Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " Stress "

Stress Free Guide to Exams – Works on anyone looking to achieve more at stressful times too!

As I sit next to my snoozing poorly daughter who has another migraine (In the hope we can starve it off) I want to talk about stress and its impact on your success.

The irony is that my gorgeous girl used to have a 3 to 8-day migraine every month until she started on Tessellate CBD so it’s a shocker to find her suffering a 2nd one after only 4 days from the last one. She’s being investigated for Lupus like her Mum and so while we expect it to be a big tougher for her, the exam stress is already getting to her and they aren’t for another 4 months!

I’m impressed by how many emails her school send me about revision guides and after school revision sessions, but devasted that I’ve not heard one word mentioned relating to;

  • Overwhelm.
  • Overloaded.
  • Burn out.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Stress.
  • Mental health.
  • Wellbeing.
  • Time management.
  • Planning.
  • Achieving goals.

Shall I go on?

According to a study by Girl Guiding Organisation “More than half of girls (52%) say exam pressures affect how happy they are, yet four in five say they don’t get the support they need to manage exam-related stress.”

And in my role as a coach I see many women who suffer a lack of confidence and if you’re happy and positive about your capabilities guess how confident you feel? I honestly question if there is a direct link between the drop in confidence in our young adults and the pressures of teen life.

It is something I’ve long wanted to be involved in schools, because so many of my coaching clients are;

  • Overworked.
  • Unproductive – or no way near as productive as they become through our coaching.
  • Working ridiculously long hours – clients soon learn how to achieve more and leave the desk at a decent hour.
  • Stressed bordering on burn out.
  • Uncreative – their brains are far too full of life and stuff!
  • Have no social life – there’s not enough hours in the day for that!
  • Bordering on being mentally unwell.

It is not a crime to look after your mind so that you can look after the body and your success so I really struggle to understand why the school is only dealing with the knowledge and not the vessel they hope to store the knowledge in!

AS I advise clients, you are not a robot or a superhuman so if you don’t listen to your body it will play up just when you need it most. Do you get ill just before a holiday or Christmas? My clients not only achieve their goals they also find they get ill less – no shocker is it that our minds impact on our bodies is it?

So for all teenagers out there about to sit exams, all worried parents and any one else that loves supporting the success of teens here’s a top tip guide to creating a stress free exams tool kit.(For the record it works just as well on executives, business owners, CEO’s, job seekers, parents and everyone else on the planet that wants to achieve more.)

Communicate

Teens aren’t the only ones that hide what’s really going on. And they aren’t the only ones suffering as a result. To change the results, you get you need to be honest about what you are experiencing. In coaching I raise awareness to what is going on, help clients take ownership of it and responsibility for it (believing it’s just life or it’s nothing to do with you, stops you from creating lasting change) and then they can create a plan of action. So, find someone to talk to. It could be multiple people;

  • A coach figure to help you create a plan of action, to visualise the results you want, keep you motivated and supported.
  • A parent that you can off load to. Not expecting any help, just a hug and 2 good listening ears. (If that person talks more than you then they aren’t a good listener and you aren’t getting what you need from that relationship.)
  • A friend who will take you away from all that.

Think about what kind of support you would like and who in your world could provide it?

Be honest – ask for help!

None of us like owning up to needing help. Remember as I talk about in Fight the fear even the cross-channel swimmer gets someone else to rub on the Goose fat otherwise they can’t see where they are going because their goggles are greased up! No one successful get’s there on their own. A perfect example of this is the clients who I helped get life in order and now they still see me because they want to keep life in order. Asking for help is not a sin in it’s a saviour! So, look for the reasons why you are not honest;

  • What are thinking?
  • Have you assumed that person won’t help?
  • That you can’t be helped?
  • That there is no solution?

Challenge your thoughts to be able to get over yourself and speak up.

Study and play

Studying together is great if you make time to veg out, watch TV, hang out at the shops, slap on face masks, share dodgy Memes, and anything else that takes you out of your daily life. We all need down time, ideally don’t be attached to your phone, but phones are useful too (see below). So, ask yourself if I had a go to wish list of things to do with my friends over the next 5 months what would they include? Make it visual. Tell your friends. Get the diary out and book something and don’t cancel it! Your brain needs space to process what you are learning. (That’s not an excuse not to revise!)

Phones are friends, not foe.

I struggle to understand why phones aren’t taught in school. We have never seen so much anxiety and mental health in this planet and I think it is in no small part down to our inability to use our phones for good, not destruction. A successful person has apps that;phones for business and happiness safe use

  • Monitor your productivity
  • Monitor your social media time.
  • Calendars.
  • Mind maps to process thoughts and goals.
  • Productivity tools to ensure your to do list gets done in priority order.
  • Music.
  • Even games that bring mindfulness and calm.

Just research apps for stress and you will find something right for you. Not convinced it’s never been so important to master your phone.

Phones are not currently listed as an addiction, is that because they aren’t addictive or because the list has not been updated! Phone issues I see in clients include;

  • Unable to step away.
  • Fear of missing out.
  • Convinced they must answer everyone immediately.
  • Stress, overwhelm, sadness and a fear of failure because their lives don’t look like those on their social media.
  • Distress that the world is ending and nothing good ever happens!

