Category: <span>Stress</span>

Do You Have an Unhealthy Relationship With Your Business?

The Relationship Between Your Business and Your Mindset Can Be Toxic

Entrepreneurs are one of my favorite people because they’ve consciously decided to carve their own paths and take full responsibility for their success. Yet, as creative, driven, and ambitious these phenomenal humans are, they still encounter challenges in their growth that, just like you, they may not realize is an unconscious habit holding them back.

When you eat, sleep, and breathe your business, it’s sometimes hard to see the emotional patterns at play that often contribute to those moments you feel anxious, frustrated, stagnant, or stuck.

Allow me to help you out.

Here are three bad habits that may be compromising your entrepreneurial success:

  1. IGNORING THE INNER BULLY 

Everyone struggles with fear and self-doubt from time to time, and entrepreneurs and young leaders experience these emotions more frequently than others. When our performance and decisions do not meet expectations, our instinct isn’t always compassion and praise but self-criticism. When you say “I can’t” do this or embrace other negative internal dialogue, it flames the fire of imaginary catastrophic situations and leaves you susceptible to limiting beliefs. Negative and self-deprecating thoughts tend to keep getting bigger and ultimately put a wrench in progress if you aren’t intentional with addressing it.

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

  1. NOT USING THE RIGHT PEOPLE 

You can’t start [or grow] your business with friends alone. A challenge for most entrepreneurs is recognizing their current circle may not have the knowledge, expertise, or even care to support their growth. No hard feelings towards them, but they can’t help you go to higher levels if they have never experienced that themselves. You may need friends in leadership, marketing friends, investor friends, social media friends… it’s time to diversify your friendships.

The reality is that there’s an entire community of other entrepreneurs behind almost every successful entrepreneur who understands the grind and can expedite your learning curve. The best of us recognize that we genuinely can’t do it by ourselves or with our walking friends.

  1. BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL AND DOING IT ALL

Let’s face it, work is never-ending, especially when success is dependent on you, and more often, that pressure can trigger our over-achieving perfectionism and push us onto the path of exhaustion. Burnout is real in this arena, and so is frustration with the hustle, stress, and losing the connection to why you started in the first place. That’s usually when coaching clients come to me when they don’t even know why they are working so hard anymore, and the stress and anxiety are overwhelming. What’s usually very evident is poor boundaries.

A good strategy I recommend is to commit to taking a few minutes each day to reboot your brain and reenergize your body. Most people ignore the importance of taking time away from their desks or implementing a hard stop time when doing work (or working from home).

When was the last time you took a weekend off?

The barriers between work and personal life can blur for many ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs, but the word is balance. I am the most creative and inspired when I take intentional breaks and travel, read, ambush my kids with nerf guns, engage in focused breathing exercises, or just nap.

A quick workaround here is to schedule time for fun just as you would professional tasks –whether it’s a call with friends, hanging at a new café, or that mindful moment, put it on your calendar. I think it’s also essential to build it into the workday- incorporate music into meetings, or end with a quick mindful minute. The pauses should be built into the work experience. Socializing, laughing, and relaxing is an excellent prescription for the entrepreneur’s soul.

Final pop quiz:

  1. What sabotaging patterns do you recognize in yourself?
  2. Are you in an unhealthy relationship with your business? What is something different you can do today to better navigate habits that self-sabotage your success? Take a moment to create a reminder for that one thing and schedule it on your phone. You may not be able to make a huge shift right away, but a shift is a start. And it’s a start in the right direction.
  3. How can you recognize these patterns in the future?

I hope that you enjoyed this week’s blog post on the importance of emotional awareness in business. I’ve written in the past about how important it is for entrepreneurs to remember that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to trust your gut, to take risks, and to go outside of your comfort zone. Hopefully this post has helped you rethink your inner-entrepreneur so that you can start focusing on the things that need to be done rather than the things that are holding you back.

If you’re looking for more information about business psychology or need support, you can connect with me here.

Let me know if these tips and the review questions were helpful in the comments below!

Cheers to your success, Amanda Fludd

Give Your Sanity And Productivity The Weekend It Deserves

Whatever this week has brought you, let that mess go.

It’s the weekend, and your mind has done enough backflips around expectations, criticisms, and judgments that it just needs rest.

Now, decide that you are the most important woman in the room, and let the next decision you make honor what you really need. Is it rest, to laugh, to sit idle on the front steps with a beverage and watch the sunset or the moon rise?

 “The pain and stress and anger and sadness and loneliness and frustration and fear and cravings and irritations that we will experience today … they are made up. We can let them go as easily as they arise. They are unnecessary if we realize that we’ve created them for no good reason. Instead, see the beauty in every moment. In every person’s so human actions. In our own frailties and failures.

