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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 WAKE UP CALL

Are you ready for a change of scene?

Had enough of your current job?

Feeling Burnt Out?

The Wake Up Call

 If you feel like you can’t continue in your current existence, you are not alone. Every year thousands of people reach a point where they can no longer continue working in the same way, with the same people or in the same job or industry.

You just wake up one morning and know that it’s time for a change.

I was in my mid-twenties when I reached that point. I had come to hate my job, the industry and I didn’t like most of the people I worked with either.

I felt trapped by the money,  I had a mortgage from the age of 22 and the notion of walking away from a well paid job seemed totally reckless.

I was run down, stressed and miserable and as a result became pretty unwell. After the third spell in hospital, I recognised this as a massive nudge from somewhere deep inside, to wake me up, shake me up and take responsibility for changing my life. I realised I was waiting! Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone else to make my life different.

This was at the start of the self-help movement and I read hundreds of books to help me find the confidence and methods to make those changes.  I developed a habit of getting clear about exactly what I wanted and then applying certain steps to make sure I got it.  I’ve retrained in a number of different fields, Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, Yoga, Reiki. I’ve become an author, a blogger and a jazz singer. I’ve since spent the best part of twenty-eight years helping  thousands of  people to redefine themselves, to follow their hearts and launch new careers. You can do it.

Want to know how? Here are my starting steps when I want to make change.

Firstly create some space where you can be still and quiet and ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What one thing am I really good at? What one thing do I seem to do naturally well?

Now ignore the voice that throws up the negatives and keep asking yourself  that same question until you get some good answers.

I remember thinking defeatedly ‘I’m not really good at anything, there’s no area in which I excel.’ But I stuck at it and eventually a little voice said “You’re good at talking to people” It was true, I could stand at a bus stop and a total stranger would tell me their entire life story, then get on the bus and say “Do you know I’ve never told anyone that!” Eureka. That was it… the only thing I could come up with!

Yet that simple answer started a whole new career  for me which I still love and enjoy with every cell in my body.

When you’ve come up with a couple of answers write them down, stick them on the back burner.  The process is starting.

   2.  If I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks. If I didn’t have to worry about money or how I would pay my bills. What would I do for work?

Again, ignore all the negative, whiney head trash that wants to bring you down. That’s your ego battling for position! Write down the stream of positives that come to mind, such as … “I’d work with animals, I’d travel the world, or I’d be a yoga teacher”  Now put those ideas into the pot on the back burner.

In a few days some ideas will begin to brew. Watch out for them and write them down.

When you get some idea, some direction that doesn’t contain a negative, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Just suppose (imagine) you were going to do that thing… the idea that you thought of, how would you go about it? What would be your first step of enquiry? Can you google some information?

Can you find someone who’s doing what you’d like to do or has what it is you would like to have? 

If so call or email them and ask if you can buy them, a coffee or lunch, explain that you would like to ask them some questions about their work. Be honest and transparent. Naturally some people will say no, but many are flattered be asked and want to help.

First gather this information. Gradually all the ideas, information and knowledge come together and you will  feel excited. This is your cue.  If it’s a feeling in your heart GO FOR IT!

Find a way to make this happen. Go back to learning, take that course in your spare time, negotiate taking some time out of the workplace. Do what you have to do to kick-start your new career. When it’s something you feel passionate about, trust me, it will not feel like work. You will  be happy to be up to the early hours of the morning writing your plans, or studying, because you know that you are working toward something really meaningful to you. Something heartfelt and positive.

When you live, breathe and talk about your dreams you bring a powerful energy to it that will attract a similar resonance. If it’s your dharma (your calling) doors of opportunity will open for you, you will be wafted along pathways that will support your calling. You will meet the right people at the right time who will share similar dreams and values.

DO NOT share your dreams with people who criticise, judge and search out the negatives in your plans. Why would you. You need to believe in yourself and your dreams.