These are signs that you aren’t controlling your social media – your social media is controlling you! Here are a few ideas to take phone control;

  1. Create rules for answering people – i.e. “I will not answer text/email/social media messages between the hours of 8pm and 8am.”
  2. Change who you see – if you have a social media friend that only shares disturbing, destressing and upsetting content whether you feel it at the time or not that is impacting on your mindset (and we don’t’ have time here to talk about the damage that has on your success!) Snooze them or unfriend them, they won’t know. And if they say anything just say, “you know those algorithms!” your social media should inspire you, motivate you and make you feel good about life – if it doesn’t you need to change it.
  3. Notice how your time on your phone makes you feel.

Perspective

When my children sat their 11+ they were the only children that ran out of school with big grins, parents would often remark “Why aren’t your kids stressed out?” The reason my kids stayed sane was because we discussed them before hand;

1. We talked about how the exams were measuring the school’s ability to teach and not them.

2. The secondary school they were going to had already advised they took no measurement from the 11+ so it was not important, their overall attitude and learning capabilities were far more important.

3. If they failed and couldn’t get into their perfect school, it was not the end of the world.

Failure is good for you

For most of our children this is their first big adventure into the scary land of failure. As a child your parents would ensure that you got what you wanted (or Father Christmas did!) then suddenly it’s landed on their shoulders. After GCSE’s many want to go to University, some can see dream career paths (my daughter wants to be a cardiac thoracic heart surgeon!) and suddenly there is a potential block in the road.

Successful people understand that when obstacles arise, we can always overcome them. Failure helps us to understand who we are, it helps us define what we want out of life and how we will get it. And it helps us appreciate how much passion we have to ensure we always have the drive to keep going.

It is not this has to work or that won’t happen

As I advised my daughter, if she is not suited to passing exams there will be other ways to help people. It could be that cutting people open and saving lives is not what she is meant to do in the form of a surgeon but that won’t stop her from training as a paramedic, there’s no denying their brilliance!

There is always a way and GCSE’s are not the end of the road, they are just the start. So don’t think so laterally. Think big picture.

Perception

I’m really unhappy how much pressure is created in schools. You must pass!

For the record I only got a C in A level English and I have a book that is in 5 languages sold around the world and made it to WH Smith’s top 10 books! Miss Grimstone, My English teacher, told me I was a lousy writer and here I am writing for Lifehack that has over 150 million readers!

Check out the celebs that failed too; Lord Alan Sugar only has 1 GCSE and he is worth about 1.4 billion! And poor old Richard Branson left school at 16 and now has 200 companies in 30 countries around the world, while loser Steven Spielberg was rejected from Film School! And there’s plenty more including Adele, Harry Styles, Zoella, Eminem and Leonardo DiCaprio.

My daughter’s own Grandad has severe dyslexia, rarely attended school and had an automotive business that he sold for well over a million pounds. Not through what he achieved at school, but damn hard work, dedication and commitment. Exams are not the be all and end all – sorry teachers, they really aren’t. Look at how you adjust your perception of where you are right now.

Values

As you look to shift perception, look at what values matter most to you and then no matter where you go in life you will find true happiness and success that matters to you.

Values may include anything you like;

  • Fun
  • Money
  • Family
  • Travel
  • Success – what does that look like?
  • Learning.
  • Respect
  • Kindness
  • Music
  • Art
  • Creativity
  • Helping people

Come up with 10 values that mean the world to you and then use the values exercise in chapter one of my book to see how essential that knowledge is for life.

Eat

You can’t fuel your body on sugar and crap. My daughter makes herself a proper breakfast every day – she will have a variety of things including scrambled eggs with salmon, toast, fruit, cereal, but always  a proper breakfast and she prepares a proper meal every day for lunch and often cooks the evening meal . You may ask why I’m not doing this?

  1. Within 2 years she will be at University and I won’t be there to do it, so she needs a repertoire of dishes she can rely on now, that way at university everything else that is new can be handled and cooking a decent meal will be second nature.
  2. Time out from study gives your brain space to process what you are learning and practice “Do I really know Pythagoras theory”?
  3. It is unrelated to work in any way so it’s good for reducing stress, calming down and switching off. Ever made a cheese sauce and noticed you get a Eureka moment on something you’ve been struggling with? Your brain will create solutions if you give it the space (and time) to do it.

Breathe

There are various breathing exercises that have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety in seconds. Life hack mandie holgate overwhelmed mindOne practised by the Navy seals is called the Box method.
Breathe in for 4 seconds, then breathe out for 4 seconds, smile right? Do this for a minute and notice the results.
According to Examined Existence this works because (and here’s the science)

“This breathing method works because of the physiological effect breathing has on the nervous system. Breathing slowly and deeply activates the hypothalamus, which is connected to the pituitary gland in the brand, to send out neurohormones that block stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline from being released. This thereby triggers a relaxing response from the body.  Additionally, breathing deeply and slowly triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to secrete hormones that decrease blood pressure and heart rate, which also induces a relaxation response in the body.”

Notice your breathing and practice at bedtime, there are lots of apps that help you do this.

