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10 Steps To Stay Stress Free After Lockdown

Going back to work after lockdown will have it’s challenges for sure. Because there’s a tendency in life to cling to the familiar, to feel safe and secure, change can feel threatening. Are there steps we can take  to feel more in control and stress free after lockdown?

Read on for some suggestions on how to make your re-integration as stress free and smooth as possible.

Indeed let’s also remember, that whilst the more extrovert among us may be excited at the prospect of returning to work and re-engaging with an audience, other’s may well
dread the return to work for that very reason! Just the act of interacting with gregarious

Outgoing Personality
Stress-free and ready to go!

colleagues can be draining, anxiety provoking and far from stress-free for those with more introvert tendencies.

Rather than worrying about what might happen,  aim instead, to discover how to ring fence yourself and reduce the risk to your mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Write a personal risk assessment and find stress-free solutions for your particular situation. Have a look at some of my suggestions below

You may wonder, can there be certainty in such uncertain times?

Perhaps a level of acceptance is a better state to aim for than a sense of certainty because we are in a state of flux and futures are uncertain for many of us.

Yet the fact remains, we want to feel in control and there is so much in life that we have no control over,  the sooner we accept this, become flexible and adapt, the less stressful life will be.

Taking Charge of life
Stress-free and back in control

How can we handle the stress of not having control? In this link I explain the Circle of Influence and Circle of Control a tool that facilitates the discovery of personal ways to feel empowered and stress-free.

In fact, something as simple as learning a gentle breathing technique can quell a rising panic allowing you to regain self-control in the middle of a meeting or on the train going to work.

 

Before returning to work make a list of some of the things you are in control of.

Below are some tips about how to stay stress free after lockdown.

1. Consistent Clear Communication

This might be expressing to your line manager/supervisor/boss that you’re struggling with an aspect of the return to work. If you find it difficult to verbalise, write a private and confidential email outlining your concerns.

Likewise where possible, suggest one or two solutions to the problem you’ve identified, such as split working from home/office. Changing hours or asking for clarity on the troubling issue.

This way you take both the problem and the solution to your boss, who may also be struggling with issues.

2. Listen to yourself first

Your body will give you very clear signals of discomfort and distress if you tune-in and listen.

Try this, a minimum of 5 minutes quiet time each day can be enough to pick up on a tightened chest, or a churning stomach. If your body is light and buoyant all is well. Feelings of heaviness, constriction are not good signs, what do you think that’s telling you?

Pay attention to these feelings and aim to explore and address the issue causing these problems, talk them through with a trusted friend, colleague or engage a therapist or coach.

We know that there is a global collective grieving at this time but what we don’t know is who is grieving, or what or whom has been lost. It could be a loved one, a job or an income. Never has there been more of a need for kindness, compassion and understanding.

 

3. Listen and be prepared for emotion

Besides listening,  know that we can’t fix other people’s stuff so don’t even try! What you can do is offer people time and space to listen, really listen and it’s one of the kindest gifts we can give another. Even identical twins suffering the same loss will experience their bereavement differently, so we should never presume to know what someone is feeling or when.

It’s much easier to ask them, “How are you?” and then listen, you may pick up the signal immediately that they do not want to talk about it or maybe if you stay quiet for just that tiny bit longer, they will share something with you.

Again, prepare yourself to be uncomfortably comfortable in the face of emotion. People who you least expect to be emotional may break down and cry in your presence. Be with them, hold the space for them and resist the temptation to hand them tissues, put an arm around them or placate them with platitudes.

Consequently they  are more likely to benefit and recover quickly if you don’t react in this way. That’s empathy and compassion and can help them enormously.

4. Find Your Balance

Aim for balance and work out how you can achieve that? What do you need to do to re-energise? Do you need to stop and give yourself a short break to move around for example? Are you the type of person who needs to eat a little and often to keep your energy high? Are you sipping any water regularly? Is your head feeling hot? Perhaps you need to take the EarPods out of your ears to give them a rest.

Make a list of resources you need to keep with you to help you to feel balanced and in control.

5. Ask yourself good quality questions

“What do I want. What do I need to feel more balanced now?” Listen to your response, that’s your prescription, your wisdom so why not take your own advice!

6. Work Smarter

Because many people will be returning to a backlog of work and since multi-tasking has been debunked,  avoid that! Instead aim to spend longer at the outset and create a clear plan of action.

