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Is the Passion Gone in Your Career?

Is the Passion Gone in Your Career?

Is the passion gone in your career? Are you increasingly dissatisfied, unfulfilled or bored in your current role?

Everyone looks for work satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness in their own way. You may find a deep sense of serving and building close relationships with your clients or coworkers very fulfilling. Others may find the ability to be creative and generate new ideas is what lights them up at work.

For me, I love helping others achieve their goals and dreams. In my Human Resources career, that was the most fulfilling part.

Helping executives create a strategy and plan for their employees’ growth and development was my favorite part of HR. In a matter of months, this intentional and focused effort provided impressive results for employees: promotions, growth opportunities and improved career satisfaction, and much more.

Unfortunately, with new leadership things changed. Growth and development was no longer prioritized nor valued. I personally felt the passion disappear in my career.  

Now as a coach the passion is back. I get to do what I love 100% percent of the time.

Benefits of passion in your work

There are numerous benefits for having passion in the work you do.

Passion brings energy to your work: you wake up in the morning, more energized and refreshed knowing you get to go in and spend time doing what you love. The energy supports getting tasks done on time, even over delivering on your promised results.

Passion in your work also keeps you motivated. You’re willing to put in extra effort and hours but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The time flies by because you’re enjoying what you do.

You’re more engaged, creative, focused and since you love what you do you’re producing high-quality work and it shows.

You have a clear purpose and vision for what you do and where you’re heading.

Reasons why the passion is gone

I’ve experienced many of the following situations personally in my corporate career, and while working in Human Resources witnessed all of them play out throughout the organizations where I worked.

In most cases, the company would lose excellent employees who were no longer willing to accept these situations. In other cases, I saw employees remain in their jobs but become increasingly disengaged (employee engagement scores plummeted) because they felt powerless to improve their situation.

One reason leading to dissatisfaction in your career is being underpaid and overworked. That builds resentment and a feeling of not being valued. Even if you’re paid well, maybe you’re not valued as a person or the work you do isn’t valued in other ways.

Toxic work environments may be a cause for losing the passion in your career. Does your employer disregard your personal life and have no tolerance for your personal and family obligations?

Perhaps your immediate supervisor is unqualified for their job, or they have a tyrant workstyle. You have to watch every word you say and every move you make because there’s no support from that supervisor or others, and you can get fired for almost any reason. Regardless of how much you love your work, the toxic work environment is exhausting.

Having no visibility into the future at your organization or no confidence that your leaders will do the right thing, either from a business standpoint or ethically, can also lead to dissatisfaction.

And lastly, politics in your workplace and getting tired of dealing with it, is another reason people lose their passion for the work they once had. I heard it a lot “why can’t I just focus on the work without all these political distractions?”

Many of these reasons could be workplace specific, and people will leave their current employer having learned what they won’t tolerate. They could potentially find a better match and the passion returns.

Others may continue to feel “bored” after years of doing the same type of work. You may be achieving your business goals but is it truly satisfying work?

You may feel that something is missing from your life. That you’re just going through the motions at work without experiencing any real satisfaction from the successes you’re achieving.

Remember, your job doesn’t have to last forever. The days of working for one employer for 30+ years are long gone.

If you find yourself bored or miserable at work, even if it’s work you’re passionate about, a change of job or of profession, might be the solution for you.

However, it’s not always feasible to change your job, quit to start your own business or move somewhere new, even if your situation is undesirable. These are major changes that not everyone is up for.

Alternatively, you can stay in that same job, and do some work to attempt to improve things, starting with what your work means to you.

Look for the deeper meaning

Being passionate about work doesn’t necessarily mean it makes you happy but rather that it is meaningful. 

If the passion in your career is dwindling, look for the deeper meaning in what you do.

Why do you do what you do? How did you initially get into your current profession? Why is your work important to your organization and to others? How does your work affect you and affect others?

Answering questions like these will give you a better understanding of the meaning behind your work.

Act with intention: steps to take now

In addition to answering questions like those above, you can go deeper with answering additional questions like:

  • What’s your favorite part of your work day, work week and work year?
  • What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in last week?
  • What’s amazing about your team? About your coworkers? About your supervisor?
  • How can the tasks you do become more meaningful?
  • How can you change things so you get more of what’s important to you?

Then make small adjustments so that your work more directly reflects your beliefs, values and needs. You can also change the way you think about different aspects of your job to bring more fulfillment and satisfaction back.

This deeper self-reflection can be done on your own or you may find working with a coach a more effective process. A coach can help you find the bright spots in your work life and enlarge them. Together you’ll create more fulfillment by giving a deeper meaning to your projects, teams, work relationships and even the organization.

When you create a purposeful meaning for your work, you’ll find more happiness in your day to day activities as well as a greater satisfaction in your life overall.

 

Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

Is a Fear Mindset Causing Your Stress?

Is a Fear Mindset Causing Your Stress?

A fear mindset could be the main cause of your stress

Your mindset is how you think and what you believe about yourself and your environment. It plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges.

What you think determines what you believe, and what you believe influences what you experience in life. Thoughts shape your reality.

The ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu wrote: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

If a majority of your thoughts are fear-based, you’ve got a fear mindset. It could be thoughts and even statements (your words) about fear of rejection, fear of failure, or fear that you’re not enough.

This fear mindset saps your energy. It keeps you in the predictable and comfortable, preventing you from challenging yourself to achieve your full potential.

Fear is a normal emotion and has its function. It serves as your natural response to possible threats to your physical or emotional safety.

Unfortunately, in our modern world this response can be misused, overused or chronic. (See my previous blog called Letting Go of Fear.)

Too much fear causes stress. A fear mindset is contracting, and exemplified in chronic tension, struggle and hardship. This unhelpful energy is energy you could be investing in growth, in achieving your dreams and desires.

People often give up on what they want because they believe that reaching their goal is beyond their abilities. They continue living in fear and settle into their lives, thinking they shouldn’t try at all.

Fear is part of the fixed mindset

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes about the power of mindset. She states that success is influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

People with a fixed mindset – those who believe that abilities are fixed – are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset – those who believe that abilities can be learned and developed. Fear is part of this fixed mindset.

The most successful people have a growth mindset. They don’t freeze up or flee when fear shows up, they embrace it and leverage that fear into taking action. When faced with a setback, they try harder.