Walk

Getting out in nature has been proved to reduce stress, so don’t be a slave to your studies, record your revision on your phone and get walking. This interactive way of learning has many benefits. And a change of environment is good for you. Many business owners tell me they do 16-hour days, that’s not impressive, it’s foolish. Step away from your desk at least every 60 minutes (smart watches are great for reminding you to do this!) Read on for more on this…

Time management

Don’t work harder, work smarter, I’d love just a penny for every time I hear this. Here is a quick down and dirty guide to actually doing this, what will you include in your stress-free exams tool kit?

  1. Boundaries – tell people what you are doing by when.
  2. Honesty – if you fear you can’t complete the tasks by when, ask for an extension, don’t whine, show your teachers/parents your planned actions for today and this week and ask “Where will I have time to do this? Ensure your planner outside of school includes a walk, reading for fun time, reading for revision time, self-care time and don’t move it.
  3. Be open to working in a different way. Listening to what works for others can lead to top time management strategies. “Only if you put them into action!) None of us know everything so try new techniques.
  4. Be realistic, you do need to study too! Showing your peers your planner and your teachers and parents helps them and you to be accountable to the solution.
  5. Clear goals – be realistic on what can be achieved in an hour. And set chunk goals – 40 minutes to do X, 20 minutes to do X. Any task that takes longer than that needs breaking down again, but don’t get bogged down in planning – wow I’ve seen some great flow charts, mindmaps and gant charts from new clients – heck they’ve done none of it, but hey it looks pretty.
  6. Show your plans in a way that suits you – not trends. I have only 3 to 5 tasks per day on a small piece of paper, it keeps me motivated, accountable and focused. I also have a 10-day plan on a large piece of paper, and you guessed it only 3 to 5 tasks towards my goals (that are written on the top of the paper) per day. This works find a plan that suits you.
  7. Time it – if you procrastinate, hate it or just loathe doing it time how long a task takes. Interestingly clients that do this report that the things they love take longer than the things they hate, so set a stopwatch and get going! Sorry, but that includes tidying your room, helping out with chores and other things you think you can shy away from. In the big wide world of work, you will have deadlines and commitments, learning now how to juggle personal and professional life will put you way ahead of your peers (and other job seekers!)
  8. Look for weaknesses, my weakness is social media, so I turn it off. I leave my phone out of reach but in ear shot. Be honest here, you are only fooling yourself. If I really can’t be trusted to not go online then I give my phone to my daughter!

Panic stations!

Know on a good day how to deal with a bad day. It’s not easy looking for solutions when you are stressed out, so know today what would help you change your mindset, calm down and get back on tract. Write a list, create a vision board, make it visual to remind you.

Music

Choose different music for study, for relaxation, for fun, for stress release – don’t choose the same music, it loses its power.

Hydrate

Students who take water into the examination halls may improve their grades; a study of 447 people found. As reported by the BBC water could improve your grades, so don’t always wait for the exams to ensure you’ve water at hand!

A little helping hand.

I have always used a bit of Rescue remedy, when I was petrified of public speaking, I would use this, whether it was the placebo effect or the remedy it helped. So, I’m getting my daughter some. (For the record, that is why I’m so good at fixing people’s fear of public speaking because I know how it feels!)

My daughter is good at reaching for the aromatherapy. Rosemary for study. Lavender for sleep. We have over 80 oils in our house and she will explore how she is feeling, look it up on her phone and choose and oil accordingly.

Tessellate CBD. I have been taken this since May last year and it’s changed my life (I know how crazy that sounds so I rarely talk about it) it’s not illegal, it aids sleep, anxiety and many many symptoms my daughter and I used to suffer. I’m going to get my daughter on the higher 10% dose for the next 5 months to help. She has only ever taken the 5% before.

Lastly, over to you.

Yoga, running, dancing, painting, singing, hobbies, tai chi, look for things in life that make you feel good and at them too!

Very lastly (promise) make it visual.

You won’t stick to these stress-free exams tool kit unless you make it visual;

  • Make an info-graphic or poster and stick it on your phone as your home screen.
  • Pin it up in your wardrobe door.
  • Paint a picture that reminds you of your plan to stay stress free, focused, calm and avoid the overwhelm, over load and overworked that I see in so many professionals (before they start working with me) It will be a game changer for your future self

 

  • January 16, 2020

How to Stop Living in Fear and Start Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

My latest article for Life hack

Let me know what you do with this information. I hope it helps you too.

I think I may know why we are so obsessed with super heroes – good versus evil.

Good overcoming no matter what — no matter how big, scary or evil the arch enemy.

It’s because it symbolises how we wish it could be in the real world.

Imagine it…your life is now a movie…

You have music in the background because you are off to work/college/meet friends and your life is pretty normal (all appears well) then on screen, we get a few scenes where your life looks great.

You water your plants (or shrug at your ability to kill anything green), walk the dog, feed the fish, kick back with a good book or hugging a loved one on the sofa with a bucket of popcorn, then all hell breaks loose…

Within 20 minutes, if your life were a film you are feeling, like nothing could ever be the same again and that no one understands what you are going through.

Fear is not the word that springs to mind. It’s more likely to be:

  • Why me?
  • Life will never be good again.
  • I can’t fight this.
  • I don’t know where to start.
  • This is too big.
  • I can’t do this alone.
  • My life is over.
  • We are all doomed!

