Home / Resources / Newsletter 35 – April 2007

Newsletter 35 – April 2007

Welcome to the 35th edition of our newsletter “In Equilibrium“. We hope you enjoy reading it and, as ever, would welcome your comments.

Please remember: We encourage you to forward this newsletter to colleagues. Hundreds of organisations are now distributing the “In Equilibrium” newsletter to their staff and we currently have over 30,000 subscribers!

Please feel free to post this newsletter on your company’s intranet.



Contents: Edition 35

  • In Equilibrium news
  • Quotations
  • In Equilibrium Tip of the Month: Laughter
  • Web-sites/resources
  • Book review:David Allen – Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
  • Stress in the News
  • Events: “Reducing Stress at Work Conference”, Delegate Partnerships
  • Stress Case Study – Interpreting your HSE Stress Survey Data
  • In Equilibrium Consultant Profile – Dot Gourlay
  • Your feedback – Book to be won – send us your thoughts!


1. In Equilibrium News

Join Us!
Are you aware that one of the benefits of subscribing to our website is that you gain access to our free downloads? These include articles, case studies and resources which all relate to stress and wellbeing.

Course details in PDF
Our course details are now available in pdf format. We hope that you will find these clearer and more pleasing to the eye. As ever, we would welcome any comments you may have.

Direct to Your Inbox
If this newsletter has been passed on to you and you would like to receive it directly in future, or if you know of someone who might be interested in receiving the next edition, please go to our homepage and enter your email address into the box at the top of the page.


2. Quotations

“The less routine the more life.”
Amos Bronson Alcott, American Reformer, Philosopher and Teacher, 1799-1888

“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”
William Shedd, Theologian, 1820-1894

“Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”
Benjamin Franklin, American Statesman, Scientist, Philosopher, Printer, Writer & Inventor 1706-1790


3. In Equilibrium tip of the month

Studies have shown that laughing does you good. Laughter can help you deal with many things including the stresses of our daily lives.

In the short term a good laugh can stimulate your organs as you intake more oxygen-rich air; it increases your heart rate and blood pressure leaving you with a relaxed feeling; and it can also ease digestion and stimulate circulation which can help to reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

In the longer term laughter may help to relieve pain by causing the body to produce natural painkillers; may improve your immune system by releasing neuropeptides which help to fight stress and the illnesses stress can lead to; and can increase your personal satisfaction by making difficult situations a little easier to deal with.

So … have you heard the one about the family of tomatoes walking into town? The little baby tomato started lagging behind, so the big father tomato walked back to the baby tomato, stamped on her, squashing her to a red paste, and said “Ketchup”!


4. Web-sites/resources

Websites we thought you might be interested in:

Relieve Tension – Stretch at Your Screen
You may get some strange looks from your colleagues to begin with, but everyone who sits in front of a computer screen could benefit from taking a few minutes to try the stretches featured on this website …. and they can all be done whilst sitting/standing at your desk! (Mayoclinic.com)

Use 2% of your day for exercise
Half an hour is 2% of your total day – this site gives some ideas and tips to help you use it wisely by adding a little exercise to your life, thereby improving your health and happiness. (everydaysport.com)


5. Book Review

Getting Things Done : The Art of Stress-free Productivity – David Allen

For those of us who feel weighed down by clutter – both of the untidy desk and mind variety, David Allen offers a relatively fun and therapeutic journey to organisation. He teaches how to filter the “stuff” of your environment (whether that be information, ideas, projects, email and so on) into a sensible system which ensures projects are delivered on time, personal appointments are kept and your brain is freed up from unconscious worrying, releasing energy to use on the creative choices about your options.

The system encompasses various techniques, the most appealing of which to me was the Two-Minute Rule. If there’s something you absolutely must do which can be done right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thereby freeing up both your time and mind tenfold in the long term. For the longer than two minute task, he believes everything can fall into the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule, which leads to everything either having a place in the system, being filed or discarded and never returning to your in-tray – which then remains remarkably empty.

It’s a time consuming system to set up (he advocates two full days) but according to his many converts, time definitely worth spending if you would prefer your life to include increased productivity and reduced stress, some even say it’s been a life-changer!

Published by Piatkus Books Ltd. ISBN 0 7499 2264 8


6. Stress in the News

In this section we give you links to recent articles in the press that we have found interesting:

Stress Management Competencies Research
The first phase of the research aimed to identify the competencies required by managers to prevent and reduce stress at work is now available for review. This research has been funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and supported by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), who are providing free access to the research results as follows:
– The full research report can be downloaded from the HSE website
– Short guidance leaflets providing the findings of the research can be downloaded from the CIPD website

‘The Ten Top Ways to Beat Stress’
This article from the Independent features their top ten tips to improve the quality of your working life.

‘An Overview of Child Wellbeing in Rich Countries’
A report carried out by Unicef has found that Britain is bottom of the class of 21 industrialised countries as far as child wellbeing is concerned. The study looked at 40 different indicators within the six categories – material well-being, family and peer relationships, health and safety, behaviour and risks, educational wellbeing and subjective wellbeing.