They keeping looking for solutions and trying new strategies. They adapt and grow.

What mindset do you have?

What are your predominant thoughts and actions? If they seem fear-based or fixed, there’s no need to worry. The best part about your mindset is that you can change it.

You can move from a fixed, fear mindset to a love-based, trust-based, growth mindset where you’re more likely to flourish. Trust and love drives out fear. They can’t exist at the same time.

Intentionally Expand and Grow – Take Action

Use one or more of these techniques to move from a fear mindset that’s causing your stress to a new mindset of trust and growth.

1. Watch your thoughts.

First off, pay attention to your thoughts and the words you use. Are you frequently telling yourself fearful or limiting things? Things like: “I’ll never be able to get that promotion, I’m not experienced enough.”; “I’m not smart enough to lead this project”; “What if I fail – will they fire me?”

2. Choose to adopt a new mindset. Change your limiting thoughts and beliefs.

Start by challenging your thoughts the next time you don’t do well on a task. For example, if your presentation at work didn’t go well, and you hear yourself thinking “I never do anything right”, “I’m not good at my job”, or “I’m such a failure”, stop and ask some prodding questions.

What is the evidence for and against your conclusion? You can create a list of all the times your presentations were successful and when you were great at your job in the past.

You could think of reasons why it didn’t go so well this time, rather than concluding you’re a failure. Did you get enough quality sleep?; did you plan and prepare enough?; are there other things going on in your life right now causing you to be off your game?

Answering these questions leads to the new mindset. Figure out what new beliefs are more supportive and adopt those beliefs. Your internal dialogue of “I’m such a failure” can change to “If I’m prepared and feeling well physically and emotionally, I’ll always succeed.”

Keep in mind, these new beliefs take their place alongside the old ones, and as they become stronger, they give you a different way to think, feel, and act.

3. See everything as an opportunity to grow and develop.

Another way to change your mindset is to see every situation and person you encounter as an opportunity for expansion and development. When challenging events happen, ask yourself: “How is this calling me to expand and grow?”, “What am I learning?”, or “How can I improve?”

This strategy works well if you have a demanding or controlling leader at work. You can switch the focus of being judged or criticized to how this is calling you to develop.

It could be as simple as witnessing their behavior and realizing you never want to treat others that way, or maybe it’s a challenge about developing a relationship with a difficult personality.

If you stay in a fear mindset, the stress of living every day in fear of disapproval or of doing something wrong can become toxic. You may become paralyzed from moving forward in attempt to protect yourself.

Changing your mindset to embrace the challenge and grow allows you to take back control in what feels like a powerless situation and live up to your potential.  

4. Use the word yet

Adding yet to your inner dialogue may be enough to change your beliefs about yourself and what you’re able to do. It helps with motivation too.

You can change:

  • “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this yet”;
  • “I’m not good at this” to “I’m not good at this yet”;
  • “This doesn’t work” to “This doesn’t work yet”.  

One last thing. Make sure after you change your thoughts you step into those new beliefs. Take an action step in that direction to support the new thought.

Changing the fear mindset that’s causing your stress will change your outcome and results. With a new mindset, you can transform your life and the lives of others.

 

Photo by Bram on Unsplash

Revealed: Why Having a Clear Purpose and Vision is Vital for Happiness

Revealed: Why Having a Clear Purpose and Vision is Vital for Happiness

Having a clear life purpose and vision is vital for your happiness.  

Many people, especially in the U.S., believe the only way to have what you want is to work hard and long. And that having what you want will bring you happiness.

I was under that misguided belief during my corporate career. Overworking, that led to chronic stress, was one of the main reasons that led to my health crisis and eventual change of careers (read more about that here).

Now as a coach and business owner, I still occasionally struggle with letting these limiting thoughts go. Thoughts like “Work is a priority above all other things”, “You’ll be seen as lazy and average if you don’t put in at least 8-10 hours a day”, or “You can’t be successful doing what you love, that’s what hobbies are for.”   

So how do you work smarter, not harder? Or love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work?

What do you do when things have changed, due to a job loss or health issue, that make the old way of living no longer possible? Or when there is a disconnect between the work role or personal role you fill and what you really desire for yourself?

You start with getting crystal clear about your purpose.

I’m a firm believer that everyone can benefit from life purpose work if you’re open to it and want to discover who you are at a deep level.

Your Life Purpose

Doing fulfilling work is a pipe dream for many people. It doesn’t have to be.

Purpose is intention. It’s defined as something set up with an end to be attained. Doing things on purpose is doing them intentionally. Life gets so much easier when you live on-purpose, doing things intentionally.

Wayne Dyer said it best: “When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist.”

Your life purpose is your calling. It’s the reason that gives meaning to your life. An example is the nurse whose life purpose is to work generously and live in service to care for the health and wellbeing of others.

Discovering your life purpose focuses the attention on “be-ing” who you are. When you focus on “be-ing”, you do what you want and you get what you need.

Your Vision and Mission

Don’t confuse your life purpose with your vision or mission.

Your vision is a specific, compelling image of the future that you hold for your life.

Once you have determined your purpose, a vision gives context to your purpose and aligns you to that future state. Our nurse’s vision is that all people in need are able to receive high quality medical care.   

Your mission is the particular way you choose to fulfill your purpose at a specific point in your life. Continuing with our nurse example, her mission as she approaches retirement is to create a non-profit organization so that nurses and other medical personnel are able to visit poor rural communities and provide healthcare to those in need.

The Benefits of Life Purpose Work

Life purpose has been an interesting and popular topic for years. Perhaps you’ve read the best seller The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren or some other book about life purpose, mission statements or personal fulfillment.

Each of us has a unique life purpose. When you know your purpose, you have stability and security in that knowledge. It brings a sense of peace.

Once you determine your life purpose, you have a clear direction to take when deciding on what actions to take. Your life purpose guides you and keeps you on course.

It also provides a sense of confidence in knowing you’re doing what’s right and best for you. Having a clear life purpose minimizes confusion about your motives and what things mean to you.

Your life has more meaning when you’re “be-ing” on purpose.

Your Next Step: Take Intentional Action

There’s a desire for more self-reflection and life purpose work when you reach a certain age, life stage or if you’re in the midst of a life transition. Major events in your life could include job loss, divorce, 15-20 years in your career, empty nest/children have left, death of a loved one, or approaching retirement.

