal productivity. Mood regulation (aka emotional control) is a helpful self-mastery technique enabling fluidity & consistency of productiveness.

P – PRIORITISE

Using the Eisenhower Matrix is a great way to sort a task list out into 4 categories of priorities. When one knows the order of one’s life and activities, one can organise and plan accordingly. Do remember though: more often than not, time management is not the root cause of procrastination, and for long-term changes away from procrastination, the issue will have to be solved at the deepest level.

L – LESSEN

Procrastination presents a gap between intention and action. Lessening this gap could take all sorts of forms including giving a personal meaning to the task, rewarding oneself as an incentive to complete a task earlier than needed, trying different motivational methods that will work, and forgiving oneself from procrastinating and starting again with a fresh slate.

E – EASY

Yes. Make the tasks easier for yourself. If what has to be done is complex or large, break things down. Take baby steps if necessary, or go ahead and just ‘eat that frog’ (which isn’t that easy – but for those people whose core values include ‘challenge’, this might be the right way forward)! Try different things.

 


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I’m Claz, a Professional Life, Career & Wellbeing Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I work with individuals as well as organisations providing high-end coaching. I also run affordable workshops that you can check out on my events page. Alternatively, you can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com.

7 steps to decision-making clarity

🤷‍♀️ Why do people get stuck when making a decision?

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Photo by timJ on Unsplash

That’s a really good question, and there may be many answers to it! This is why I find it helpful to take a systematic and structured approach to the decision-making thought process. At every stage self-awareness is as necessary as the content that surfaces when thinking through a decision. Many obstacles and hindrances to decision-making often and subtly surface up into the light but can then be excused by the irrational self. In these moments, it can be a challenge to have clear perception.

Whether you are making a life-changing decision about your relationships, your career, your life goals yourself or your wellbeing, here is my 7 step personal decision-making approach for clarity. I hope it will save you time, stress and ultimately heartache, when trying think through your decision!

 

Step 1: Define your situation

This is where it begins!

The more self-knowledgeable you are, the faster you will pass through this stage. Here, you’ll get to weigh up the significance of this decision you’re making against who you are, what you stand for, where you’re heading, and decide whether this decision needs to be taken now.

If you are a person of faith, then you will also want to bring God into this entire journey.

Self-Coaching questions for step 1

What is/are… [aka Define]:

  • the significance of this decision?
  • your needs?
  • your priorities?
  • your wants?
  • your vision, mission & values?
  • the implications if you do not make a decision about this?
  • the ideal decision?
  • the timing of your decision?

 

Step 2: Clarify what you’re making a decision about

Clarifying what the driving and resisting forces of this decision are, what is influencing the decision and how much power those influences have over you and your decision, as well as gaining insight into your decision-making strengths and weaknesses will help clarify what your decision is really about.

Self-Coaching questions for step 2

Clarify:

  • how does this decision align with your values?
  • how does this decision align with your goals & vision?
  • how does this decision align with your purpose & mission?
  • what are your decision-making strengths and weaknesses?
  • what are the driving forces in your decision?
  • what are the resisting forces in your decision?
  • what are the influencing factors in your decision?
  • what gaps are there in your knowledge, skills, competencies and experience re this decision?
  • who is/are influencing this decision?

 

Step 3: Identify outcomes of your decision

This activity will help you to separate what are assumed, and what are certain outcomes of your decision. Broken down into short, medium and long term outcomes, this step will help you to reflect on your emotional and psychological commitment to those outcomes.

You’ll also gain some insight into your change readiness.

Self-Coaching questions for step 3

Identify the short, medium and long term outcomes with:

  • what will this decisions’ impact be on your physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological health?
  • how will it affect the people directly involved in your life?
  • what it will mean for the regular routine you live by or your daily activities?
  • what are the material considerations of your outcomes (e.g. possessions & value of them)?
  • what are the financial considerations of your outcomes (e.g. regular income, savings, investments, retirement)?
  • what are the career & job considerations of your outcomes?

 

Step 4: Consider the options, alternatives, consequences & opportunities of the decision

Here is where you identify all the risks in your decision, as well as the impact of this decision to your and others before actually committing to it.

Self-Coaching questions for step 4

Consider:

  • what are the pros and cons?
  • what are the risks? How to mitigate them?
  • what are the positive and negative impacts?
  • where can opportunities be found?
  • how will it cost you in time & personal resources?
  • what sacrifices will be required?
  • what would you ideal choice be if you had to choose?

