Category Archives: Wellbeing

Group of singers enjoy singing together in a yurt

When ‘out of tune’ works wonders for wellbeing

We already know from the vast array of research that singing does wonders for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. We also know first-hand how fantastic belting out a power ballad in the shower feels!

Singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, our feel-good chemicals known to relieve stress and anxiety. Studies show that regular singers have reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a stronger immune system. The controlled breath helps us take in more oxygen and improves circulation. More O2 elixir reaches our brains boosting how awake we feel, our ability to concentrate and remember things.

That’s without even leaving the shower. Bring people together to sing and magic really happens.

Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding so can really glue a group to combat feelings of loneliness and depression. The sense of ‘being in it together’ and the achievement that comes from working towards a common goal also taps into our human desire for purpose and meaning in our lives.

Where there are people, there is singing – why not at work?

Compare a map of UK singing groups with a map of UK population; where there are people, there are choirs. Over 2 million people choose to sing in over 40,000 choirs (Voices Now UK Big Choral Census, July 2017).

The evidence presents a strong case for singing not only supporting individual wellbeing but also strengthening engagement and performance. There are huge numbers of people at work but you don’t often hear much singing.

If you ask 10 people, “Can you sing?” For every person who humbly responds, often almost apologetically, “Yes”, there are another nine… read more

Full blog featured on Mad World News, 11 September 2018

Obsessed with your smart phone? Not that smart.

Time to ‘fess up… have you ever used your smart phone on the loo?

I’ll admit I was one of many sheepish people who put their hands up when Laura, from Shine Offline, asked the question a second time. Yes, I’m guilty of the occasional social scroll whilst also answering the call of nature.

How on earth did we get here? Attending ‘How to have a happy and healthy relationship with your technology’ by Shine Offline (in partnership with Action for Happiness), Laura explained some of the factors that have contributed to us being‘ switched on’ 24/7; the speed and growth of technology from the mid 90’s with no usage guidelines and ‘Nomophobia’.

What is Nomophobia?

‘Nomophobia‘ as in ‘No-Mobile-Phobia‘ is actually a thing; the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use it.

We’ve all been there… you forget your phone and feel like you’ve had a limb surgically removed.  Even though you know it’s at home, it doesn’t stop you reaching for it ALL THE TIME to check notifications, see what the weather’s doing, add a ‘to-do’ (and there’s a pleasing sense that you’ll have lots of missed calls and messages to wade through when reunited, when in reality you get home and…        )

Stage showing Shine Offline logo on screen and Action for Happiness roll up banner

Shine Offline & Action for Happiness; creating a happier world together

How technology impacts our health and wellbeing…

Left unchecked, how we use our tech has a massive impact on how we feel at work and home.  Increasingly distracted, feeling overwhelmed and always plugged in, not having enough down time reduces our creativity and the habit of ‘continuous partial attention’ can put strain on, if not ruin relationships.

If you’re verging on iPhone addiction, check out ‘Six simple ways to improve your relationship with your smartphone‘ and to break that smartphone obsession, ‘5 best apps for managing smartphone addiction‘.

iPhone on plate at dinner setting

Who are you really having dinner with? Your friend or your phone? Knife, fork, iPhone is the new dinner place setting.

What I learnt from ‘Shine Offline’

HEAPS.  The session beautifully balanced the value and role of digital technology in our lives and how by making simple choices to use it more mindfully (vs. not at all) we can have a better experience, setting a ‘shining‘ example to those around us.

It was clear from the outset that Light Mind shares similar values; enabling people to reconnect with themselves and others to feel better, there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ and lasting change takes regular practice.

Interesting facts…

  • The average iPhone user makes TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN actions a day on their phone
  • 80% of managers are effectively cancelling out their annual leave if consider the time spent ‘online’ when away from the office in evenings / weekends

What I particularly enjoyed…

  • We played a version of the ‘Generation Game’ conveyor belt to emphasise the impact and reality of attention deficiency and the risk of extinction of life skills such as navigating with a compass and letter writing
  • This 30 second mirror on the reality we find ourselves in with how we use our devices… “Really?!”  Hands up who’s guilty?

What I’m going to do differently… 

  • Notifications for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are OFF so I now go into those apps on ‘my terms’ (which is still way more than I’d like but practice makes progress…)
  • Two no phone zones… the bedroom at night – although my alarm clock is an old iPhone with no SIM, it hasn’t stopped me leaving my active phone downstairs on charge, so a renewed commitment to that one.  And finishing as I started… the ceramic throne is now a definite NO PHONE ZONE!