You may be experiencing one or more of these, and the desire for clarity and purpose is growing for you.

Keep in mind, it’s not easy to discover your purpose and vision when your life is busy. This is deep work; it’s a process of getting to know yourself fully.

You’ll have to carve out the time and effort this will require. Get in a quiet place where you’ll be able to do the deep self-reflection this requires.

1. Start with discovering your life purpose. Work with a coach or do some self-study to determine what it is.

This can be done by examining your past experiences, like listing out the roles you’ve found most fulfilling in your life. Or talking about some of the things you’ve always loved doing throughout your life.

2. Then, go a step further and examine those answers to find bigger themes, commonalities, repetitive words and key phrases.

3. Next, create your own unique life purpose statement using those key words and phrases.

4. Lastly, confirm your purpose. Does it resonate with how you see yourself and your vision? Do you feel happy and excited when you review it? Do you feel connected to it at a deep level and have a desire to fulfill it?

Your life purpose statement could take weeks or months of reviewing and refining. If working with a coach, it could take up to 3 or more sessions of working deeply together.

Once you have it, remember it’s for your own personal use. It’s a tool to inspire and guide you. To be on-purpose. To live on-purpose. You don’t need to share your life purpose statement with anyone else.

Enjoy the process of discovering your life purpose and once you have it, you can create your vision and mission next.

 

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

What’s Draining Your Energy and What to Do About It

What’s Draining Your Energy and What to Do About It

Have you ever thought about what’s draining your energy and what to do about it?

In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, we react to things and don’t realize the negative impact until later. These energy drains can lead to all sorts of issues and keep you from a satisfying career and happy life.

You’re probably familiar with the typical energy drains: not enough sleep, not drinking enough water, little to no physical activity, too much TV or social media, not eating well. In addition, you may be struggling with habits, coping mechanisms, and other situations that have an impact on your energy levels and wellbeing.

When I worked in corporate, the pressure to perform was extreme and unfair. There was a lot of complaining and working in HR, I heard it from all directions. There wasn’t time to take a breath, step back and act with intention. Things felt out of control. Add in office politics, power plays and changing priorities, along with the latest fire to put out, it was the definition of an energy drain on steroids.

These perfect-storm situations suck the life out of you, are unproductive, and at times physically and mentally debilitating. It crushes your spirit, and your happiness.

The Little Things That Drain Your Energy

The little things that drain your energy are the things you just handle. They seem insignificant, or not worth giving much thought. Unfortunately, they add up over time.

You ignore them, or think they’ll get better on their own without making any kind of focused effort toward making it better. Typically, you don’t act until it gets so bad that you can’t stand it anymore.

For example, let’s say you have a messy desk, and your desktop and folders on your PC are disorganized too. These are the little things that keep you from finding things easily. When you have to spend extra time to find something, you get frustrated. Your work and how effective you are suffers as a result.

Other little things that drain your energy are unfinished work items like a project that you push aside for more urgent matters.

Unmade decisions, like hiring a new team member or buying a new mobile phone, pick away at your vitality too. Every time you think about how you haven’t made that decision, it robs you of your energy.

Clutter, in all its forms, drains your energy too. It could be a garage overflowing with unnecessary things you’ll never use again or the clutter in your head as you worry about things outside of your control.

One last thing that you might not realize is an energy drain is a toxic relationship you tolerate. These are the one-sided friendships or the negative friends that leave you drained after spending any amount of time with them.

Let’s say you plan to have an enjoyable lunch with a friend, and the entire conversation is all about her and her problems, all the negative things in the world and a rant about politics.

When you finally get a chance to share about you she’s on her phone or has to leave. It’s exhausting. These types of relationships are energy vampires – they suck all the life out of you and you leave feeling tired, numb and upset.

The Big Things That Drain Your Energy

The big things that drain your energy are the things you know are diminishing the quality of your life. You may accept them as normal, as I did when I brought work home to do in the evenings and weekends. Or tolerating a toxic work environment as if all companies would be the same.

These big things may stem from a habitual pattern you have, like taking things personally when they have nothing to do with you. That in turn leads to hurt feelings and strained relationships.

They may be the things you don’t know how to effectively deal with, like a demanding boss, a challenging relationship with your child or an aging parent who needs more time than you can give them. All draining your energy.

Remember that life is a journey and it’s meant to have positive and negative aspects. You don’t need to create suffering, there will be plenty of it naturally.

Your goal with small and big energy drains is to acknowledge they exist, accept what they’re costing you and then move beyond them.

Here’s a 3 step process to intentionally address how to do this.

Take Intentional Action

1. Make a short list of the energy drains, or obstacles, getting in your way of being satisfied and happy – include 5 from work and 5 from home.

2. Next, ask yourself what each of these items is costing you and write that down. It could be loss of time, exhaustion, inconvenience, frustration, loss of health or wellbeing, strained relationships, or missed opportunities.

For example, your closet is a disaster and every morning it takes way too long to find the clothes you want to wear, usually making you late and frustrated (cost = frustration, being late, anger).

Or you haven’t decided to start looking for another job yet despite thinking about it for months given the current climate at your workplace. It’s causing you stress every time you think about it or when you see colleagues taking action to benefit their careers. The cost here is the negative impact of stress on your health and wellbeing, plus loss of quality sleep since it’s been keeping you up at night too.  

3. Lastly, find ways to eliminate, minimize or manage these obstacles. Start off with an easy one, like plan two hours to clean out and organize your closet or garage this weekend. Or commit to updating your resume one evening this week. Click here for help with getting organized.

Delegation works well too. If your energy drain is finding the time to keep a clean home, delegate it by hiring someone else to clean it.

Some of these obstacles could be intentionally delayed. For example, if you need to buy a new computer you can put a day in your calendar for three weeks from now to start the research and shopping, when you’ll have more free time on the weekends.

When you eliminate an obstacle, you’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted when you make that decision. It could be as simple as refusing to spend time with any energy vampires or others that don’t treat you well. Or deciding to not participate in any workplace gossip or drama is another empowering and energizing step.

Keep working your list until you’ve moved beyond all your obstacles that are draining your energy. At any point in the future, redo this process to ensure you’re keeping your energy and wellbeing at optimal levels.