 

Step 5: Understand any emotions behind your decision

Your heart is greatly influenced by your past experiences, your desires, your passions, your pains, your personality, and a myriad of other factors and qualities.

Here is an opportunity to check the balance between your emotions and your rationale, moving forward without looking back in regret.

Self-Coaching questions for step 4

Understand:

  • what pressures may this decision be feeding on?
  • what needs may this decision be feeding on?
  • how can I be more balanced (head vs heart)?
  • what emotions are influencing here?
  • what are my fears?
  • where might I be experiencing limiting beliefs?
  • how will my feelings change after this decision?
  • how are my past experiences influencing my emotions & feelings?
  • when am I likely to change my mind because of others’ feelings?

 

Step 6: Capture other viewpoints & objective opinions

There is GREAT VALUE in seeking counsel.

Seek the opinion of those:

  • immediately involved in this decision
  • indirectly involved in this decision
  • experienced in this area
  • whose wisdom you appreciate & respect
  • in the ‘helping’ professions

Self-Coaching questions for step 6

Capture:

  • what do the people most involved in this decision have to say?
  • what do people indirectly involved in this decision have to say?
  • what do people with experience of this decision have to say?
  • what do people whose wisdom you appreciate and respect have to say?
  • what do professionals from the ‘helping’ professions have to say?

 

Step 7: Prepare & commit yourself to your decision

Often, limiting beliefs and self-sabotage about a decision happen before the very moment of committing to a decision. This is unlikely to happen if you’ve gone through the previous 6 steps to decision-making clarity. You will know what actions are needed to move forward confidently and courageously.

Self-Coaching questions for step 7

Prepare & Commit:

  • what are my critical activities moving forward?
  • what personal preferences do I have?
  • how can I exercise greater freedom of heart?
  • where do I need to exercise more resilience?
  • where do I need to exercise more courage?
  • what are my coping strategies?
  • how often should I review my progress and approach?
  • what does my task list look like?

 


Need an objective opinion to walk through the above with?

Depending on your situation (particularly the time limitation) and the gravity of the decision you have to make, you may be interested in an intensive breakthrough coaching session to get to decision-making clarity quickly, and for putting a sketch plan in place.

Intensive Breakthrough Coaching Session for decision-making clarity (2.5 hrs)

What is included in your session?

  • Initial email outlining your preparation for the session
  • Any relevant tools or materials required for activities in your session
  • Face to face to face session in West London OR video meeting call (prices vary by location & added onto base price. Video meetings via Zoom are no extra cost.)
  • Follow up email with reflections from the session and suggested actions

 Your investment

My intensive breakthrough coaching session is great value at a base price of £325. For this amount you will gain:

  • peace of mind and of heart that you have made the most informed and thought-through decision you could possibly have made
  • clarity on 99.9% of elements, factors, influences and options worth considering
  • an impeccably designed set of action points / plan to make any changes smoothly based on who you are and where you’re heading
  • greater knowledge of your blindspots and choke points, with an increased desire to manage those
  • confidence because you’ll have cleared mental and emotional obstacles preventing you from moving forward
  • enhanced or maintained good quality relationships (personal or professional)
  • holistic & well-balanced perspective, energy and momentum
  • avoidance of more time and money spent down the line from a decision that ultimately cost you more than you could afford
  • relief from stress and heartache that would have been an outcome of a poorly-made decision

ToC Tips for Sleep Wellness

Introduction

When we look up at the world, it’s not difficult to see how and why sleep wellness is reputed to be at its lowest point in terms of human priorities in all of modern history. We tend to try and find so many solutions to our physical, emotional, social, spiritual and psychological ailments during our waking day, when actually, the best solutions and remedies to these ailments occur naturally at night, when we sleep.

We need to wake up to the following facts:

  • Tiredness and fatigue are the primary cause of one in five (21%) GP consultations in the UK.[1]
  • The NHS in England is spending almost £50 million each year to ensure the nation gets a good night’s sleep and insomnia is a significant problem which now affects more than one in three adults.[2] 
  • Sleep deprivation in the UK workforce costed the economy £40.2 billion in loss of productivity in 2016 and it is estimated this will steadily rise to £47 billion by 2030.[3]
  • Workers who sleep less than six hours per day report on average about a 2.4 percentage point higher productivity loss due to absenteeism or presenteeism than workers sleeping between seven to nine hours per day.[4]

With all the things we would like to fit into our day, a really good starting point ought to be our sleep – since the quantity and the quality of it greatly influences our daily activity, energy levels and productivity, which in turn affects our daily achievements.

