Australian bushfires: Psychological preparation and recovery tips from the APS.

Australian bushfires 2020: Psychological preparation and recovery tips from the APS. The current impact of bushfires on Australian communities is devastating. The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has compiled a range of resources to help Australians to prepare and recover from the threat of bushfire. go to URL: https://www.psychology.org.au/Australian-bushfires-2020

or  Click this link to access tips on the following (and more):

Useful tips for psychological preparedness:

  • Preparing for bushfires
  • Preparing children for the threat of bushfires

Useful skills for disaster recovery:

  • Managing emotional distress
  • Problem solving
  • Helpful thinking
  • The importance of social connections
  • Taking time for pleasurable activities

MORE Resources at the APS Website

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The Courage to Face Conflict in our Work Relationships (6 Tips).

The Courage to Face Conflict in our Work Relationships (6 Tips). After years of helping people manage conflict we’ve come to understand what blocks people from starting a conversation about it.  The first point is the ‘framing’ of conflict. Conflict is not all bad – right? In fact, from our experience, we need some degree of conflict or difference of opinion to generate healthy discussion, think through issues carefully and develop new and innovative ways of doing things.

However, when not handled well, avoided or left unchecked, conflict in the workplace is not only costly and damaging for the organisation, but can also lead to significant distress for the individuals and teams involved.  Some people would rather leave their workplace than confront a conflict conversation!

So why do we freeze at the first sign of discomfort in our work relationships?

When we ask people “what is it that stops you from being able to communicate when there are signs of conflict”, the common reasons put forward are:

  • I don’t want to make the situation worse’
  • ‘If I wait for long enough, it will blow over and sort itself out’
  • ‘I am afraid of how I (or they) might react during a challenging conversation’
  • ‘I am not sure what to say or how start’
  • I didn’t see the warning signs that the relationship would be impacted by such misunderstandings’
  • I don’t think the relationship has enough good will to tolerate constructive feedback

Here are 6 tips to help you start those challenging conversations.

  1. Have the courage to start the conversation: One of the first pitfalls is deciding not to have a conversation. What may start out as a misunderstanding can potentially escalate if avoided. One of the benefits of starting a conversation early is that you can open the communication process while maintaining some degree of separation between the people and the issue. You are in a better position to manage your emotions, acknowledge differences and generate options towards a resolution.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare: This means preparing for when, where and how you will start the conversation. Choose a time and place where you can talk openly without interruption or having others listen to your conversation. You may also think about some words or phrases that help you to ease into the discussion. It is also helpful to consider your needs and what you are hoping to achieve out of the conversation as well as what the needs of the other person might be before you start. This will help you to focus on the issue rather than the person.
  3. Remain emotionally independent: It is difficult to remain emotionally independent and able to focus on the facts as opposed to assumptions and interpretations. Rather than getting bogged down in your perceptions or interpretation of the intentions of the other person (which can lead to heightened emotions), it is important to remain calm and able to think clearly and logically.
  4. Seek to understand: Essentially, we all want to feel heard and understood. By demonstrating this (which by the way does not necessarily mean agreeing) helps to decrease any potential defensiveness from the other person.  It is helpful to adopt an approach where you seek to understand. What is going on for the other person? Why? This process involves listening without interruption and then summarising and checking that you have heard correctly. By seeking to understand you are in a better position to reframe the issues without bias or judgement.
  5. Adopt a problem-solving approach: Once there is a concept of what the issues are, you can start to work on how that can be resolved. This involves acknowledging differences but also looking for common interests and objectives. You can then work towards developing options collaboratively with each persons’ needs and goals in mind.
  6. Check in: Often once we have had a conversation we will often leave it unchecked without any further follow up. In order to foster ongoing trust in the relationship, it is important to continue to check back in with each other to see how things have progressed.  You may consider what is working well and what else do we need to do differently?  Relationships build one conversation at a time.

Naturally, we advise that you seek help from a 3rd party if you want to manage a conflict, but the circumstances seem too overwhelming or tricky to do it on your own.

Want to know more about managing conflict in the workplace?ASK YES.

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WISE DISCERNMENT skills from TACTICAL COMPOSURE over time.

For leaders and managers, TACTICAL COMPOSURE  (which includes mindful attention) is a pathway to MINDFUL LEADERSHIP and WISE DISCERNMENT!

Activating the conscious and strategic centres of the brain can be achieved swiftly, in the short-term, with specific composure tactics. These help to reduce the stress-response and engage the command and control parts of the brain (in the pre-frontal cortex). However, more benefits are gained by building the mental habits of composure and mindful attention.

Exercising Tactical Composure and mindfulness over time strengthens and integrates one’s ability to purposely access calm, controlled and conscious thinking.

Wise discernment (seeing things clearly, as they are and knowing what is needed) and wise action (choosing actions that serve you, others and the situation well) are much more likely in this state.

Here is a list of what Wise Discernment and Mindful Attention would look life for those who commit to regular exercises of composure and mindfulness.

