Trick Your Sleepy Brain
Have you ever laid in bed with the unshakeable feeling that you want to go to sleep but just can't slip away into slumber? I know from experience this can drag on for hours. A little shift in perspective can make all the difference. How you look at your given state can help trick your mind into fully relaxing.
So what’s the shift in perspective here? Well tell yourself that it's morning time. The mind-set you have towards being in bed in the morning for most people is that it’s the comfiest place in the world and you don’t ever want to leave. This is certainly why it’s so hard to get our engines going in my household every 7am.
So when I find it hard to sleep I tell myself that it’s first thing in the morning and that I don't have to get up. I roll over and I drift away happily under the brief suspended reality I have created for myself.
This is the same suspended reality that can keep Wylie Coyote suspended in mid-air for all those moments before he finally looks down over the cavern he has sped into and plummets.
There’s a power to how we frame things. My children don’t try and eat vegetables they aim to get as many colours on their plate as possible. I don't go on a diet. I adopt a lifestyle change….and when kid’s need a bit of encouragement to move more or eat less how we frame these experiences stands for everything.
My 5 year old gets nearly his recommended dose of daily exercise in one after-school class. A class that had they framed it in the traditional way would have no doubt lost his interest months ago like Rugby Tots did after two sessions before it was tears and pleas to go home on a Saturday morning. So every Tuesday instead of attending mixed Martial Arts, we head on over to Ninja School. Not before the boy tells every school friend and their parents on the way out of school that he is on his way to ninja school and that he is a real ninja.
One ninja t-shirt and the persistent sticking to the Ninja School alibi from every Sensei means that the kids not only all -in emotionally but they get active and even spend the extra five minutes listening to a ninja lesson where they might learn about the benefit of eating their Veg to be fast and powerful ninjas or the importance of respect along with other life lessons. Which of course they listen to because it's from someone other than their parents.
Instead of drifting off mid talk they actively participate. They contribute ideas and they listen. Whilst the mantra they shout every lesson also suggests. They "will do their best!" ...to become better ninjas of course.
Now this is not lying to kids. The instructor’s and savvy parents alike all go with the verbiage and play along to the benefit of their kid’s enthusiasm for that much needed dose of exercise and enrichment. How it's shaped is simply the difference. How the kids perceive the class and themselves within it.
Dancing & The NSPCC Pants Song
Our house includes daily bouts of dancing for fun and exercise. Even our 2 year old demands his favourite songs and shouts the request to our Alexa device which is smart enabled to play any song on demand. One play of the song "Kung Fu Fighting" and both the boys are diving about the kitchen with arms and legs flailing with wild abandon. The same device plays the "Pants Song" when we want to learn about the pants rule.
This is another fine example of how we frame things. We are able to kick start the NSPCC skill on the Alexa device and either work through the pants quiz which lets kids know it’s okay to say No and to respect theirs and other people private parts. The song sings of Pantasaurus who gets his power from wearing pants and how its okay to say no if someone makes you uncomfortable. Whilst this might seem like a world gone mad to some people in reality by framing a very taboo subject in a kid friendly language the removal of stigma means important conversations can be had in our household and important lessons learned from an early age when kids are most vulnerable.
Here is the pants skill if you want to install it on your Alexa or other device and the pants song because it's catchy as hell.
King For A Lesson
Kids at school might need a little encouragement to adopt healthier choices, but as above how we frame these scenarios go a lot towards how children respond to them. Is it cool to sit or to stand? If your participate at school are you a "swot" or a "clever clogs" or perceived as simply "clever" by your peers.
Schools that adopt our standing desks find the children who use them improve their productivity. They participate more, are less disruptive and the quality of their work output improves. Statistically they even score higher on academic tests. Does the standing desk change the child’s perspective in the very moment we want them to be as engaged as possible?
There have been many psychological studies which find that room layouts and chair placements effect people’s behaviour. For instance if you sit in the middle chair of a talking semi-circle you are most likely to adopt the role of leader in the dynamic. Now people are physically looking towards you for leadership but should that mean someone more likely in their personality wouldn't outshine you and step up to the plate. Well the data suggests that you will lead the group. Wall flowers can use this to force themselves to participate.
Studies have shown how important mind-set is to the classroom. A mind-set that one will aim to master a subject is more useful than a natural aptitude to accomplish the same thing. Like my old guitar teacher said. "There are those who can play this naturally and there are those who have to work at it. You will have to work at it." Thanks Shirty. It was hard advice to hear in my teens but completely set me on the correct mind-set to accomplish my goals. He explained in that simple idiom that this wasn't going to come easy. At the age I went to him I wanted everything to come easily and he no doubt had seen it all before.
The correct mind-set to mastery demonstrated perfectly by a man they call "shirty".