If your life were a movie, then it’s all fine (you really don’t need to worry) because at this stage in your film life, when life is so all consumingly going in the wrong way with no way out and death is likely imminent, along comes:

  • A scientist who can’t necessarily get you back to “Normal” but can make you a nifty suit and help you become a super hero that everyone loves; after some quirky, funny and lesson learning scenes where you get a few things wrong but learn tons.
  • A rich tycoon who already has a team of super heroes they secretly work with, can see true potential in you (after the “you’re rough around the edges kid” scene) they introduce you to the other superheroes and you learn that it doesn’t matter what you are like; you will find a network of people that will love respect, trust and help you.
  • An evil so big that everything you’ve ever believed in as at risk of the worst case scenario, therefore no matter how petrified you are, you somehow find a way to save the world (and your pot plant, dog and/or loved one).

Okay back to reality.

Alas there are not many super heroes’ around (if you know otherwise – I can keep a secret), however I think we feel more than ever we need to feel that there is a solution.

Life is fun exciting, challenging (in a good way) fast paced, energised and a ton of other awesome things – but it’s also overwhelming, scary and sometimes feels like you are fighting a super villain and you don’t have the super hero kit to get through it.

I’ve never had a client ask me to help them make them a super hero, however I’ve had plenty ask me to help them feel more in control of their life – and I think that is something we all desire to some degree.

Control of our lives can be eradicated when we feel frightened, un-powerful and like we are trapped in our lives. And often the first sign that we actively recognize is a comfort zone or stress.

But if you think back to our super heroes, no matter how trapped they are, they always find a way out. A solution that no one ever thought could work and that’s often what coaching is about – coming to a problem and looking at it in a unique way that enables you to find solutions to fight fear and get out of your comfort zones. And you won’t need a scientist, a rich tycoon or a devastating intergalactically incident to find those solutions.

I want to share with you some of the winning techniques I’ve used with my clients to help you too.

1. Rethink the Question “Am I Weird?”

I’ve had so many clients ask me this question, I think I should call my next book “Am I weird”!

Everyone thinks that the way they are responding, acting, feeling and thinking is unique; that they are the only person to feel like they can’t face work or their friends or their day because of a fear or a comfort zone.

We all have times like this and it’s important to remember 2 things:

There is no such thing as normal in my book

Everyone is just who they are. It doesn’t need analysing, or questioning if you like who you are. Or if who you are serves you well, respects those around you. And if giving you the life, career and happiness you want, then no, it’s not weird. And it’s all good.

The issue becomes when you find yourself trying to compare your weirdness (or lack thereof) to everyone else and how that then impacts on you.

Weird is good

Check out the best characters in film, book or TV, and you are likely to see that someone else has tried to insult them with the term “weird”.

Weird is used when you want to suggest that someone or something is different. Different is not bad, the hard bit is finding the confidence to be who you are – to embrace your differences and your weirdness.

A little useful side note – according to the Oxford English Dictionary:[1]

“ Weird – The adjective (late Middle English) originally meant ‘having the power to control destiny’”

And who wouldn’t want that?

Truly, hear me when I say – embrace your weird.

2. Listen up

Just as the newly discovered super hero struggles to accept their super skills, limitations or fears, so do you have to do the same. And if you strip back any successful story (fictional or real), you will discover it’s not a magic potion or a superior race that enables the hero to achieve success, it starts with who they listen to.

How many times in your life have you heard yourself saying:

Why didn’t I listen to my gut instinct?

Why didn’t I listen to my Mum/Aunt/Friend/Boss?

Just as being weird in its original meaning meant to be able to control destiny until you can actually do that, you do need to learn who to listen and when to listen.

Here’s how to take action on this:

Listen to yourself (sometimes)

I was working with a client who told me that they could never upset the way things worked in their company. They couldn’t tell their boss they felt there was a better way! This meant that they felt trapped in their career, incapable of achieving more and like they weren’t meeting their true potential.

Enter frustration, anger, stress, work hatred and a sense of being trapped – if only they could get out of their comfort zone and tell their boss what they thought!

Learning to trust what they knew meant that they could rationalise and justify their thoughts and reasoning and work out what to do (if anything.)

We worked together to understand why they wanted to say something:

  • Was there envy at the boss’s job or was this genuine belief that they knew a better way?
  • Could they prove what they felt was possible and the benefits to those involved?
  • Did they have ulterior motives that weren’t positive?
  • What would be the best way to move forward and why would it work best for them?

If you need to learn to listen to yourself, start by asking questions (not looking for solutions) and you will start to ask some really smart questions that help you analyse your feelings, actions, etc without guilt, stress and other negative emotions getting in the way.

This process also allows you to find answers personalised to you. In my experience, so often it’s the silly little ideas that have the most power. Okay so Dumbo is not considered a super hero – but think back to Dumbo and his magic feather that enabled him to fly, was there any magic?

Nope, but there was a belief that the magic existed – this process helps you do that.

This process also enables you to know when your own thoughts are doing their best to keep you trapped. You can become your own Kryptonite telling yourself the most awful things (that are usually not even true!) So be cautious of what you say to yourself and the questioning will help you to become more aware of this.