 

 

Photo by Twins Fisch on Unsplash

The Greatest Advice Ever – Do What’s Best for You

The Greatest Advice Ever – Do What’s Best for You

Here’s the greatest advice ever – do what’s best for you.

Especially now as many parts of the world are slowly opening back up following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here in the U.S. we’re at the beginning stages and it’s bringing on another set of decision making and coping skills.

Some people are acting like nothing’s changed and have jumped right into the deep end of the pool. They are going to restaurants (if open and permissible), to the beach or to other crowded places, like bars. They wear no masks and aren’t concerned with staying 6 feet apart or washing their hands frequently.

Others are optimistically cautious and dipping their toe in, venturing out to a store for the first time in weeks, sometimes months. Proud of themselves that they are taking this big step.

They wear masks and gloves and do all the right things – staying 6 feet apart, minimizing exposure by shopping alone, going through the self-checkout and getting what they need and leaving as quickly as possible.
It feels best for them.

We’ve got more decisions to make now. There’s a constant push and pull of going too fast and not going fast enough.

Occasionally there’s pressure to socialize before you’re ready. Here’s an example: an acquaintance invited you to a 50th birthday party, where you can drive by in your car or venture into the driveway to celebrate (there are lots of creative social distancing party ideas here). Do you go? What will she think if you don’t participate? You may think, I barely know her, why is she inviting all these Facebook friends like me to do this at a time like this?

You may be conflicted when your neighbors ask you over for wine or dinner, yet you know they’ve been shopping every day for weeks just to get out of the house, ignoring the stay at home order. Are they carrying the virus? Will it be safe to be so close even for an hour or two? Even if you stay outside and 6 feet apart?

Or maybe you have a friend who wants to visit you after visiting her son who works in a healthcare facility where they’ve had cases of COVID-19. Do you visit with her outside only? What if she needs to use the bathroom during the visit – is that safe? How will that work?

Sometimes it’s a fine balance between wanting to please others, wanting to enjoy yourself (you miss socializing), and doing what you know is best for you.

Do What’s Best for You

The greatest advice during these times is to do what’s best for you.

Whether or not you’re in a high risk group for getting sick (or living with someone that is), you must do what makes you comfortable and don’t let pressure from others, self-doubt or feeling bad for saying no prevent you from taking care of yourself first.

No one is going to watch out for you so you must do what’s right for you – no matter what. It is that important.

Even if it’s hard to say no. Even if the whole neighborhood is gathering in street for a social distancing party and you don’t feel comfortable being around neighbors who you know have had visitors and service people in and out of their homes recently.

Trust Yourself

Learning to trust yourself and your decisions is a skillset worth cultivating. It gets easier with time and practice.

Paying attention to your body’s signals is one way to build your intuition. Some people call it a gut feeling; they may feel a tightness or knot in their gut when something doesn’t feel right for them. It’s their signal to say no.

Others really pay attention to their emotions and get curious. For example, maybe you’re feeling excited but also scared when your hair stylist calls now that she’s reopened and has an open spot for you.

You’re conflicted about going to get your haircut and colored – you know you’ll look and feel better, but how safe will you be?

You want to support your stylist who hasn’t been working in almost 2 months which makes you feel connected and supportive, yet you’re not willing to being in a confined space with her for 2 hours. The fear enters again.

Realize it’s perfectly normal to feel conflicted, and trust that you’ll make the best decision for yourself. Perhaps you followed the advice here about trusting your body’s signals (feelings and emotions), and decide to get your haircut but schedule it for 3 weeks from now.

That way, you figure your stylist has some time to work the kinks out and adjust to how she can best keep her customers safe. That helps reduce the fear you were feeling.

At the same time, you’ll be supporting her business and feeling excited about finally getting your hair done. The choice is still yours but you’re doing it on your terms, aligned to making you feel safe, connected and supportive.

Take Intentional Action

The next time you feel conflicted about how to proceed, follow the two steps here to get back to a centered place and do what’s best for you.

1. Slow down and notice that this decision is causing conflict in you; becoming aware is key.

As humans, many times we’re in automatic mode and don’t take the time to slow down. We react quickly without much thought.

This fast-paced world we live in doesn’t help. Taking a few deep breaths and intentionally slowing down does help.

And don’t be afraid to delay your decision – letting someone know you’ll get back to them tomorrow, and then sticking to that agreement, is very empowering. Saying “Let me sleep on it and get back to you tomorrow” works well.

2. Take responsibility and act in a way that’s aligned to what is best for you. Realizing that you are the creator, not the victim, of your life is a great core belief to have. In other words, you GET to decide, what a privilege.

And being clear about what’s best for you before you act is important. Build your instinctual power by practicing it on a regular basis.

A great time to get clarity for me is during or right after meditating. For most decisions, I spend a few minutes slowing down, getting centered and then trusting my instinct and decision. But for bigger choices or ones that I still feel confused about, during or after meditation the following morning is the solution.

So remember, always do what’s best for you. You’ll feel better, make better decisions and have more control as you continue to navigate the uncertainty in this journey ahead.

 

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

How to be Hopeful When There’s Not Much Hope

How to be Hopeful When There’s Not Much Hope

How do you feel hopeful when so much in the world is uncertain? At times, it can seem like there’s no hope.

Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.

How can you expect a positive outcome or make plans when things are beyond your control? I’m sure you’ve heard about people who had to change their plans due to COVID-19. Big plans. Big events. Things like weddings, vacations, graduations, anniversary parties, and other celebrations. All delayed, or even cancelled entirely.

There are many ways to find your way back to hope, below are just a few with specific action steps at the end.

Realize you get to choose

When events seem out of your control, do you choose to be hopeful? You can choose:

  • to be hopeful that our leaders will guide us properly during the upcoming weeks and months of opening our environments up again.
  • to be hopeful that the economy and your 401K balance will come back as it typically does during these cyclical times.
  • to be hopeful that you and your loved ones will continue to stay healthy and safe by taking the right precautions and following good advice and practices to stay safe.

When you take responsibility for your feelings and choose how you want to feel about a circumstance, you become empowered.

It doesn’t matter if that circumstance is within your control or not. You may not be able to affect the outcome, but you can affect the way you think and feel about it.

Modify your expectations

We set ourselves up for frustration and disappointment when our expectations are unrealistic and set too high. Or if we cling to the same expectations when current circumstances are calling for them to be changed.