If you need additional inspiration or support to get you over your fears about making change, grab your copy of my book Super Charge Your Confidence and the accompanying download of the same name from my shop.

Let me know how you get on.

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Growing Up At Last!

This week’s blog is going to be a little brief due to me going out and kicking my heels up (that’s the adult in me!) My parent part would have me slog over this blog for a few hours longer, revisiting it over and over “until it’s right”!DeathtoStock_Creative Community7

The child/teenager in me would likely acquiesce and sit for another few hours at my desk ‘to get it right’!

The adult in me knows it’s okay to have compromise. The adult is okay with not being perfect

If you’ve been following the past few blogs where I’ve talked about the model of looking at the mind in 3 parts, the child, parent and adult parts this will all be making sense, if you’ve just landed on this blog though, you can be forgiven for wondering what I’m on about! Start reading from here

In a nutshell, we tend to run old beliefs and thoughts programmed during childhood. It’s rare that we challenge or change these thoughts and beliefs and sadly the older we get the more ingrained they become. Simply put, we believe what we’ve been told about ourselves in the past.

Identifying the adult in us and adding new thoughts, beliefs and behaviours is akin to upgrading the software! The adult part is the starting place to set goals and if you like, reinvent ourselves.

In case you missed the rationale behind why this updating is so powerful I’ll reiterate. The subconscious mind (the other 90%) believes whatever it is told. Please re-read that last line!

If like many people who start to work with this model of the mind, you feel unsure of who your adult part is,  or how you want to be, have a look at one of my favourite speakers Julian Treasure and familiarise yourself with his mnemonic HAIL

Honesty

Authenticity

Integrity

Love

I’m sure you’ll agree these are worthy  traits to add to  your adult part.  Enjoy and watch Julian’s TED talk here>

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Is It Time To Wake Up And Smell The Coffee?

Build It And They Will Come!

From time to time I talk about Transactional Analysis, the psychotherapy model that suggests that we have three ‘parts’ running in the back of the mind, that of the parent, adult and child.

For the purpose of this blog and to keep it brief, let’s assume that the programming of the Parent Part and the Child Part is from our past conditioning and as a result, set in stone. This would mean that the only part available for us to grow and develop is the Adult Part.

Because the subconscious mind believes whatever we tell it, we can program the Adult Part of the mind with positive thoughts and ideas.

If we think of the adult part as a clean slate for example, with no past programming, we can set realistic and achievable goals out into the future in order to have, be, or achieve the things we want in life.

If you don’t have a goal, how can you get there?

If we sent 22 footballers out into a field without the goal posts, there would be no game!

When coaching clients, I help them to explore how they would like to see themselves in the future.IMG_6806

Play around with this idea now. How would you like to see yourself in five years time? What will you be doing? How will you be living? What work are you doing? What sort of holidays are you having? What sort of relationships are you enjoying?

If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

The kind of life you would like to lead and the future you would like to have is unlikely to happen on its own, it wont just magically appear. Let me ask you a question. Do you really think that someone else will come along and read your mind, somehow know what you want and need and then provide it? Nope. No one can know what you want and need more than you!

adult

As an adult, you’re in charge of your life and it’s up to you to make it happen.

Try this exercise; pick one area from the following list:

My working life/career/business.

My finances.

My health and fitness.

My relationships.

My personal goals, this can include travel, courses, and education.

My community/what do I give of myself to others e.g. time money support expertise.

Now ask yourself these questions: If I don’t have to worry about anyone else or what they think, if I don’t have to worry about money or paying bills, what would I be doing? (in the area that you picked from the list).

Quickly write down the things that come to mind.

Build on this idea a bit more by asking more questions like what would it look like, it sound like, how would it feel, what images come to mind?

Does it make you feel light hearted and excited when you imagine that future you?

First of all get to work by dreaming it. I’m going to pick this up again in my blog next week, so be sure to read it to know what to do next.

Enjoy!

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3 Hour Exams!

