Posts Tagged "health"

Message 1 from Slow to changemakers: happier, healthier changemakers are more effective

Posted on Dec 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Message 1 from Slow to changemakers: happier, healthier changemakers are more effective

As I mentioned in my post on how I got to Slow, one of my first big lessons that still echoes inside my head is the importance of being good to yourself in order to be of any use to the rest of the world. I have identified a number of ways in which the Slow movement can help a changemaker become more effective. I will present these in a series of posts. The lesson about taking care of yourself is so important that I have noted this to myself multiple times in various ways. This makes me think that it is likely a hard lesson to learn for many people driven to create change; their passion is a strength but also an Achilles heel. A burnt-out shell of a person is no good to anyone. I wonder if even changemakers who acknowledge the complexity of the problem situations they are working with still succumb to our fast culture’s need for immediacy. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time so make sure are armed with good physical and mental health. Slow & physical health Research shows that our model of work, work, work Monday to Friday then take a weekend or a few weeks holiday every year, is not ideal to help the body and mind rest and rejuvenate. We need short, consistent bursts of rest and relaxation and also honour our natural, longer rhythms by having deeper periods of rejuvenation on a weekly, monthly, seasonal, annual basis. We are no longer accustomed to letting ‘time heal all wounds.’ We want the quick fix to our ailments; in pill form, please. In one session we expect a manual therapist to fix our back we have spent years neglecting. Slow Medicine is emerging, which Carl Honore describes as ‘taking time to work out the root cause of ailments; learning what we can from the patient; taking a holistic approach to traditional forms of medicine; marrying medical treatment with wider changes in lifestyle; and treating the mind and body together.’ Slow & mental health Happiness is crucial to the effectiveness of a changemaker. Research shows that happiness drives performance far more than performance drives happiness. When you are optimistic and experiencing positive emotion your peripheral vision is wider so you are more likely to notice things, your brain is more creative (conversely, stress inhibits creativity) and resourceful and performance at intuitive problem solving improves. Dopamine increases which gives you motivation to take action. Lets look briefly at PERMA, the most recent framework for understanding happiness from the Grandfather of positive psychology, Martin Seligman. This framework offers five key ingredients for lasting happiness. P = position emotion. Human beings are hardwired to err to the negative (which is useful in avoiding risk but not great for our happiness). To experience greater levels of positive emotion, we may need to actively work against this tendency. This is a massive topic but one of the more fascinating findings is that mindfulness increases positive emotion more than daydreaming about the future, even when the activity you’re being present to is something you don’t like!! By being more present we are more able to take pleasure in the small stuff. Another relevant Slow idea is taking time for reflection and contemplative practices. By going within ourselves we decouple from the constant barrage of information from the outside world. This decoupling is an essential characteristic of a resilient organism. Take time daily to notice the great stuff that happened to you. A simple, effective and well-researched technique I do is write down 3 things I am...

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My journey to Slow

Posted on Dec 1, 2013 | 3 comments

My journey to Slow

Here I am,  dedicating myself on a project aimed at spreading the Slow movement. Funny thing is I’m not yet ‘slow’ myself. Last year as I zoomed into a co-working space for a meeting with our Fremantle Wind Farm volunteer group a friend said to me, ‘Claire you’re always rushing from one thing to another, you should just put a wind turbine on your head and generate electricity from that.’ It has struck many people as strange that someone like me, someone who loves intensity, tries to squeeze every inch out of their day (resulting in chronic sleep deprivation), would offer themselves to spruik the Slow movement. But it makes sense, I promise. I have always been the kind of person who does everything. In my naive (er) younger years, I really thought I could. In my last year of my undergraduate I was doing a double degree, finishing my honours, got my second dan black belt in karate, working and still managed to go on a road trip for a festival a week before my honours was due in. And I felt on top of the world. It wasn’t until I was in my first professional job that my ‘can-do’ attitude combined with my idealism turned around and bit me. Hard. I was in a caring profession in a high needs environment. Turns out that is a recipe for burnout.  I remember the moment that someone came into my office and told me something that should have triggered off my stress response. In that moment I realised that I felt nothing. I continued to half-listen to the story while the other half of my brain was putting the pieces of the puzzle together; my morning exercise making me feel worse rather than better like it used to, coffee triggering a revolt from my body, brain fog, insomnia, exhaustion smothering my weekends. My adrenal glands were shot. Time for a change. So what do I do? Ride my bicycle alone from Mexico down to Argentina in an attempt to save the world with my project, Cycling for Cohesion. Long story, you can read more about it in an upcoming blog. It was a life changing in a good way but not always, or even often, fun. I am not so interested in extended traveling unless there is some kind of purpose greater than myself so as things started to unfold with the project not quite as planned I found it quite a drag. This became a negative cycle as I then found it harder to focus on the project work. I eventually sat down in a park in Colombia and wrote to myself “you can’t do good if you don’t feel good.” By taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually, I am able to be a much more powerful force for good. Not to mention being happier and healthier! One of the best things to come out of this trip was that it focussed my thinking in how I could really make a difference in the world. Sustainability was my thing but I was never keen to be a technical expert so science or engineering were out, as was being a health profession working with people one to one. I had always felt my contribution would through working with people. Cycling for Cohesion helped me understand the importance of having an engaged and active citizenry; having people participate at some level in decision making is crucial when tackling complex problems. I moved my skill development focus to stakeholder engagement, strategic planning and facilitation and was immensely happy that...

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