There is a multitude of techniques, methods, hints and tips on sleep wellness online. But here are my top tips for sleep wellness (learned from experience!).

Sleep Environment

Your Bed: Your mattress, your pillow, your bedding, it has to be right for you! It is really important to invest a good amount of your attention and time to getting the right bed and sleeping environment for yourself. Yes, it’s easier to buy beds and mattresses online, but how do you know it’s the right firmness for you and that you will be comfortable recuperating in it every day for the next 8-12 years? During this Covid-19 period, where we are seeing many shops closing down, one of the types of shops that I’m really praying doesn’t close down are bed stores – for the simple reason, that is very difficult for people to buy the right mattress and bed for them unless they’ve tried it out.

Bedding: We can be more flexible with bedding, but I’d say the main thing to consider the material that you choose. Cotton is a natural fabric. It is breathable, wicks moisture and stays comfortably cool against skin. Polyester, on the other hand, is a synthetic fabric and does not absorb water the way cotton does. It will trap moisture and heat in hot environments, which can make for sweaty and uncomfortable nights.

Room temperature: Another critical element to a good night’s sleep. In the summer we all know how difficult it can be to sleep well. If you don’t have an air conditioner in your bedroom, then we can learn about room-cooling techniques from the Mediterraneans. Provided you do not use the bedroom for any kind of daytime work, close the curtains and blinds during the day, as well as all the windows and any doors. In the evening, as it starts to get cooler, open curtains/blinds and windows wide to let air in to cool the room.

Light & Sound: Invest in real sturdy black-out curtains. If you’re choosing windows, opt for windows that not just look great, but block sound efficiently. Sometimes blocking out light and sound needs to become a priority, and extra measures need to be taken. My next door neighbour has the most enormous dog with arguably the most enormous bark, and if there’s a fox that sets him off at 02:30 in the morning, it instantly wakes me up. And I don’t mean snoozy kinda woken up. I mean really awake. So I know that if the dog hasn’t been taken to Richmond Park for a good workout that day, I know I have to stick earplugs in the ears. So… aids such as earplugs and blackout night masks can be most helpful sometimes. Note: Make it non-negotiable to pack these two things in your travel kit!!

It took me a month to find the perfect bed, mattress and pillow for me. That’s partly down to the fact that shops such as Dreams and Bensons for Beds exist! Thank you Dreams! And the other part is the fact that I did not want to regret my decision of beds further down the line. #JustSaying

Nutrition

Cut down on caffeinated drinks (note: green tea has caffeine in it). If possible eliminate caffeine from your diet except for treat days and special occasions.

Don’t eat 2 hours before going to bed, with the optional exception of an organic camomile (infusion is better than supplement) only – or organic ginseng infusion around 60 mins before bedtime. Another thing that can be considered in your diet is an organic magnolia bark supplement, which affects your HPA nervous system and has been known to regulate cortisol spikes during sleep – please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication.

De-Stimulation Techniques

Don’t look at a screen of any kind (including tv) at least 30 mins before bed to reduce visual stimuli. A Lumie clock is great for gradual de-stimulation of your optic nerves through the technique of light reduction. Another light-reducing technique is to focus on the flame of a single candle 5 minutes before you sleep without any other lights on, inhaling and exhaling in deeply and slowly. These techniques will help you fall asleep easier.

Rest-Inducing Techniques

Build into your routine (aim for fall-asleep time to be between 21:30-22:30) a relaxation ritual. Something like a self-massage (on feet, hands, neck, shoulders, arms & legs) or a 30 min hot bath will do wonders. You could soak unscented bath salts in some of the suggested essential oils in point 6 to increase the relaxing effects of bathing, preparing you for a good night’s sleep.

Consistent Routines

To be frank, all the above and below suggestions can be built into a consistent routine. But there is one routine that requires extra special attention: that of your wake up time. Try to wake up every morning at the same time. I know the thought of weekend lie-ins seems absolutely glorious, but the effect of a lie-in on your circadian rhythm can be brutal as you head into the weekdays. Take a nap during the day if you need to try to make up for some sleep deficit, but try to stick to the same wake up time. Irregularity in this will affect your hormone balance, which in turn effects your immunity and your metabolism. Homeostasis is greatly disturbed when sleep regularity is disturbed, which is why quality of sleep is as important as quantity of sleep.

