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Newsletter 33 – September 2006

Here is the latest copy of our newsletter.

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  • In Equilibrium Events: Managing Stress in SME’s, Mental Health and Well-being at Work
  • Stress Management Tip: Is ‘there’ any better than ‘here’?
  • Quote: IQ
  • Book Review: Running Made Easy by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson
  • Al’s Column: Middle Aged Angst
  • Web Resources: 5 a day, walking the way to health, Quotations
  • Stress Technique: Neck Rolls
  • Your Thoughts


1. In Equilibrium Events: Managing Stress in SME’s & Mental Health and Well-being at Work

Managing Stress in SME’s
At In Equilibrium we work with a great many SME’s in addition to much larger private and public organisations. SME’s generally range from a few hundred employees down to as few as 25-50 employees. We enjoy working with them, because their smaller size enables them to be more flexible. This means they can quickly make changes that have a positive impact on wellbeing.

In my experience, SME’s develop in one of two ways. Firstly, there are those that started in the owner’s garages or spare rooms and gradually develop into real companies with premises, management and staff. Secondly, there are Management Buy-outs which occur when a large organisation decides that part of the business is either no longer viable or that it no longer fits in with its ‘core activities’. Consequently the non ‘core’ part of the business is either sold off to another company, or the management team raise the purchase price to buy the business themselves.

Management Buy-out companies are particularly interesting from a stress perspective, as the new owners are suddenly transformed from salaried employees to entrepreneurs who are risking their own capital (usually their houses) to finance the business. This can be a double-edged sword, as on the one hand the risk of stress is significantly increased, through much greater responsibility and financial uncertainty. However, this is counterbalanced by the increase in drive, motivation, innovation and, most importantly, sense of control over your own destiny that can only come from running your own business.

We often find that the SME management teams, although lacking formal management training, instinctively recognise that their business is only as good as its people and that it is common sense to look after them. Many of their managers and staff have been with them through good and bad times and as a consequence acquire a much greater sense of loyalty and team-spirit than is found in larger organisations.

Also, when we work with SME’s we get a buzz out of knowing that, in a small way, we are contributing to real economic growth. Our society is based on the employment and wealth generated by large companies like Vodaphone, Virgin and BP and the one thing we know for certain about them all is that every one of them started out as an SME!

Details of our conference, Managing Stress in SME’s, can be found on our website. The conference is being held on the 20th September at the The Peter Jost Centre, Liverpool John Moores University, Egerton Court, 2 Rodney Street, Liverpool L3 5UX

Alastair Taylor


Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work Conference

We also have a conference running on 8th November at the Edinburgh Conference Centre, The James Watt Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh EH14 4AS


2. Stress Management Tip: Is “there” any better than “here”?

The other side of the hill may be greener than your own, but being there is not the key to endless happiness. Be grateful for and enjoy what you have, and where you are on your journey. Appreciate the abundance of what’s good in your life, rather than measure and amass things that do not actually lead to happiness. Living in the present helps you to attain peace.


3. Quote

“I CAN is 100 times more important than IQ.”


4. Book Review:

Running Made Easy by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson ISBN: 1-86105-703-2

We all go through fads with exercise. Mr L rolls his eyes when I speak excitedly about the latest innovation to help me get fit/lose love handles. Of course the latest gimmick is ‘sooo accessible that I will use it every night once the kids are in bed’……I have been banned from spending money on another piece of equipment which ends up dusty and unused in the spare room…..Mr L keeps asking me why I don’t just deflate the exercise ball I move around while we are cleaning, but somehow I think if I let the air out I’ll definitely never use it!

There is one thing I have consistently done at times over the last few years and that is running (I like to call it running rather than jogging, but I may be slightly misleading you on the speed side). Why is this? It’s free for a start. It is also freeing – it’s hard to put into words, but when I am running past buildings, trees, hares, people I feel really free. Sometimes I even have a wee dance on the farm track up the road from my house while running, yes freedom that’s it. It is also motivating, when I have finished a run I am on a high, I feel like I am the ‘beez neez’ and that’s when I am on my own – the feeling of running in an event like a 5k or a 10k is euphoria! There are not many things these days where you can feel part of something bigger than yourself, part of a big group of people all trying to do something positive – its addictive.

