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Coronavirus is touching a lot of our stress points. It has thrown our known world into turmoil. Many people are struggling with the anxiety, worry, doubt, confusion, uncertainty and isolation. The question is:

What can you do about it?

Transition can be challenging to many. Once you’ve crossed that bridge, you have a new status quo.

It is very normal to experience these feelings when you are going through change. Your biology is designed and programmed to maintain the status quo. The scientific jargon for that is homeostasis- keeping things the same. It is partly what drives habits and why they are so hard to change.

Change is threatening because it upsets the status quo. It takes time to settle into the new normal. And that transition period can be challenging to many. Think how conscientious you have to be to change a habit and how long it takes. But once you’ve crossed that bridge, you have a new status quo.

Loving the uncertainty

Some thrive in change and uncertainty. For them, THAT is normal and their preferred status quo. When things are stable and consistent, these people get stir crazy. For them, the challenge is routine.

So, if you are one of those people that thrives in volatile times then you are probably enjoying the creativity and opportunities presenting themselves. During instability, things are dynamic. It is an ideal time to create and lead. Those that thrive in that will play a large role in creating whatever the new normal is going to become.

Are you struggling with change?

What can you do if you fall into the earlier category of people? Like me, you might be experiencing anxiety, worry, tension, shallow breathing, finding it hard to sleep and struggling with the uncertainty. Financial worries, your health and the health of loved ones, unpredictability of work, isolation at home, how long will this last, what are the guidelines we are meant to follow and so on.  And that anxiety makes it hard to create and lead in a positive way.

Also, the feelings come in waves. You might not be worried all the time. But you’ll hear something or think of someone and that will get you going. Or you’ll fall asleep at night but wake up and find it hard to go back to sleep because your mind starts working. Perhaps the government changes its stance (which it seems to do daily) again and you are left reeling with apprehension and doubt. Or you’re getting conflicting advice as you try and find out what to do for the best.

So here are 5 tips to help you through these challenging times.

Limit your intake of news

It is easy to want to stay abreast of every twist and turn of news as it happens. Keeping the 24 hour news channel on all day is not going to do your well-being any good. It keeps you in a perpetual state of anxiety.

The internet has multiple opportunities to catch up with the news. From pop ups when you log in the e-mail to social media posts. Limit your intake. Personally, I watch one bout of news a day and that is it. I resist the temptations to click on links that will take me to breaking news on the internet. That scheduled 30-minute news blast is enough to keep me aware of developments.

Knowing that I have that planned towards the end of the day means I can get on with my day and not worry about missing something important. At the same time, it allows me time to remain positively focused. And that helps me control my fear and anxiety.

Create routines

In these uncertain times, certainty is a blessing. Set your alarm to wake up and have your morning routine. It’s all too easy to stay in your pyjamas all day when you’re working from home or self-isolating. Get showered, get dressed, have breakfast. You don’t have to do it like you would if you were at work. But whatever routine you decide on, make sure it works to keep you productive, creative and buoyant physically, mentally and emotionally.

Connect with friends and contact them at regular times.

Have your workouts timetabled. Joe Wicks has his online classes to follow. Yoga teachers are doing similar things (you can find some incredible examples at Yoga and Movement Classes). Join Gareth Malone’s online choir which happens every day at 530pm UK time or the Embodiment Circle Online which has multiple sessions of body-based meditation and mindful movement throughout the day. There are loads of different options online.

Routines can reduce uncertainty by giving you structure, focus and predictability. Giving you a strong foundation from which to tackle the uncertain things you have to face.

Stay active

Even with the lock downs that many areas are having, exercise outside is great to make you feel more resourced. Running, cycling, walking will help to make you physically, mentally and emotionally more resilient.

You don’t have to go out in public. You can exercise in the garden, in the house, on your roof (as long as it’s safe). Even regular sets of press ups, sit ups, squats or whatever exercises float your boat are a great way to stay active.

Why not take up something new? Use these usual and unprecedented circumstances to try online a yoga class, Rolfing Movement Integration sessions, Feldenkrais’ Awareness through Movement, Kettle Bells classes or anything that might be fun for you.

Keep your space tidy

When you are at home a lot, it is important to keep your living space tidy and well-organised, for your well-being and peace of mind.  It really helps to reduce anxiety when your space is clear, clean and well organised.