What are your expectations for your 2020 goals? Now might be a good time to reevaluate where they are in light of the pandemic and modify your expectations for achieving them.

A business owner friend expected to double her sales this year and was on target in January and February, and then her business was forced to shutdown. She’s turned to plan B and plan C to bring income in, and has modified her expectations for the remainder of this year to minimize further disappointment.

Find the silver lining

Look for meaning in the most challenging of situations. It brings a sense of peace and satisfaction, even if the meaning is simply learning something new.

For example, if working from home is new and challenging for you, the deeper meaning could be viewed as an opportunity to work on a skillset you’re developing, like patience, perseverance or how to handle change.  

There are so many silver linings with the global pandemic. You can look for examples and find them every day.

I see neighbors being more neighborly and taking the time to get to know each other better, and support each other when in need. Even though we’re social distancing, I see more connection – and deeper connections – via phone calls and webmeetings. Friends and relatives are checking in on each other, even ones who haven’t spoken in years.

There’s less traffic, less air pollution, more empathy and more willingness to help others – so much good from this “slow down” that’s been forced upon us.

Take Purposeful Action

Hope is something you can create. I encourage you to take what you’ve learned above and act. Here are 5 steps to follow to be hopeful when there’s not much hope:

1. Notice the feeling of hopelessness; become aware of it. Awareness is powerful in itself. Pay attention to your feelings or thoughts that may be causing hopelessness.

2. Pause & breathe. It may help to think or say aloud “I’m going to pause right now and take a few deep breaths”, then take 3 or 4 deep diaphragmatic breaths to calm your nervous system.  

3. Get curious. Don’t try to stop or shut down the feeling. Sit with it and get curious about it. Ask yourself questions like, what’s causing me to feel this way? Could this be some other feeling instead? Am I physically run down and that’s impacting my mood and feelings?

4. Decide to take responsibility. Accept and trust that your life is exactly that, YOUR life. You create your experiences and can choose what kind of experiences they are. And if you desire, you can change what you’re experiencing at any point.   

5. Act: choose a better feeling thought and then take a small action in that same direction. For example, choose to appreciate the positive in your life: like being grateful that you’re still healthy, and then go take a quick walk around your neighborhood, enjoying the weather and fresh air.

You may not be able to control a lot these days. Uncertainty is at unprecedented levels. But you can dismiss the victim mindset, and instead control how you think and feel about certain things.

Hopelessness, and the inevitable suffering from it, is optional. Remember, you have a choice to be hopeful when there’s not much hope.

 

 

Photo by Rose Erkul on Unsplash

Make Groups a Priority for More Success in Your Life

Make Groups a Priority for More Success in Your Life

Groups are beneficial in many ways. There’s nothing like physical and social distancing to make you realize how important connection is for us humans.

It’s become clear to me recently how much of a positive impact groups can have. I’ve experienced it recently and have seen numerous examples of the strength and potential power that being part of a group provides.

Here are a few reasons why you need to make groups a priority for attracting more success in your life. If you’re interested in fast-tracking results and benefiting from groups, I’ve also included strategic action steps at the end to help you.

Synergy in Groups

Groups create synergy. It’s not just about strength in numbers, it’s about the interaction of 2 or more people who come together with a shared purpose, goal, or interest. This combined effect is greater than the sum of any separate effects.

You can expect to see enhanced results and quantum leaps in outcomes – they’re bigger and better in groups than if you’re attempting it alone.

I belong to a group for women business owners. We have a weekly practice we do individually on Sundays where you take time to celebrate your past week’s efforts, note any challenges, and put focus on your top 3 priorities for the upcoming week. These items and a few other things are all written down onto a sheet.

Recently we’ve been meeting online as a group, and completing our individual sheets together, and then breaking out into groups of 3 to share what we’ve written.

The synergy from this group practice is noticed by all. People have been doing the same exercise on their own for months, even years, and now comment about how the group practice adds depth, provides more clarity and the sharing allows other ideas and advice to be added for greater results.

Sense of Community

Groups provide a deep sense of community. They help people feel connected and aligned to a common interest or goal.

When you’re feeling connected you feel warm, happy and positive, and realize that you are part of something bigger than yourself.

And when you are aligned to a common interest or goal, your individual effort and contribution adds to the overall effort and output of the group. You feel accepted and validated, and are capable of so much more than if you were struggling on your own.

Groups that volunteer for a specific cause, like building a community park, and spiritual / religious groups are great examples of how groups provide that sense of community.

Personal Growth and Development

Groups help you grow and develop. Not only can you learn more about specific subjects, you learn about different viewpoints, how to interact with others, and more about yourself, like what motivates you or what bores you.

These soft skills help you in your professional development too, as they easily translate to your relationship and team building skills in the workplace.

I learned a tremendous amount about gardening after creating, from scratch, a beautifully landscaped backyard garden full of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Last year I joined a local gardening group where I can share what I’ve learned over the past 12 years.

I’m also learning new things about vegetable gardening, native plants and even hydroponics. The group members share a common interest, and help each other grow and develop into even better gardeners by sharing seeds and plants, offering advice on getting rid of pests, and connecting for group field trips to local gardens.

We’ve recently met online which was great because members were able to walk around their homes and gardens and show off all their hard work. It was entertaining and helpful, and we may even continue online meetings on a regular basis, even after we go back to meeting in person (#thanksCOVID).

Take Purposeful Action: Make Groups a Priority

Let’s get strategic and purposeful now.

Evaluate any groups of which you’re currently a member. When is the last time you participated in a meeting or event? If you’ve been missing meetings re-evaluate whether it’s really the right group for you. Has it changed since you first joined it?  Is it aligned with your goals or interests? Give it another chance and see if it’s still a good fit. If not, leave the group to make room for a new group that is.

Find new groups to join, and make sure they’re ones that are aligned with your values, interests and goals. Meetup.com is a good place to find others with similar interests. There are groups related to hobbies (reading, hiking, photography), social groups (dog walking, day trips, travel), business-related professional groups (networking, business learning, industry groups like HR professionals) and other interests.

You can also do a LinkedIn or Google search to find any industry groups or online meetings that match your interests.

I run a local networking group for professional women. It meets online now, but typically meets in person at a coffee shop to network, learn, and support each other.

