STRESS!! What Stress??

The statistics of work related stress

The prevalence rate for work related stress in all industries was 1220 cases per 100,000 people employed averaged over the three year period 2011/12, 2013/14 and 2014/15 (Health & Safety Executive 2015). When we break this down into categories of occupation we found that the professional occupations category has significantly higher rates of work related stress than the rate for all occupations.

For the same three year period as mentioned above, the professional occupations category had 1930 cases per 100,000 people employed, compared with 1220 cases averaged for all occupational groups, a statistically significantly higher rate. If we break this down further it appears that health professionals, teachers and nurses have the highest rates of stress within this category with rates of 2500, 2190 and 3000 cases per 100,000 people employed over this period.

When looking at the statistics between gender, it seems that work related stress in males was 590 cases for males and 920 cases for females per 100,000 people employed, with the 34-44 and 45-54 years ranges having significantly higher rates than the average across all persons.

Causes of workplace stress

The predominant cause of work related stress from the Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) was workload. Examples of this are:

  • tight deadlines
  • too much work/pressure/responsibility
  • a lack of managerial support
  • organisational changes at work,
  • bullying
  • role uncertainty (lack of clarity about job/uncertain what meant to do.)

Stress at work icons set

Research has indicated around 12 million adults see their GP each year with mental health problems. Most of these include anxiety and depression with much of it being stress related.  Work related stress accounts for 35% of work related ill health and 43% of days lost, in 2014/15.

These figures are alarmingly high and small changes can have big effects on individuals and across companies. As coaches we work on the basis that if one is going to overcome a problem or challenge first one has to understand it. Then with that knowledge one can implement the appropriate changes to improve the situation they may find themselves in.  This is appropriate to anyone at work from whichever background or level they are at.

What is Stress?

It is important to understand Stress has different effects on different people, depending on how we react to certain situations and challenges in our every day lives. It can easily be defined as the way you feel when you are under to much pressure and are unable to cope.

It is suggested a certain amount of stress is good for us as it keeps us challenged and motivated and helps our overall performance. However, too much pressure can lead to stress.

Stress has many causes and is common at both home and at work and with the world around us becoming faster paced and more competitive the pressures of life can creep up on us when we least expect it. So, it is important we continue to ensure we get the right balance in our lives and keep things in the right perspective, and ultimately retain control.

Too much pressure or stress can result in a negative impact on our health both physically and mentally. The main symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, sweats, feeling sick, butterflies, panic attacks and an overall feeling of a loss of control.

The impact of long term stress can be even more severe affecting our ability to function normally in our everyday lives.

That’s why it’s important to recognise the signs early and immediately consult with your GP and make the appropriate and required changes in your life to regain and retain a healthy mind and physical wellbeing state.

Our conscious mind can only cope with an average of seven pieces of information at any one time. Too many things going on for too long can create overload and pressure and result in our struggle to cope. It is easy to see how we become stressed isn’t it?

The chemistry in the body changes fundamentally every time one reacts stressfully. Stress starts in the brain because of the way in which we perceive a situation as requiring our immediate attention i.e. a hostile reaction from a colleague, an exam, a financial crisis, a marriage break up, an impossible deadline and a loved ones death. Everyone’s resilience levels are different. It is down to an individual’s experiences as to how resilient there are against these stresses.

When the body prepares for “fight or flight” it is ready for a short burst of heightened activity. In today’s society, many factors can trigger this response, but few can be dealt with by a short burst of activity. Stress situations are often continuous so stress responses are semi-permanently on red alert, the physical release is unacceptable so the responses are suppressed – a situation which cannot be maintained safely for too long.  The stress build up eventually explodes internally, knocks the body systems out of balance and causes extreme physical and mental exhaustion.