Besides prioritising tasks with a simple A,B,C,D method  which will quickly provide order, you’ll also have a more realistic view of your workload.  This will give you greater sense of control. You will also be in a better position to manage your expectations and communicate your position to colleagues or staff.

7. Set Realistic Goals

In addition to creating  a schedule of work, aim to set small pragmatic goals. In your planning phase work out roughly how long each task will take, block that time out in your diary/calendar with the time span. This keeps goals realistic,  also schedule in short breaks, to stand up and stretch, have a comfort break or a drink.

As a result of  utilising steps 6 and 7 you offer yourself an opportunity to validate your efforts and recognise your achievements. In this way you’re not waiting around for someone else to pat you on the back. Say ‘Well done”  and reward your good behaviour with a treat. A luxurious bath, a walk with a friend or carving out some time to read a book.

8. It’s OK to say No

Furthermore practice saying a good, clear No try saying it  out loud now! You can be pleasant but firm when you say No. “No, I already have more than I can realistically handle” No I simply do not have the available time. No, it’s not my responsibility, I cannot take that on” Get used to that word in your mouth and throat.

In fact I often have clients’ practice saying No in front of a mirror in as many different tones and volumes as possible. Add to this good body language, such as a firm hand extended away from your chest with a big “No” should you need to communicate your position more clearly, will speak volumes.

9. Connect At Your Own Pace

You’re either itching to get back out with friends and family or feel the need to connect slowly.

First it’s your business is to know what you want and need. Secondly negotiate with yourself to establish what feels right and manageable for you. Thirdly practice out loud explaining to your friends and family how you need to proceed and see how you can arrive at a workable compromise between their expectations and yours.

10. Recognition And Validation

Finally, Be Your Own Cheerleader. Just be kind and loving to yourself. You will get the best from yourself by being supportive and gently encouraging. Watch out for the inner critic, sack your ‘Judge’ and pump up the volume on your balanced assertive adult self!

There is no ‘right’ way to do this only the way that is right for you, so aim to honour and respect your needs and keep your communication honest clear and consistent.

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Open It Now! It’s For You

How are you? It certainly feels like we’re being tested on so many levels in these changeable times.

I’m sure you know that among other things,  stress is a feeling of not being in control which can trigger all kinds of emotional, psychological and behavioural problems.

But how to deal with it? One of the main keys to dealing with stress is to develop flexibility so that we improve our bounce-ability factor and become resilient.

Dare I say the most flexible tree is the bamboo because of it’s ability to bend easily in the wind and then stand tall again.

How can we become more flexibile? Well I could say take up yoga, develop new hobbies, improve your way of thinking by listening to hypnotherapy programmes. But better still, find your own ways. 

Write down 10 things you could do to become more flexible mentally and physically.

Along with sending you my good wishes for the holiday period I want to offer a couple of approaches to help manage stress, anxiety and any other difficult feelings.

A Christmas Gift For You
 
Please do the exercise, as it’s experiential, it will only that will take about 7 minutes of your life and it may prove valuable. Try it now.

1. Sit somewhere away from distractions and close your eyes.
2. Repeat the following words to yourself silently and mentally.
“Be” “Just Be” repeat this periodically until you find your breathing slowing and a sense of quietness beginning to emerge.

You might find the next bit challenging and counter intuitive on one level but just go with it.

3. Invite the negative thought/feeling/emotion into the quieter space by simply saying “I welcome…       (anxiety, frustration, sadness, headache, stomach churning or whatever.)

4. Imagine them as an unexpected, slightly unwanted guest who’s arrived at your door but your good  manners dictate that you’re going to invite them in anyway!

5. When you’ve repeated ” I welcome” let’s say anxiety in, notice where it lives. Do you feel it in your chest? Or stomach for example.

Don’t get lost in the thought or feeling and don’t get too involved, stay mildly detached, you’re merely observing it.

6. After a few minutes of this, welcome in the opposite feeling/emotion/thought. So you might then say silently “I welcome peace and calmness” again repeating it several times.

Notice what peace and calmness feel like and where these feelings sit in your body.

Another odd thing to suggest but do it anyway…

7. Begin to move back and forth between the words  “I welcome anxiety and tension” then “I welcome peace, calmness and tranquility”

8. Finally after doing that for a couple of minutes, imagine you can step back away from the opposites and repeat silently “Be” “Just Be”

Let me know how that works for you.

The second gift I would like to offer is a free mind/body training that will lead to a more relaxed in control you.Download it and practise it until you’re able to do it anywhere anytime on your own. It’s my gift to you along with my fervent wishes that you be well and happy.