I encourage you to find the best groups for you (or start your own group), make participating in them a priority, and pay attention to the benefits and results you’re receiving as a benefit.

Is there 1 group you are part of that you can’t live without? What is it and how has it helped you have more success in your life?  Please let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

Why Everyone Needs Meditation

Why Everyone Needs Meditation

Everyone needs meditation, and this recent example is why.

Something felt off. I overslept the past two days due to poor quality sleep (seasonal allergies + a muscle pull in my neck) and I missed my morning meditation. I figured I’d have to time to get it in later in the day, but that didn’t happen.

Now that I reflect back on it, I felt less clear headed and energetic throughout these days. Was it the poor sleep, or missing my meditation practice? Most likely a combination of the two.

So this morning, I was determined to get back into my daily routine. I know from experience that meditation is a game changer for people.

I recommend it to all my clients and I’ve seen the phenomenal results that come from meditating regularly.

Personally, after two days of missing my meditation, it felt like coming home this morning. No racing thoughts, but instead peace of mind, tranquility, stillness, clarity – all the things that put a smile on my face during and after my practice.

I was floating afterwards and in a high energy, happy mood. So much so that my 14 year old dog picked up on it. This dog who now sleeps about 90% of the time, grabbed his toy and started chasing me around the house, poking me with his toy to get me to chase him back.

Our pets know energy better than we do, and he certainly was picking up on my high energy and was loving it.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has been around for thousands of years and has numerous benefits. It triggers your body’s relaxation response to reduce stress and anxiety, lengthens your attention span, and is highly beneficial to your emotional wellbeing and for people struggling with addictive behaviors.

Meditation also increases self-awareness and emotional intelligence, two very important traits for professionals and leaders to help with relationships in the workplace and at home.

I was encouraged to start a meditation practice by numerous experts during a health crisis years ago. The root cause of my illness was eventually determined to be work-related stress.

I only wish I took that advice to meditate regularly sooner, I may not have suffered as long. If you experience a lot of stress or have unresolved health related issues, read more about the impact of stress and why you should care here.

A simple practice of a few minutes of meditating per day or in particular situation (before or after) can bring you a sense of calm during stress or help center and ground you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I know meditation on a regular basis works, I personally don’t need scientific proof to experience something and realize the benefits directly.

However, if scientific confirmation helps others become more open to the concept of meditation and gets them to start practicing it, then by all means, keep the research going.

There are plenty of scientific studies reporting that meditation helps relieve anxiety and depression, improve focus and attention, increase concentration, and improve overall psychological well-being.

Meditation has also been shown to produce favorable changes in the brain. In this Forbes article, 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain, several studies are cited showing how meditation preserves the aging brain, reduces activity in the “Me Center” or “monkey mind”, changes key areas of the brain that support learning and memory, improves concentration and attention, and reduces anxiety.

Are you convinced yet that everyone needs to meditate?

Take Purposeful Action: Start a Daily Practice

If you’re not mediating now, start a daily practice. If you don’t think you have time for it, start off with a 1 – 5 minute practice first thing in the morning.

Keep it simple. Find a space where you won’t be disturbed and sit comfortably.

Set a timer: I like the Insight Timer app available for iOS and Android.

Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. It may help to count your breaths (inhale: 1, 2, 3, 4, exhale: 1, 2, 3, 4).

As thoughts arise, observe them without judging, and let them go.

Try smiling to support a feeling of inner calm and joy. It gets easier with continued practice and when you start seeing the benefits.

After some regular practice and when you feel ready, slowly increase the time you meditate. If you start with 5 minutes per day, increase it to 6 or 7 minutes after a couple of weeks. You’ll know when you’re ready.

Some additional tips: play soft music to help you get in a relaxed mood, write down how you feel before and after, and if you keep a journal write directly after meditation. You may be pleasantly surprised by the content.

Lastly, if you feel fidgety or tense while meditating remind yourself that it’s a normal part of the process and a great reason to continue. Over time you’ll find that getting into a relaxed state comes easily and quickly.

Next thing you know, you’ll be buying a “heavily meditated” t-shirt to wear proudly in public.

Take Purposeful Action (For Current Meditators): Try Something New

If you already have a daily meditation practice, I’m sure you see its value and don’t need me to tell you to continue it.

I do want to encourage you to change it up or enhance your daily practice by adding different types of meditation every so often, like once a month or once every few weeks.

You can try a guided meditation on YouTube or one of the meditation apps, a mindfulness meditation, a group meditation experience, or a walking meditation.

Here’s one to try this weekend. Take a walk in a wooded area or other peaceful place out in nature for a walking meditation.

While walking, get centered and grounded by paying attention to your feet as they move, the strength in your legs, and the air easily flowing into and out of your lungs.

Then, bring your focus to all the beautiful things that surround you. Notice the birds, butterflies, and other wild life. Pay attention to the trees, the wind moving the leaves, and the warmth of the sun on your skin.

Be present with the whole experience. Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, no listening to music, books or podcasts during this walking meditation, and put your phone on do not disturb mode if it’s with you.

In the comments below, share the one benefit you want most from your daily meditation practice? Or, if you already meditate regularly, what’s the best benefit you’ve gotten from it? Please share to encourage others.

 

 

Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash

Letting Go of Fear

Letting Go of Fear

Becoming skilled at letting go of fear is a powerful step in creating a happier and healthier life. What you may not realize is that fear, like all your emotions, is under your control.

With the proper techniques and practices you can get really good at managing unhelpful emotions and experiencing more positive, helpful ones.

These days many of us are being forced to let go of things due to social distancing and other measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

This sense of uncertainty can bring up fear: when will stores and restaurants open up, when will I be able to go back to working in an office, how will this all work so that we stay safe and healthy? There’s no shortage of fear and uncomfortable feelings.

You can let go of negativity around a current situation and focus on positives, and address the fear when it gets to be too much.

Why let go of fear

Fear is your body’s signal alerting you to danger, or what is known as the fight or flight response. However, when you’re not being chased by a tiger or in some other life threatening situation, and that situation is not under your direct control, it’s not helpful.

Fear produces cortisol and a stress response in the body, and if it occurs too frequently (chronic stress), it can lead to health issues and negatively impact your emotional wellbeing.

We often don’t realize how long-held thought patterns and emotions that no longer serve us prevent us from moving forward. Feeling the fear and letting it go helps you move forward and closer to achieving your goals and dreams.

