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QUICK FIX FOR MELT DOWN MOMENTS

As a coach I’ve seen a lot of trends in people’s needs over the years. As you can imagine thanks to the pandemic it’s been increasingly around supporting teams and businesses around agility, performance and productivity but fast on their heels are overwhelm, overloaded and overworked – or as I call it The 3 O’s. Burn out is no laughing matter costing business billions every year.

Mental health costs UK employers up to £45bn a year and this figure has risen 16% since 2016, costing an extra £6bn a year. This is made up of absence costs of around £7bn, presenteeism costs ranging from about £27bn to £29bn and turnover costs of around £9bn.

Accountancy Daily

I share lots of strategies to overcome these issues and my clients see results fast, but if you are in the midst of a very tough time and are ready to scream, kick the cat (please don’t kick your cat) drink the wine, eat the chocolate, swear and quit your job for a new life on a desert island here’s my strategy to help you stack up the support you need.

The acronym should help you remember it;

Stop and step away

Reading this blog article instead of finishing that report that's due in tonight!Looking at your to do list and wanting to explode with the stress?

To do this you need to start noticing what is going on.

  • Are you aware that you are mindlessly scrolling through social media?
  • Making your 10th cup of tea?
  • Reading this blog article instead of finishing that report that’s due in tonight!
  • Looking at your to do list and wanting to explode with the stress?

There is a wealth of evidence that suggest powering on through is not the answer. No matter how looming your deadline, step away. If you can’t face stepping away physically step away emotionally. Look away from your computer screen/desk. But please stop right now!

Take a breath

Ideally take three. Nice deep ones. And then notice what you feel? Pain in your neck? Achy shoulders?

I often think that people experience pain in their body that matches up to their words. It may sound bonkers but sometimes when I’m with a client I can feel their pain (even if they’ve not said anything – it can feel like chains around my chest – which then release when we work out what they need to do. It can feel like a clenched jaw – when I told a client I felt like they were clenching their jaw, I added “Can I ask do you feel like you’ve not said something you want to say to someone and it’s going over and over in your head?” They said “Yes, how did you know!” it was a huge eureka moment.). Have you noticed how people say “It was gutting” they usually have stomach issues too!

Look to notice (not do anything about) how your body feels, what emotions are running through your mind, what thoughts are whizzing around? This is a form of mediation. As I tell my clients you don’t need to sit cross legged on the mountains of Nepal saying “Om” to benefit from mindfulness and mediation. These tools enable your brain to get a moments peace to process everything that has been going on – it’s why stepping away even for 5 minutes is so good for you.

I also tell clients that the first thing teams like the SAS do before a big operation is….stop and breathe. Not go over the equipment for the 20th time, or scope the scene, but stop and breathe – they use the box method. 8,8,8,8 – hold your breath for 8 seconds, release your breathe for 8 seconds, then hold your breath for another 8 seconds and lastly inhale for 8 seconds (when you start you may not be able to do 8 seconds) and there’s a lot of science to explain why the box breathing method works.

Assess

This means that you assess the situation. Is it as bad as you think it is?

This is called catastrophising, where you blow things out of proportion. It’s one of the reasons I can help people to perform better, reduce their stress, overwhelm, and improve their productivity in just 2 hours because we start by adjusting their perception. So, assess in 3 ways (1 is not going to be for everyone).

1. Asses if this is the worst thing you’ve ever been through?

2. Then assess if this is a perceived tragic, disastrous, appalling, epic failure – or are your emotions and feelings giving you different ideas to what the facts are telling you? For instance, I had a client who felt like they were failing on a massive level.

They weren’t. They were doing amazingly well and growing an amazing company and team around them, what they were doing was assuming they would make a mistake and let someone down and thus fail – imagining something that hadn’t even happened!

3. (This is the one that’s not for everyone.) Asses who have it worse than you in the world? Think of the people who are suffering from some devastating weather related incident, facing war or persecution. Is what you experiencing worse than this?

What these three things do is enable you to move the scale of how bad the situation is. If you’ve read my books, you will know I talk about the What if game – where you imagine what if it was disastrous, what if it was amazing and what if it was beyond words bonkers. Adjust your perception before you move on to the next step.

Change the chemical

Our bodies come with a lot of cool kit but alas many don’t read the manual so miss out on using it. The chemicals in your brain don’t just spurt off whenever they fancy, they also can be turned on like a tap.

