I shudder to think how many acronyms and mnemonics I learnt in my military career. It must be well into three figures and possibly higher. As we approach the end of the year I thought I'd share with you the one I've found the most useful.

I've used it, both to help audit my own stress levels and to help others who have been suffering with stress related issues. The mnemonic was given to me by an RAF psychiatric nurse on a management course and although I can't remember her name it remains one of the best things I've learnt.

What's all this got to do with influence? Managing your own emotions, and helping others manage theirs is a key element of successful influence. Particularly when we are trying to influence internally, stress can become a major inhibitor.

To use the acronym, ask yourself how much or how well you do each of the LESSON elements. If the answer is that you aren't doing many of them at all then trying to find ways to make small improvements can have a big impact. If you are using it to help someone else then it can be a good tool for getting them to open up, or to signpost them to some resources. It took doing this exercise with someone I managed once, for them to realise that they probably needed to adjust things in their life.

Leisure - do you/they find time for your/their own leisure activities or does all the time get eaten up by work and commitments to others. For a period of my army career I was definitely guilty of this and ended up feeling resentful of both work and family commitments. Leisure is an outlet for us to be ourselves.

Exercise - the benefits of exercise for mental health are becoming much better understood. I run as much for my mental health as my physical health and a recent enforced four month break had a major impact on my stress levels.

Sleep - modern life, (and mobile phones in particular), is having a major impact on the quality of our sleep and with it our stress levels. Learning how to sleep better can lead to almost immediate benefits and there are steps we can all take to do this. Improving my sleep is one of my own targets for 2018.

Spirituality - this isn't limited to religion but can be found in many places. Mindfulness has become a popular way to find this these days but for some people it might be found in the home crowd of a football club or, like me, alone on a mountain somewhere.

Optimism - we can all find things to be optimistic about. Sometimes it might take a bit of looking or getting someone else to help us find it.

Nutrition - it's often when we are the busiest and most stressed that we cut corners on what we eat. Although the link between mental health and nutrition isn't obvious there is significant evidence that it exists.

If you think of someone who might find this useful then please share it.