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WORKLIFE October 2018

STOP STRESSING OUT AND E Y L I ENC L FAM O I Do TIC V o S t E d e DOM s Ne e c a l rkp t Wo a h W

The Gift of a Mindful Workplace


3 Reasons Why You Need To Avoid Being Too Perfect


Our resident health experts talk about the importance of Nutrition, Movement and Mindset

B ethenny Frankel

The Real Housewives of New York star talks Resilience



October is Mental Health Month, but you’ve probably heard all about it. It’s all about creating awareness. But how much more awareness do we need? Don’t we know by now that mental health is important, that it is costing us massively, and that we need to do something about it? And the even bigger question is what will we DO with our increased awareness? I’m hoping that as a society, in Australia and around the world, the increased awareness results in healthier people, not simply in the identifying of more sick people. To me, healthy and happy lives is the aim. How can we become a healthier society? and, do we now have the tools? That is one of the most important conversations to be had, yet, to have it, we need to be willing to have some frank discussions. It is my hope that, as you read this month’s issue, you too get ideas for that kind of frank discussion. We have a number of contributors and a significant amount of collective wisdom. I think you’ll like it. Our cover has Real Housewives of New York Wives star, Bethenny Frankel. An exceptional business woman and someone who has had her share of difficult times and has had to develop resilience. It’s a short but interesting interview. What else? • • • •

Peter D ia CEO - z Wor Mentakl place H Instituteealth



We warn you against the futility of seeking Perfection. It can be very destructive. We have a second interview with a health power couple, Craig & Jenny. We explore the topic of Mindfulness – which we know is a key element to recovering from any mental, psychological or spiritual malaise And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any juicier, we cover the limits of checklists when it comes to helping people with a mental health challenge or thinking of suicide.

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoy it all and helps you with the ongoing conversation we need to have.

Have a mentally healthy October and talk again in November.


On Business, Love and Resilience

W by Emi Golding

When I first heard the name Bethenny Frankel, my response was Bethenny who? I was told she was one of the housewives on the show Real Housewives of New York (RHONY), and that she also had a bit of side business, something to do with cocktails. I did a little more research and found she is actually a super-successful businesswoman, who has founded a string of successful businesses, including a party planning business, a venture selling pashmina scarves, and ‘Bethenny Bakes’ healthy biscuits. Oh, and she also founded Skinnygirl Cocktails, which she sold for an estimated 100 million USD!

She has also authored 4 self help books, had her own talk show, and set up BStrong, which provides help to women in crisis and disaster relief. Along the road there have been many challenges, both in her business and her personal life, where she has gone through a particularly ugly and public divorce, miscarriage, as well as the death of her boyfriend in August this year. Having been through all that, there is no doubt that Bethenny Frankel is a resilient, strong and intelligent woman. And seeing as resilience is a topic that I speak about all the time with our clients, I was really pleased to be able to sit down with Bethenny in California, and have a quick chat about her top tips for building resilience. Her response was insightful, and echoed the same principles we teach in our Resilience training. Bethenny & Emi’s Top 5 tips for handling major life challenges


Bethenny says “Know that EVERYONE has challenges”


Bethenny says “Sleep is really important”

Emi explains: “When you’re going through a crisis of some kind, it is sometimes easy to feel like you are the only one to have experienced something like this. It can feel lonely and isolating, no matter how many people are around. It can be helpful to remember that everyone has their own challenges at some point in life. Reach out to someone who you respect, and get support. Know that you are not alone.

Emi explains: It is incredible just how much impact a lack of sleep can have on your ability to regulate your emotions and think clearly. When we’re going through a stressful time, it’s pretty common to feel tired, no matter how much sleep you actually get. So if you are having difficulty sleeping, at least make the time to get some rest when you can. A power nap here and there can do the world of good.




Bethenny says “Set Yourself Up for Success”


Bethenny says “Live in the moment”


Bethenny says “Think about it like a golf game”

Emi says: This is about looking for opportunities to make something positive out of the situation. It’s about making sure you don’t give up entirely, but you do what you can. In our training programs, we talk about the balance between supporting yourself, and being kind and nurturing to yourself, while at the same time challenging yourself to take some positive forward steps. Its not one or the other, its both.