Choose your network wisely

We’ve all trusted someone and later questioned “How could I have let that person have had an impact on my life, thoughts and actions?”

Back to weird being a good thing, right?

But the fact is the people you choose to spend your time with can in their selves become a powerful tool to getting out of your comfort zone – but could also trap you there!

So look out for the heroes in your life, that say things like:

  • “What’s your thoughts on that? Do you think it’s a good idea?”
  • “Where did your desire to do this come from?”
  • “Do you really want that or are you hiding something from yourself?
  • “Hang on a minute, you can do this, remember the time you did xxxx”

People that can supply you with evidence of your brilliance and who reinforce the positive and your goals, but also challenge your beliefs, thoughts and actions are like gold dust (or super hero serum.)

They will enable you to be able to take a step back and really understand why your comfort zones are controlling your life. They are there to celebrate your wins, appreciate your frustrations when it doesn’t go to plan and give you the faith and confidence to keep going – don’t think you can do it all on your own.

Everyone, even super heroes get an element of confidence from their network. It’s not all internal!

And look out for the super villains who say:

  • “Are you sure you want to do that?”
  • “That sounds like a lot of work, are you up to that?”
  • “Why would you want to do that, I thought you loved your life/work/partner/house plant.”
  • “You should tell them what you really think.”

People that make comments like these aren’t looking at it from your point of view, or with your ultimate wants and needs at the heart of their responses. They are seeing it from their perspective of life and their own limitations on what they feel can be achieved; and this influences the way they respond.

Yes, there are a few social vampires out there that will try and ruin your belief in anything better but, most super villains are far subtler than that.

3. Go Deeper

In life, we often get an inkling of what needs to change or feel like something is not right. If you dig deeper, you usually find it’s not the first thoughts that were the issue.

When I work with clients, the “Go deeper” exercise always (and I genuinely mean always!) produces the big Eureka moments. It’s almost as if they are hearing their own voice for the first time.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Firstly start with a thought (any thought related to why you feel like there is a comfort zone or a fear) and write it down.
  2. Now write below it the answer to this question: “And that means?”
  3. Now below that ask yourself: “What does that mean?”
  4. Keep going asking further questions like:
    • “So how does that affect me?”
    • “What does that mean to me?”
    • “Is that really what I think?”
    • “If this is the case what does that mean I must believe?
    • Does that serve me well?”
    • What does that mean?”

This process enables you to really explore what’s going on in your brain and can be used in so many elements in your life.

4. Be Your Own Coach

I’ve worked with coaches and mentors for many years and I don’t think I could be without one to challenge me in the ways I’ve share with you.

After years of challenging questions and realities, creating goals and getting great results, I know to a degree I can coach myself. As one coach told me “Mandie, you don’t need anyone to kick your butt – you do it for yourself” That was a good session.

So sometimes, it’s enough to coach yourself. By taking on the role of your own coach, just give yourself a little time once a month where you actually challenge what you think.

Here’s a few ideas to help make that a powerful moment:

Free write

Don’t think about what you write, just let the pen go to the paper and write anything – in the random thinking there is often the right questions and thoughts to follow – if you create the space to do it.

If you crave order and structure, don’t free flow.

If you love art, then draw. If you hate numbers and lists, steer clear of them. You want to create a new way of thinking that is natural to you, not what you read in a book or heard in the office as “a good idea.”

Learn to explore your natural style. Ask yourself: When set a task, how do I love to work, think, explore, learn and act? This will guide you to the best approach to coaching yourself.

Create your own discipline

Do you need to diary time to be your own coach or is it enough to know that you want to do this and get results? Just like finding your natural style, you need to learn how you will create your own definition of discipline.

Get this wrong and you’re highly unlikely to be taking action in 3 months’ time!

Tell someone

I’ve seen some awesome planners laid out in many colours with lots of tabs and tons of ideas. But as that new client realized, great ideas are little use without action.

The first step to the action is to actually tell someone you are going to do it. Do you need to declare your goal online? Phone a friend or just stick a picture on your kitchen wall?

You will learn what makes you take action, which leads to our last idea…

5. Know When to Start And Stop

Knowing what to do and actually taking action and knowing when to stop and when to go for it are 2 very important skills.

If you take action on what we talked about today, you will not only challenge yourself, but also challenge those that can manipulate and mould you.

You will learn to trust and have faith. Llittle by little (not always – some clients see massive levels of change after just a couple of hours), you will step out of your comfort zone. As I described it to one client years ago:

“Some people like to slowly step out of their comfort zones and others like to leap so far out that they can’t see it any more. Learn to know which you are.”

Neither is wrong, neither is right. Some people like big challenges, big goals and big actions; others like no one to know what they aim to challenge but quietly work through their action plan to achieve it.

The true super hero in any film learns to know what works for them, accept it, love and go for it. And they don’t need a scientist, a tycoon or super villains either.

Reference

[1] Oxford English Dictionary: Weird
  • May 21, 2019

20 Coping Skills for Stress That Will Help You Stay Strong

My latest article for Life Hack

If you have a preference on what I write, please do get in touch.