It’s a tried and tested method that with repetition will give you a greater sense of control in your world.

https://www.thestresshacker.com/product/relax-autogenic-relaxation-response-program/

Oh and if you fancy listening to an interview I gave earlier in the year about finding your purpose check it out here:

https://www.hotflushrebels.com/optin1597304230526

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5 Great Ways To Get Through Lockdown

If you are going to get through the 2nd lockdown with your mind intact and with a stronger bounce-ability factor it may well be down to you and you only!

Grow Up

Before you read this, grab a notebook… this could be your most valuable resource as the weeks go by.

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, DON’T text or type, WRITE. There’s something about engaging your mind and handwriting simultaneously that makes these exercises much more powerful.

What if it’s true that no-one knows what you need better than you?

Then all you need to do is answer these questions and take your own advice and follow your own prescription.

1. Stop Scaring Yourself!

How do you do this? Write down 7 or more things that you think that make you feel worried, anxious and scared.

Include any pictures, images or past memories that you constantly revisit, you know, those things that help keep you in a state of fear.

Now write down as many ways that you could stop yourself from doing this, for example “I could choose different thoughts” (write down those different thoughts).

Choose different images, find pictures in magazines that are uplifting and positive. Put them where you’ll see them regularly, if that’s not possible stick them inside a cupboard or wardrobe door.  Look at them a lot.

Create New Movies: Re-run any memories or flashbacks that are negative but this time with a positive outcome. For example if you have pictures in your mind in which you are the victim, now see the perpetrator(s) being disempowered in as many ways as possible.

Keep running the new images with brighter colours for example  seeing a bully as smaller, insignificant and dis-abled from their bullying ways. Regularly revisit this new ‘memory’ until you feel bored with it.

When you do this exercise always leave yourself looking bigger or taller stronger, more empowered and assertive.

2. Pull Yourself Together

Look again at the image of the Russian Dolls above and remember that you carry all of you inside. This means that more often than not your scary thoughts have nothing to do with the here-and-now!

It’s true; you may be having “What if” thoughts that have no bearing on your current situation. They could be coming from a younger you. Equally so you may be constantly spending time in the future worrying about what could happen tomorrow, next week or even a year from now.

When we consider that truly the only bit that’s real is now, why are you spending your valuable energy roaming back into the past and forwards into the future?

If you really stop and think about this, it means that you’re constantly cheating yourself out of  time and the ‘now’!

The chances are that every anxiety provoking thought is either about something that’s already happened or something that might happen. Practice being here now more frequently and one way to do this is to link something to a scary thought.

For example you’re thinking “ What if I can’t pay the next heating bill”

Shout inside your head “Get Up And Shake Off” Now stand up, feet apart and shake your hands and arms. Quickly! Shake each foot and leg … just like swimmers do before a race, shake off the excess adrenalin. Do this for a minute then take a deep breath and as you breathe out make a loud “Haaaaa” sound repeat twice.

That’s it! Do it every time you have an anxious thought, this way you’re changing your ‘state’ empowering yourself and getting back to the present.

3. Laughter Is The Best Medicine.

Remember who and what makes you laugh. Find as many films, jokes and books that make you laugh. Be sure you talk to the friend who makes you laugh (the one you have that chemistry with) regularly.

4. Exercise More

You must be sick of hearing this by now but someone has gone to the trouble of researching this and there’s tons of evidence to show that a brisk half an hours walk does wonders for the mind and body.

If you need a goal see how quickly you can reach a destination each time you  walk.

If you need motivation buddy up (at a distance) or meet your walking buddy a location for incentive.

See what the NHS has to say about the benefits of exercise.

5. Forgiveness

Forgiveness

If you’re beating yourself up for something you did in the past that was wrong perhaps it’s time to forgive.

Mistakes are valuable ways of growing and learning, just ask a Scientist, they constantly get it wrong, until they find the right way.

What I’m saying is, it’s normal to screw up you’re not perfect and never will be!

If you hurt others by screwing up and you feel brave enough and it’s appropriate, then contact them and tell them how sorry you are for the pain or trouble you caused. Don’t look for forgiveness from them, that’s your business but aim to make amends if and where you can.

With that done, if you can be sure you will not repeat that behaviour then forgive yourself and practice forgiving yourself until your wrongs sit more easily with you. You do that by saying “your name… I forgive you, you are forgiven now.”