As best you can, limit where you work in your living space. And if you have to work on the dining room table or in the lounge, pack it all away at the end of the working day so that you have a clear separation between work life and home life.

Centring

And if you feel the stress and anxiety creeping in, in spite of these above measures, you can always centre.

In fact, I recommend centring throughout the day as a matter of habit. It has helped me immensely to regulate and manage my anxiety. And when specific situations occur that I find stressful, that centring process is well-engrained and I can tap into that resource whenever I need.

Centring is a quick win, easy access tool that allows you to manage your response to stressful situations and anxiety. Here is a video of me taking you through BODY Centring as an example.

 

 

What is there to appreciate about Coronavirus?

These 5 tips that I’ve shared are great stress- busting tools. My hope is that you will use them and as a result you’ll be able to step back from the brink of anxiety and fear. Instead, you’ll be able to relax and calm yourself a little so that you can be more creative, resourceful and solution-focused. So that you can come through this crisis having grown, learned and developed as an individual, a family or a business.

And, these tips are not limited to a Coronavirus pandemic. You can use them throughout your life. Whenever you feel anxious, worried or doubtful, these tips can help you do a U-turn on your stress-based way of thinking. In the calm, you’ll create by practising these tips, you’ll be better placed to create positive solutions.

In fact, if you use them regularly, they’ll help make you more resilient, so that you do not drop into that negative way of thinking. Over time, things that once stressed you no longer will. You’ll build greater momentum towards positivity and learn to manage yourself more skilfully when the going gets tough.

And one of the plus sides of the drastic measures governments are putting in place is that you have a long period in which to engrain these new habits. Start any of these tips now and within a few weeks, you will be doing them as a matter of course.

They are great for maintaining and sustaining well-being. If you are not using them now, pick at least one and start practising a new habit. By the time we get back to our new normal, that new habit will be firmly in place and you’ll be able to keep using it to maintain your well-being.

Over to you

Are you struggling to manage the daily changing landscape of our lives at this time? Do you worry about how you’re going to make your way through this?

Which one of these tips are you going to try out? Would you like some support or accountability? If so, reach out and I would be happy to offer help in that way.

Pass it on

In these times of isolation and disconnection, show someone you are thinking of them.  If you think they might be struggling with anxiety and worry, please forward these tips to them. Let them know you care and that they are not alone.

Do you find yourself putting off those jobs you do not want to do?  Does fear get in the way of doing those important jobs that would forward your career, grow your business or improve your relationships?  When fear and self-doubt rear their heads during these challenging times, what are you doing to manage the situation?  Stick your head in the sand?  Procrastinate?  Take action in fear, doubt and worry?

These are challenges I face daily.  And you do too, I imagine.  When I speak to clients, they have similar issues.  And I find myself wondering, “Is there a better way?”  When we are dominated by fear, doubt and worry, we live the resulting frustration and paralysis.  And while that fear is in the driver’s seat, in control of your life, that life is not going to change in a positive and significant way.

If we can learn to get that negativity out of the driver’s seat and replace it with positive, life-affirming thoughts, we will take confident and empowering action and change the landscape of our lives towards something more pleasing, pleasurable, fulfilling and meaningful.

As I contemplate the question, “Is there a better way?”, here are some thoughts that come to mind:

  1. Practice thinking feel-good thoughts.

If you are in the habit of thinking negative thoughts, you’ll think them more and more.  Have you noticed that when you wake up in the middle of the night and you start thinking negative thoughts, that those negative thoughts get stronger and faster?  Before you know it, a thought about an up-coming bill that needs paying turns into declaring bankruptcy and losing your house.  Most of those fear-based thoughts are just that- fear.  Your mind will work with that and create more of it, the more you practice.

Instead, practice thinking positive thoughts.  When you do, you’ll notice that you will think more positively, more of the time.  To start, it may well be a challenge, as you are re-wiring your mind and body to think differently.  You will feel the immediate benefit and it will take time for your biology to catch up for it to become a consistent habit.  So, practice, perseverance and patience are important.  These old patterns of thought are well-engrained.  Be purposeful and conscious about setting aside time through the day to practice positive thoughts.