Here comes the science part…

When we are stressed deep inside your brain lays the hypothalamus which triggers the pituitary gland which releases hormones to trigger the adrenal glands. These glands release an output of adrenaline and nor-adrenaline into the bloodstream. It is these stress chemicals which induce physiological changes designed to improve performance. This is the “fight or flight” effect and the following reactions are carried out:

  1. Blood supply to the brain is increased – improves judgement & decision making
  2. Heart speeds up and fuel is released into the bloodstream from glucose
  3. Fats and stored blood sugar provide extra energy
  4. Blood vessels dilate in some areas i.e. the skin to make it available for use in other areas like the muscles
  5. Air passages relax and breathing rate improves
  6. Blood pressure rises
  7. Digestion and excretion are not considered high priorities in a “dangerous situation”; adrenaline causes vascular constriction, which reduces the flow of blood to the stomach and intestine

Long term adrenal stimulation with no discharge of energy will deplete essential vitamins and minerals from the system, namely, vitamins B & C which are vital to the functioning of the immune system. If these are depleted this could cause lower resistance and susceptibility to diseases such as ME. Blood pressure can also be affected and cause a build up of fatty substances on blood vessel walls, as well as, damaging the functioning of the digestive system.

When a person faces continual or repeated stress, the response system enters the chronic phase during which resistance declines below normal and eventually that person becomes exhausted.

stressanatomy.jpg

 Ways in which to tackle stress – Five top tips

  1. Mind Workout

Commence a mind workout everyday. Daily mind exercises can help you re-balance your life and regain control of your thoughts and feelings. Quiet meditation at home using deep breathing techniques or a yoga class twice a week can help re-balance you internally. Mindfulness is also proving to be a very popular and effective tool for combating stress and is mow more prevalent within workplace settings.

  1. Diet

Try to cut out any sugary, processed or refined foods. It is these we crave and run for when we need to find comfort, however, the comfort is short lived and once your blood sugar level has risen sky-high it dips just as fast and the cravings return an hour later and the cycle begins again.

Being aware of what you eat is incredibly important in helping to overcoming stress and a diet of fish, white meat, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and pulses can give your body all the necessary nutrients required to retain balance and harmony. If possible avoid stimulants like coffee, chocolate and alcohol and also too much refined and processed foods or sugar as these can only upset the balance.

  1. Exercise

When we exercise our body releases endorphins which in turn combat stress hormones that are released into the body when we are stressed. Think of this as your endorphins putting out a fire. A fire caused on the inside by all the stress feelings and overload experienced every day.

A recommended minimum of forty minutes cardiovascular exercise everyday will keep an equilibrium even if it is just a short walk to work and back. Small changes such as walking or cycling to work. Many people use their lunch hour as a time to get some exercise and go for a stroll, apart from the fact that it breaks up the working day and gives your body a break from work. To make it more fun create a lunchtime walking group or diarise “walking meetings” instead of sitting indoors. For those of you who prefer exercising alone there are some great apps around that measure your steps and even work with your music library on your phone along with motivational prompts from the start to the finish of the jog.

  1. Sleep

Sleeping problems are common with stress. Ensure you have a consistent bedtime routine and go to bed at the same time every night. If you have worries or problems on your mind at night keep a notepad and pencil by the bed so consciously you are in control as you know you can write them down and forget about them if you need to. Avoid cat napping during the day, and try not to become too obsessed with how much sleep you have had.  If you have a bad night, draw a line under it and go to bed earlier the next night after a hot bath and relaxing your body through reading a book or listening to some calming music. It is suggested that we only really need a minimum of 4 hours sleep per night to function normally. We have convinced ourselves we need 6 or 8 hours. Take the pressure off yourself.

  1. Goal setting

Sometimes, we lose our way in this busy world and our aims and objectives become confused or unclear. By writing down your goals and actions with a timeline this will give you focus and a process to follow and implement. Ensure you keep a diary so you can monitor any symptoms of stress physically and mentally, then apply the above and make the appropriate small changes and take back control.

Building a case for wellbeing in the workplace

In order for a company to embrace wellbeing it needs to bring it into their company values. Managers need to encourage, support, sponsor and lead all wellbeing at work initiatives first in order to thread it into their companies culture.  They need to lead from the front. Managers can create the right environment for their staff by offering flexible working hours, manageable workloads, regular lunch breaks without looking upon this as a weakness.  Managers must recognise the signs and symptoms of work related stress and have a process by which to approach their staff sensitively and supportively.  Give your staff a voice and more autonomy and ensure that objectives are realistic, timely and consistent.

