In a time before elections, Brexit and pandemics we still had a global issue impacting on the world’s economy; Stress.
A WHO led study estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. (1) Stress can be caused when we feel like we are losing control, so when you face something so big it’s completely out of your control what can you do about it?
I’m going to share how to control the uncontrollable. A great example would be company A who in the first lock down reduced their absenteeism for their team of 250+ to zero and they said it was “In no small part down to our coaching with you.” I don’t share this so you think I’m awesome I share to prove the uncontrollable can be controlled.
When people feel like they can’t control a situation it can lead to stress, guilt, anxiety and many other negative emotions, put that in the working environment, and I’ve seen it cause;
Working from home has featured in many coaching sessions this year often with clients stating there’s “Nothing I can do about this” or (my pet hate) “It is the way it is.” When I hear this statement, I know that this is not the case and that it’s the root cause of why the organisation is experiencing issues or not growing as they’d like.
So, the first thing you need to do is challenge what you believe to be true. Statements like;
These are signs that you need to challenge what’s believed to be true. You don’t try and stop the sun rising? Why, because you know it to be out of your control. Do you try and get out of the way of a stampeding bull? Why, because you believe you have control.
These are 2 obvious examples however at work they are more subtle and they are the statements that no one pays attention to. So, learn to!
When you find the hidden beliefs in your organisation your brain will instantly come to your aid with solutions, the tragedy is that these are rarely the right ones. When coaching a team at this stage it is only on page 2 or even page 3 of a flip chart will we discover the really powerful solutions. The reason?
So when you say 1 plus 1, it’s already proudly given you the answer. This stops you from finding new more productive ways of working since your brain wants to keep you safe – believing you’ve done all you can and there’s nothing that can be done.
It gets some raised eyebrows when I get people to think with a magic wand. “If you could do anything to fix this, regardless of cost, time, skill what would you do? If bringing Elvis back from the dead would help, we’ve got magic so what would you do?”
This gets people laughing (Or embarrassed for me – that’s all good – challenging your beliefs is tough) and more relaxed so it’s easier to deal with challenges at work when you don’t feel responsible for them. If you are going to use this tool, ensure you ask follow up questions like;
This is where the powerful ideas are!
In a company you’ll have those that are predominantly interested in the end result, those that are interested that it delivers to your customers what was promised and those that want to ensure it comes on budget.
Trying to get them to think differently won’t work and can cause a lot of stress as different departments feel they have no control over the outcome.
Enabling everyone to appreciate their different views and priorities and how they come to together for the result helps reduce stress, which leads us on to a massive issue when we feel we lack control..
By now you can see that control is not always about control but your perception of it. When you bring everyone together to a common goal that they feel invested in it can be hard to not end up with email mountains. I’ve never seen a team I couldn’t reduce their workload for. Time management improves and staff get happier when they don’t feel like they are constantly chasing their tail to do everything for everyone.
As a company create communication rules. (Go back to the crazy magic wand idea to achieve this.) They can include;
These aren’t comfortable conversations, but they help restore a sense of control. If…
Are enforced. Enforced sounds like a harsh word however to restore a sense of control in any environment if everyone creates the rules, everyone lives by them.
If after a few weeks you discover the rules aren’t working for you, don’t be frightened to go through the process again and see what’s working and what needs to alter.
A team of researchers from the University of Illinois studied occupational stress and employee well-being, those who have greater “boundary control” over their work and personal lives were better at creating a stress buffer that helped protect them from falling into a negative-rumination trap. (2) and research also teaches us that those that feel like they are respected, and part of the process are usually 90% more committed to a positive result, so it’s a process worth investing in.
And lastly, we all know that trying to have complete control is a cause of stress, therefore by lowering that need for control you can become more in control – ironic right?
Check out Polarity management by Barry Johnson PHD (3), his theory on managing uncontrollable situations has featured in more than a few coaching sessions. he teaches you a more powerful way to see the uncontrollable, instead of trying to control it, work on balancing it and says “those that develop the ability to distinguish between solvable problems and unsolvable polarities and have the ability to respond effectively to each will outperform those who can’t distinguish between them and who try to address all issues from a problem solving perspective.”
The good news for you and your team is that no matter what the future may throw at you and let’s be honest after this year it could be anything, with these skills you are ready for anything, resilient with an adaptive mindset ready to embrace the uncontrollable.
This is such an important subject I will be bringing you future ideas around this to support you and your team. If you would like personalised solutions, do get in touch. My coaching is very unique and gets exceptional results. Working with you and your team will be an honour.
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;
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;
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?
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;
Think about what kind of support you would like and who in your world could provide it?
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;
Challenge your thoughts to be able to get over yourself and speak up.
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!)
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;
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;
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.
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?
There are various breathing exercises that have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety in seconds. One 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.
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…
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?
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.
Choose different music for study, for relaxation, for fun, for stress release – don’t choose the same music, it loses its power.
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!
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.
Yoga, running, dancing, painting, singing, hobbies, tai chi, look for things in life that make you feel good and at them too!
You won’t stick to these stress-free exams tool kit unless you make it visual;
There are times in our lives when we feel like we can’t do it. Panic sets in. Fears escalates. Confidence takes a nose dive and we question our actions, our thoughts and even ourselves.
When you feel that level of overwhelm it can be hard to know how to go on. “I’m not good enough” can attack us and before you know it you have that fight or flight reaction that leaves you with even more negative thoughts, actions and results.
So how can you escape this?
Here are some tips to help;
And if I can help, just say. If coaching is not a viable option right now. Just message me with what is impacting on you and I will write a tailor made blog article just for you. People really do care, and I’m one of them. xxx