April's Newsletter - The Performance Club

Can you believe that it’s April already? Spring serves to remind us that there is always growth underneath - even when we don’t see it – and that there is always light after darkness. The sky is brighter and bluer; the sun stays longer and the darkness fades quicker. This season encourages us all to believe in beauty, rebirth and above all, hope. That’s why this month we should fully embrace Earth Day, which takes place on April 22nd, and lean how we can truly connect with nature to boost our mood and cognitive function. April 2022 also brings us Stress Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is ‘Community’, so we’ll also discover the benefits that connection can bring to our productivity, happiness and wellbeing. If you would like help with ensuring your employees can focus on wellbeing this spring by introducing a workplace wellbeing programme tailored to your needs, then please contact us today to discuss how The Performance Club can become part of that journey.

Live The Great Outdoors Spending time by yourself is especially restorative when your solitude takes place in nature. The positive impact warm, sunny weather can have on mental health and mood are very real, and scientifically proven to boost wellbeing and cognitive function. In a recent study, researchers identified four primary reasons people seek solitude in the wilderness, and the first is – perhaps not surprisingly – to disconnect from their devices. The researchers called this the need to ‘de-tether’ from digital connectivity, and it includes the desire to ‘experience life without everyday technologies’, primarily email, text, and social media. Such de-tethering, or what some might call a digital detox, allows for the cognitive renewal that we all so desperately need for maximum focus and productivity. In an age when our attentional resources are increasingly devoted to our devices, and we are expected to be constantly available to our social worlds – work, family, friends, even the news – withdrawing into nature can be the antidote to our 21st-century stressors. If you want to find out more about the benefits of balanced solitude – especially when combined with nature, you can read these 7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone, brought to us by Forbes.

Learn The Lesser-Known Signs of Stress Most of us are familiar with stress. Whether you're a top-level executive, a stay-at-home parent or a student, stress is often part of what is now expected, and we almost become ‘comfortable’ dealing with it. And it's true that some types of stress may be good for you. But while you might recognise some of the more common warning signs that pressure is building to unhealthy levels – symptoms like strained breathing and rapid heartbeat - other stress signals can often go unnoticed, but most certainly shouldn’t be ignored. Memory problems are one of these signs. This is because the production of stress hormones requires significant brain power. To manage the flood of stress hormones and focus on fears, your brain puts memories for everyday things on the back burner. So if you're chronically stressed, it can be tough to focus. Headaches can be another sign that stress levels are elevated. In fact, stress is a primary trigger for ‘common’, every day tension headaches as well as more debilitating migraines. Similarly, pain to the jaw: when you're feeling stressed, all of that angst and pressure has to go somewhere. A lot of people expend that energy by unknowingly grinding their teeth while they sleep. Aches in the lower back are another symptom associated with stress. We actually hold emotions in our muscular tissue, so it makes sense that stress affects our posture. Stress and anxiety can also cause stomach to produce more stomach acid than usual, so digestive complains can arise, ranging from heartburn and aches to diarrhoea. When you add to these the more common signs of stress-triggered insomnia, exhaustion and irritability, it becomes very clear that we should invest more of our time on finding solutions to ease our levels of stress and anxiety. You can Learn How to Manage and Reduce Stress in this article from the Mental Health Foundation, and discover the effect that stress can have on our mental health in this article, brought to us by Mind.

Play Hope Through Community If you cast your mind back to the very start of the pandemic two years ago, you may recall an almost-overnight boost to your sense of community. Indeed, it was reported that the coronavirus crisis had brought communities together and made us more cohesive as a society. Being part of a community, whether within the workplace or just in your local area, can have a positive effect on mental health and emotional wellbeing - and community involvement provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness. It can also offer extra meaning and purpose to everyday life, .leading to a healthier mind-set, improved self-worth, and greater enjoyment of life.

We’ve already explored the negative, and often extreme effects that stress can have on our physical and mental health, and it’s been proven that fostering a sense of belonging within your community can help us to cope much better with life’s challenges. And yet, around one-third of adults are not involved in any social or community groups.

Having the opportunity to laugh and chat with others in social situations serves to temporarily distract us from our worries by turning our focus outwards instead of inwards. And being able to talk through problems and share our worries with others decreases our stress levels. In this video, brought to us by The Conversation, we find out why being faced with hopelessness can be so emotionally draining, while surrounding ourselves with optimistic people might make us more hopeful. In this sense, affective states like optimism can be contagious. Who we surround ourselves with matters. You can also read more in this article, The Importance of Community from Wellbeing People.

Pause Our book of the month is When the Body Says ‘No’: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Maté An international bestseller translated into fifteen languages, ‘When the Body Says No’ promotes learning and healing, providing transformative insights into how disease can be the body’s way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge. When we deny that we have a problem and we don’t address it, often we wait until it’s too late. In 'When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress' by Dr. Gabor Mate, he uncovers the hidden connections between our mental health and physical illness. Sometimes we imagine our minds and bodies as totally different entities when in reality, they are deeply connected. Mental stresses not addressed can actually manifest as a physical disease, which is why it’s so important for us to be mindful of this fascinating connection. If you’re short on time but want to discover the key take-aways from this book, you can read this summary of Gabor Maté’s findings here. Happy reading!

We have learned that stress is so much more than a temporary state of inconvenience – it can also play havoc with our physical and mental health. So, as we progress through April, we should try to pause for a moment and tune into what the symptoms of stress might look like for us, and how we can try to overcome them. It’s clear that one way of doing this is to get out and about in nature, and find a healthy balance between our restorative time alone, and fostering a sense of belonging within our workplaces and local community. After all, community is about much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter. If you'd like to find our how The Performance Club can work with your organisation to foster a healthy sense of community, and enhance wellbeing and productivity in 2022 then please get in touch with our friendly team. We can tailor training and coaching packages to meet your individual needs with a unique emphasis on performance. Best wishes, Stacy Thomson Founder of The Performance Club sent on behalf of all of the team

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