As a Manager, if you notice these symptoms in your staff and are not sure how to engage with them appropriately our Happiness by Design at Work programmes would work for you and your organisation.

Remember: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Download our brochure today 

or call the Life Practice on Tel: 01462 431112

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It’s never too late to score the winning goal

IMG_2055Throughout life we experience many different situations and scenarios which create a change to be forced upon us; reaching a certain age; getting made redundant, breakdown of a relationship or suffering a bereavement

Whatever the scenario, these situations provoke different emotions and often they don’t serve us in a positive way. We start an inner dialogue with ourselves.

Our inner self talk could be a number conversations like:

  • I’m not attractive enough to date again
  • I’m too burnt out to try for a promotion
  • I’ve never been ambitious
  • I’m too old for that

The emotion attached to these scenarios maybe a sense of loss; a door closing; giving up trying, poor motivation or the end of something great.

We learn from our mistakes

But it doesn’t have to be looked upon in this way, my advice is to think of life as a set of experiences and from each experience we will learn something new. It may be good, bad or indifferent but ultimately, we will learn something new which is the key point (90% of what we learn, we learn from our mistakes).

Re-frame your thinking

By being empowered with more knowledge and wisdom when we are faced with a new experience we should re-frame our thinking in that it is only temporary, nothing ventured nothing gained, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s not permanent or forever, it is just a new path that I am following and let’s see which direction this takes us.  This way you instantly reduce the stress of the expectation of the new phase and can allow yourself to embrace the future without fear.

Every stage of life has its own rewards and success and happiness comes quite often from looking back and reflecting on what you learned and how you can take that learning into the next phase of your life and use it for your own self development.

Whatever stage of life you are experiencing, it is never too late to score the winning goal.

If you are struggling with an experience in your life and need support, we are here to help. Call the Life Practice on 01462 431112 to speak to one of our qualified therapists .

Do you have a “Me” Day

I have to admit I was feeling slightly smug leading up to the Christmas period when everyone around me seemed to be coming down with a nasty virus. However come Christmas night it finally got hold of me and I spent the next three weeks quite literally in bed with aches, pains, copious amounts of catarrah and eventually pleurisy. Not like me at all as I never get ill, in fact  I can’t remember the last time it happened. As a Nutritional Therapist my diet is clean and I do generally look after myself but I guess I had been working quite hard and had been rushing around a fair bit leading up to the Christmas crazy season and my immune system was a little under par.

During these three “ill” weeks I couldn’t work, be a Mum or anything at all useful at home or work so I gave into the fact that I had to rest and recuperate. On reflection during this time I looked back on my 2014 and decided that I had been burning the candle at both ends and working far too hard and not allowing enough “Me” time.  I spent my days looking after others in the clinic and at home but had forgotten to look after number one. So as I lay there feeling sorry for myself I started to put some changes were in place for 2015.

I started with booking myself some pampering in the form of a Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial at the Vanity Beauty Academy in Hitchin. It sounded like something that would revive my zombie-like body and give me back my “mojo”.

Vanity Beauty Academy is housed in a beautiful listed building in Sun Street and comprises of lots of nooks and cranny type rooms where there are different treatments available from facials, tanning, body massage, eye and nail treatments to waxing and pamper parties for all ages. They set the atmosphere beautifully with classical music in the background with subtle aromas enveloping your senses.

On arrival I was met by the lovely Laura who talked through the treatment and asked me a little bit about my skincare routine and what my expectations were. She gave me a choice of an additional shoulder or scalp massage for which I chose a scalp massage as I had never experienced that before other than at the hairdressers. It was amazing!

During the treatment I was transported into a world of relaxation and sheer indulgence. I found myself drifting off into my own happy thoughts and eventually settled somewhere between nothingness and oblivion. It was exactly what I needed. My skin felt amazing, even some of my fine “laughter” lines had reduced which is worth it’s weight in gold and my confidence immediately lifted.