The Power of Gratitude

Take time to think about how grateful and appreciative you are about anything in your life that you genuinely feel gratitude for: a tree in your garden or at the park; the sunset out your kitchen window or on the drive home; a dog gleefully running out on its walk with its owner; a kind gesture or comment; feeling good during or after a workout; pleasurable-feeling clothes; nice-tasting food.  Allow yourself to feel the feeling.  So often I have found myself thinking that this is a pleasurable experience rather than feeling the sensations of pleasure as a result of the experience. It’s a powerful distinction that has you directly connect to something rather than be removed and distant from it.

Don’t try to make yourself feel grateful for something you are not grateful for.  Make it genuine, authentic and legitimate.  Perhaps you’ll notice that feel-good feeling in your chest or you’ll break out in a smile.  Or maybe you’ll laugh or get a buzz of excitement through your body.  This is your body resonating with the positive thoughts you are consciously choosing to have.  It is a purposeful process, that changes your biology to create feel-good chemicals.  Over time this has a profoundly positive effect on your well-being.  In the moment, you feel great, or content, or elated, or happy or satisfied.

You can do this at the beginning of the day, in anticipation for the day ahead.  Or, you can do it at the end of the day and think back at what the day brought, for which you are grateful.  Either way you’re practising feel-good thoughts.  Another method is to take a moment before or after a meal, meeting, journey or some such part of your day and take time to be appreciative of it.  This is similar to Abraham Hicks’ Segment Intending (really good YouTube video here) that can so powerfully influence how you move through the world.  Whichever method you use, you are taking a moment to pause and decide to be grateful and appreciative for the moments ahead.

  1. Do not practice negative thoughts.

Sometimes, negative or anxious thoughts are so powerful, you cannot think yourself out of them.  Like waking up in the middle of the night, if those thoughts get too negative and too fast, you are better off doing something completely different to distract yourself.  Perhaps you need to make some prospecting calls and you are working yourself up into tizz about it or;  you have a report to finish and your mind is too preoccupied with worry or; you’re in the middle of a disagreement with your partner or kids and you are too angry to think straight.

Take a break.  Go for a walk.  Sleep on it.  Go for a workout.  Create some distance and distract yourself from your emotional reaction which is not serving you well in this situation.  Give your biology a chance to get back to balance and then try to re-assert a positive mindset about it (as we discussed above).

Even if it feels like you’ve got to make that call, have that meeting or complete that conversation, it’s probably going to do more harm than good if you do so when you are anxious, worried, stressed or angry.  Do something to take your mind off it and come back to it later with a fresh perspective.  Have you noticed how different you feel about a situation once you have some distance from it?  I’m not saying don’t do that thing.  I’m suggesting you do all you can to be in the best head space when you do it.

Turning the doubt and fear around

And some days you may find that you have climbed out of bed on the wrong side and nothing you do is going to shift that negative or abrasive mood.  Let it go.  Don’t make the calls, avoid having those important conversations and don’t make any important decisions about your business or life if you can avoid it.  You may feel you are being lazy or should have your sh*t together.  The reality is, some days we are not at our best and tomorrow, or the day after, will be a better day.  As the saying goes, to build a reputation takes years, to ruin it takes seconds.  Give yourself a break and have some compassion.

At any time you notice you are having negative thoughts, gently changing your tack can move your thoughts towards something more positive.  For example, I wanted to make a prospecting call to a long-standing client.  On that day, I was making up that he was busy, that he wouldn’t want to talk to me, that I would not be able to speak with confidence and in a professional manner.

So, I turned it around.  I went for a walk and had a conversation with myself.  “He’s always been friendly before.  If he’s busy he won’t pick up so don’t worry about that.  We enjoy each other’s company.  I’m offering a great service, my service has been of benefit before.  I know he is keen to take me on for further business, I am always professional and courteous when I feel confident and so on.”  By the time I got back from the walk, I was feeling far more positive to make the call.  I felt nervous as I dialled which faded away as we began to chat and talk business.

  1. If you can’t do it, get someone else to do it

If you don’t want to do something, delegate it to someone else.  Or, if someone is doing a task they love, they will do a much better job than you, if you dislike doing it.  Rather than make prospecting calls, which I dislike doing and frankly find distressing (you might have guessed from my example above!!!!), I hire a professional to do it for me.  I also hire a copy writer and a graphic designer.  They’re better at it than I am and will do it in a fraction of the time.  It stops me being a block to my business’ growth.