Emi says: This is particularly true when we are faced with a difficult situation at work or at home. Spending too much time and energy thinking (worrying) about things in the future, without having all the information, or a clear mind to digest it, can just lead to more anxiety and pain. It’s helpful to remember that for a little while, while everything is still raw, to focus on the here and now. Once things have calmed down a little, then you can start to make decisions and make positive plans for the future. We often say “don’t make a decision in a crisis”.

Emi says: It’s a great analogy. Concentrate on the first hole, and what is needed right now. Only once that one is sorted, you move onto the next. In real life, this means prioritising what needs your attention right now, and letting go of all the other things for the moment. They can wait. When we’re under extreme stress, taking that weight off your shoulders can be a huge relief.

Watch the Video Here:



Problem The

By Peter Diaz




Are you obsessed with ‘perfect’? Just a little bit? We know a lot of people who are. Do you? It seems to be a kind of obsession, a trend. The need to marry ‘Mr Right’. To have the perfect wedding. The perfect life. The perfect career. The perfect selfie. And it’s a trend that, sadly, we’re seeing more and more in workplaces – crippling workplace anxiety caused by the need to be ‘perfect’. But what is ‘perfect’ anyway? The dictionary definition



says it is “free from faults of defects”, yet you probably can think of plenty of examples where the beauty, the uniqueness, came from the imperfections. Just think about the leaning tower of Pisa, for example. Talk about imperfection! It doesn’t even stand straight! What a monumental mistake! And yet millions of people from around the world flock to Pisa in droves to see THE tower! Yet in many workplaces people are punished for

making mistakes. In short, for not being ‘perfect’. To our detriment.

3 REASONS TO LET GO OF BEING ‘PERFECT’: 1. Higher rates of depression amongst perfectionists. That’s what the research shows. It makes sense since aiming for perfection sets you up for constant disappointment. No one can achieve perfection 100% of the time anyway. 2. Perfection isn’t attainable anyway. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone will have a different version of what ‘perfect’ looks like anyway. So you may have toiled for hours, days, weeks on a project and think you have it ‘perfect’ to find that

been out there in the world offering their gifts. In sport for example, you don’t wait until you are a perfect golfer/swimmer/runner to start competing. You train hard, you do your best, you compete. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But you keep training and competing and over time you get better and better. If you waited until you were prefect, it’d never happen!

HOW TO STRIVE FOR ‘EXCELLENCE’, NOT PERFECTION. Easier said than done right? your boss, or your client are quick to criticise. 3. Striving for perfection rarely actually works. When you’re spending hours and days, weeks and months, even years striving for ‘perfection’ on a particular project, you’re not getting it done. So called ‘perfection’ tends to take time. And while you’re busy taking time to get something done, someone else is producing something that is only very good, getting all the praise and accolades, progressing their career, and moving forward onto their next success! In studies of the world’s most successful people in their chosen endeavours, one of the things we discover is that those people don’t focus on perfection. If they’d done that they would have never have

Not necessarily. Letting go of perfectionism doesn’t mean you settle for sloppy standards of course. It just means you seek ‘Excellence’ instead. So here are some strategies to help shift your focus to ‘excellence’ rather than perfection: 1. Firstly, recognise that Perfectionism isn’t something we’re born with. It is simply a thought pattern, something that we have practised over and over again. And that’s good news, because it means you can practice thinking in other ways. Once you’ve really seen how negatively perfectionism can impact on your wellbeing and your performance, make a commitment to consciously and deliberately change any perfectionistic thinking. One of the mottos we share