This world is a morning poem, and we have but to see it to be shaken by its beauty, over and over”.

~Leo Babauta

It can be hard to permit yourself to let go and prioritize yourself. With that in mind, here are 13 mantras to support you as you release the week and reclaim yourself:

  1. I’m living a purposeful life.
  2. I trust the timing of my life, and I know that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
  3. My life is becoming calmer
  4. Loving myself is as important as loving others
  5. I do not allow grudges to become a part of me
  6. I release the stress of the week
  7. I permit myself to focus fully on my self-care
  8. I will not criticize myself. I will love myself for who I am, what I have become, and where I am going.
  9. I am proud of myself
  10. I am allowed to make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of my growth
  11. I am resilient; I will get through this difficult time.
  12. I am an amazing gift to myself, my friends, and the world.
  13. I am not only enough, I am more than enough, and I get better and better each day.

Even 5 minutes is better than doing nothing

Taking a moment to self-nurture and embrace self-care can happen any time- sipping a hot cup of tea, laughing with a friend on the phone, gardening, and noticing the smell of the grass- it’s just sometimes we are so preoccupied, we miss it. The key is to take your 5 minutes, or whatever moment you decide, and show up fully, staying present in the moment and aware. In addition, since your thoughts play a part in your overall success and happiness, its important to find ways to improve your mindset. Adding affirmations to those moments can be encouraging because it shifts any negative thoughts you may be unknowingly entertaining and can help reframe them, supporting a positive mood, happy feelings, ideas, and attitudes.

You deserve that.

Give Yourself a Break: The Gift of Self-Compassion

When you have a setback towards your goals, treat yourself as you would a friend: with kindness and understanding

Self Compassion Supports Motivation

Even with the best plan and intention, things can go wrong. For most people, their initial reaction in the presence of failure at work is to turn up the inner critic more harshly than we’d find acceptable by anyone else.  I have no idea what’s going on here or why I’m on this team. You’re an idiot; you blew that presentation. Get it together, you’ll never have another opportunity at this.  

We often assume that criticism will motivate us to do better. In fact, most highly productive and driven people seem to be quite unforgiving of their own mistakes.  

To Motivate or To Berate—That is the Question

We hold on to this belief that with enough self-abuse, it will change whatever we believe to be “wrong,” “inadequate,” or “imperfect” about us. Yes, that degree of negativity you drop on yourself falls under the category of abuse, and it really doesn’t move you any closer to your intended outcome. Self-criticism can be paralyzing, and it’s a response that has brought many to my couch as a psychotherapist. While I am grateful to have you, I would like to offer you this instead- what if you were to treat yourself with a bit more understanding and compassion?  

 

When things don’t go as expected, or a goal seems out of your reach, what would you tell a friend in the same situation? That is called self-compassion, and it’s an approach that allows leaders to increase their resilience and outthink their setbacks.  

 

The Science Behind Compassion 

There is growing research supporting things like compassion and gratitude, supporting its motivational power on a psychological level. It’s becoming a valuable tool for enhancing performance and improving professional development. Self-compassionate people set high standards for themselves, and in the face of setbacks, when they don’t meet their goals, they are more likely to regroup quickly. They are less likely to get hung up on mistakes or sidetracked by feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and disappointment. In fact, according to recent neuroscientific data, those who exhibit compassion are more likely to have the emotional resilience to combat suffering, anxiety, burnout, or stress, according to Frontiers in Psychology.     

 

“Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you are good enough, self-compassion asks what’s good for you?” – Kristin Neff

Let’s put this into action: 

 

I’m inviting you to try a short experiment. Bring to mind a situation when you didn’t achieve your goal. Please take a few moments to recall the response of your inner critical voice and note what it says and how you feel, especially in your body. 

Now, bring to mind the same situation and imagine what you would say to your colleague or good friend in the same case if they brought that same failure to you. Say the exact words you would tell them to yourself (that’s self-compassion). How does that feel in your body?

 

If you did this short exercise, you probably noticed the following:

Self-criticism made you feel:

· Small

· Incompetent

· Embarrassed

· Tense

· Wanting to quit or give up

 

 Self-compassion made you feel:

· Validated 

· Understood

· Good enough

· Relaxed and calm 

 

Self-compassion is a mindset shift leaders and managers can benefit from because it reinforces worth, optimism, personal initiative, self-determination, and a sense of control even in the context of the pressure to succeed. These traits tend to be contagious and have a consequent ability to foster resilient teams. Developing a self-compassionate self and team does take time but is possible with intentional effort. Organizations should look at ways to create space for conversations and resources around compassion and navigating stress and change in the workplace.   