It may be challenging to let go of what you once cherished or feel pressured by others to hold on to, or that you’re accustomed to. But the more you let go, the more space you create for new opportunities and people to come into your life, and the easier it becomes to address future fear or other unhelpful emotions.

Strategic action you can take

Try these 3 steps the next time fear is taking its hold on you.

1 Notice the fear. Become aware of when it comes up – awareness is a powerful tool. Appreciate that this feeling is totally normal. Your mind is trying to resolve what it perceives as “unsafe” to your survival.

2. Be with that feeling. Don’t try to fix it or get rid of it. Take a pause and as your notice it, see where it appears in your body. Maybe it’s a tight feeling in your gut/stomach, or in your chest. Some people say it feels hot, or heavy, or that it has a shape to it. Be curious, and appreciate that it’s there.

3. Let your body do its thing and process it. As long as you don’t attach any more energy to this feeling by creating a story around it and making it more than it is, the feeling will usually dissipate on its own in less than 90 seconds. Remember: notice it, be curious, and see if it’s changing as you stay present with that feeling.

You can do some breathing exercises or body movement to match the energy of that feeling. For example, if it’s a tightness or heaviness in your chest area, take a few deep inhales and imagine the oxygen going directly to that tightness or heaviness. Typically, you’ll begin to feel a shift of energy, and you may notice a lighter feeling or opening of that area.

One of my most scary times

A few years ago I was driving on one of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the world, the Hana Highway in Maui (read more here).

It is a 60+ mile curvy road full of over 600 hairpin turns, many of them blind turns (click to take a virtual drive). There are over 50 one-lane bridges and the trip is full of twists, with the road not wide enough for two cars in many places.

As you can imagine, the fear of driving this road consumed me. The trip takes 2.5-3 hours to drive straight through, for roughly 60 miles!

As far as working through the fear, I had no problem noticing it (step 1). I felt it for weeks. But I couldn’t let it cause me to freeze while driving.

So I felt it, and noticed where it was in my body (tightness from my stomach up to my chest) and felt how strong it was, especially during especially scary parts of the drive (step 2).

Then, I let my body do what it was meant to do, process it (step 3). Lots of calming breathing exercises helped.

I also matched that feeling of fear with singing and praying – loudly – to match the energy of that fear. Especially on those blind hairpin turns, when I had no idea if I would have a car coming right at me when I got around the corner. I also proactively forced a huge smile on my face and appreciated the beauty of the ocean and waterfalls and flowers.

I survived the Hana Highway, and hope this story helps you the next time you’re feeling fear.

Review and practice the above steps with fear, or any unhelpful emotion, and see how things begin to improve.  

 

Photo by Mazhar Zandsalimi on Unsplash

Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

“I’ve been completely off my morning meditation routine for the last 3 weeks. The stress about this pandemic has gotten to me.”

“My health goals are so hard to stick to now.”

“I struggle so much with a lack of willpower to get anything done, especially with the pandemic and kids home and emotionally feeling off.”

“I’m having a hard time sticking to my exercise routine. I blame it on this COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I was doing so well before the pandemic, and now I’m not.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

We are living in unprecedented times. You can’t ignore the stress and uncertainty that is part of your daily life right now.

Even going to the grocery store can turn into a traumatic event. You’ve got a face mask and gloves on for protection and to protect others. You’re attempting to stay 6 feet apart from other shoppers, waiting and losing patience for someone to just pick a carton of eggs already and leave the area. The longer you’re in there, the more exposed you are. The anxiety is creeping in. Plus you’re struggling to hear and shouting to be heard because most people are wearing face masks. Not exactly a peaceful experience.

When I went to the grocery store last week, I saw a worker with no mask stocking the frozen section and openly coughing without covering his mouth; I couldn’t get out of that aisle and store fast enough.

And that’s a shopping trip; add all the other things we do on a daily basis that is now impacted and at times it can feel like your whole world is upside down.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and let that knock you off your normal routine.

Sticking to your healthy habits seems harder than usual. Staying focused on your daily actions that help you achieve your goals seems impossible at times with everything else you have to contend with now.

Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

Despite our current times, it is possible, and important, to not put your goals on hold.

We don’t know how long this will last. It could be 2 more weeks or 2 more months before businesses, schools and all the other places now closed open up again. Can you afford to hold off on achieving your goals for that long?

Goals require weekly, daily or even more frequent, focus and nurturing. If you put your goals on hold until “COVID is over” you’ll lose the momentum and progress you’ve already made.

If you need a few hours, or a day or two to get through some challenges, by all means take it. I’m a big proponent of balance and taking the time you need to address your priorities and stay healthy and balanced.

I recently moved to a new home and purposely cut back my work hours for 2 weeks knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to handle all that change and still carry a full workload.

Structure is Key

It’s so important in these uncertain times to ensure you’re doing all you can to bring more structure into every day. Structure gives you a sense of stability and certainty; things we need more than ever right now.

I’ve had clients get away from their daily meditation practice or other healthy habits for weeks, reporting that they felt off and not quite balanced.

If you don’t have a daily morning practice and need some help and ideas on how to begin, read my previous blog: Connect to Success Every Day for Best Results. There’s a link there to get a Morning Routine tool and checklist too.

In addition to an intentional daily practice, little things like showering, making your bed, taking a walk, keeping your home clean – these all add structure and stability right now.

Take Strategic Action Now

There are plenty of things you can do now despite your current COVID-19 restrictive reality.

First, add structure to your day with some of the suggestions above. Be sure to include a daily action that supports one of your bigger, long-term goals. For example, if you want to improve your health this year, committing to a daily walk would be ideal.

Second, stay positive and appreciate what you’re learning from this experience.

A lot of people are loving this slow-down that’s been forced upon us. They’re spending more quality time with loved ones they live with (2 and 4 legged), getting outside more for walks and sunshine, and connecting with friends and family more to check in and see how they’re doing. It feels natural and easy, and reminiscent of less hectic times.

And we’re using technology in such positive ways. I think about all the people who had no idea what Zoom and virtual meetings were a few weeks ago, and it makes me smile.

Now they’re connecting virtually to spend holiday or Sunday meals together with kids and grandkids, attend church services, and go to networking or club meetings. Spend a few minutes right now and write down 5 or more positive things that this pandemic has provided to you.