Physical Exertion

Aim to ‘spend’ built-up energy caused by stress on a physically demanding activity at some point during the day. Human stress response is most naturally impacted by the secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine (although other hormones also impact stress responses) into the blood stream – and these can be regulated by exercise. Even something as simple as a 10 min hard plié workout (and example of a load-bearing, strengthening exercise) or a HIIT workout (which promotes supramaximal expenditure of energy /or anaerobic exercise) will help you re-balance, and work toward physiological homeostasis.

Natural Therapies & Remedies

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy solutions work wonders! I recommend an ultrasonic diffuser or nebuliser to release the oil fragrances for up to 4 hours into your sleep without burning the properties out. If you don’t use equipment, you could blend with carrier oils and massage the mixed oil onto your skin (use only therapeutic grade essential oils for this), or dab the oils onto a tissue that you have close to your nose when you are sleeping.

Calmative Oils (C): Calms and sedates the nervous system, mind, and reduces anxiety

Soporific Oils (S): Induces sleep

Hormonal balancing Oils (H): Motivates the endocrine system or balances hormone levels.

OILS: Valerian (S/C), Lavender (all), Sweet Orange (C), Petitgrain (C), Mandarin (C), Sandalwood (C), Clary Sage (C/H), Chamomile Roman (C/H), Neroli (C), Sweet Marjoram (So), Maracuja (C – not an essential oil, but a great sedating carrier oil for massage).

Important: Please seek professional advice from an aromatherapist if you are on medication, are pregnant, have sun sensitivity or have serious underlying issues as the effects of essential oils have an impact on the effectiveness of medication and pregnancy.

Herb remedies

Two very popular natural remedies in South Asian medicine for aiding sleep are ashwagandha extract and tulsi. They’re known to reduce stress & anxiety, buffer anti-oxidation in the brain, lower cortisol, increase muscle growth & strength, and improve fertility & reproductive health.

Vitamins & Mineral remedies

Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for aiding sleep are:

  • Magnesium
  • Iron (needs vit C for absorption)
  • Calcium (needs vit D3)
  • Boron
  • Vitamin C (necessary for iron absorption)
  • Vitamin D3 (necessary for calcium absorption)
  • Vitamin B

[please do not take supplements without speaking to your GP, Nutritionist or Eastern Medicine Specialist first, especially if you are on existing medication]

Pre-Sleep Release Techniques

Activities that help you to recollect yourself, your feelings and your mind may help you let go of the weight/burdens of that day. Meditation / Prayer, reading and spiritual moments or activities will help you to achieve this. The practice of examination of conscience helps me to find peace, and to also learn to accept my humanity in all its wonders and imperfections.

Brain dumping for the day – get all the last vestiges of the day’s worries, struggles and pains onto paper, and then throw the paper away, symbolising that you’ve let go of the day’s burdens and anxieties, and allow yourself to be at peace with who you are that very moment you fall asleep. Alternatively, journaling allows you to store those thoughts and feelings somewhere other than your head!

Understand your Sleep Wellness

Monitor your sleep activity every night using a Sleep app. I’ve been using the Sleep as Android sleep cycle app for at least 7-8 years now, and it gives me a lot of helpful information that helps me to monitor my sleep wellness.

Sleep Retreats

Particularly if you’re close to burnout, please, just STOP! Book yourself into a hotel and make a sleep retreat for yourself. Approximately every 2 years, I book myself into a sea-view hotel room for 7 days with the intention of recuperating physically and mentally, in order that I don’t burnout! About 50% of the focus of these 7 days is my sleep. If you have an interest in the programme I set for myself, please do get in touch with me and I would be delighted to share that with you. It would make this post too bulky to include it here, and there is a lot of wellbeing practice in it that needs thorough explanation. Note: I make other retreats that focus on other dimensions like my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. My point being that I don’t try to cram too much or set too many goals into one retreat.

Conclusion

So I have given you some techniques, methods and concepts that work for me. I’m of course also open to any thoughts you might have on this subject too! Feel free to leave comments below. I’m always learning new things, and love to learn about sleep. But I leave you with these words from The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity:

“While diet and exercise have their parts to play in a healthier Britain, SLEEP is the catalyst that makes diet and exercise more effective – whilst also delivering significant additional health benefits. Clinicians are already ‘prescribing’ exercise, it is now time to ‘prescribe sleep’ to the nation.