Few things in life are guaranteed, although I can be quite certain when I say:

Someone is going to really annoy you. Someone is going to die and leave you feeling empty and unable to go on. Something out of the blue is going to challenge you to the core of your humanity. Something is going to breakdown and stop working at the most inopportune moment you could imagine. You are going to spend money on something you really don’t want to. You are going to be forced to do something you never thought you’d do. You are going to face a challenge that feels completely soul destroying…

How can you know these things, Mandie?

I hear you ask.

Well because as my dear Nan used to say “In every life, a little rain must fall.” Looking back as I watched Nan cook a meal worthy of gods or any childhood dream sequence I know I used to struggle with what that saying meant.

Of course some rain must fall, we would die without water, I used to think.

However on the other side of childhood where bills, maintenance, insurance and other boring things exist, I’m pretty sure I get the true meaning of that saying.

The intriguing thing is that I’m a keen reader and find that so much in personal and professional development and in the pursuit of happiness is aimed at ensuring we don’t just have wellies, brollies and waterproofs, to protect us from the rain in life, but that we are so far removed from any wet stuff we can’t appreciate the damage that this polar opposite can also have on our positive existence.

I want to share with you some of the top coping skills for life that aren’t just good for the rainy days, they can have a serious impact on your life.

Into every life, some tough times appear, it is not the tough times that define us, it’s how we deal with them that does.

All very well having great sentiments like that; however when your car has broken down, you feel ill and can’t stop because deadlines are looming, your cat’s puked in your shoes, your phone won’t hold a charge, and they are making people redundant at work it can be hard to have the a positive “Can do” attitude.

Let’s look at what to do (And I promise to make these ideas easy to action, life changing if applied, fast and reliable. Promise):

1. Find out the Real Cause of the Problem

I’m a keen believer that if you can’t see what’s going on, I mean really see, then you can’t fix it. I’m often coaching a client who will walk in telling me that X is the issue when 20 minutes later we’ve delved into their minds and discovered that X was just a symptom of the problem.

And as you probably know treating symptoms and not the actual problem rarely works. The real issue is left to carry on wrecking your health, happiness and mental well being.

How does this apply in stressful situations? Have you ever had a friend that was pregnant, or you lost or gained weight, or realized that you were “suddenly” in this really bad habit of walking in the door at night and instantly grabbing a cold beverage?

That didn’t just start, over time that gradually became more prominent. And when things sneak into our lives, be a beautiful baby bump or an unwanted 10lb, it didn’t just land on you overnight.

2. Ask Yourself the Difficult Questions

So to find out how you are coping with stressful situations, ask yourself some questions:

  • How do I feel right now on a scale of 1 to 10? (10 being awesome and 1 being awful)
  • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my environment?
  • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my beliefs?
  • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my work?

Take the time to process your response to these 4 questions. They could become powerful in every aspect of your life.

3. Notice Your Reactions

When we become aware of our surroundings, our situation and the way they make us feel we need to learn to notice the impact of these things.

Not to start moaning at ourselves and berating us for being lazy, thick, stupid, sloppy, etc, just to notice. Above is about noticing the patterns we create, and this skill is about noticing how it impacts on you.

  • How does it make you feel?
  • How does it make you act?
  • How does it make you behave?
  • How does it make you think?

At this stage you don’t have to think, do, say or act any differently just notice what happens in stressful situations.

4. Measure and Locate Where You Are Now

Peter Drucker famously says,[1]

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Therefore when you start to notice how you feel, act and behave in stressful times and have understood more about the way it impacts on you, you are then in a position to create a benchmark graph.[2]

5. Be Honest About Your Progress

In stressful situations, we can find ourselves with our heads down in the proverbial sand, with our hands over our ears yelling “la, la, la, la, la”.

While as kids, that’s hilarious to watch kids do that, as we grow up it’s a bit of an ice cold slap in the face that not being honest doesn’t fix anything and stops us from changing things. Be honest as you create the above bench mark graph.

Being honest is a powerful thing. When you’re honest with yourself, you raise self awareness and anyone looking to achieve anything in the 21st century is going to be determined to improve their own self awareness as we are starting to appreciate the power this can have.

Although Tasha Eurich[3] shares some scary research on this. Tasha Eurich, author of Insight; Why we’ve not as self aware as we think and how seeing ourselves clearly helps us succeed at work and in life says in an interview for Harvard Business Review that “95% of people believe they’re self-aware, however only about 10-15% actually are.” Adding “The joke I always make is that on a good day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about whether we’re lying to ourselves.”[4]

6. Be Honest to Your World

In stressful times, it is not just important to be honest to ourselves, it’s important that you’re honest to those that are in your world. Some find that they can do this in their personal life but wouldn’t dream of saying anything at work; whereas others bottle it all up, with a smile and a lie that says “I’m fine.”

7. If You Aren’t Fine, Say It

You don’t have to turn into a moaning black cloud of doom, but being honest helps you and other people.

Showcasing your own limitations and stress can help other people to see the human that you are. We feel more connected to those that share honestly and are more likely to want to help them and at the very least probably less likely to add more to your work load.

I worked with someone that was petrified that work would find out how much they were struggling with the work load. This is what the conversation went like (and I’m sharing it so you can ask yourself similar questions):

Client: “I’m really struggling to hold it together.”

Me: “Have you told anyone?”