with our clients is “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get done”. If you can catch yourself, especially when frustrated with something, and remind yourself of this mantra, it can really help to take the pressure off. And you’ll end up achieving more anyway. 2. Weigh up the value of time vs ‘perfection’. In some cases, it might be quite appropriate to seek perfection. For example, where safety is concerned. Or perhaps where the numbers have to be right (like in accounting). But in the modern workplace, and society, time is very valuable. Things move quickly. and those who are good at working faster and smarter win the race. 3. Another technique is to set yourself realistic timeframes for projects. Say to yourself “I will do the best I can accomplish within this time frame. When the time is up, I move onto something else”. You’ll find that when you have a fixed ‘due date’ (or deadline) for something, and you hold yourself to it, you won’t be able to indulge in perfectionist tendencies. Do your best, then “Next!” One Last Tip for Managers If you have a team of people you manage, then you’ll know that forcing them to strive for your perfection doesn’t work. That’s called micro management, and it doesn’t usually end up well. In order to be an effective manager, in most scenarios, you have to accept from others what you might consider 80% of perfect, enhance and improve it another 10%, and then move on, so you can get to the next piece of work and the next project. Adopt a philosophy of Continuous Quality Improvement, rather than perfection. You’ll feel the stress melt away as you do.



The Mental Health Checklist:

Required but not Sufficient


The middle-manager at the back of the room raised his hand. “I have a question”, he said, breaking the silence. “Yeah, I just think it’s too vague. What exactly am I looking for, I mean, what do I have to be concerned about?” He and his team had attended a presentation where we’d been discussing the risk factors that are known to statistically increase the potential for suicide. “I mean, what is it? A divorce? Do I need to be watching all the divorced men? What about defactos? Or is it divorced men with children? The ones who’ve gotten themselves into the crapper? Just the ones who give away their cars? Or is it single blokes of a certain age who get sick? I just don’t get it.” He wanted it simplified. He wanted a checklist for suicide. That was yet to come but he was impatient. He cared, and he hadn’t processed yet that what we were giving him was an even greater tool. The truth is, humans are complex. We don’t all work the same way. And so there can’t be a 100% guarantee that we will get it right every time. But when it comes to suicide, (or any mental health issue for that matter) often people are hesitant to ask about it, in case they have misread the signs and at the same time, they don’t want to miss the signs and not ask. Many don’t even want to have the conversation at all. Who, ever, does? And yet we must. With increasing rates of suicide and mental distress, we need to get better at having those conversations.



Having an awareness of the potential signs, is an important aspect of discovery. But there is no checklist for the signs or risk factors of any mental health problem that can be used without another very important tool – a respectful conversation. This goes for the professionals too - one of the very first things a psychology student is taught in University is that no assessment tool can stand alone – it needs to be incorporated with an assessment interview and other data gathering processes. None of the professionals in the mental health space diagnose a mental health problem without asking about what the individual is experiencing from their own perspective. The good news? The conversation isn’t complex. In a peer, family, or colleague relationship, your role isn’t to diagnose, but to reach out and commence a conversation that helps to clarify what needs to happen next. So what do you need to know to have that conversation? Here are a few tips to help guide you: 1. How do you feel? Our senses do a pretty good job at detecting emotional variance in others – that’s your mirror neurons at work. They spark messages in your brain that create empathy with another person (and are the reason that yawns are contagious). If something is telling you that things are ‘not quite right’ then it can be helpful to explore that further in a conversation. Does it matter whether it is a mental health condition, suicidal thoughts, or simply a bad day? No. Have the conversation anyway. It shows you have noticed and that you care.

2. Lean into the discomfort An often used phrase in the helping professions – lean into the discomfort – expresses the need for a supporter to acknowledge the discomfort of the situation, internally, and to resist the urge to alleviate it by offering an alternative, or a distraction.

can talk to you about it (you’re not going to be their therapist, but you could help them find the right support to begin feeling better).

A WARM conversation is better than no conversation.

And so, having discussed this together as a group, and taken all participants through the W.A.R.M. process, a framework for having that conversation, the middle manager was visibly Sometimes the best question is the opportunity to continue answering the previous one. Allowing relieved. He even looked a little excited! “OK, so if I just follow the steps, that’s all I need to do?” some thinking time after a person responds to That’s right. You don’t have to be the expert, you your question is a powerful way to demonstrate don’t have to have all the answers, you just need the courage it takes to hear more about what to be aware of the signs, and if concerned, know they have been thinking. Continue to use nonhow to have the conversation. verbal encouragement, such as nodding and receptive body language. 3. Silence

4. Show compassion Even if your concerns have not elicited an admission of distress, continue to show compassion. Share that it is common for people to feel like they are not their normal selves, and that others have found by accepting help early they feel a lot better. Let them know that if they ever feel like things are on top of them that they

WMHI provides expert facilitators who can teach your team to have a W.A.R.M conversation. Speak to us today about hosting one of our in-house trainings for your team. Contact us at



1/3 of Employees are Stressed, Anxious, or Depressed.