A good night’s rest is essential to a healthy lifestyle – protecting you physically and mentally as well as boosting your quality of living.” ~ The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity


I’m Claz, a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Career Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.


[1] National Hydration Council. GPs reveal UK ‘tired all the time’. https:/www.naturalhydrationcouncil.org.uk/press/gps-reveal-uk-tired-all- the-time/#footnotes1 (accessed December 2019)

[2] Daily Telegraph (2012). https:/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/ news/9257191/Sleeping-pill-cost-to-NHS-almost-50m.html (accessed December 2019)

[3] Hafner M, Stepanek M, Taylor J, Troxel WM, Van Stolk C. (2016) Why sleep matters — the economic costs of insufficient sleep: A cross- country comparative.

[4] The Sleep Council & The Sleep Charity, 2020 Sleep Manifesto. Sleepcouncil.org.uk

Where is your stress coming from and what is the impact on you? A piece on systematic stress management

Stress is a really interesting topic to me as I consider the hugely challenging circumstances currently being experienced all over the world during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The aim of this blogpost isn’t to give you 10 top tips to short-term stress relief. As it’s mental health awareness week, you will find this kind of material in every other post you scroll through. Rather, the point of this post is to give you a deeper physiological understanding of stress, and to point you in the right direction in implementing long-term changes so that you are in a better position to manage stress for the long haul. I’m coming at this as someone who treats bodily stress through massage therapy, and as a life, career and wellbeing coach whose clients are coping with various stressors (more about what this is later). I would also really like to thank Jaromir Myslivecek from the Institute of Physiology of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic for his research into this topic. His article The Basis of the Stress Reaction has provided the main scientific foundation for this blogpost.

 

What is stress, from a physiological point of view?

Understanding what stress is helps us to navigate it, deal with it, give it its right place in our lives. So what is stress? There are many definitions for stress, as Myslivecek alludes to. In his view, ‘stress is the body’s response to strain (inner or outer). This response is characterised by stress response elements that could have both positive/beneficial impact (eustress) or a negative/detrimental impact (distress) on the body’. I will pick up on this more because human beings (as with all living creatures) have been designed to cope with stress. Myslivecek describes stress as ‘the body’s response to strain (inner or outer). It is not a nervous tension, as it can occur in lower animals and even in plants, which have no nervous system. Stress is not a reaction to a specific thing. It should be considered a reaction that helps the organism cope with different situations and, therefore, stress cannot and should not be avoided.’

Let’s look briefly into human histology – bone ossification (growth) in particular, since it will explore Myslivecek’s point more. Our bones grow under enormous stress. Is it necessary? Yes, it is – as the pressure is part of the process of the strengthening of bone tissue. Our bones never stop growing since bone cells in the body continue to reproduce to replace those that die. Broken bones knit together and heal by growth. As we get older, our bones are still renewing, but the rate of deterioration of cells in the bone may be faster than the renewal process. This kind of stress is eustress.

So… our bodies were designed and built to handle eustress. From the moment we were conceived, our bodies have remained in some form of eustress – the stress of growing. They will continue to handle growth stresses until the moment we take our last breath. Where we are physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically distressed for prolonged periods of time – well, this is something that our bodies are not naturally designed or built for.

We can think about it this way: Eustress leads to positive outcomes and impacts, in so far as the end goal is not a negative one, or does not transform into a distress. Distress leads to negative outcomes and impacts. In BOTH of these, we will find: STRESS. This is enough overview with which to begin from. I welcome medical experts to comment or even correct me if needed.

 

Is it manageable?

Stress is an overused word these days, and I believe that is partly because of a genuine lack of understanding of the two different types of stresses, and how we ought to relate to them. Stress can also increase or decrease to different degrees as well. It’s very easy to believe that our stress is one thing, but it is actually another. There is quite a lot of chaos and confusion if the stress is distressful or if the stress is chronic (no longer manageable). Only eustress will recollect you, bring you some peace, order and direction in the context of stress itself. Stress is manageable, and even when you think you’ve lost all control, not all hope is lost.

To navigate through the stress, to put together your action plan for managing it, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel,  two of the most important things to look at are the cause of the stresses, and the impact the stress is having on you.

 

How can the cause (aka the stressor) be identified?