Client: “I can’t do that, it would be professional suicide. They’d be circling around me ready to pick the bones of my career in seconds.”

Me: “Do you know that to be true?”

Client: “It’s not worth the risk to find out.”

Me: “So if you don’t say something, what are you agreeing to?”

Client: “Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and about ready to quit.”

Me: “And are you happy to stay there or would you like to be somewhere else?”

Client: “Obviously somewhere else, but I can’t see how that’s possible.

Me: “Are you prepared to explore where you would like to be and how to get there?”

You can guess the answer! And using the tools below, guess what they discovered?

They weren’t alone! It was an issue throughout the department and changes were made for everyone. A bit of honesty can go along way!

8. Take Actions to Change

In stressful situations, the human being is pre-programmed to do everything in its power to escape the situation it finds itself in.

Fight or flight doesn’t really do this pre-programming justice. We are still alive because since the dawn of our time we’ve been able to adapt, change and escape situations that other species succumb to.

The issue is that we also fear change. I get more speaking engagements and corporate coaching gigs because people are struggling with change than possibly any other subject. The fact is while we can appreciate change can help in stressful situations, knowing and doing is not the same thing.

Ask yourself what could I change about this situation? (This is not what am I going to do, this is about making suggestions about what you could do.) And if they are the suggestions that have been rattling around in your head for the last few weeks, or keep you awake at night, they are less likely to be useful.

Really get in touch with your subconscious (and the good ideas) by asking:

“If money, time, skill, health, magic, beliefs or values weren’t factors in this situation what could I do?”

This enables your mind to explore some whacky ideas, however as Einstein (may have said) Creativity is intelligence having fun. And this exercise enables your mind to have some fun.

9. Don’t Change What You Can’t Change

I worked with a large organization that had been through massive change. Everyone had stepped up to the challenge, but everyone was really stressed. Those that were struggling the most kept reminding me that “it hadn’t always been like this”, and “the old way was a lot easier”.

Not all change can be controlled. And when we fight it, we can find ourselves escalating stress. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is learn to go with the flow.

If you don’t “choose” to go with the flow, ask yourself:

What are you agreeing to?

This questions enables you to see that you are going to get negative emotions, actions, conversations, damaged relationships and even health issues.

Change is sometimes dumped on us like a storm clouds contents, you could stand and moan at the storm cloud but it won’t stop you from getting wet.

10. Ask Yourself: Are You Creating It?

Some of life’s stresses are man made. And I’m not talking about someone else, I’m talking about you.

It is an ugly fact that none of us want to look at (so be brave) however have the strength to ask “Am I creating this stress?”

Remember to be honest. And let the answers come to you.

11. Know that Sh*t Happens

First spotted in the 60’s, this has been a famous saying since at least the 80’s, why? Because stuff does just happen.

As humans we are always looking for reason and understanding. “Why did this happen to me?” and we can often find ourselves down a rabbit run looking for ghosts of answers that just don’t exist.

Sometimes bad stuff happens. This does not define you. This is not a personal vendetta from a god or unseen deity, seriously sometimes all you can do is accept those 2 words – sh*t happens.

12. Control Your Mindset

A quick way to find yourself suffering an intenser version of stress is when you try to control it.

As a coach, I believe we can get out of situations and move forward, however I also know from the coping skill above that when we try to force the universe to bend in a new way, it can use up a lot of energy concentrating on the wrong things.

You can control what you think, you can change your actions, and sometimes the most powerful skill is to accept that this is out of your hands. Self awareness will help you understand the differences and what to do and when.

13. Say No More Often

We talked about the need to be honest and if you explore this coping mechanism further, you will see that as humans we really want to be liked. We want to get on with our neighbours, or colleagues our friend’s friends. The issue with this in stressful times we really do need to turn around and say things like:

  • No sorry I can’t help you.
  • No, now is not a good time.
  • No, I’m not finding this easy.
  • No, I can’t do it.

The reason we don’t say things like this is because we fear what people think of us. We want to be liked. We don’t want people think we don’t care, which leads me onto the next point.

14. Embrace Weakness

The above statements are often held in our heads unsaid because we don’t want to appear weak, awkward, incapable and a ton of other negatives. The interesting thing is that what we think people are thinking about us is so often untrue.

Take the client above that feared telling their boss they were struggling with their work load. On the contrary to looking weak and incapable, the whole department got a makeover. That’s not weak, that’s powerful.

Watch out for the incorrect falsehoods that you let hang out in your head. They are making stressful situations a lot harder!

The next time it feels weak to be honest or to say no, ask yourself “Does the way I currently think serve me well?”

15. Set Clear Boundaries

Boundaries are important to us all. It feels great when we get on holiday and we can do what we like when we like, however left like that for more than a few weeks and things can disintegrate and fall apart.

We need boundaries. And at stressful times, boundaries can really help. They enable you to feel safe to be honest and work and think in a way that helps you and they set out what you will tolerate and deal with and what you wont.

Remember creating boundaries is a lot like saying no and most of the negative thoughts you are having around boundaries are imaginary too. If you aren’t going to answer work email at 10pm on a Saturday night, don’t.

Establish your boundaries, communicate them and stick by them.