If you have a gap in your knowledge about something, fill the gap by reading a book, asking for some advice or going on a course about it.  Skill up.  Your growth is the key to your business’ success as well as your life success.  And you might discover talents you did not know were there.  I can learn how to build a website.  But frankly that is not my forte and I’m better off giving that task to someone else.  Alternatively, learning to cook has been a wonderful new avenue into creative cuisine and maintaining a healthier and more balanced diet.

I sucked at Tango, so I’ve put that to bed, and as a result, I have a greater appreciation for Tango dancers and dancing in general.  Being organised is a skill I have taken out of the closet.  Since I abandoned my career in science, I thought I could leave organisation and being systematic could go out the window.  It turns out it’s a skill that can be applied to all kinds of life situations (surprise, surprise!!).  So now I find myself being a little anal about accounts and e-mail boxes, bookshelves and kitchen cupboards.

And having those difficult conversations, once so hard to do, are easier, now that I have learned better how to communicate, listen and pay attention to my feelings and empathy for others’.

Over to You

So, in summary, I think there is a better way to manage ourselves when we are faced with those challenging situations that we want to put off, sweep under the carpet and feel too overwhelmed to face.  These three broad perspectives seem almost too easy and simple to be the answers to such challenges.  For a great many years, I believed there had to be something more complicated than this to overcome these life-limiting challenges.

And yet, stopping those negative thoughts and making a habit of having positive thoughts can be really hard to do.  Continually educating and improving yourself can also be tough.  As can passing the task to someone more capable and skilful at that task.  Yet, these are the only ways I have found to take on those jobs I don’t want to do and overcome the fear I have about them.  What do you do?  How do you get out of your own way on your journey to success?

Pass it on

Know people who stick their heads in the sand about important things?  Or people who get in their own way repeatedly?  Why not pass this blog on to them and give them a chance to feel more empowered?

What are you doing to celebrate this year’s International day of Love, that special day when we are meant to prioritise and honour our most intimate relationship with another?
And yet, the most intimate relationship you can have is with yourself. When do you celebrate that? How do you prioritise that intimate relationship with yourself? What special events do you create to let yourself know that you are loved and appreciated by you?
Just like a loving relationship with another, you don’t have to limit showing your affection to one day a year (see last year’s post on Valentine’s Day).  Show yourself as often as you can how much you love you.  Here are some things you can do to show yourself how special you are.  You might do it on Valentine’s Day, but you could do it throughout the year and celebrate that most intimate of relationships- the one with yourself.

Date Night

When was the last time you went on a date with yourself? Have you ever had a treat for yourself? Don’t you deserve that special time? Time away from your spouse, kids, family and friends just to be with yourself. It could be a walk alone. And it might be a weekend break in a five star hotel in New York or deep in nature. Or it could be night in.
Whatever lights you up that shows you that you care about you. You appreciate how hard you work and the effort you make. And even without that, you are worthy of some special care, affection and joy.  Why not take some time out and do something that you love for you. That might involve others. Or not. What’s important is that you recognise that you are doing it for you.
Because you are worth it.

Self-care

Make time to show yourself how much you care

I listen to people tell me how they bully themselves into working longer hours, getting up earlier, going to bed later, driving themselves at the desk and the gym regardless of how they might be feeling. As if to listen to your body when it is tired or in need of a break is a weakness. And then it is no wonder you get knocked sideways by a cold or backache that has you in bed for a week. Or a more serious medical condition.

Self-care is perhaps the most loving thing you can do for yourself. You would care for another. Why would you not care for yourself?
One of the toughest lessons I have learned has been self-care.  I used to drive myself all the time and all it did was satisfy my sense of taking action…… and make me exhausted, irritable and not much fun to be around.  I had to relearn that the relaxing bathes at the end of the day, a sleep-in when I feel I need it, a walk in the fresh air as a break, a two week holiday (or more), healthy food, a good film, time with friends, nice-feeling clothes, a treat day alone or with a special someone were important for my well-being and actually increased my capacity to work and LIVE well. These are all events you can make time for to show yourself that you care.