And third, take advantage of all the extra time you now have.

Maybe you’re not commuting to work and now have 60+ extra minutes in your day, or you find working from home more efficient and you’re getting more done in less time.

What could you do with your extra time? Focus on your goals and tie them into your activities or projects. For example, complete some long-overdue home projects this weekend to give you a sense of completion and joy; plant some flowers or tomatoes to feed your nurturing side; exercise to bring movement and balance into your body; take a class or course for self-development and personal growth; visit some virtual museums or national parks and get excited about visiting there in the future; or rediscover your creative side with hobbies like painting or music.

Find something that feeds your mind, body and soul and enjoy this time right now.  

 

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

My Top 3 Go Tos for Anxiety and Stress Relief

My Top 3 Go Tos for Anxiety and Stress Relief

If ever there was a time to have some effective go tos for keeping anxiety and stress down, it’s now.

We are living in unprecedented times right now. The world has a lot of uncertainty and fear due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and all of its resulting consequences including job and income loss, lifestyle changes like social distancing, business closures, potential illness and death.

Add to this any planned activities you had scheduled for this time, and it can feel like it’s too much to handle. Life’s big celebrations like weddings, graduations and holidays are cancelled. People have been furloughed as many service industries are severely impacted. You’re putting your life at risk just to go buy groceries.

Moving During COVID-19

I moved into a new home last week. It was planned since January, not knowing all the complications that would be happening in March.

Moving is a big life change and full of stress, but add the pressure of not knowing if the transaction was going to get cancelled, if the deed could be recorded or if the movers would be forced to stop working (would they be considered an essential service during ‘stay at home” order).

Thankfully, I made it through the rollercoaster of emotions the week before closing on the purchase, but then came the next hurdle, physically moving to the new home.

Friends came to help move my breakable items and living plants, it was an exhausting day but went smoothly. I’m so grateful for their kindness and support in these social distancing times. The next day the moving company would come and move the rest.

That’s when the anxiety and pressure seemed to notch up again. Over the next 5 days, a new issue would arise almost daily, and each time I would get that tight feeling in my solar plexus area, directly under my ribcage and above my belly button. That’s my body’s signal telling me to brace for the uncertainty to follow. For example:

  • When the moving company called the morning of my move to let me know a couple crew members had head colds, and they weren’t chancing it. That they would send 2 others instead of the 3 planned, and another 2 would join later on;
  • When my desk for my home office wouldn’t fit through my new home office door;
  • When my washing machine was broken during the move, and I had to risk COVID-19 exposure to go buy another at Lowes. I’ve never been so excited to do laundry;
  • When the smoke detector in this brand new home kept going off making my 2 pups, already frazzled from the move, hide in the furthest bathroom and closet. The smoke detector was defective and was replaced;
  • When the toilets all backed up filling the tub and shower with sewer water because the pipes were filled with all sorts of new construction debris. The plumber came by and cleared out the main drainage pipe.

As I look back now, 2 weeks later, I realize what helped get me through that daily barrage of unexpected problems. It was the tools and techniques I’ve used over the years to become a more centered, present, and peaceful person.

Do I get angry, frustrated, and lose it sometimes? Of course, I’m only human. However, now I find it easier to recover from those feelings and realize, from experience, that all these issues do work out in the end, as all the ones above did. It may not be the result I was expecting, but it gets resolved.

My Top 3 Go Tos for Anxiety and Stress Relief

Here are my top 3 go tos to keep the anxiety and stress at a manageable level. I used them extensively over the past few weeks, and will continue to practice them as we all get through this new world with COVID-19.

1. A Morning Routine that Includes Meditation

My all-time favorite recommendation to coaching clients, and anyone really, is a morning routine that includes meditation. The benefits of meditation are well documented and include reducing anxiety, increasing wellbeing, better sleep, better attention and focus, decreased pain, better immune function, and more happiness overall.

My daily practice takes 30 – 60 minutes. If this is new to you, start off small and work up to longer periods of time.

You’ll find, as I did, that it increases very easily and you’re going to want to spend more time setting up your day for success with a daily practice that feeds your mind, body and soul.

For more information on how to create a morning routine, click here to read my blog Connect to Success Every Day for Best Results and sign up to get access to my free Connect to Success Morning Routine Guide and Checklist.

2. Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is a habit we can all cultivate in order to proactively compensate for our brains’ automatic processes. Our brains naturally assess our environment and come up with thoughts to “help” us survive.

It’s the function of our brain. Unfortunately, we’re wired to seek out problems (in order to solve them and survive) and some of our thoughts could be unhelpful and even hurtful.

For example, I kept hearing myself say “this is a nightmare” quite a few times on my moving days, when all that could go wrong seemed to be going wrong. Was it really a nightmare? No. But it sure did feel that way, in that moment.

I caught myself thinking and sometimes saying it out loud. When I did, I would then take a deep breath, question that thought, and then change it to a more helpful, positive thought. Many times, just acknowledging different and helpful thoughts can make all the difference.

For me, acknowledging that moving to a new home is always challenging. It’s not fun, and it’s typical for things to take longer than expected, for walls to get dinged, for my body to get tired and sore after many long days and nights packing, moving, and cleaning.

That helped and completely changed how I was feeling and subsequently how I was reacting to everyone and everything coming at me.

3. Breathwork

Breathwork is another tool to help calm your body and change your state of mind. My favorites currently are box breathing and relaxing breath (4-7-8 breathing).

Box breathing is a deep breathing technique that increases calm and focus and reduces stress. You breathe in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and then hold for 4 seconds. You can repeat this pattern for a few rounds, or keep going for 5 minutes or longer until you start to feel deeply relaxed. For those of you who are visual, think of each of these 4 steps as drawing an outline of a  box when doing them – up, across, down, over.

Relaxing breath, or 4-7-8 breathing, helps reduce anxiety and is great to do to help you get to sleep more easily. You breath in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds, and then exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds. Then repeat. When starting out, you can repeat this cycle up to 4 times, and build up with more practice and time.

Take Action

I’d like you to try one or all three of these techniques the next time you begin to feel the pressure building. Bonus points if you create a daily practice like #1 above to help keep you in a balanced state on a regular basis, so you’re already in a better space to handle the anxiety and stress that is very prevalent in our new normal world.

 

Photo by Thomas Rey on Unsplash