‘Stressors can influence the organism acutely (acute/single stress) or chronically (chronic/repeated/long-lasting stress)’ says Myslivecek. ‘The repeated influence of a stressor can have great significance in the context of allostasis, which is defined as the ability to maintain stability through change’. As a change management practitioner, you can imagine my delight in the science of this statement… but that’s a topic for another day!

400x400 8 Wellbeing KeysTo determine the cause of the stress (the stressor / the stimulus / the trigger), I run a wellbeing self-assessment with my clients. This report is an analysis of the eight wellbeing keys to the right. I help my clients come to crystal clarity on what their stressors are, so that the root can either be nourished or dug up. Nourished when the stressor leads to eustress. Dug up (I’m sorry, this is usually quite a painful process) when the stressor leads to distress. Although Myslivecek says that ‘in humans, the majority of stressors are psychological and social’, the other areas of wellbeing could be greatly impacted. So I offer this assessment as part of a wellbeing coaching package, OR people are welcome to simply complete a questionnaire then purchase their unique report from me for only £19.95 to see their results.

You can take your wellbeing self-assessment here: http://bit.ly/ToC-WSA.

You could also complete this explorative task on your own and without any aid. All you need to do is look at each wellbeing key, and write down what is discomforting, not quite at right balance, stress-invoking or is unsatisfactory to you in your life.

Here’s an example exploring the social key: a) Tension in the relationship between my boss and myself. b) My kids are complaining that I am not spending enough time with them. c) At the moment I feel like I have so few friends. d) Business networking gives me the sweats. Which ones are distressful? Which ones are a form of eustress? Which ones are acute and which ones are chronic? What degree of importance on a scale of 1-10 do you give them (1 being low and 10 being high)?

Then repeat this process for the other 7 wellbeing keys, and see what comes up for you.

 

How can the impact of that stress be measured? Indeed, what is the impact of all that stress?

Taking the wellbeing self-assessment is only part one of this stress-identification journey. The second part of the journey is nailing down the exact impact the stress is having on you. For example, you may be distressed by your next door neighbour who is repeatedly playing their music on full blast until 5am keeping you awake. Not only is the outcome of physical tiredness going to have an impact on you, but you could also be greatly impacted by short-temperedness in your family relationships, or an unkept living environment, or poor performance in your workplace. To help clients determine this, I give my clients a Stress Impact Assessment (again, based on the above wellbeing keys) to complete.

A comprehensive Stress Impact Assessment is a part of my wellbeing coaching package, OR people are welcome to attend one of my Radical Self-Care Workshops to go through a mini version (4 wellbeing keys) of this Stress Impact Assessment. You’ll find all my upcoming workshops on Radical Self-Care on my Eventbrite channel.

If you wanted to assess the impacts of your stress without my aid, you could draw a 3 columned table. The first column contains your stressor. The second column contains at least 1 (but likely to be multiple) outcomes of the stressor. The third column contains the impact. This is a very important piece of work, because this will actually help you determine which stresses need addressing.

Once you understand your stressors and the impacts of that stress, you can really begin to map out a plan for stress management. Otherwise, you’re just trialling and erring without really understanding your fight-fright-flight capacities. You could be throwing away a lot of money for something that you stumble onto by accident. Approaching your stress management systematically will help combat the chaos that comes with negative stress.

 

Why work with a Wellbeing Coach

Wellbeing coaches who have a good overall knowledge of the body (I would recommend level 3 qualifications in bodywork as a minimum since they show some level of competency in the hormonal and nervous systems). They will also have a greater understanding of healthy eating, psychology, in fact –  a good holistic understanding of all 8 wellbeing keys altogether. Such a coach would be in a good position to support you in managing your stress. They can also help you in your stress prevention strategy. They:

  • Take into account your physical wellbeing, through understanding and analysis of symptoms showing up as outcomes resulting from chronic stress or distress.
  • Will help you look at your life as a whole, as no one area of your life can be isolated unto itself.
  • Work with you to implement stress management strategy – forming action plans to prevention systems.
  • Look at your dietary intake, and can recommend dietary plans (but not subscribe vitamins or supplements unless they are a registered nutritionist).
  • Go through, in overview style, your financial as well as your environmental and occupational situations.
  • Recommend physical exercises and signpost you to helpful resources.
  • Think outside the box to help you with your career progression and development, without losing or selling your soul!

 

Of course, there is so much more that could be said about this topic, even from a physiological perspective – but I hope I have achieved what I set out to according to the second paragraph. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the above material, or would like to embark on a bespoke 3 month wellbeing coaching programme with me. I offer a free 30 minute consultation call.