‘Stressed out Britons turning to Drink – and they’re tired and Grumpy’
The Samaritans launched their first “Stress Down Day” on Thursday 1 February with the aim of raising awareness of the effects of stress in the workplace.


7. Events

In Equilibrium Annual Conference: ‘Reducing Stress at Work’
In Equilibrium are holding a one-day conference entitled ‘Reducing Stress at Work’ at the BLCC (Business Learning and Conference Centre) in Dunfermline on the 28th November. Our next newsletter will contain further details about this event.

Delegate Partnerships
We have had a couple of instances recently where a company would like to run an in-house training course but have been low on delegate numbers. On both occasions we found another local company who was in the same position thereby allowing the staff to receive the training required whilst permitting the companies to deliver it within budget by sharing costs. If you would like to arrange training for a small number of delegates but fear it would not be cost effective, please let us know and we shall try to find a suitable match for you locally.


8. Stress Case Study – Interpreting your HSE Stress Survey Data

Background and Brief

In order to implement company stress policy, achieve HSE compliance and establish a clearer picture of the factors that could be the cause of workplace stress, the client had downloaded the HSE Stress Indicator Questionnaire from the HSE website and used it to survey their workforce of 360 people.

They had already collected and entered their data onto the HSE spreadsheet when they got in touch.

The brief was to get additional information about stress hot spots, identify areas where they were doing relatively well and compare their results against those of other similar companies.


The spreadsheet file was sent by email and then loaded onto the StressMeterTM system. The client had added their own locations and departments and these were included with the survey data when it was loaded onto the system. The process was simple and straightforward and the transfer was completed within 48 hours. The client received their own secure codes to access their data on-line and use the analysis and reporting tools on the system.


In addition the client then went on to use the system to generate a company wide Stress Risk Assessment report, the client was also able to produce reports for individual departments, locations and job types and then look at each group’s responses to specific questions. This was found to be really useful to feed the results back to line managers and establish a short list of topics that were then later addressed in a series of focus groups.

Follow-up Action

Being able to compare the results anonymously with other organisations meant the client could see where they were relatively, above or below average, and allowed them to focus the follow-up. For example, they identified a group of employees who had been negatively impacted by recent changes and addressed their concerns. The client was able to provide specialist stress awareness and management training to the employees working in relatively higher risk areas and put policies in place to specifically address workplace stress.


The client will now use the StressMeterTM system to carry out a follow-up survey later this year. The results will be used to compare their year on year results to see where improvements have been made and how effective the actions taken have been.

For further information about the StressMeterTM service, addressing workplace stress and carrying out a workplace stress risk assessment, please contact us.


9. In Equilibrium Consultant Profile

We now have 12 consultants working throughout the UK and thought you might be interested to know a little more about them.

Dot Gourlay

Dot Gourlay is a Health Promotion Specialist and experienced Stress Management Consultant – specialising in: carrying out qualitative workplace audits; and developing tailored training programmes.

Dot has previously co-ordinated strategic and local workplace health promotion initiatives within both an NHS Hospital Trust and a large Local Authority. She is an experienced corporate trainer within: the management of stress and well-being; conflict resolution; and teamworking intervention.

Stress management for both managers and staff has been one of her key interests since writing her research dissertation on ‘perceptions of stress in relation to employee health’ in 1998 – and while supporting individual staff and departments as their manager and advisor. Moving into Health Promotion was the next stage in developing her skills – towards influencing key personnel and boards of management, which can take a great deal of time and energy. Time and energy worth spending! She now thrives on the challenge of consultancy intervention, from audit through to training evaluation and review – describing this as a hugely rewarding and worthwhile process for all concerned.

As a travelling consultant and trainer, Dot’s greatest loves of the job include: a visitor’s insight into the UK’s cities and scenery (in her opinion, the best of which is to be found on the West Coast of Scotland – if you haven’t experienced it yet, your stress levels will most definitely benefit from a trip); experiencing high levels of staff camaraderie and support; being able to prompt developments within interpersonal relationships and management techniques & styles; providing tools towards promoting positive mental health & well-being.

A feeling of positive well-being links completely with a positive work-life balance and, as a mother of three children under 10, Dot is very aware of the challenges here. Her main message is, to remember who and what is important in your life, and never stop spending quality, fun time with them! Work is an inevitability within this, and Dot’s most surreal experience occurred when heavily pregnant with her third child – ‘I was completely mothered – no one would let me stand up or lift anything’ – evidence of high levels of support when needed, and although it was a few years ago now – she would like to thank you.


10. Your Feedback – Win a PRIZE

Please let us know what you think about this edition of “In Equilibrium”. We would be very interested to know which items you liked, anything you didn’t like/read and also any suggestions you have for future editions. To entice you, we are again offering a prize of a copy of the reviewed book “Getting Things Done – the Art of Stress-free Productivity” by David Allen for the most apt and original comment received (in our opinion, of course!).

The winner of Newsletter 34’s feedback prize is Carolyn Beattie, Faculty Administrator, International College, Napier University, Edinburgh. Congratulations to Carolyn who will shortly receive a copy of Charles Handy’s “Myself and other more important matters”. A big thank you to all those who gave us valuable feedback, please try again on this edition.

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