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Resilience - the Authentic Tea podcast with Emma

Resilience is a topic that Emma is passionate about. Her love of yoga, mindfulness, and breathwork has led her to create offerings to improve workplace wellbeing. Emma is the founder of Halycon Wellness and Regional Director of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine. The word halcyon means happiness, great success and prosperity. Emma provides content to help you thrive at home and at work.

Episode 12 of the Authentic Tea podcast features Rach's chat with Emma:

Rach (00:00):

For our episode today, we have the lovely Emma joining us. Emma is passionate about holistic health and is the founder of Halcyon wellness by combining her passions of lifestyle medicine and wellbeing, techniques of breath, work, yoga and meditation. Emma is creating wellness education offers for individuals, employers, and those people working on the front line. Emma is also regional director of the British society of lifestyle medicine, a breath coach, and a yoga teacher. Welcome Emma.

Emma (00:28):

Hello. Thanks for having me.

Rach (00:30):

It's great to have you here today, and it's so wonderful to see all the fabulous things that you're doing, your wellness, education courses support improved wellbeing in the workplace. Was there a moment where you identified that this was something that was a need and can you reflect on how workplace wellness has impacted your own work environment?

Emma (00:53):

Yeah, so I think there wasn't a specific moment, but I think my junior doctor years, I definitely felt the strain of sort of working on my emotional, physical sort of mental wellbeing as a whole. I think the environment didn't really suit me as a person. Anyway, you kind of, you, when you're training as a doctor, you have to do some jobs that you don't necessarily want to do long-term and I think the hospital environment, I don't thrive in that situation. I'm kind of, I prefer being out in the community where I am now. And I think there is this feeling that I think quite a lot of junior doctors have of just sort of being a cog in a wheel and sort of you're a bum on a seat to do a job. And actually they don't really value you as a human being. It's more, as long as there's someone in that rota gap, we're fine. And I think I really felt that at times, particularly when I wasn't enjoying things and I was trying to be proactive about how about, could I try and do maybe this job or that job to really like, and talking to supervisors about that? And it's sort of like, well, no, it's really service provision. You've just got to do it. And you're like, you don't feel valued as a person. And I think looking at surveys on wellbeing, particularly in the frontline in the workforce, in the NHS, whenever you're talking about workplace stress or burnout, anywhere along those spectrums, it's always the feeling of being valued sort of by your employers, by your peers and by patients themselves actually always comes up as one of the most important things for wellbeing. And when they're not there, one of the most important reasons for burnout and distress in work. So I think it was really interesting. I think learning that whole experience made me realize how important well workplace was workplace wellbeing was for your whole wellbeing as a whole, and actually how feeling distressed and just one aspect of your life in work in particular, when you work so many hours in a week actually can affect your whole wellbeing. So I think that's what really kind of stemmed my interest in it.

Rach (02:44):

Like you say we spent so much of our time at work and quite a lot of us as the pandemic is still going on, us finding ourselves, spending that time at home. Can you offer some, maybe some tips for the audience in terms of thinking about their own workplace wellbeing, but actually bringing that into their own environments at home?

Emma (03:04):

I think I heard recently that you can think you're working from home or you're living at work. I thought that was a brilliant way of thinking about it. And I just think for me, there's a few things that can really help. I think keeping a routine is really important and I think you don't have the commute anymore. And some people are just tempted to just to press the snooze button and literally get out of bed and go straight into the laptop working. And I think that's not we're creatures of habit. And I think our bodies like that routine, so actually try and keep that, that sleep wake cycle, it'll be really good for your circadian rhythm and sleep hygiene just to try and set that alarm clock still, but then use that commute time that you wouldn't have. And I think this can be more challenging if you're trying to, you know, get food on table for kids and breakfast and, you know, organize, you know, dressing your kids and getting them ready for the day.

Emma (03:48):

I appreciate that can be a lot harder, but actually think about what you can use your commute time for whether you love reading and just say, I'll read a few pages of my book or what I love doing and what actually we started in lockdown and it's definitely going to continue with my partner, is we go for a morning walk. And actually we, you know, it's even just 20 to twenty-five minutes just across the fields and back, but it's the best way to start the day. And actually getting that morning light will also help your circadian rhythm. You get that fresh air, you get that bit of movement and you also get that social engagement and having a nice chat and you just feel so much ready to start the day when you get back compared to if you just got out of bed and then, andthen you have that positive way of starting the day as well. It just sets the whole day up in a different light and you just feel really good. So I think that's the one first thing that I'd really recommend. I also think boundaries are so important and there's lots of different types of boundaries. One for example, is putting some different clothes on than your pajamas. I think it's very tempting to just go and work in your pajamas, but it's amazing how much your mindset can shift if you just like put on a different pair of clothes and you think, okay, I'm now at work and trying to create that boundary between your work and home like even if there is not that physical boundary. So if you're lucky enough to have a separate room within the house you can use for work, I think I'd really recommend doing that. And then sort of shutting down your laptop at the end of the day, closing the door and kind of exiting the workplace. If you don't have that space, just have a dedicated workspace in a room that is there for your work from now on. And actually you don't use that, that full relaxation activities, just so your mind can kind of work out where you are in the day. And another thing is if you're working at home and you have other people at home, I think having some really non-confrontational compassionate communication between each other about what you might need, because what someone might think would be really lovely and being every half hour an hour, bringing someone a cup of coffee or something, actually, if they're in a state of flow, it actually could be really disruptive. Or if they're in a meeting, it could be quite embarrassing. So just kind of work out what each other needs. And I think that those are sort of just a few tips I think can really help.

Rach (05:50):

They are great tips. And I think that's a really nice way to look at how we can create our own space. Like you say, that balance of the work life and the home life now for so many of us becomes in the same environment. Like you, I've also found walking with my husband as well, has been a really useful tool for me to do on a, on a daily basis and have that time to connect to nature is that connection to nature, something that you have actively sought through your own wellbeing practices and, and what are your other favorite ways of getting that connection from the world around us?

Emma (06:28):

Yeah, I think connection with nature is just so important. I mean, I live in a forest, so I love it. That was one of my priorities. And I think, you know, living in a city has so much excitement and facilities that you might not get when you're living rurally, but it's always been intrinsic to me, that feeling with nature and how it supports my well-being. So I've obviously prioritize that by where I live, but actually if you don't live in a, in a forest, you can still engage with nature. And I think there's a sense of all you get when you go into nature. And I think, you know, you being in the mountains, you'll probably get that even more because you get that amazing scenery. It helps with thing into perspective. It's like, you know, actually you kind of realize in a humble way how small you are, and I think that's quite helpful.

Emma (07:11):

And there's, I think I always was passionate about nature of health because I did some students selected modules in public health in my final year of med school. And you could do self-directed ones where you kind of made up your own project. And I did a literature review on how the New Forest, which is where I live as the national park could be used as a health resource and kind of delving into the literature. There was really fascinating, but sort of since then, I've come across the concept of Shinrin Yuku, which I'm sure, you know, it's like forest bathing and a Japanese concept and read a book about that. And it's fascinating that they've shown that immersing yourself in nature with using all your senses and really being present in nature. So not like looking at a phone or going for a walk in the forest, but really taking it all in it's shown to lower blood pressure.