So I have made a pact with myself that I will allow myself one indulgence a month in order to keep stress at bay and create an air of calm within. After all it is something that I recommend to all my stressed clients that visit my clinic and I really should practice what I preach. It is little treats like these that keep us balanced and in check and ultimately make us better people to spend time with and be around. Stress is “so” last year.

For information on Vanity Beauty Academy email: enquiries@vanitybeautyacademy.com or call 01462 438883 or visit their website

Written by: Karen Shields, Nutritional Therapist at the Life Practice UK, 107 Bancroft, Hitchin, Herts SG45 1NB

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you S.A.D? Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s that time of year again as the nights draw in and the clocks come forward an hour. We will be preparing for longer nights and shorter days. Many of us take this seasonal change in our stride but 15% of us suffer terribly with the condition otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Woman Stretching in Bed with a Man Sleeping Beside HerSAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that affects approximately 1 in 8 people every winter between September and April, in particular during December, January and February.

It is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter. The hormone melatonin is produced by the pineal gland at night and it aids sleep, natural sunlight suppresses the production of melatonin and improves immune function. Therefore, during the winter months when natural sunlight is at its lowest SAD can occur.

For many people SAD is a seriously disabling illness, preventing them from functioning normally without continuous medical treatment. For others, 1 in 50, it is a mild but debilitating condition causing tiredness, lethargy, sleep and eating problems. It is commonly known as “the winter blues”.

Symptoms of SAD

Many of people are puzzled year after year when every winter they seem to feel tired, lethargic, and suffer a loss of enthusiasm or energy. A great deal of those people do not realize that they are experiencing the symptoms are SAD, instead they believe that it is the feeling of the lazy days of summer disappearing and the grey days winter are approaching.

The main recognisable symptoms of SAD are the following:

  • Sleep problems, with sometimes a desire to oversleep, or alternatively a trouble in sleeping with disturbed sleep and early morning awakening.
  • Lack of energy and a feeling of fatigue affecting normal daily functioning.
  • Weight gain and overeating. This involves a craving for carbohydrates like bread and potatoes and a craving for sweet foods and junk food.
  • Feelings of gloom or depression, guilt and a loss of self esteem or interest in normal activities.
  • A lack of interest in going out and socializing. Deliberately avoiding social contact with friends and family.
  • Feelings of anxiousness, stress and irritability. A general lack of patience.
  • Low sex drive and physical contact with their partner.
  • Extreme mood changes, with sufferers literally surfing a wave of emotional changes many times a day.

How Can We Overcome SAD Syndrome?

Firstly visit your GP. This should always be your first option as your GP will always be able to check your symptoms in order to confirm SAD and recommend all the appropriate treatments and medical options.

Light Therapy

By exposing patients to very bright light (at least ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting) for up to four hours per day (average 1-2 hours) light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases.

Some light boxes emit higher intensity of light, up to 10,000 Lux, which can cut treatment time down to half an hour a day. Light boxes have to be bought from specialist retailers and are priced around £100

It is important to understand light is measured by what we call Lux. To get this in perspective a candle gives out 1 Lux, a household light bulb 350 Lux, and the sun in the summer gives out 100,000 Lux. Even on a winters afternoon the winter sun can give out as much as 30,000 Lux.  Have you ever wondered why you feel better when the sun shines?

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, counseling or any complementary therapy which helps the sufferer to relax, accept their illness and cope with its limitations are extremely useful.

Integrated mind therapies, inclusive of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Hypnotherapy have also proven to be very effective.

Five further Steps to being free from S.A.D

  1. Ensure you walk for a minimum of one and a half hours outside every day. This could be to work or school or even during your lunch breaks. Even in the winter you can be exposed of up to 30,000lux. Get and stay outside as regular and often as you can
  2. Keep the wearing of sunglasses to a minimum but do not stare at the sun.
  3. Ensure you have a weekly exercise program. Ensure you include a minimum of 4 weekly cardio vascular activities.
  4. Be conscious of your diet and ensure you keep carbohydrates to a minimum, eating balanced meals every day with fruit, vegetables and grains such as brown rice. Avoid refined sugar as this can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which can greatly affect your mood. By eating healthily you can maintain a healthy gut, also known as the second brain, for its serotonin producing capabilites.
  5. A mixture of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D3, 5HTP and a vitamin B complex may help to create a natural serotonin boost and raise our mood naturally.  Always obtain health supplements from a registered Nutritional Therapist after a consultation. Some other medications like antidepressants can contraindicate supplements such as 5HTP and can cause more damage than good so it is important to speak to a specialist first.

