How do you thrive during times of stress?
I believe we each have a ripple effect on each other, be it our words or our actions. From this belief, I strive to live each day with courage, patience, wisdom, and grace. It sounds lovely, but it is very hard to walk an intentional path when it is obstructed by the hardships we are currently experiencing. Because of this, I walk each day with gratitude for my blessings, while being mindful of the significant challenges and shifts going on in our communities, our country, and our collective consciousness.
How does this translate into work? A common theme emerging in talking with successful leaders and professionals is that we are experiencing stress on a greater level than perhaps ever before. We are feeling more tired, struggling to maintain focus, are more impatient, and are less creative around problem-solving. While we desire to be positive and motivating, we can’t begin to bolster the energy for others, let alone themselves. If these feelings resonate with you, you are not alone.
How can we counter the impacts of this stress, and in turn, feel more empowered and in control of our daily experiences? I have found that my “tried and true” self-care tools aren’t working as well as they did pre-COVID, so I have re-booted them for 2020. Here are 7 ideas to help navigate these times and recharge your energy and resiliency.
Find a quote or mantra that will inspire you and serve as a home-base for your actions, thoughts, and words. My mantra right now: “Harmony, Joy, Lightness, Healing, Spirit, Blessing.” As I prepare for a meeting or write a challenging email, I chose words that reflect the intent of my mantra. For a bonus, use it in as a guided meditation to help calm and focus your mind, leaving your to-do lists and worries at the door.
Take more frequent breaks in 1 to 5-minute increments. During that time, you can get a glass of water, take a few deep breaths, stretch, open a window and listen to the outside sounds, or try a walking meditation. These types of activities give your thinking brain a rest and allow you to shift your pace and focus. Some people are in back-to-back meetings most of their day. Plan on joining a meeting five minutes late and let people know. Take that time to hit your reset button. These breaks will improve your stamina, focus, and patience.
Listen to music. If you are not on a Zoom meeting or call, listening to music in the background can uplift your energy and improve your creativity. For some, classical music is a good motivator. For me, it is Latin music (Cesaria Evora and The Bueno Vista Social Club)
Explore. Try something new in your routine. A new room to work in the house. A new exercise program. A new view to experience – window-swap.com shows different views from people’s windows around the world. For me, something new includes an action that involves fun, humor, creativity, or nature. To this end, I have been watching free safari videos (https://www.andbeyond.com/andbeyond-tv/wildwatch-live/).
Take time off. If you are noticing that you are not really yourself, take off an afternoon, a day, or a week. Use this time to recharge, take a pause from daily responsibilities, and do self-care activities that make you feel light and hopeful.
Shift expectations and be patient with the timing of change. I am finding that many people have high expectations of what they “should” be doing and when things should be happening. When we are stressed, it is hard for the brain to fully focus on complex tasks. Right now, we may not be able to complete as many things as efficiently as in the past. Think about what is truly a priority. If you are a leader, it is helpful to revisit priorities frequently to maintain your focus on what is best for you, your team, and the business. Are you giving your team too much to focus on that isn’t important or urgent? If you are an individual contributor, are you giving yourself wiggle room for catching mistakes and unexpected items?
Remember what is most important and stay focused on it. For me, my health is important right now. My marriage, my family, and my opportunity to live the life I envision would be impacted if I am not healthy. What is essential for you to succeed?
This list is a starting point for you. We are all trying to figure out how to be resilient, to turn surviving into thriving, and take care of ourselves while juggling many priorities. This current stress doesn’t need to be a permanent experience. I don’t have all the answers, but my hope is you can implement some of these suggestions into your routine. When you take care of your mind, body, and spirit, it takes care of you and allows you to show up in the best way available. We all need our best selves to support ourselves and each other right now.
Janeen Shaffer is a PCC certified coach helping individuals and leaders with their internal development and external performance. If the article resonated with you … follow me on LinkedIn, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.shaffercoach.com, IG @janeen.shaffer, Pinterest Shaffer Coaching + Consulting.