Category: <span>Mindfulness</span>

4 Useful Ways to Ease the Stress of Change for Women Who Lead

The mass exodus back to normal has heightened stress levels, and it’s important to acknowledge that change can be stressful. If you are someone who gets upset and loses focus when things don’t go as expected or strongly dislikes change, automatically expects the worst, and struggles to adapt, this piece is for you.

 

Do you think we are ready to return to ‘normal’? 

Well, whether we’re fully ready, we have to be prepared and adapt. In the ever-changing landscape of life and work, adaptability is a crucial skill for managers, leaders, and anyone looking to navigate change successfully. Adaptable people tend to be happier and more content as they’re not struggling against the resistance of change, and can skillfully ride the wave.

 

The Brain Behind Change

Our brain hates the unknown that comes with change, and that can show up as anxiety, which is your brain’s way of protecting you from the unfamiliar. However, that can mean saving you from a necessary or required action. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” The threat is that feeling of not knowing and the associated fear of what could happen in the future. Sometimes that fear is rational, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s about something that will happen in three minutes (getting on a call to close a deal, for example) or in 30 years (having enough money to retire).

Depending on how you respond to your brain’s conceptualization of the fear can make change or transitions so difficult. It’s easy to feel powerless in these moments, but your power is in the ways you decide to navigate change.

You can decide how you want to think about the situation and what you want to do about it.

We can’t resist returning to work, going back to college, or whatever transition is on the horizon, but you always have a choice within the change. I’m not dismissing that it won’t be hard at times, but this is about being skillful so you can continue to live, lead, and enjoy life.

Let’s jump to 4 quick tips to navigate change and ease the fear of transition:

  1. Notice when an interaction or the thought of a situation upsets you and examine why. Acknowledge out loud any unhelpful thoughts going through your mind, then take those thoughts and challenge their accuracy to determine whether they represent reality. Perhaps you can then find another way to think about them that allows you to move forward.
    How you think or what you are ruminating over is often connected to the experience of procrastination, perfectionism, overwhelm, or feeling unmotivated. Learn to challenge and change the thoughts behind those responses.
  1. Successful leaders often react to anxiety by working harder, holding themselves and others to impossibly high standards, only to cause further stress or burnout in themselves and others. Examine your use of time and what you are asking of others. Putting in place a support infrastructure that includes breaks for you and your team and time to discuss expectations openly.

 

  1. Find a practice that eases your stress. Sometimes our minds operate like a runaway train. If you can quiet your mind for just a moment, you may notice there is always a fork in the road. One road allows your anxious thoughts to derail you, and the other will enable you to inject more positive thoughts and intentional actions.This can look like daily mindfulness practices, laughing, or sometimes more high-intensity activities like running or a good cardio workout. These practices short circuits the stress response by getting you out of your head, incorporating your body, and allowing the experience of stress, anxiety, and worry to subside.
  2. Don’t stay on your island; build connections. You are an expert at what you do, and getting things done is your superpower. However, we all will face the challenge of transitions and change that can make you feel alone or cause you to isolate and withdraw. Do the opposite. Instead, try coming out of your office and chatting with a colleague, or reach out via text, call a friend or  maybe even perform a quick act of kindness. Be open to also ask for help or outsource tasks to create more time and space for wellbeing.

 

In this time of crisis and change, where many are experiencing anxiety for the first time, it is an opportunity to develop our ability to adapt and contribute to a culture the prioritizes the importance of emotional wellbeing.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, supporting the ambitious mindsets of women, and improving mental health in all settings. The goal is to simply get you out of your head, so you can stress less, and focus on your success.

Make sure to register for “Catch your Breath” a free live mindful practice series for Minority Women Who Lead running through the end of July 2021. UPDATE: The series was such a success it WILL CONTINUE through the end of 2021. Every first Monday of the month.  #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

Sometimes I Sit and Wish I Was A Kid Again

Feelings of nostalgia are common when remembering the care-free days of childhood, when we couldn’t wait to grow up. Those were idle moments, when our spirits were light and the possibilities were endless before trading in books in our backpacks for responsibility.

Our imaginations knew no bounds- we were pirates who conquered the sea, or scared but brave kids who went past the invented line down the block that your parents told you not to cross. As kids, we had incredible capacity to dream and create before we grew up and the world dictated how our stories should go.

If your imagination were a muscle, would you say that it grew with over time or has it become weaker over time? The sad truth is that, as we grow up, the world places more emphasis on reality and because of that our creative power diminishes and we become slaves to routine and the norm. Ever wonder how we might get back to that place of freedom and wide-open curiosity? Is it even possible to reconnect with our inner child in order to repair the damage that societal pressures have caused? Absolutely! We can strengthen that muscle that has weakened over time.

By tapping back into our own originality, creative visualization, and spending time in free-spirited play, and embracing all that is possible in this moment right now, it is possible to once again view the world (and ourselves) as we did when we were kids.

Buckle up! The Way to Rekindle Your Relationship with Your Inner Child Is About to Be Revealed …

1. Drop the leather brief case and go play – go for a bike ride, escape around the block before your kids notice, or take 5 minutes on a swing set. Photo by Malcolm Garretfrom @malcolmgaret

Photo by Malcolm Garret from Pexels

2. Train that imagination muscle – make time to think of scenarios outside of reality that bring you joy. Write down what your dream life looks like.  Have fun envisioning a lifestyle that appears impossible to achieve in as much color and description as you can and put it up somewhere you can see it.

3. Get creative – color a picture, throw some paint on a blank canvas, mash up some playdough…anything that has minimal rules involved and will give you a feeling of freedom.

4. Ask yourself – what brings me joy? Sit for a moment and plot out a list of things that you like to do regularly and would like to do if you had more time. Maybe it’s going for a walk, cooking, hot yoga, horseback riding, karaoke, playing an instrument, window shopping, or checking out a Broadway play. Collect a list of your toys and then schedule a play date with yourself!

5. Borrow a kid– If you have access to your own kids, or maybe can borrow one, like your niece or godchildren, put down your phone and join them in what they love to do. Ask them why they love it and play without judgment in their space if even just for 20 minutes and see what magic happens for them and you. If you don’t have access to a kid, then who else can you recruit as a partner in crime? 

Charles Bukowski once said, “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

Taking time out of our lives to reconnect with our inner child gives us room to strengthen our sense of self.  Not only does it crack the door to self-discovery, but it totally kicks it in and demolishes all the walls that were around it (walls created by ourselves and our perceptions of what the world wants us to be). Learning how to be a kid again is the ticket to remembering our authentic selves and allows us to gift our uniqueness and originality back to the world.

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R @Kensho Psychotherapy #Therapyisdope

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