To summarise, get outside in the sunshine as much as possible as it will drive your endorphin production (the bodies natural opiates) which in turn combats adrenaline and reduces mood related problems. You will get your light relief and mood relief twice from two different external factors.

Visit the Life Practice Nutrition website for further details about our Registered Nutritional Therapist and services offered.

Visit the Life Practice main website for information on our Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, NLP and Life Coaching services

The key to happiness in your career

WhaBusinesspeople Running Towards Finish Linet is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships? Are you someone who always finds other people’s careers interesting compared to yours?  Have you assessed how you are doing lately? If not, why not?  Our career aspirations can change throughout life depending on experiences from our past, maturity into adulthood, and requirements to survive our chosen lifestyle.

Recently my 14 year old daughter has had to think about her career and future and to choose her GCSE options. Who actually knew what they wanted to do at that age?  It seems more of a minefield than it was when I was younger, particularly as the current government seems to keep changing the goal posts and schools seem also to be left in the dark, however, that’s a topic for another time.

Parenthood brings many challenges at different stages of a child growing up and as a parent I have always been conscious to keep happiness at the forefront of their minds and an “anything is possible” attitude to life.  In helping my daughter make her choices I have tried as much as possible to give her enough information so that she ultimately makes the decisions for herself. Her dream (at the moment) is to perform in the West End Musical theatre in London and perhaps eventually go to Broadway.  Whilst, many parents flippantly would say, “oh no, that could never happen for you”. I say “why not? Someone has to, why not you?” Sure, you will come across rejection, disappointment and failure along the way but by learning from these pitfalls and making the necessary tweaks this can enable you to adjust the path and change direction as you go.  After all, the yellow brick road was not straight and Dorothy learnt many lessons along her journey whilst experiencing the twists and turns of the land of Oz.

We have looked into course brochures and her school offered the children a career workshop that has educated them about what lifestyle they wish to have and how much money they would need in order to live it. All of these resources are important in making such decisions but deep down my feeling is as long as you follow what makes you happy everything will fall into place and if it doesn’t, I hear you ask, then you need to keep checking back by asking yourself some unearthing questions about your career.

So if any of you who are reading this are wishing they had had some insight into their future career before they got there and feel it is too late to change direction. Think again.

There are five dimensions of meaning to one’s career.

  1. Earning money
  2. Achieving status
  3. Making a difference
  4. Following your passions (interests)
  5. Using your talents (skills)

These five dimensions can be prioritised in various order depending on your own experiences, influencing factors (family) and perception of the world.

Earning money

Look at this in a broader perspective rather than going for a career that pays the best. How much income do you want/need? Are you setting your own monetary goals or complying with someone else’s? What is a comfortable living, and what careers might fulfill that? What career fields might suit you in other ways from which you could also earn a reasonable (from your perspective) salary?

Achieving status

As with the perception of money, your definition of status may be different to the next person’s. Take some time to determine your proudest moments at work and in life. That may give you some perspective of what constitutes “status” to you. Does your current position provide you with the sense of pride and status you desire? What in your current job do you take pride in?

Making a difference

Now without thinking I’ve gone all tree hugger on you, making a difference isn’t always about saving the whales or other voluntary projects; you can also make a difference at work. Think about a teacher who makes a difference every day to a pupil but the results aren’t always seen immediately. What about helping someone learn to cope with their debilitating anxiety or fear of public speaking? What does “making a difference” mean to you?  Are you perhaps underplaying the difference you make in your current job or would a different job provide more fulfillment for you in this area? Is making a difference important to you or do other factors trump this desire? Only you can decide.