How can Mindfulness help? Earlier this year, results from an Australian study of over 3,500 employees across 42 organisations from different industries found that one third of the participants were suffering from some form of mental disorder. Of those, 36% were suffering from depression, 33% from anxiety, and 31% from stress.

Staggeringly, 58% of women and 73% of males who met the clinical criteria By Tania Young for depression or anxiety did not know they had a problem. Only 17% of participants in the clinical ranges for depression or anxiety were seeking help. 47% of employees do not feel comfortable discussing a mental health condition with their manager. The implications for workplaces include increased absenteeism, presenteeism, disability claims, accidents, injuries and illnesses, grievances and complaints, turnover and legal implications. Globally, mental health problems are estimated to cost workplaces 2.5

trillion US dollars, and that’s expected to rise to 5 trillion by 2030, according to the World Health Organization.

What is stress? And how does it lead to Mental Health problems? Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress is the biological and physical response to a perceived threat or danger and is often described as a feeling of being overwhelmed or worried. In modern day society, everyday stressors include managing work and family commitments, work deadlines, financial pressures and family issues, or by sudden negative change, including loss of a loved one or job, or experiencing trauma. Not all stress is bad. Stress can be highly motivating at times and can enable us to perform in job interviews, work presentations etc. However prolonged periods of stress or excessive stress can lead to significant mental and physical health problems including depression and anxiety. Everyday stress can be the toughest type of stress to tackle because the source of the problem tends to be more constant, and the body therefore stays in a state of alarm.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” VIKTOR FRANKL 10


What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness expert Jon KabatZinn defines mindfulness as the “process of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, nonjudgmentally”. But what does this actually mean? Research from Harvard has shown that we spend almost half of our lives distracted, not living in the present moment, bemoaning the past or catastrophizing the future. We spend very little time living in the present moment. Mindfulness is a powerful tool which can help people to slow down, and connect with the present moment. Mindfulness not only trains people to experience the world through our five senses and be more open to what life has to offer, it also helps people develop greater self-awareness and an opportunity to reflect on their thoughts and feelings objectively. This helps to alter our habitual responses, by taking a pause and choosing how we react to a situation.

How Mindfulness can help reduce stress in the workplace? Participants in mindfulness workshops are surprised to learn that there is no right way of practicing mindfulness; it can be practiced at anytime, anywhere and in a number of different ways. Simply taking a few minutes before going to sleep, or on your commute home and focusing on your five senses, rather than scrolling through social media or responding to emails to exercise

your brain, to support your mental health and wellbeing could be the small yet essential change that is needed to help prevent burning out.

statistics are worsening. To tackle this issue, it’s important for HR professionals to offer a wide range of wellbeing initiatives, as one size does not fit all.

Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to improve memory, focus and concentration, improve our immune system functioning and sleep patterns, decrease ruminative thinking, increase self-awareness and our ability to regulate our emotions, empathise and see things from other people’s perspectives. Most importantly – it reduces stress. Practicing mindfulness deactivates the amygdala – (fight or flight response) responsible for stress, anxiety and fear and depression.

Mindfulness training is evidence based education that has proven effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, and can be offered in conjunction with other organizational wellbeing initiatives, to improve staff productivity, performance and wellbeing. According to PWC, organizations that are dedicated to creating a mentally healthy workplace, can expect a positive return on investment (ROI) of 2.3.

How? Through a process called neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability to change and re-wire itself. Improvements can be seen in as little as a day however structural changes to the brain can be seen on imaging scans after only 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially brain training – the more we practice tuning into the present, the better we become. The more we practice emotionalregulation, the better we become. The more we practice taking a breath before reacting, the better we become.