 


I’m preparing to open up a 1 year Career & Wellbeing programme to 6 keen hi-potential job hunters or career chasers to escalate their performance as individuals, and to work as a team to achieve their unique life & career visions. Do you want to be someone who receives unlimited access and support from me, who will be championing you throughout your journey of growth and self-actualisation?

 

How I’d love to write a PhD on human behaviour right now…

I don’t consider myself an #academic… but I’m just so fascinated by #human #behaviour at the moment!

I agree with the UK Government’s current standpoint on the Coronavirus. Why? Well… because they have taken into serious consideration human behaviour.

In my 30+ years of life, I have observed how much we as human beings have changed in terms of our behaviour. I’m sure that many of you who are older, will see an even starker contrast in human behaviour from when you were younger, to today. We have become more impatient. We need things to be done faster and better. And, we have become so much more focused on ourselves (this is an iCulture, remember) and insular. We no longer connect with the dimension of time – and it’s going to hit us BIG TIME.

I’m not a scientist, nor am I a medical expert. I’m not a human behaviour expert neither. However, I do care very much about people. I care very much about the vulnerable in society – the disadvantaged, the marginalised, the isolated. I do this out of choice – not just because it’s inspired by my faith but also because it’s an intrinsic part of who I am. I was very pleased to have been able to watch the entire press briefing on BBC News on Thursday 12th March and I really have to say that it made entire sense to me.

If we go into lockdown too soon, people will become frustrated and lonely (depending how active or dependent you are on others). Perhaps I would never have heard myself saying this in the past, but it seems that on this occasion, the British Government appear to understand its peoples’ blind spots and weaknesses better than we do. Around a few months ago, I remember standing in a queue. I was only in the queue for around 10 minutes but the woman behind me spent 5 minutes constantly complaining at the fact that she’s in a queue. I mean, when we can’t even queue for 15 minutes without complaining, how are we conceivably going to remain on lockdown for an extended period of time? I know that not everyone behaves like this, but the truth is, the vast majority of us are extremely active – in our mindsets, our communications, our work, our lifestyles, etc.

Today, I was watching the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ (LOVE that movie!) and every single time Brooks narrates the line “the world got itself in a big hurry”, I always think that this is even more true of today, than it was back then. Our human behaviour has changed from allowing things time to take its course, to wanting immediate results. I’m a coach – for sure this is something that I even experience in my line of work. It’s one of the reasons why I love the elderly, and spending time with them. They really teach me the value of patience and self-control, in ways that can’t be explained in textbooks.

It’s too late to kill the virus, so therefore we need to let it continue to run its course, whilst of course doing all we possibly can to develop immunity to it. The situation is going to get worse, and it makes most sense if the peak of impact was delayed, and risk mitigated as much as is possible. The Government’s recommendations are on-point if you think that what they’re asking people to do is to remain indoors for a week should symptoms of the virus make an appearance. This is to prevent the spread. It’s very sensible advice. Eventually, the lockdowns will have to happen… but they shouldn’t happen before their time.

In terms of my business, I’m here to be of service, not to be of risk! Unfortunately, I’m someone who is currently showing symptoms of the virus although I don’t know if I actually have it or not. I’m stopping all my volunteering activities and I’ve also cancelled my Career Strategy workshop that was due to take place on Thursday 19th March, for the reason that it will be my 7th day of self-isolation.

What I’d be most interested in now is having a good conversation with experts in the arena of human behaviour during times of panic such as the time we are experiencing now. If there is anyone out there who reads this and who can point me in the right direction, or connect me, I’d be delighted to speak to them and learn more. So much to learn… always! I’m so glad that I have a love of learning.

 

 

academicresearch phd study humanbeings humanbehaviour crisismanagement crisisresponse behaviourchange panicbuying psychology sociology research researchers researchproject researchanddevelopment government coronavirus covid19

February 2020 Newsletter

On Top 5 tips for weathering the storm called GRIEF

12

New Year Wellbeing Goal Setting Workbook now available as free download

Free download - Wellbeing Goal Setting Wkbk NY

This helpful tool is designed to help clients strategise their goal-setting, breaking down the process into evaluating the past and present holistically, then planning for future, holistically.

I hope you enjoy it, and do share it with others you believe will find it useful!

All my free downloads, and payable downloads are available on the resources page of my website.

Love, Claz.