Following your passions and interests

This is the area in which I have focused on with my daughter and her subject choices. What subjects do you love to learn about as these tend to be the subjects you do well in.  There is no doubt, if you love the job you are in you will love getting up in the morning and springing onto that commuter train and whistling as you go, however, it is not quite as simple as that to achieve this, there are compromises and creative solutions along the path to doing what we love.

Take a few minutes and ask yourself if you have found your right livelihood.  Are you pursuing what you love or have you found the love in what you do?  Because it might be that doing a less-than-ideal job that puts food on your family’s table and offers you the chance to travel on holidays to sunnier climates is one aspect of the love you can find in it.

Understanding talents, skills & passion

You need to have the right mix of talent and skill. You don’t actually need passion but if you want to get into what you love to do, it helps. Skill is something that you can learn. Talent is something that you naturally have. List down in three columns: all of your skills, talents and passion. When you are at your all-time best, what are you doing? And how can you find a job that lets you do more of that?

I have always been fascinated with the mind and how people behave.  Armed with my interpersonal skills and my talents of leading, motivating and inspiring people I have managed to re-carve a new career in the world of Behavioural Change.  Sure, I needed to do some extra training and education to get me here but the underlying skills, talent and passion have always been there. I just simply got the qualification to fill in the gaps. The skills and experience from my last career have all been transferable in one respect or another.

That’s the key to successful career transitioning: you take a job, figure out what you like best, and then look for a job that lets you do more of that.   Or you take a look at your skills, talents and passions and see what positions could work in line with those.

In my career path, my strength was Sales. I have always been told that I have good inter personal skills and these skills helped me to build rapport with my customers who I sold to and eventually through the years I was promoted up the ranks into a Senior role managing teams within the Financial Industry, earning a shed load of money.  However, the dis-loyal, cut-throat nature of the Corporate world did not sit well with me and I found it soul destroying, extremely stressful and at times unethical. One day the money was just not the priority and my happiness and health took precedence. I still had my good interpersonal skills and had picked up many other skills along the way in the Business world from training, coaching, mentoring and leadership so I re-trained and stepped into a new industry that I remain in today.  Ironically, coaching business men like my “old-self” who have been sucked in by the Corporate life, bigged up, and spat out the other side feeling hit by a train with the look of shock as to what to do next.

A poignant example that springs to mind where I have made a difference in someone’s life which touched me emotionally was when I coached a West end actor to overcome his performance nerves prior to starring in his first West End show. My client had achieved his “status” by being chosen by Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom he held in the highest regard in the Musical Theatre World but unfortunately, his nerves did not care about this, his body was struggling to calm down in such a highly charged situation. After teaching him some techniques and exercises along with visualisation he managed to overcome his fear and the show was a West End hit.  My moment of “making a difference” became apparent when I went with my family to watch him. I was so proud of his achievement that it brought tears to my eyes. How many people can say that about their job?

Now you have examined these dimensions. Which is most important? Which is least? How much of each is “enough” in your work? So going back to the original question, “What is your current job role doing to you as a person, to your mind, character and relationships?” Would making changes in these five dimensions change your life for the better? Is one area neglected at the expense of another? How can you fix that?  By doing this career MOT every so often it helps you keep on the right track and is the key to happiness in your career.

How Social is your Business?

communicationHow Social is your Business?

It is difficult to ignore the term “Social Media” now as it has grown substantially in recent years and with most individuals possessing a Facebook account for entertainment and keeping in touch with friends and family it has equally become a very useful marketing tool for businesses.

Facts & Figures

Did you know that:

25% of online consumer time is spent on Social Media sites

Facebook is the most used Social Media site with the average user age 18-25 years and with 22% of users aged 26-34 years.

Twitter is second largest social media site with 500 million users worldwide, tweeting170 million tweets a day. 30% of twitter users are 26-34 years with 25% aged 35-44 years

So, what is so special about Social Media? It has created opportunities for practitioners to reach out to potential clients in a more direct marketing route, create new professional networks and build relationships with existing clients (should they wish to be public).

Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin are the more popular choice, however, there are numerous other social media networks and blogging sites such as WordPress, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+.