Why businesses should be investing in Mindfulness A decade ago, one in five employees were living with a mental disorder in a given year, and according to the latest studies around the world, the

Tania Young Tania is an experienced Mindfulness Facilitator who has delivered training to organisations across Australia. Tania is also a Human Resources professional with almost 10 years experience working for medium to large corporate businesses across different industries in London and Sydney. Tania combines her a wealth of HR knowledge and experience implementing wellbeing initiatives, to support employee wellbeing, drive engagement, performance and productivity. WORKLIFE | OCTOBER 2018




On first meeting Craig and Jenny they look just like you and me. Normal. Except they seem to be high on life. When you get talking to them you realise this power couple are on a mission to change the way we approach physical health and wellbeing, and make the right education and support available to EVERYONE – anywhere, anytime.

Intr poweroducing Craig couple... &J Dumn enny ich

Both with a background in corporate finance, and with FIVE growing children, Craig and Jenny are no stranger to the challenges and demands of juggling work, family, travel and maintaining their health and energy levels all at the same time. And so they’ve developed an online program, that can essentially be your personal trainer, your nutritionist and your mindset coach all in one! And it is taking off around the world. Our Director of Psychology, Emi Golding, caught up with Craig and Jenny to find out more. Watch the video here:

To access the Online Program for 30 days FREE, just Click Here For more info on the Total Immersion Retreat, Click Here WORKLIFE | OCTOBER 2018


The Workplace Implications of Family and Domestic V


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There has been a lot of publicity lately around family & domestic violence leave. Much of this has been driven by the decision of the Fair Work Commission to include (as of 1 August) a clause in all modern awards providing five days unpaid leave per annum to all employees, including casuals, experiencing family and domestic violence. Across some sectors of the economy, especially in the public sector, many organisations have already gone further than the entitlement laid out in this decision.


Family and domestic violence is a complex and pernicious issue having a significant impact upon economic productivity. A recent report commissioned by the Australian government estimated that the cost of violence against women and children to the Australian economy was $22 billion in 2015-16. While it can affect anyone regardless of gender, age or socio-economic status, we know that women are statistically almost three times more likely than men to have experienced violence by a partner since the age of 15 (See the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 Personal Safety Survey where 574 600 men reported experiencing intimate partner violence compared to 1.6 million women). There are other studies that indicate that many experiencing domestic and family violence are in the workforce and that experience of this violence can impact things like capacity to get to work and productivity levels. It may also spill over into the workplace itself through the perpetrator sending harassing emails and calls or actually attending the victim’s workplace. It’s also important to note that work can serve as a space away from the abuser, giving the target of such violence an avenue to escape both isolation and economic abuse.

“From a risk, safety and best practice perspective, all managers should have some level of understanding” important legal considerations and to appreciate what resources and services exist to help those affected (as well as perpetrators of such violence).

In conjunction with the author, WHMI will be providing an online course for anyone interested in finding out more about this important topic. To book an insightful and practical inperson facilitated discussion to build your awareness and capacity in this area, contact the Workplace Mental Health Institute at

These types of considerations mean that apart from whatever leave you might provide, from a risk, safety and best practice perspective, all managers should have some level of understanding of family and domestic violence and how to respond to its incidence in the workplace. In running workshops and facilitated discussions on this topic I repeatedly hear participants express a desire to help colleagues who they suspect may be the targets of such violence but report having done nothing because they didn’t want to “make things worse” or “say the wrong thing”. The good news is that you don’t have to be a clinician or social worker to understand more about the incidence of family and domestic violence, possible barriers to disclosure, how to initiate a discussion on the topic, risk factors,

James Judge, Director, Australian Human Resource Professionals. James is also Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Canberra and was formerly Associate Publisher of the Mandarin, a leading, online daily that serves as a forum for public sector thought leadership. He has also worked as a Deputy Registrar in the court system where he was responsible for mediating applications for both Family Violence Orders (FVOs) and Personal Protection & Workplace Orders (PPOs) in the ACT.



Profile for WorkLife

WorkLife October 2018  

Featuring Bethenny Frankel, discussions on mindfulness, perfectionism, mental health checklists and domestic violence.

WorkLife October 2018  

Featuring Bethenny Frankel, discussions on mindfulness, perfectionism, mental health checklists and domestic violence.

Profile for work-life