Need some happiness? Eat some cheese, tick something off your to do list, give someone a helping hand. They all help your body release dopamine. (1)

Feeling stressed and depressed? Get out in the sunshine, dark and dreary day? Reach for the complex carbs like greens or a banana or ask someone to give you a massage to help boost your serotonin levels. (2)

Need to get the endorphins going? (Not to be confused with dolphins – terrible joke, but I’ve been known to do that joke in front of large audiences – shall I apologise now?) Sex works a treat, but then so does laughter or aromatherapy oils – some of these are obviously far more appropriate for the workplace than others!

Not sleeping enough or feeling anxious? Give your oxytocin levels a boost by stroking your pet (not sure it would work with your goldfish, sorry) or practice some self-love. Although be cautious with this one, while increasing oxycontin can be good for you it can also lead to a feeling of them and us as latest research suggests it amplifies relationships. So, if you have people that aren’t seen as “in your crowd” it can make that worse. Other evidence suggests it could actually damage relationships. (3)

And the final step is K – for Kind, Kudos and Knowledge

Kind – as in be kind to yourself – do not wait for someone else to be kind to you or to notice your distress. True happiness has been proven to be an inside job so rely on you. What could you do to be kind to yourself?

Kudos – often in times of high stress people become very hard on themselves and don’t acknowledge their awesomeness. If you’ve attended one of my training days or read my books (or taking my confidence course) you will know I encourage all humans to write a “Why I’m awesome” list. This is a 2-page handwritten (very important – there’s science in my reasoning!) A4 document on why you are awesome. Some will find that easy and some will post to my mastermind group how much they hate me. That’s okay, I will help you find and appreciate your awesomeness. It’s so essential for a lot of success, performance, confidence, productivity, communication and happiness issues.

And lastly knowledge – do you have the knowledge you need to stop this extreme stress moment? Do you need to lean on someone? You know you can lean on me, right? I’m not joking. I have people from all around the world message me every week and I do my best to reply to every single one sharing advice, kindness and support. Who will give you the knowledge you need? Is it a factual thing you need or just a reminder of your awesomeness?

Don’t forget

This will take a few attempts to make it stick fast as a positive new response to high stress moments. Stick with it so that you can stack up the things that will support you when you are feeling overwhelmed and overloaded. Your brain is incredibly clever and will happily go down a new path with a little practice. I can get myself into a calm state and feel like I’m on the beach in the South of France in about half a second I’ve been doing this for so long. So stick with it!

And lastly if you need something to work even faster, try the half smile. Right now let your jaw drop slightly. Feel it slackening. Now turn just the very corners of your mouth up. How does that make you feel?

As always let me know how you get on, feel free to share and tag me, get in touch any time and if you want support to work on this post to my mastermind group where I will be happy to motivate, inspire and empower you. Learn more here.

(1) https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-dopamine-diet

(2) https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/serotonin-the-natural-mood-booster

(3) https://www.psycom.net/oxytocin

Let me know how you get on.

  • January 15, 2022

I know why you will work on a bank holiday – and you aren’t going to like it.

I know you have a mountain of things to get done and the bank holiday seems like a great opportunity to get ahead, right?

But here’s the thing, I once created a 10 day week for a client, and they could see that no matter how much time you create – you will fill it.

Mountains of research points to the benefits on your minds ability to problem solve, get creative, get productive and even sell more from having a bit of down time. Space.

That’s not checking your phone. That’s going for a bike ride. Painting a picture. Walking the dog. Yoga. The Gym. A barbecue with friends. Reading for no other reading than you love the book. Tinkering in your garage/studio/hobby room or garden.

Just real brain space from work.

The reason you won’t do it is because there’s a real fear hiding there;

  • The fear that you will let someone down.
  • That you will miss out on an opportunity.
  • That someone will think badly of you.
  • That you will look unprofessional.
  • That you won’t get it all done. (MYTH; No one ever gets it all done. Those that are looking to achieve big, that believe in more will ALWAYS be able to find something else that “needs to be done.”)
  • That you believe the only way to success is through agonising hours and making sacrifices (Assumptions are never good for success.)

The list of excuses for not turning off the phone and stepping away is endless. And I’ve probably heard them all;

  • You don’t get it.
  • It can’t be done like that tin our industry.
  • It must be done immediately.
  • I’m very driven – and it has to happen today.
  • No one leaves these.
  • Etc, etc.