In my opinion. all CAM practitioners should take advantage of the different types of Social Media marketing opportunities because first and foremost they are FREE.  Secondly, they can increase your brand awareness by directly reaching your target market and demographic. It is also a great way to increase traffic to your website and finally it gives a practitioner the chance to educate their audience (for those willing to listen) which may result in them using your services.

Everyone has their preferred type of Social Media platform, however, it is sensible to use several in connection with each other to produce a more powerful message. For example, if you can produce an educational video on an aspect of your work with You Tube, you can then tweet a link to the video on Twitter or post to Facebook. Your followers will then be able to “comment”, “like” or “re-tweet” to all of their followers which starts the viral nature that we so often see in the news with quirky stories or ultra-talented 6 year olds!

So the question is how does one get started? Well, firstly you need to decide what your goals are for using Social Media. Perhaps your targets are to increase your follower numbers, gain referrals through social media, direct more traffic through to your website, keep track of latest research and industry leaders in your field and what is being said.

Twitter allows you to post short updates or “tweets” of up to 140 characters and follow the updates of anyone that interests you.

You can target your tweets direct to your chosen market, for example. schools, gyms, corporate markets in your particular area of the country. This puts the word out about what you are doing in your practice which may lead to a build up a following in a certain territory/area.

You need to ensure that every tweet re-enforces your goal but you don’t want to look desperate so make sure you offer a variety of interesting facts, figures, pictures, links, videos, etc.

If you watch what other people in your industry “tweet” (the ones with lots of followers) try to model their technique as it takes some practice to fit all your information about your services into only 140 characters.

There are many tools within Twitter that can be used to target your audience

Hashtags ####

Putting a hashtag # before a word helps you to create a particular subject, news story, research or event that interests an audience. For example, during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. The topic #openingceremony was used. By posting a tweet with #openingceremony in it, your tweet would be seen under that topic group. If it was relevant to your business, the topic and interesting, other Tweeters would look at your profile and see who you are and perhaps they may even click on the link to your website, thus driving more traffic to your website.

Be careful though, as you do not want to annoy other tweeters with a blatant marketing post that has nothing to do with the topic. Equally, you need to gauge carefully how witty and entertaining you are as this can affect your business image.

Increase your followers

This can be done in a couple of ways but personally I think it is more about quality of followers rather than quantity.

You need to think about your area and search for people using the “Discover” tab. Type #Brighton to find tweets on the topic of Brighton. They will usually be other businesses in that area. If you want to gain referrals from a gym in Brighton, look out for a gym under #Brighton tweets by reading their profile.  You can also go one further and see who follows the gym in Brighton as it may be some of their members in which case you can follow them too.

Who to follow or follow-back

Keep an eye on who follows you back. My rule of thumb is that if you follow someone and they do not follow you back then a week later you can unfollow them. Try and follow ten new people a week in order to keep on top of it.

If you want quantity then follow as many people as you like but make sure they are relevant to your target market. Some will follow back but not all.  You can tell the avid tweeters by the number of tweets they have in their tweet trail.

Ideally what you are aiming for is a solid base of followers who are interested in what you have to say and want to share it with their followers.

Don’t spam

Twitter is about relationship building and building some rapport with likeminded parties. If you have never interacted with them before it is best not to ask for re-tweets or referrals. Try to build up some dialogue with individuals first.

Beware of Direct Messages Hackers      

Direct messages or DM’s are a great way to personalise a message solely to a particular follower. Only they can see it. However, anyone sending a message to you suggesting that someone is saying something bad about you and inviting you to click on a link is more than likely to be an attempt to hack into your account.

If the message looks a little odd, do not click the link.

Most importantly – Think before you post

Think before you post and ask yourself these questions.

  • Does it re-enforce my business goals?
  • Is it interesting or relevant?
  • Am I violating client confidentiality?

Remember: anything that you post remains on the Internet forever and can be easily shared with others.