Yes it’s that time of year again! Here are some tips to survive the revision and exams.

IMG_0798

Many teenagers are revising at the moment and we all know how stressful that can be, so this week’s blog contains top tips for revising and staying cool, calm and confident through the revision period and beyond.

Create a timetable of study.

Set short achievable tasks for your revision. It’s important to ‘chunk’ down. After all you can’t revise the whole thing in one go! So break things down into small chunks.

For example, you could revise in 20-minute chunks, set your phone (or alarm) when it goes off, change your activity for at least 5 minutes. Get up and stretch. Go and get a drink.  Play with the dog! Then go back to revising. Naturally if you’re on a roll and studying well, you can skip a break and continue on for the next 20-minute chunk.

Look at the week and decide where, when and how you are going to revise. If you’re unsure, find someone who seems to revise well. Pick their brains and find out what they do to revise, where they do it and how, then copy that formula!

On Exam Day

Plan a good routine for the day.  It might sound daft but it’s important know exactly where you’re going, it has been known for people go to the wrong place, out of sheer panic!  Not you though. If you have to travel to your place of exam, do a dummy run a week before if necessary. Give yourself as much chance as possible to feel confident.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Even planning exactly what you’re going to wear so that you’re in charge of your own temperature will give you a sense of control (Layers are good).

Aim to be early and be prepared. Have your bag and any items that you might need, ready, well ahead of the exam day.

Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

Bottled Water In Cooler

Drink plenty of water during study periods and the exam; this has been linked to improved memory power. According to a study at the University of Wales (D.Benton, N Burgess – Appetite, 2009 – Elsevier.) ‘Recall was significantly better on the occasions when water had been consumed’.

Breathe deep then eat

Many students say they feel panicky prior to exams and suffer from anxiety. Many performers feel nervous before they perform and there’s at least one scientific study that says that nerves can help you to perform well, so maybe your anxious feelings are a good thing and they are going to help you to perform well!

Anxiety can sometimes make your tummy tense and your chest tight though and that’s not great.  So try this, sit upright and rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your tummy. I call this the ‘Vagus Hug’ as it puts you in touch with a powerful nerve that runs from the brain through the heart to the gut and it is a powerful communication channel.  Close your eyes and breathe in and count to 3 hold for a couple of seconds and as you breathe out to the count of 5 imagine your hands becoming warm and soothing to your tummy. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the tension melts. Don’t take my word for it, practice it and see for yourself.

Once you feel more relaxed ensure that you eat something prior to the exam. If you feel uptight make sure it’s something easily digestible. Protein is always good and can be easily digestible if it’s something light like an omelette or scrambled eggs. Plan what you will eat on the day – have everything ready.

Are your thoughts serving or sabotaging you?

Watch out for your thoughts they can either be helpful and positive or negative and damaging. Do NOT project negative thoughts into the future… that’s just daft since the future hasn’t happened yet!

You have a choice. What are you saying to yourself about your ability to study? What are you saying to yourself about the exam itself? Modern psychology and hypnotherapy knows that it is possible to ‘future pace’ suggestions.

An example of a good future paced suggestion is “I now revise easily, effortlessly and concentrate with focused attention whenever I revise.”  Or “On the day of the exam I feel confident and relaxed. My recall is sharp and accurate I breeze confidently through each question.” Notice the suggestion is phrased in the ‘here and now’ which is important, since the subconscious mind doesn’t have a sense of past or future, so it prefers suggestions as if they’re already happening.

Obviously if you haven’t done the study or the revision in the first place, this can’t come true but if you’ve done the work – then trust your subconscious mind to serve you. You could be amazed by the results.

Finally, listening to Stress Free With Confidence every night will definitely help you to remain calm and to feel more confident. I suggest listening for a month leading up to the exam and also through your revision period.  Listen on ear-phones each night as you drift off to sleep and let it work for you.

Good luck with your exams and remember you are still a wonderful unique person whatever your results.

Sue x