Return to work coaching: Feeling frazzled? Let’s Wax lyrical about mindfulness

Ruby Wax found fame as a 1,000-words-a-minute comedian, interviewer, and writer; loud, in your face and very funny.

Now she's got a Master's degree in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy from Oxford University, an OBE for services to mental health, and is visiting Professor in Mental Health Nursing at Surrey University.

And she's published A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled - her second book about mental health.

Ruby's own clinical depression triggered this switch. She needed to understand the brain and the science behind mental health issues to help her deal with her own issues.

'I've got something in common with Ruby: depression'

While I can't quite match her explosive verve, I've got something in common with Ruby: depression, and how we both used mindfulness to recover from it.

And, as Ruby is sharing her knowledge with tours and books, I bring mindfulness techniques to my work with women who are considering returning to work after depression, or any long-term illness.

I felt driven to start Confidence To Return because I've been through it myself. I've faced the daunting return to work after illness, and I've seen other women struggling to do the same,

Mindfulness training is part of the one-to-one Return to Work coaching packages that Confidence To Return offers, backed by affiliated training.

'When people are extremely successful they start to believe they are invincible'

If you want a witty, accessible introduction to how it works, based on the brain science, Frazzled is a must read.

Ruby's figures are worrying - work-related stress is a huge problem in the EU, affecting 40 million workers.

She says: 'I've started to notice when people are extremely successful they start to believe they are invincible. They're so busy being smart they forget they're just a piece of meat with a sell-by date.'

'mindfulness-based cognitive therapy yields a 60 per cent chance of preventing a relapse'

Ruby describes how the brain operates under stress and how, if this state persists, it can cause 'neurons to wither and die, especially those relating to memory'.

Chronic stress damages your physical health, as well as your mental well-being. It can:

  • Flood the body with the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which can affect your reproductive and digestive systems.
  • Suppress the immune system, which makes you more at risk of infections, and chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and specific cancers.
Mindfulness is an answer: Ruby says 'With depression alone, for those who've had three or more episodes, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy yields a 60 per cent chance of preventing a relapse'.

'like an animal emerging from hibernation, I peeked out … and there was light'

Mindfulness came to the rescue when Ruby had a bout of depression as she wrote the book in December 2014.

She describes her self talk, while on a gruelling, stressful book tour abroad: 'You went too far, you pushed me too far, and now I'm shutting down for the season. I'm going to shut you down, make sure you can't do anything even if you try.'

But she doesn't panic; she uses mindfulness to get back on track by the new year, when 'like an animal emerging from hibernation, I peeked out … and there was light'.

Benefits of mindfulness

Physical benefits of mindfulness:

  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved general well-being.
Emotional benefits of mindfulness:

  • A more satisfied life
  • Easier to savour the pleasures in life
  • Easier to deal with challenges that life throws at you
  • Less likely to worry about the future
  • Less likely to regret the past.
So if you're returning to work after being affected by mental health issues, call for a chat about how we can help you: we can't promise to turn you into Ruby Wax, but we can make your journey smoother and more successful.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is packed with great quotes, and I'll sign off with one of my favourites:

'An enormous benefit of mindfulness is that you get a free ticket to that rare destination: the present'


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