I hope this brief explanation of using Twitter as a marketing tool for your business is useful and for those of you who would like to see an example of how it is done. Go to www.twitter.com/LifePracticeUK

Client Coaching – Making the Difference

The CAM Coach Mark Shields examines the skills that we all need to get the best results for our clients. This month’s blog we look more in depth at the proven Life Practice coaching model CASPA

business coaching

Developing Practitioner Coaching Skills

At the moment through their own admittance many CAM practitioners readily admit they deal with a set of problems presented by their client by fact finding the client problems and making a set of recommendations to deal with the symptoms. By applying a set of simple coaching principles CAM Practitioners can not only deal with the output of the clients problems ( the symptoms ) but can also apply a simple coaching model called CASPA (not the white ghost) to highlight and manage the cause that puts us in a much stronger position to help our client and eliminate their problems forever. So what is CASPA?

What is CASPA ?

CASPA is a client needs driven coaching model very similar in principle to the Human Givens coaching model which you may already be aware of. The human givens model focuses entirely on the presumption as human beings we all have a series of needs that need to be met. When these needs aren’t being met certain contradictory and conflicting behaviours can emerge, to compensate for this lack of personal fulfilment. These behaviours often result in many of the symptoms we find in our clients. Weight Gain, Stress, Adrenal Fatigue and so on.

Dealing with Cause and Affect

By applying CASPA to the main areas of our client’s lifestyle we can find the route cause of the client’s problem driving the behaviour we are treating. That puts us in a very strong position as coaches as we can treat the symptoms but most importantly coach the cause of the problem as well. This is known to coaches as cause and effect. When working with a needs driven coaching model such as CASPA it is common practice to segment our client’s lives into four main areas.
These are
1. Health
2. Relationships
3. Career
4. Finance

CASPA represents the following needs that in theory we all need to be met as human beings to remain happy and fulfilled.

  • Control
  • Approval
  • Security
  • Purpose
  • Achievement

By applying CASPA to the four main areas of lifestyle you would complete a SOD (scale of discomfort) score 1-10 (1 meaning feeling fine and  10 feeling terrible). With a max score of 200 obviously the higher the score in a particular area highlights areas of cause to pinpoint

So let’s look at this in Principle

Case Study Example

Gemma gets in touch with you her as nutritional therapist as she has problems with gaining weight and is very tired especially first thing in the morning and struggles to get out of bed in the morning. She has put on a stone in the last three months and feels highly anxious during certain periods and comfort eats to combat her feelings of anxiety. She has recently experienced her first panic attack

Currently some nutritional therapists would complete a fact find (Client Questionnaire + data interpretation of symptoms), food diary and possibly some laboratory testing.

You would interpret the information you had received and make appropriate dietary recommendations and supplements, if necessary. A follow up appointment would be booked six weeks later depending on their case. At this meeting you would review their food diary and any change in symptoms and make adjustments to the recommendations as appropriate. Some of you may see the client two or three more times.

Applying CASPA

By applying CASPA we would establish Gemma was in stage 1 of stress (fear and panic) and her stress / adrenal fatigue was caused by work related stress at work when in the presence of her boss. We would then agree a set of focused goals to formulate a strategy to combat the problem caused at work. When coaching in this way client buy in, trust and focus is paramount so it wouldn’t be unusual to see your client weekly for the first month to ensure progress and develop momentum. In addition to her diet and eating habits we would examine how she handled the stress mentally and would with her to develop a strategy to combat the stress looking at all aspects of her lifestyle.

GROW Model

The GROW model is a review process you would use weekly to begin with to review your clients goals, motivate and inspire your client and ensure momentum is maintained.
G goals
R reality
O options
W way forward

Summary

CASPA is a basic coaching model allowing you to quickly identify the route cause of your client’s symptoms. CASPA is very useful when the client is unaware of the reason they are behaving in the way they are. CASPA enables you to formulate actions and goals at the beginning of your clients first session, get straight to the point and structure a plan and strategy immediately putting the client back in control from the moment you meet them.

Today’s Practitioner Habits Forge Tomorrows Practitioner Behaviour

Today more and more CAM practitioners are learning new skills and increasing their value to their clients and their ability to increase their income. In fact my opening line at the recent CAM Conference was if you remember “become your clients coach”.

Our new Life Practice Academy offer online business courses which give therapist’s the business skills and knowledge to improve success in their clinics.Sign up for free today at the Life Practice Academy

CASPA Model Copyright Life Practice