Below you will find the link to a PDF training programme that has been specifically designed to get you ready for passing the fitness test.
Everyone has a different level of fitness so it’s important that we support our team mates and colleagues throughout their journey.
Remember, you might pass your fitness test first time but others may struggle and great teams are only ever made through unity, so let’s make sure we support our teammates!
Communication is a double edged sword that is often difficult to make sense of, particularly when we are in the middle of a “stressful” situation.
It’s sometimes hard to remember that the way we communicate can provide a positive function as well as a negative one, for example we may say something that sounds quite positive in our head but once the recipient hears the comment they completely overreact. In this situation it is easy to become defensive and have an equally strong reaction.
Let’s be honest, we have all worked or currently work with people we may not gel with, people who’s views or character don’t align with our own. The first thing to keep in mind here is that it is ok for some constructive conflict or clashing of opinions, providing the motivation stems from a positive place in each of the parties involved. In this case a win/win can often be found.
In a situation where a win/win cannot be found then it is often useful to set the discussion aside temporarily until a holistically positive outcome can be achieved.
Naturally there are certain circumstances that require us to “deal with” or accept our limited or nonexistent control of a decision or process and in this situation it is vital that Leaders facilitate open and clear communication with everyone involved both directly and indirectly.
We can consider this an exercise because the more you mindfully communicate, the better you get at it. Equally if you communicate mindlessly then you will exercise and develop your skill in this area.
Some useful exercises in communication are:
When communicating, whether it be vertically or horizontally, we must practice and execute active listening.
Make eye contact, listen to the words, understand the message behind the words and watch the body language of the person delivering the message.
Asking clarifying questions
We often speak up when we don’t hear someone but how often do you speak up when you don’t understand someone?
Paraphrase and repeat the message back in your own words to see if you really do understand, which also shows the messenger that you are listening, encouraging them to partake in a mutually agreeable conversation.
Consider your delivery and responses BEFORE saying them out loud
It’s important that we think before we speak.
Consider how it would feel to be on the other end of the conversation.
Practising mindfulness with the words we use, the tone we deliver with and the body language we show.
Check out our article on breathing and adrenal control for more tips…
There are times when we all face high stress situations and we have all felt the body’s response to these situations; sweating, jaw clenching, a rapid pulse and a loss of clarity in decision making are just a few of the many signs of a stress response.
Imagine for a moment that your body controls Adrenaline* like a Volcano. The majority of the time it lays dormant and occasionally there may be some noise, some movement, something to remind you it’s there but certainly nothing concerning.
When the body is put under stress that “Volcano” (in this case our Adrenal glands) slowly releases a powerful substance used to fuel our body during uncommon events. For example, when you attend a job interview with new people, new surroundings and a number of unknown quantities, we get an Adrenal response, it keeps us alert, awake and in some extreme cases, alive!
However, like the predominantly dormant Volcano, we tend to ignore this until it happens, we don’t have control of our body’s responses to high stress situations. Sometimes we may not even realise we are in a high stress situation until it is too late.
When we are surprised, stressed or unconscious of our surroundings etc, we are at the mercy of our body’s natural impulses. Being shocked or surprised can cause Adrenal “dump”. In other words the Volcano EXPLODES! A substantial amount of Adrenaline is forced into the system in order to create a physiological response to the stressor, unfortunately, this “dump” often has the reverse effect and we “FREEZE”. Unable to control ourselves OR the situation.
With a few simple breathing techniques we can begin combating this extreme response to pressure and intense experiences.
1. Sit comfortably
Keep the upper body including the head as tall as possible. We want to airways to be as open as possible to accept as much “clean air” as they can.
2. Breathe through your nose!
Our noses are designed to take air IN! The path of air flow through the nose and into the lungs is the optimum route for warming and moistening the air and also removing any toxins or unwanted particles in the air we are breathing.
3. “Breathe into your stomach”
Diaphragmatic breathing or breathing into the lower part of your lungs allows more oxygen uptake and encourages the body to calm itself.
“… the lower lung is rich with the parasympathetic nerve receptors associated with calming the body and mind, whereas the upper lungs — which are stimulated by chest and mouth breathing — prompt us to hyperventilate and trigger sympathetic nerve receptors, which result in the fight or flight reaction.”1
4. Take 10 deep breaths.
Breathe in through the nose
Hold for 1 second
Slowly breathe out through the mouth and once you have expelled a “natural” amount of air, hold for a comfortable amount of time, no more than 10 seconds.
Practice these steps, as with anything, the more we practice the better we get and the more natural it is to respond in this way rather than panicking.
Your sleep patterns and the quality of sleep you get play a huge role in how you perform.
Now, more than ever, we are learning the importance of sleep and how it impacts us daily.
Sleep runs in many different stages and the first 3 hours of sleep is often where your deep sleep occurs  . Although scientists are still unsure as to exactly why we need sleep, we understand it is necessary for the mind to be in a calm/still state and the body to “reset” even though during sleep the body and mind are almost always in an “active” state.
As we move through the stages we will experience REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is where we have the majority of dreams, it has also been shown that a lack of REM sleep can have negative effects on our ability to learn complex tasks.
Some people need far less sleep than others and there is no “golden rule” on just how much sleep you should have. The average sleep required sits at around 7-9 hours depending upon our age and few other factors.
Often as we age our sleep requirements lessen, which would explain why a new born baby can (sometimes) accumulate 12-18 hours sleep per day and an elderly person may find themselves later to bed and awake from the early hours.
The balance between sleeping and being awake is called our Circadian Rhythm and we often find this balance disturbed, especially if we work in shifts, have young children to care for or struggle to find ways to “switch off”.
If you find yourself in this situation here are some simple strategies to implement, as with all things they may work for you straight away, or, they may take some time and consistency for you to really feel the benefits. The key is staying positive and applying these strategies slowly, allowing them to become new habits:
- When it’s time to sleep make sure the room you are in is as dark as possible. Our sleep patterns are governed by light and the less light we have the more soundly we are likely to sleep. This can be tricky, particularly if you are a night shift worker. Although it may not be the height of fashion, a sleep mask works just as well as a dark room if the latter is not available.
- Limit the amount of time you spend staring at screens before bedtime. This strategy is very likely the most common one we will hear at the moment. Television, social media, movies, you name it, there’s a good chance we use it to escape, which can actually be healthy when it’s done at the right time and with benefit to our mental state. Try to remove all use of screened technology 1 hour before you intend to sleep, this will help the brain find a calmer rhythm in which to enter the seep cycle.
- Move. When you are awake, when it’s time to be functional and start your day, even a 10 minute walk has been shown to have beneficial results on mental health, physical wellbeing and overall performance throughout the day. Getting some day light, fresh air and movement into your routine can really boost your energy.