  1. Being aware of what’s happening as it’s happening (and remembering what happened – in order to build personal insight and self-awareness).
  2. Observing yourself, others and situations more objectively, in a curious and non-judgemental manner.
  3. Noticing and disengaging from unhelpful patterns of automatic negative thoughts.
  4. Seeing things (and yourself and other people) for how they really are now, rather than how we’d wish them be.
  5. An ability to ‘turn on’ the attitudes of curiosity and openness in order to respond, rather than reaction to situations.
  6. A greater sense of self-acceptance and self-compassion, becoming more patient and present in daily life.
  7. Understanding that feelings too, not just thoughts and logic, play a significant part in motivation, decision-making and habits. Also, not getting hooked in by, or a carried away by, unhelpful feelings or thinking habits.
  8. Accepting reality (versus struggling with it) in order to re-focus on wise action.
  9. Understanding what might need to happen now, to better serve you, others, and the situation.
  10. The ability to inhibit ‘acting out’ on unhelpful urges. Perhaps just listening and observing  – rather than trying to fix things straight away, with unnecessary self-pressure.
  11. You may begin to see that thoughts are just thoughts. They can be viewed as arising data or information not direction or instructions that must be believed or followed. You can step back from them, examine them and check their usefulness and relevance. This helps to see where you may have bias, errors in logic, self-limiting beliefs or being influenced by old stories about yourself, others and the world.
  12. You discover a sense of increased mental control, in terms of checking your automatic assumptions, and deciding on which thoughts and beliefs you will be guided by, rather than acting on autopilot.
  13. You gain a second level of awareness, the awareness of how you’re thinking how that impacts you and your life. This is meta-awareness or thinking about how you think.
  14. Clarity and composure of your inner world, in order to respond to, and influence, the outer world, within reasonable limits.
  15. Ultimately, helping you in the long term, to think clearly, make good decisions and be more strategic. This is where TACTICAL COMPOSURE, over time, leads to STRATEGIC COMPOSURE – maintaining (as much as possible) a state of calm, wise, mindful operation and interaction with the world. This is an ability and a “state of being”, strategically employed, for positively influencing oneself, others and systems.

Learn more about the benefits of TACTICAL COMPOSURE. These include boosting working memory, cognitive flexibility, attention-regulation and frustration tolerance.

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TACTICAL COMPOSURE for Performance and Wellbeing

TACTICAL COMPOSURE. We think better, feel better, communicate better and perform better when we’re in a state of calm, composure and clear thinking.

We wanted to highlight one of our flagship resilience programs supporting leader and employee performance and wellbeing. With workplace mental health and wellbeing a key driver for 2020 – more organisations will be looking for skills training that goes beyond mental health literacy and toolbox talks, and can be swiftly transferred to work and home life.

THE TACTICAL COMPOSURE PROGRAM is an engaging, strengths-based program that teaches a set of proven composure tactics, that build resilience, calm, focus. The tactics also create a buffer to stress, anxiety and depression. Flow on effects to productivity, communication and wellbeing are also expected, if tactics are practiced over time.

As an effective behavioural response, TACTICAL COMPOSURE is the action of deliberately applying composure and preparation tactics in order to manage potentially stressful or demanding situations, that are likely to recur. This involves recognising recurring things that bother us, reframing our thoughts around them, regulating our tension levels down toward the ‘green zone’ and responding with a chosen approach that’s likely to serve us and the situation well.

What participants have said:

  • I’ve become more observant and aware
  • I can notice myself getting triggered and not react
  • I’m just more calm and focused – letting distractions go
  • I successfully used the tactics at home with my family
  • I used the tactics to help with a very demanding work situation
  • I could wind down and get to sleep better
  • I feel more ‘present’ and productive – a sense of self-control
  • I have a stronger sense of wellbeing and ability to managed stressful triggers
  • I feel more connected to colleagues and family
  • I was able to relax on cue and not get overwhelmed by frustrations
  • I noticed my deliberate composure influenced others positively

Tactical Objectives

Participants may focus on achieving one or more of these tactical short-term or longer-term objectives:

  1. Improved ability to self-regulate towards a state of calm alertness and clear thinking, regardless of daily hassles.
  2. Improved ability to maintain composure in the face of challenging situations: to face up to these situations, stay there, pay attention on purpose and NOT REACT (negatively).
  3. Improved ability to identify triggering situations and to prepare effective tactics to maintain composure, responsiveness and constructive actions – before, during and after the situation.
  4. Improved overall wellbeing, health, productivity and daily mindfulness and composure.

COMPOSURE is the state of being calm and in control of oneself. Think cool, clear and centred. TACTICAL relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose. Think practical, reliable, mobile.