So how does the standing desk allow children to shift their perspective in the classroom?
Well the increased blood flow from standing and small movements aids brain function by increasing oxygenation. This can also help with children who suffer ADHD. The elevated position gives children a positive sense of their place in the rooms dynamic resulting in the increased participation. (Not unlike the chair example.) Engagement increases by approx 16% which is significant for such as small shift.
Let’s not forget that standing makes us feel better than sitting. Kids have a tendency to slouch and disengage in class. This is years of muscle memory, child born laziness passed down from generation to generation. The older kids are in school the less likely they are to be active so getting them standing from primary age is a must to ensure they develop a positive mind-set to the proposition and don't shun it because it appears to take slightly more effort.
Active kids become active adults. Our children are glued to devices all day and always look for the easiest way to accomplish tasks. The culture in this country amongst younger people is to shirk exercise in way of screen time and couch time. So it's time to get smart and outfox the young guns into adopting better habits.
How can your classroom frame the standing desk to make it desirable? Well most don’t' have to ...flexible seating is a big hit amongst kids generally. If delivered smartly and framed well the kids love the idea of changing it up and there is rarely any push-back but for those schools who need to get smart to encourage take-up. "King for a lesson" seems like a nice way to frame a singular standing desk classroom. Multiple standing desk hot desk classrooms can work in the idea of rotating between desks to include a little more brain stimulating movement into the daily routines.
I don't need to tell you how to suck eggs. Teachers are some of the most creative and encouraging people to walk the earth. Just remember to engage that part of your brain when you start to include standing in your classroom, because the benefits are huge and perspective is everything.
This article demonstrates the importance of mind-set to the classroom.
Brits work some of the longest work weeks in Europe and UK firms are beginning to buck that trend by offering their staff 4 day working weeks.
By reducing lunch hours and annual leave to 45 mins and by 20% respectively Gloucester based outfit Radioactive PR have been able to adopt a 4 day working week and MD Rich Leigh says of his newly reinvigorated staff base “There are two ways to make money in my line of work,” he says, “retain clients and get new ones. Miserable, tired staff can’t do either.”
Last year, more than half a million UK workers were signed off with work related stress or anxiety. Nick White, MD of Iwantastandingdesk.com said “encouraging good mental health in the workplace is absolutely imperative. Britain are notoriously behind trend internationally when it comes to integrating good work/life balance and positive healthy culture into their workplaces.”
“We work with a large number of companies who are invested in their employee’s well-being and frequently report to us that integrating standing desks, reduced work hours and other healthy work space initiatives result in their teams outputting higher quality work and demonstrating incredible loyalty. Not to mention all these measures increase recruitment quality as companies are striving more and more to improve their in-house offering to attract the best talent.”
France recently made it illegal for companies to expect their workers to answer emails out of hours but Britain just hasn’t kept up with our European neighbours and often work long hours often unpaid averaging 10 hours overtime a week and only 34 minute lunch hours.
The EU working time directive sets a limit of 48 working hours a week. Britain is the only EU member that allows workers to opt out of this and work longer hours. Trade unions however believe this is subject to “widespread abuse.”
Videogame companies are one of the worst culprits for insisting on crunch development cycles where staff often report on spending weeks to months not seeing their family’s due to the incredible pressure to meet deadlines. This is frequently regarded as “normal part of the job” but is affecting 76% of the industry despite being clearly unsustainable and damaging to long term productivity. According to research some workers report bouts of depression and low morale following the tech industries notorious crunch periods.
Standing meetings are often shorter, allowing firms to reduce wasted workplace time which research has shown is as damaging to productivity as cannabis smoking.
The Green party and Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress have both campaigned for the implementation of a 4 day working week citing increased automation as an opportunity for companies to spread the benefits of increased profits to its staff base. Should this begin to occur critics might argue that 4 day work weeks as a result of automation might inflate into the development of worklessness as companies begin to realise they need their staff base less and less.
Mark Price former MD of Waitrose believes the increase of the 4 day working week sends the wrong message and suggests that “work is bad and should be done less” he also believes that the public sector can ill afford to reduce working weeks in line with the private sector without increasing taxes to cover this. “I can’t imagine there is much of an appetite for that.”
Should 4 day work weeks be adopted in private sector could that make working for vital public services less appealing and have a negative impact to recruitment in services such as councils and NHS?
Wherever you land on the subject, there appears to be a need to improve our approach to work place health.
Crunch is bad for mental health but can we be more productive by working less? Latest research from Perpetual Guardian, a wealth management firm seems to suggest so as they report an increase in productivity by 24% in firms that take up the 4 days weeks. Following in his firm’s footsteps, Gloucester Managing Director Leigh asks the question “why not give it a try?”.