I would totally recommend ‘Shine Offline’ as a great addition to any planned ‘Wellbeing at Work’ event.  For more ideas on sustainable health and wellbeing, follow Light Mind on Twitter or LinkedIn.

“Little by little, a little becomes a lot”

By definition, in competition there is usually a ‘winner’.

Today I’m writing to celebrate the achievements of three award finalists and explore how community, being part of and giving to them, is pretty darn good for us.

After attending the 2nd annual ‘INSPIRE’ conference I was one of 100 entrepreneurs on an exuberant high.  Hosted by the Business Girls Network (BGN) on International Women’s Day, it’s aim; to motivate, inspire, connect and celebrate women in business.

Having received the ‘Heart of the Community’ award at last year’s inaugural event, I jumped at the chance for Light Mind to sponsor this year.  It was heart warming to see the diverse ways each finalist makes a contribution in communities they care about.

Inspire 2018 Award winners celebrate their collective success

Meet our award finalists…

Sarah Parfitt founded the Media Hub – a networking group for media professionals, a freelance trainer at the BBC and also an Ambassador (volunteer) for Partners for Change Ethiopia (PFC Ethiopia) – a charity supporting children in poor communities in Ethiopia. Sarah is passionate about connecting people both locally and globally.

Jodie Humphries, a Digital Marketing Consultant who in her ‘spare’ time is known as  ‘Maidenhead Mum’.  Jodie writes a popular blog to showcase local events and the stories about the people that run those events; many of whom volunteer their time to make Maidenhead a better place for everyone to live.

Petra Erving set up Maidenhead Massage Therapy from scratch offering specialist massage therapies to supports individuals resolve any body issues. Petra cares about people, her mission is to inspire them to be aware of their health. Through working with post cancer surgery patients who have been diagnosed with lymphedema (a long term condition with no cure), her support has often extended past the physical to emotional and mental as a trusted confidante.

When asked, ‘Why is community important to you?’ everyone referenced the Business Girls Network. Petra shared, “when I found myself with no support, help or ‘community’, I was in a pretty awful and confusing place. I didn’t know what I was going to do having spent six years building up a business. However, I asked a question in the network and the advice, support and help I received really blew me away.”

Talking about the local Maidenhead community, Jodie recognises that,

“Community is everything!”

“There is rarely a dull day in my blog inbox!  Last year the Maidenhead Waterways project asked if I would like to be a narrator on a video they were making.  I gave it a go because I know so many of these projects are volunteer-led and don’t have big budgets; it’s just a case of rolling up your sleeves and helping where you can.  I’ve been so inspired by all the different groups and networks in Maidenhead, I use the blog to showcase a lot of the hard work that goes on to support our town.”

Sarah’s perspective expands the community concept further, “In our ever-changing, fast-paced world, I think we should cherish our local communities just that little bit more as they give us all a sense of stability and well-being.  Equally, in the current political climate we can no longer live in a bubble – we need to reach out to those living in more volatile parts of the world, who sometimes face insurmountable challenges in their daily lives.”

Little by little, a little becomes a lot – Tanzanian proverb

Sarah shared this proverb.  We don’t need to make huge gestures to make a big difference.  We all have a choice of where to place our focus and what we choose to give.  To impact our immediate community, it can be as simple as choosing to smile at someone in the street, or really listen to the answer when you ask a neighbour ‘how are you?’  That small uplift creates a ripple effect of positive action.

Sarah says, “All of the women in Gende Tesfa have inspired me and taught me so much about gratitude and resilience. Despite facing immense challenges in their daily lives, such as struggling to feed their children, sanitation issues and the stigma of leprosy, these women still find a reason to smile each day and have such an amazing, positive attitude” – proving that no matter what’s going on in our lives, we can always find something to be grateful for.

Keeping it real…

The life of an award finalist is not all glitz and glam.  Flattered to have been nominated (the word ‘flabbergasted’ was even used), I asked each of the finalists where they were when they found out about their nomination:

Sarah was, “Working in Costa in Cookham – not as a barista! But doing some forward-planning for the Media Hub.”

Jodie ‘squeaked out loud’ when the email came through, “I spend most of my time in my big furry slippers! So that was me, cup of tea, slippers on, sat at the Mac working on editing some photos.”

Petra couldn’t remember where she was, “However, I was very surprised. I don’t do what I do for awards of recognition. I do what I do because I love it.”

In the movie of your life…

The awards hit at the same time as the Oscars so each finalist chose a movie star who would play them in the film ‘Heart of the Community’…

"Let's go big... Cameron Diaz!!"
"Meryl Streep"
"Frances McDormand - 'I have a little trouble with compliance' - BAFTA speech, Three Billboards"

What difference will you make today? 