Participants learn practical exercises – including how to:

  • Recognise tension and typical triggers
  • Reduce their tension and stress
  • Refocus their attention on purpose
  • Relax their body quickly and discreetly
  • Rehearse how to respond to tense situations
  • Reconnect to positive tactics that work for individuals
  • Respond, rather than react to things
  • Reframe their thinking to reduce frustration
  • Refresh their everyday wellbeing

Program Objectives

The TACTICAL COMPOSURE experience allows participants to choose from a set of composure skills (tactics) that:

  • Are collated into a tactical composure exercise plan, transferable to work and life, supported by buddies and peers
  • Can be applied in the heat-of-the-moment: Recognising Tactics, Regulating Tactics and Refocusing Tactics
  • Based on formal relaxation, thinking and attention regulation exercises, proven to regulate the nervous system.
  • Draw from established and reputable psychological practices, theory and research in the areas Cognitive Therapy, Stress Management, Self-awareness, Resilience, Mindfulness and Health Sciences.

The program is primarily provided in group-based format for workplaces and community organisations, over the course of a few days (separated by 4-6 weeks of exercises). We can tailor the format to suit the operational and cultural needs of the group depending your objectives for the program. Composure skills (tactics) are demonstrated in-session, learned quickly and immediately transferrable into one’s work and home life. Tactical Composure uses a practical, scientific, positive, strengths-based approach and language to bypass the barriers of cynicism, detachment, denial and stigma and that can be experienced by employees who are wary about the idea of modern mental health programs.

Benefits to the workplace

  • A tangible way to boost productivity and wellbeing.
  • A sensible and ready component of your workplace wellbeing program.
  • People walk away feeling calmer and more confident, with specific tactics.
  • An engaging, practical way to develop composure skills, backed by science.
  • Reduce the risk of stress and conflict, increase mental wellbeing and resilience.

Read more about the Benefits of Tactical Composure for individual effectiveness and wellbeing.

The program founder is a Masters-trained psychologist, skilled in the design of group programs, CBT-group-based treatment programs, and a Certified Practitioner of Applied Mindfulness (by The Australian Institute of Applied Mindfulness).

We’re really proud and excited about the development of the Tactical Composure program and how it can play its part in supporting Mentally Healthy Workplaces.

FIND OUT MORE: Email the program leader at ready@tacticalcomposure.com or ASK YES for more detail about how Tactical Composure Training could support your leaders, your people and your business.

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Sharing AHRI’s article: What the Productivity Commission draft mental health report says about work.

What the Productivity Commission draft mental health report says about work. Thanks AHRI, we’re sharing your article with our followers. In its new draft report on mental health, the Productivity Commission estimates that mental ill-health and suicide is costing the Australian economy between $43-$51 billion per year. Lower economic participation and lost productivity makes up $10-$18 billion of that. A further $130 billion is the estimated cost to individuals with mental ill-health due to diminished health and wellbeing.

The report itself makes reference to Safe Work NSW’s guide. The report contains five recommendations in this section.

  1. Psychological health and safety should be given the same importance in workplace health and safety (WHS) laws as physical health and safety. This would mean updating some of Australia’s WHS legislation and regulation. This should happen in the next two years.
  2. Codes of practice on employer’s duty of care should be developed by different WHS authorities and Safe Work Australia to help employers meet their duty of care. It should take into account the different risk profiles of different industries and occupations. This should happen in the next two years.
  3. Workers compensation schemes should provide lower premiums for employers who have initiatives and programs that their WHS authority considers “highly likely to reduce the risks of workplace related psychological injury and mental illness for that specific workplace”. This should happen over the next two-five years.
  4. Workers compensation schemes should be amended to provide treatment for workers making mental health claims, regardless of liability, until the person returns to work or after six months. This should happen in the next two years. The Productivity Commission is seeking information on how this should be funded.
  5. WHS agencies should assess employer initiated interventions to create mentally healthy workplaces then advise other employers about what is effective. This should happen over the next two to five years.

If any readers have thoughts on any of the above, we encourage them to discuss in the comments and/or get in touch with the Productivity Commission. Written submissions are requested by 23 January 2020. Go to the website for more information.

Asking RUOK? and listening with care, can turn lives around.

Asking RUOK? and Listening with Care, can turn lives around. It can save lives.  “Are you okay?” These three little words can make such a difference in someone’s life.  As we know a sense of connection, belonging and genuine care are incredibly important to our wellbeing. Taking the time to notice, and to ask our colleagues, friends and family how they really are, is integral to help build and nurture these connections.

So, what gets in the way for people reaching out and asking the question? We get busy and involved in what is happening in our own lives, which stops us from pausing and noticing what is going on with those around us. Another reason we often hear is, ‘I may make the person feel worse’ or ‘its not really my place and I don’t want to interfere’. Others may think that ‘someone else will step up and check in’.

As psychologist’s, we are in a unique position to understand what a person really wants when they are struggling… What we hear, over and over, is that genuine care, compassion and connection is the key. It’s not whether a person has exactly the right words to say or if they are the closest to me.  So, take the time, pause, notice and make a difference.

MORE about RUOK? Day. RUOK? is a suicide prevention charity that aims to start life-changing conversations. They want to create a more connected world.

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