This book puts a lot of the positives about running down on paper, and they are not all about losing weight and getting fit. It’s a quick easy read. It’s for people who just want to enjoy the exercise they do and maybe improve how they do it over time. The book includes lots of real life examples, Jenny Wood Allen, 92 great grandmother from Dundee, took up running at the age of 71 and has run 30 marathons since.

One of the many motivational tips in the book is ‘Realise what running can do for your mind. I always come back from a run feeling a lot less stressed, full of ideas and with solutions to my problems.’

Did you know that you can reduce your risk of stroke by 63% if you run regularly for 20 to 40 minutes three to five times a week? Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal April 2002.

OK, so we should all do more exercise and all forms of exercise have people who love them or hate them, even the dusty old exercise ball. Here are my top reasons for running:

  • Excuse to listen to music loud
  • Feel the rhythm, I don’t get out dancing much these days, running does the trick!
  • It’s free, you can do it anywhere
  • Keep fit/lose weight – generally feel more connected to your body
  • Time to think – even problem solve – I often get home with new ideas!
  • Build self confidence and feel happier – I did find it hard to run on the roads at first, now I love it – a treadmill wouldn’t be the same. Endorphins….enough said
  • Variety – you can always change your route
  • Catch up with nature – remember our newsletter about how important greenery is in your life – here’s an opportunity to get out in it, see the rabbits, hares, birds scampering in front of you..
  • Finally, you don’t need costly equipment, just a decent pair of trainers.
  • It can start off as a fast walk, who knows where it could end…New York?

Do you have any thoughts/opinions on this or any other book review you have read in In Equilibrium?


5. Al’s Column:

Middle-aged angst
Recently I bought a Neil Diamond CD. Deliberately. I confess. I have no excuse. I deliberately went to Asda with the express purpose of buying it, and I bought it, although there were a few tricky moments.

For example, I had to make sure that no one recognised me, and of course, whilst queuing, I made sure I slipped Neil Diamond between two hip and trendy ‘indy rock’ selections so as not to arouse suspicion.

Also, and I hope you realise how difficult this is for me to talk about, I have started to listen to Radio 2 (which is where I heard Neil Diamond singing his latest songs).

What is happening to me? If I had a therapist, I’d ask him or her. But deep down I know the truth is that middle age is setting in. Uncomfortable, but true. Here are some symptoms:

  • General grumpiness (in my case, severe)
  • Low tolerance of discomfort of any kind
  • A tendency to avoid situations, simply because ‘you just can’t be bothered’
  • Listening to Terry Wogan, and finding him funny

I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a mid-life crisis. After all, I haven’t yet bought a car without a roof, and I don’t hanker after a young, nubile, blonde ‘bimbette’ (wouldn’t have the energy). But it’s serious enough.

Is there a cure? Answers please on a postcard …


6. Web Resources:

5 a day
This is an excellent website to help you keep on track with eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. There are leaflets and posters you can download, a progress chart for your fridge and loads of ideas on how to make simple smoothies etc.

Walking the way to health
A website promoting the advantages of walking. Includes a walk finder, walkers’ stories and is generally motivational!

This website has thousands of quotations on it from Oscar Wilde to David Bowie. You can search by keyword for example motivation, love, leadership etc.

If you find quotations inspirational or you use them to inspire others, this site is worth a look.


7. Stress Technique: Neck Rolls

While breathing deeply, relax your shoulders and drop your head forward. Close your eyes while slowly and easily rolling your head from side to side. At any point of tension, relax your head while making small circles with your nose and breathing fully. Do three or more complete side-to-side motions.

What neck rolls do:

Tension in the neck is often caused by a tightening of the muscles in the throat while verbalising or thinking. Neck rolls release these tense muscles, increasing the ability to do mental activities without stress. Doing Neck Rolls also improves breathing and increases relaxation of vocal cords for more resonant speech. As there is improvement in the ability to move the eyes left to right across the visual midfield, reading ability also improves.

Extract From Brain Gym for Business by Gail E Dennison, Paul E Dennison, Jerry V Teplitz ISBN: 0-942143-03-5


8. Your thoughts
Any feedback/comments about this newsletter or issues raised in it are gratefully received.

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