Sarah Parfitt receives ‘Heart of the Community’ 2018 from Tabitha Beaven of Light MindAs Sarah rightly says, “despite all the wonders of modern technology, you can’t beat face to face contact” and it was my absolute privilege to meet all three of these amazing women at the INSPIRE conference. On the day Sarah was presented with the award but in my opinion, they are all winners.

So ‘little by little’ – what difference will you make?

Sarah Parfitt receives ‘Heart of the Community’ award from Tabitha Beaven, Light Mind

INSPIRE conference images taken by Jodie Humphries.

Large conference room with people at tables listening to speaker in middle of room

Breaking down corporate barriers with laughter

Originally written for Laughter Yoga leaders to help break down perceived barriers to delivering laughter sessions to a corporate audience.

My previous life involved a corporate career in HR and Learning until I realised my need to hit the ‘reboot’ button. That’s when I found Laughter Yoga, through choosing to ‘do more things that made me smile’.

I recently attended an USPIRE leadership conference, exploring what future challenges leaders will face. Taking a day to learn and reflect, I sat back to enjoy some brilliant speakers. First up was Malcolm Smith and ‘Leading through Technology’. Pleasingly about how leaders will benefit from focusing more on what makes us human and how to spend time in our right brain (the more intuitive and creative side). It’s our humanity and creativity that can’t be automated or optimised by robots and incidentally, the right side that activates when we laugh.

Male speaker in room of conference attendees

Malcolm Smith talks technological change at USPIRE conference

Second, the importance of dealing with ambiguity and developing emotional resilience with David Wilkinson (another laughter light bulb moment!) There I was, reading ‘Fight – Flight – Freeze’ on screen and hearing the speaker explain our physical stress response when I get a tap on the shoulder. It’s Amanda Downs, one of the organisers (who I met when delivering a ‘Life Hacks to Live Lighter’ workshop – Hack #1 being to ‘laugh for no reason’).

The stress response in action

Aware the energy had dipped in the room, Amanda asks if I’m up for leading a short energiser. The stress response is no longer theoretical; I’m painfully aware of my flushed cheeks and heart beating like the clappers. I’m no stranger to standing up in front of large groups – but usually, I’m prepared.

Too good an opportunity to miss, I agreed (even though the fireworks going off in my body were trying to convince me to choose differently). From zero to laughter, I gave the context that ‘change is coming’, but we’re human, and we don’t like change. The unknown makes us feel uncomfortable, unsafe and threatened – not great news for business going through change!  But when we’re willing to take a risk, we take the chance to grow and fully experience life. In today’s world leaders must ask teams to navigate change, and one way to prepare and build resilience is to practice getting comfortable with uncomfortable. I gave the room an invitation to spend the next few minutes making a choice to feel a bit uncomfortable.

Laughter lightened the room

Diving into a laughter handshake as a new way to network, we blew laughter sounds into a stress balloon, bursting them to release our laughter along with the message that we have a choice of how to respond to any given situation. If we practice responding in a more ‘light-hearted’ way, it helps build resilience. We really pushed comfort boundaries by jumping in laughter cars and taking a drive.

Man with beard smiling and shaking hands with someone

Business leaders embrace a laughter handshake as a new way to network

A few individuals chose not to engage, but my brief was to shift the energy. An obvious ‘job done’ as people sat back down – you could see the smiles, feel the energy and see that they were more open to learn and receive the next agenda item. Laughter magic in action!

Sitting down, adrenalin pumping, I remembered all the things I’d meant to say. I’m glad I didn’t choose ‘safe’ – I felt uncomfortable and invited the room to feel something similar. Sharing an emotional experience enabled the group to connect on a more human level. The corporate audience can seem scary and unreachable, so it’s good to remember that we’re all people, with emotions and the same biological feel-good response to laughter. As long as you’re clear on the ‘why’ and lead the way, let the laughter do the hard work.

Photo credit: Jodie Humphries, Freelance Digital Marketing Extraordinaire


With Light Mind, Tabitha is on a mission to help people make new choices to feel better through laughter, carefree singing and encouraging playfulness.  Because when we feel better, we do better. 

Light Mind delivers ‘You’re having a laugh‘ which works as a positive addition to a Wellbeing day or Wellness event, or a team-building or team offsite event that enables attendees to feel good, connect as a team and realise we have a choice in where to invest our energy and the impact of this on personal wellbeing, performance and organisational culture.