It’s remarkable how many people beat themselves up for years for things they’ve done. I’m obviously not condoning bad behaviour but if you’re genuinely remorseful, would never do that thing again… then be kind and gentle to yourself and forgive.

If you need to take a short break  away from the family or just to reset remember to help yourself to my 7 Minutes of Zen download…this is what one person said “It’s fabulous!”

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Yoga Online with Sue, and an Interview with Psychologies Magazine

Thank you for your fantastic response to my online yoga classes. Who knew so many of you would be interested! My technological learning curve continues! 

I will get back to you as soon as possible to let you know the days and times for my yoga classes.

I’m hoping to make the booking process really simple. And, if you work for the NHS, please drop me a line and I will gift the class to you in honour of your amazing hard work and dedication. We love you!

You can keep an eye on the Yoga section on my website for more information, and I’ll email those who have contacted me with further details soon.

 

 

Stresshacking your Anxiety – my interview with Psychologies Magazine

My next podcast: episode 8 is now up, and is sitting there lonely, ready and waiting for listeners, so please pass it on to anyone you know who may find it helpful at this challenging time.

The big question this week is: How do we take back control of our anxieties?

I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to “cope” with anxiety – you can kick it to the curb. ⁣

This episode contains edited extracts from my conversation with Suzy Walker from Psychologies Magazine on a recent Facebook Live event. They have conversations with experts every day at 1pm so tune in!  ⁣

Listen to Episode 8 of The Stresshacker podcast now:

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(Or choose your preferred podast catcher here)

As always, I’m so grateful to all of you who have given me so much encouragement and positive feedback. I’m learning as I go and it’s great to have you along for the ride. If you want to contact me, remember it’s Sue@TheStresshacker.com. And if you can help me to spread the work by sharing my podcast with your friends (and leaving me a review on Apple Podcasts) that would be so kind of you.

Global Meditation – Join me!

You’re going to hate the next bit… I have an odd condition called discalcular, when I said that there is to be a global meditation on Saturday 4th  April I gave you the wrong time, Oops!

I’m sorry to say that it is actually at 3.45 am!!!

I will be getting up for that because it’s only 20 minutes and I think it’s extremely important. Here’s the link to find out more and if you get up at that time please know I’m there with you.

Learning to draw

I’ve always meant to learn to draw. Recently, I realised there was no point waiting until I retire to start doing things like this, so I signed up for an art class. It was meant to start soon. Needless to say it’s been postponed to later in the year…

I haven’t let that stop me, though. Here’s a drawing I did the other day of my dog friend, Puds.

I did the drawing from a photo from the Dogs Trust (which I’m about to start making a regular donation to). I showed my picture to my grand-daughter and asked what we should should call him/her. She suggested Puds. So, meet Puds!

And, for those of you who are running out of ideas to usefully engage your children try hopping over to author Alex Milway’s Youtube channel where he will teach your children how to draw a bear!

Finally, remember to stay hydrated at home. Drink plenty of warm drinks and your daily water intake. Do you know it helps conditions such as plantar fasciitis when you stay hydrated? It’s true!

xx

Sue

 

PS. There was an exclusive offer code to Psychologies Magazine readers for a FREE copy of Stress-Free Relaxation with Confidence (easily my most popular download) and access to my Wellbeing In A Week course. Listen to my podcast now to find out how to get hold of the code.

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Stresshacker Podcast #5 Are You Anxious About A Career Change?

the stresshacker podcast episode 5 anxiety about career change
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We’ve reached episode 5 of The Stresshacker Podcast! I’ve been so blown away by the response to my adventures into podcasting. It’s a new experience for me and I’m learning as I go. I’m looking forward to making more and I hope you’ll join me on the ride! If you’ve enjoyed these recent episodes, please do like them on iTunes and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

In this latest episode I address anxieties around career change. I offer some simple exercises to gently guide you toward a new career – and to even find your vocation.

Over the years I’ve seen many clients whose anxiety has been generated by the need to make a career change and yet deep down they feel afraid to leave the security of what they know. For many people the thought of change makes them feel afraid and anxious. But with a little daydreaming, planning and even saving for a while, it is possible to prepare your escape route and move in a different direction of work that will bring you more happiness.

Listen here to Episode Five of the Stresshacker Podcast to find out how!

Thanks so much for all your kind words and feedback. Do get in touch if you have any thoughts on future episodes – or to let me know if you’ve found any of the episodes particularly helpful!

To listen to all previous episodes click here


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