16. Get Passionate About Something

In stressful times, we can find ourselves living in negative, soul destroying emotions and moods. To the point that we can attempt to numb ourselves from them.

The next time the emotions start to impact on you, think about all of the things that you are passionate about.

No one need know what you are thinking about, so if you find yourself thinking about your dog before your partner, that’s fine.

Get yourself a big old list that makes you smile. Even if the smile doesn’t feel real, your brain is still benefiting. When we get really bogged down in stressful times, it can be hard to believe that we will ever feel good again.

We can’t change everything instantly but interestingly (and I find miraculously), we can change our mindset in the click of a finger. Getting passionate could help you do that.

17. Ask for What You Truly Want

If you need time, a hug, a conversation, a massage, a run, a nap, a walk, a helping hand, ask for it.

Of all the fears in my book Fight the Fear, so many come back to the fear of what other people will think of us and I’ve heard so many people tell me that they’ve learnt to ask for what they want.

Stop fearing asking for what you need. Learn to accept that asking for what you want not only helps you navigate through stressful times, it also helps you to achieve more in life too.

18. Ditch the Guilt

Guilt just loves tough times. It will be able to give you a voice in your head that tells you:

  • This is all your fault.
  • You never get it right.
  • You’ve always failed at this.
  • You should have taken better care of that.
  • You weren’t good enough to get that job.
  • If someone had to go, it had to be you.
  • No one sticks around you for long.
  • This is you, what were you expecting?

That voice is worse than Cruella Deville, Voldemort and Hannibel Lector combined. It’s intent on destroying your determination and happiness.

Have you noticed how some people go through hell and keep going and others suffer far less and give up? The reason they keep going is not some shot of good fortune, it comes down to the what they let happen in their head. So chuck the guilt.

19. Never Hate Stress

It’s no good hating stressful times, it won’t make them magically disappear.

Stress is an essential component to your body. Without some stress between bones, muscles, skin, etc you would be a floppy mess on the floor.

Stress can help us grow and learn so much about ourselves. What could you discover about you from the stress you face right now?

20. Start Moving

When life feels too tough, we can be tempted to hide our heads under the duvet and say “give me a call in 2050, I will come out when its all over”

Trust me, I include myself in that one.

In my personal life, I’ve seen a lot of awful things this year. Don’t try and be super human, as I read in The Last Highlander, when you face the most horrific of times, just concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other.

Go the Extra Mile

In stressful times we need people around us that will go the extra mile, and I’m one of those.

Watch out for the sappers of positivity and remember the basics – sleep, eat, breathe– get those in the right measures especially when you are struggling, you see as Nan so wisely knew we can’t hide from tough times, we can’t make them magically disappear, however like a storm cloud it will eventually go away.

And behind it is left that fresh new smell that says, “Mmm anything is possible”

And do you know what?

It is…

More Coping Skills to Learn

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Drucker Institute: About Peter Drucker
[2] Mandie Holgate: Bench Mark Graph
[3] Tasha Eurich: Insight
[4] Harvard Business Review: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)
  • May 21, 2019

20 Coping Skills That Will Help You During Times of Stress

My latest article for Lifehack about stress and how to cope.

Stress impacts on us all.

No one is immune, and it's not all bad. However when it feels like it is overwhelming, impacting on your happiness, actions, results and personal and professional life, then you need to take action.

To read the full article click here.

If you would like to download a copy of this PDF to help you remember the top tips, strategies and tools to dealing with stress click here.


20 Coping Skills That Will Help You During Times of Stress
  • November 4, 2018

Blending Corporate and Personal Lives – 1st Of The Book PR

It all started with a passion for helping people to achieve their biggest and wildest dreams. And it grew into a realisation that I could write(because let’s face it if you want to succeed in the 21st century then you have to get your head around digital marketing) and then the next thing I know I’m being asked to write a book for the UK’s leading non fiction publishers. It is quite honestly the biggest ambition of my life.

To have Stephen Fry say I was a great writer made me grin for a week, okay so it still makes me grin. But to get that phone call saying “Mandie would you write a book for Pearson’s?” was the biggest, maddest, wildest dream of my life. 

And now the press are loving the story and here is the first of the articles. There will be many more, and so far every journalist has wanted to talk about the book and my journey in a different way. I could tell you about how I nearly died and wanted to sue the pharmaceutical company when I didn’t die and woke up the next day, I could tell you how I won an award sat on the sofa or was named one of the UK’s magazine’s Woman’s Own Inspirational Women of Year, I could tell you about The Business Womans Network, MP’s and international speakers loving my work or taking mangos to the home office, but hey let’s see what articles and pictures they print in the coming weeks.

Thank you must also go to Voom Media and Vanessa Moon (https://www.facebook.com/VoomMedia) I used to do all my own PR until this year, when I saw the awesomeness of this company and now work side by side with Voom Media and we haven’t falling a step out. Me and The Business Womans Network are in the press just as much as ever!

Well with a book getting 5 star reviews, the best views in London for our book launch, and endorsements with top names in business and the news my publishers have just announced I’ve just made Vanessa’s job that bit easier too!

Read more from William Mata at the Harlow Star here. Thanks for the story William!

To buy your copy visit Amazon or http://www.mandieholgate.co.uk/books

  • December 5, 2016