Fun

Games and fun are not something you can do as a kid or with kids. Sure, you can make life all serious. But if you can find a way to enjoy what you do, have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself, life becomes enriched and more rewarding. And don’t you have more fun with the people in your life you love most?
It is a rejuvenating thing to have have fun with friends and family, but when did you have fun or pleasure on your lonesome? When did you last go for a walk alone for pleasure? Or a cycle or drive? If there was a film you wanted to see but no one else did, did you go alone and enjoy it? Or the pleasure of reading, listening to audiobooks or music. Cooking alone, gardening, making or building things. Or just dancing your heart out alone in your living room when you were in the house on your own?
Fun helps to build that love affair with yourself, just as it does with another person. Invest that time in whatever way you enjoy and see how your love blossoms.

Celebration

When was the last time you celebrated a win? We are not encouraged to celebrate our successes. Is it arrogance? Self-indulgence? Once we have achieved something we will often just move on to the next thing. We might reflect on it to consider what we could have done better. There is benefit from that and great learning. Less likely is a conscious celebration of a job well done. There is great learning in that too.
Try it. The next task you perform, be it as mundane as the dishes, celebrate whatever you did that you are proud of or pleased with. If you need something bigger, celebrate your contribution to a project. What did you do well? What comfort zones did you step out of or challenges did you overcome? Are you pleased how you responded to this person or that conflict? Did you surprise yourself with your leadership, presence, confidence, humility, patience, drive, insight, support. Did you get it in on time or early? Can you celebrate your perseverance?
Whatever you celebrate, take time to savour it. Let that good feeling linger. Perhaps do your celebration dance and reward yourself with a treat- what will make you feel good and valued by you for the effort and hard work you dedicate yourself to?

Gratitude and Appreciation

So often, we are driven by our inner critic. As humans we seem to have learned that chastising ourselves is a way to get better results out of ourselves. To me this seems like a cruel regime that would be better approached with kindness, care and love.
A few years ago when my inner critic was rampant, I started with a gratitude journal. Every night I would write, or simply think, what I appreciated about my day: the kindness of people, the sun, nice food, a pleasant walk or cycle, particular people in my life. I struggled to get five in the list. But soon it grew to 10 and then 20 as I began more and more to see what I was grateful for. And then I had a further breakthrough………. I added myself to the list!!!! I appreciated the effort I made, how I tried and never gave up and so on.
That gratitude diary changed my relationship with myself as I learned to see myself with pleasure, respect, appreciation and even awe. I have developed a love for myself. Not in a narcissistic way. Rather in a manner that I am a cheerleader and advocate for myself. Some days are better than others and I just stick to the list of five. More often than not it is much more than that.

Coaching

One of the most loving things you can do is speak to another about what is most important to you.  To have a meaningful conversation in which you feel heard, seen and supported in a non-judgemental way.  Where there are no holds barred and you are open so that you can benefit from your truth and vulnerability.
Friends, family and colleagues can be a place to do that.  But sometimes it is not always appropriate and people close to you have all kinds of involvements and stakes in your life that can make it challenging to be non-judgemental and listen without assumptions or prejudice.  Sometimes you need a dedicated person, time and space to speak freely.  A client recently said that coaching was “me time”. A place to think, talk and plan. It is also a space to learn, reflect, challenge and grow. Don’t you deserve that too?
Coaching is great for supporting you in living that beautiful quality of life you desire for yourself. Assigning that hour every week or so is sacred time to focus on what you want and need to make life better for you and those you share it with.
Sometimes that means standing up for what you believe in. Other times it requires you to say “no”. Sometimes you’ll see patterns and preferences that no longer serve you and hold you back from achieving your dreams. And you’ll cultivate resources that make you more confident, stronger, more focused and more compassionate with yourself.
All to say that you will live more fully the life you want and deserve. What a gift? You deserve to be fulfilled and live a life that feels like it has meaning and purpose. How would that be for a Valentine’s gift for yourself?

Over to You

How do you show yourself how much you care?  When do you make time to cultivate your relationship with yourself?  When was the last time you did something you really wanted to do?  How was it?  Are you craving some personal time and self-care?  What do you need to do to make that happen?  What excuses do you come up with to stop yourself?  How would life be different if you took time out to show some appreciation and gratitude for yourself?  I’d love to know what you are doing to show yourself how much you care about yourself.  Please share in the comments or if you prefer, you can e-mail me at david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk

Pass it on

Know someone in need of some self love?  Why not forward this blog to them to remind them how important it is to show yourself love.