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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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The Stresshacker Podcast Episode 3: Eight moments of mindfulness – guided meditation

Many of you are telling me how stressed you’re feeling and whether that’s due to a heavy work load, the demands of family, illness, life events or just those winter blues, only you can change the way that you feel.
That said I would like to help and want to give you this gift. It’s only eight minutes out of your life and it’s a gift that will keep on giving… if you listen to it regularly!
Episode three of the Stresshacker podcast is an eight-minute recharge for anyone feeling run down, in need of energy – or just need a moment for yourself!
You probably know by now that the nature of the mind is that it likes to be on the move. As such your thoughts will drag you back into the past and you can end up feeling stuck.
Conversely your thoughts can propel you into the future at an alarming rate and then you end up feeling pressured and anxious.

Use this guided meditation to gently pull you back into the present.

Find a time when you won’t be disturbed and settle into a comfortable position. Bedtime is an ideal time. For best results use earphones and lie down. You can sit in a comfy chair, but make sure your head is supported.

I want to stress that your mind WILL wander and that’s absolutely OK! It’s part of the hypnotic process. You do not have to be listening intently. In fact, if you drift off into what feels like a deep sleep that’s also good: it’s just your own way of relaxing!

DON’T listen to this whilst driving or operating any machinery, that would be highly dangerous!

NB. This program is NOT suitable for you if you have ever been diagnosed with depression or any other mental illness. This program is not suitable if you have suffered long-term neglect or abuse and have never worked with a therapist before.

For more tips and advice, please subscribe to my Stresshacker Podcast! 


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Episode page:  (let me know if this isn’t available on your favourite podcast app)

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The Stresshacker Podcast 2: Teaching your body to relax

I’ve been helping people with stress, anxiety and wellbeing since 1989, training with  some of the world’s greatest teachers in the field of modern psychology and communication skills, including David Grove, Richard Bandler, Paul McKenna and John Grinder.

But before that, I was majorly stressed out!

 In fact, I was hospitalised TWICE for a collapsed lung triggered  by stress!

It is my firm belief that the body expresses what the mind is concerned with. And boy had I been stressed – mentally and physically. I had been working too hard, partying too much and worrying about everything and nothing. I had ignored the nagging pains in my chest for too long. A collapsed lung was how my body finally chose to express what was going on in my mind and emotions.

For this reason, in episode two of my new Stresshacker podcast, I share one of the first techniques I discovered and used frequently to help me combat the stress. I would like to share  it with you.

Trust me, anyone and everyone can learn how to relax. But sometimes we need to teach our body first.

The more you listen to this, the easier it will be to relax.

After you have followed the routine for several weeks, you may find that you can reduce the number of phrase repetitions because your body will be reprogramming itself, and responding more readily to the suggestions.

Try these techniques for at least twenty one days to embed the suggestions so they become second nature.


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Episode page:  (let me know if this isn’t available on your favourite podcast app)

PS. If you’d like to record your own personalised version of this, the script is available to download here.

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Introducing The Stresshacker Podcast! Episode 1: One of my favourite meditations

Finally! I have a podcast! It’s called “The Stresshacker with Sue Smith” and I am really excited to share it with you!

I have wanted to do a podcast for a long time – especially since I’m more comfortable with audio than video. But the question has been: what should I do it about?

Then I decided to stop over-thinking it and just LAUNCH something. So please join me as I delve into the podcasting world and forgive me if I’m learning as I go! Hopefully we’ll both enjoy the ride.

To start with I’m sharing one of my very favourite meditations and, as the podcasts progress, I’d love to share more personal stories, advice, tips and thoughts – as well as collaborate with some of my fellow wellbeing coaches.

If you have anything you’d like to hear me talk about – or if you’d like to ask me a question – please get in touch! 

Episode One of The Stresshacker Podcast “One of My Favourite Meditations”

This is great if you need a nap or a refreshing 5-minute meditation session. It’s also perfect for refreshing yourself before heading out, taking a relaxing moment, focusing the mind, drifting off to sleep, meditating, unwinding and de-stressing or preparing for something. Use it if you’re trying to make some decisions or if you need a moment of respite before embarking on a creative project.

Please do subscribe to The Stresshacker and share with friends – I need your help in spreading the word!

Oh, and I’m now sharing more over on LinkedIn. If you’re on there, please add me as a connection or follow me (whichever you feel most comfortable with!)

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Episode URL  (let me know if this isn’t available on your favourite podcast app)

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Ways to Travel Stress and Anxiety Free

Health & Wellbeing

My top travel tips to stay stress and anxiety free when travelling.

It has literally changed my life. This is what happened…

I seemed to get a cold every time I went on holiday! This had been the pattern for over ten years. It  spoilt my trips and left me feeling miserable. I wanted to travel anxiety free.

Whilst swimming  in Thailand a couple of years ago and having a chat with myself, the way you do.  I was bemoaning the fact that I had yet another cold.  I’m healthy (other than a mild lung infection) and found it puzzling.

“Not Another cold! Why?”I said.

I heard a voice inside  reply ” It isn’t a cold.  Your airways  are inflamed from the air-con on the plane”  Nothing more, just that!  It was a real eureka moment as I recognised this truth.

I totally empowered myself with the following tips…

NLP:

First I future-paced my self with an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) suggestion. “By the time I get out of the sea all inflammation has left my lungs.”

I swam a bit longer then got out.  It was about an hour later that I realised that the ‘cold’ had gone, completely!  I’d had it for five days yet  it had totally disappeared! Not one more sniffle for the entire holiday.

Masks:

Secondly I went to a supermarket and bought some masks. Next I bought a lightweight scarf to wrap over my mouth and nose.

Health & Wellbeing
Fewer colds and infections now.

Most importantly  I wear it for the entire flight whenever I travel now. Only removing it to eat or drink. I’m effectively recycling my own warm breath and this appears to have worked.

I had started to feel wary and anxious about holidays because of the cold scenario.

But now I can relax in the confident knowledge that I’ll be okay.

I’ve had three long haul and eight European flights since then and not one cold or sniffle!

I tell my fellow passenger that I have nothing contagious just a mild lung condition that is irritated by air-con. I’ve only had one person move and that gave me more room – result!

In conclusion this totally works for me and could help you too. If you have experienced similar problems or have asthma this could be the perfect solution.

Wear a snood, scarf or gloves:

I’m now trend-setting with an array of snoods!

Especially on cold damp days or on public transport. I stay healthy and therefore anxiety free in the knowledge that I have fewer colds and infections.

Setting a trend
Setting a trend

Oh and another tip – wear gloves where possible in public places. It can cut down on germs.

Remember that  Stress Free With Confidence is a reassuring programme to listen to if you have any fears around travel. Grab your  CD or download at the shop here at www.thestresshacker.com