A few additional ideas to foster the overall resilience of your organization:

Improve your self-talk. Practice responding to yourself in ways you would to support a colleague, embrace criticism from others as a means to personal growth, and engaging with others without judgment or in a tone that would hurt their feelings.

Bring in workshops to grow as a team. Create opportunities for staff to learn from each other, for leaders to take their teams’ temperature, and boost morale and promote better staff engagement.  Bring in professionals with fresh ideas or a similar option is to set aside funding to allow staff to pursue outside opportunities (books, webinars, training) that will support their emotional wellbeing. As they invest in themselves, they become a more incredible asset to your team.

Prioritize communication and mental health at work. Having regular meetings where people are encouraged to share not only work achievements but mistakes and experiences around that make workplaces safe for learning. Also, work to improve access to support services onsite (training, consultations, mindful breaks) and outside of work (like EAP). Making compassionate and supportive workplaces a priority reduces pressure, anxiety and improves an organization’s resilience to stress, burnout, and turnover.

It’s innovative approaches that focus on self-compassion and overall well-being that will determine if teams, individuals, and organizations can embrace a more adaptive attitude and thrive through challenging experiences and transitions.

In the comments, make sure to share with us how well you think organizations are embracing concepts like compassion and emotional wellness at work and whether you believe well-being training might be valuable to your team.

 

Amanda Fludd is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Coach, and Mental Health Consultant addressing the emotional needs of individuals and the work cultures that support them.

If you would like information on how to infuse mental health support at work and facilitate practices like self-compassion, schedule a call here to discuss program options.

 

 

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

 

Recognize, Release, Respond: Try this Strategy to Navigate Seasonal Overwhelm

School is out, and the sun seems at the highest point in the sky, and so is our anticipatory anxiety. There is so much we want to do, see, and accomplish that our minds are like a runaway subway car bellowing through the city. I want to travel, finally, write a book, maybe read a book, take a course that has a book, think I need to schedule my physical, paint my living room, take a day off, and head to the beach, but oh my god- summer is almost over! And on and on and on until panic kicks in. Sound familiar?

Racing thoughts, unlike subway cars, often don’t come to a stop on their own, with our minds quickly advancing from a single topic to multiple unrelated ideas; it’s an experience that quickly disrupts your focus and raises your anxiety.

Racing Thoughts Like Subway Cars

Entrepreneurs and ambitious women who lead are no strangers to anxiety. They’re just as susceptible as the rest of the population, and dealing with it effectively requires a better understanding of mental health. While we’ve made significant gains around the stigma of mental health, we often don’t recognize its role in daily functioning, specifically how common anxiety is. An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s around 4% of the global population, and according to the world economic forum, 62% of those suffering from anxiety are female (170 million).

A hallmark of anxiety is the impact on your thinking process and physical response. It can look like:

  • Thoughts going a mile a minute
  • Trouble sleeping at night and a mind that is not able to “shut off”
  • Procrastinating on tasks
  • Second-guessing your abilities
  • An inability to relax, tension headaches, sweaty palms, racing heartbeat

 

Related: Why Mental Health Plays a Role in the Success of Your Business

 

What’s important to know is while this can directly impact your ability to get things done, there are things you can do to solve the stress of anxiety and still enjoying the summer (or whatever season it is).

Embrace the power of Curiosity 

By learning to tune into your experience around anxiety, we can short circuit your reaction to it and establish a new neural pathway to boot.

Recognize. I encourage clients to think about or recognize what they are thinking about. Start to notice the thoughts driving your worries and stress. Ask yourself is it helpful? How does this make me feel in my body? Do I need to think about this right now?

Focus on your thoughts, and with less judgment.

We are sometimes our worst critics, but try curiosity over judgment. Getting curious about your experience will help you shift from reacting to responding, and interrupt your typical operating system, which creates the opening for something better.

Release. Letting go of what no longer serves you takes courage, but change and growth are just outside your comfort zone. Find and release the thought of worry by imaging it floating away like a balloon. For the physical feelings of anxiety, like fear and tension, breathe deeply into that spot until it expands and then exhale, letting it go. Let go of what’s familiar, whether a limiting belief or an old way of responding.

Respond.  Once you begin to slow your thoughts and settle your automatic physical response, you can create space to act from a more intentional space. Here you can write out your clear goals for the next few months, or even for today or in the next hour. Or maybe decide to speak and act from a more mindful space. Or finally, make a clear request with the shadow of intense emotions and most importantly, take a new action.

 

Which of the 3 r’s will you focus on for the rest of this week? Share in the comments below.

 

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 help you get out of your head, 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 beginning July 19th, 2021 and running through 2021. #minoritymentalhealthmonth #strongcommunities

 

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