In every case the client has been able to see the detrimental effect that needing to work 24/7 has on their long-term success, their happiness, their family and friends, their health even their ability to make more money.

So, trust me when I say, step away from the phone/laptop/report.

Escape.

If you want lasting success – Escape. It’s just one day.

But before you escape you need to;

  • Work out what fears stop you. Fixing one day won’t fix the fear – find it, take ownership of it and get a plan of action to fight it. (I’ve seen this work so powerfully, thus please do take action.)
  • Put into place clear structure to your working day – that others know and respect too. You may work at 7 am and 8 pm but is that 7 days a week? Is there an hour on a Thursday where you go to a class that is yours? Don’t be afraid to own time.
  • Put boundaries in place – if you will answer emails 24/7 do you expect everyone else to as well or is it just you that needs to be a superhero?
  • Know your goals. If your goal for this month is to achieve X – how will that still happen with 2 working days off? What needs to happen? Who needs to know? What adjustments do you need to make? (A great thing to remember here is if you can make 2 days disappear for fun this month and still achieve your goals, think how much more you could get done next month since you will be gaining 2 days!)
  • Trust – have faith. Don’t get me wrong I can still hyperventilate if there’s a lot going on at work about turning the phone off for 17 days (last holiday duration) but with the right processes, the right clients, the right team, the right attitude and the right believes – wow it’s good for you and your success.

Not feeling it?

Feel this is impossible to do?

I’m more than  happy to have a chat anytime. Well you know how it is right?

 

  • May 6, 2019

Too busy to have any time?

One of the things that clients often present to me is this illusion that “there isn’t any time to do anything else!” Remember someone far cleverer than me said that “time is an illusion”? Actually it was Douglas Adams in the Hitchhikers guide and he added to that quote “Lunchtime doubly so” but is that really what the successful person has to look forward to? No time and no lunch?

Here I share 6 top tips to spending time where and how you want, so that you aren’t too busy to find time for the things that could change your life and bring you want you really want;

You choose where to spend your time 

As scary as this is we have control over where we spend time. When someone says to me “But that has to be done!” I ask “says who?” and then when the client is able to work though well actually this is not on my agenda, this is what someone else has deemed important or I’m so used to doing this stuff first I just got into the habit of assuming this was the best use of my time. People are able to see how they choose to spend time. If every minute was a £1 or a $1 would you choose to use your time more wisely or differently?

In my book I look at our choice of using time. Remember that thing called Christmas Day? No matter what is going on, no matter how busy you are, you make time for it right? Why is that? Because in your head its important. It’s worth investing your time in. It’s something that is done. The whole world seems to stop for it right? Is that all coming from you or from your environment and society too? All these things should help you to see that if your goal was as important and all consuming in feelings and emotions as Christmas Day can be, you’d find a way to get it done!

Learn to say no 

In my book I talk about Can you justers, the people that never respect your time and seem to get to success quicker than you. It’s because they know to ask for help (another fear that plagues many of us and features in my book that can be killing your success!) and Can you justers know that by getting other people in on what they consider is important they make time. Now I’m not suggesting you become a Can you justers, (I would suggest you learn to outsource, employ or automate though) although I am suggesting you appreciate that they prioritise themselves. And you need to do the same.This is not you showing a lack of respect for others, this is you showing a growth in respect for yourself.

Working from home can be fraught with can you justs that you create for yourself. “It won’t take 5 minutes to put the washing out, load the dishwasher, etc, etc” The point is every time you leave the task that will get you the results you want in your personal and professional life it takes between 15 and 25 minutes to get back into the flow of working. Just do 3 to 5 little jobs a day. (Or just check Facebook or your emails that many times) and bam you’ve lost over an hour! 

Fear of your uses of time

Another reason we don’t use time wisely is because we fear the actions we need to take. Look at your attitude and beliefs about your ability to get the job done, to raise your game and get what you want. Do you believe you can do it? Do you believe it is going to be hard work and tough? If you do believe its going to be tough and beyond your capabilities what is the likely hood of success? Of believing you can achieve it? Of creating anything to do but that because you fear the outcome? 

Get clear on what you really want 

If you know what you are aiming for, what your long term goals look like and they are so clear you can already feel as if they have been achieved, there’s little that gets in the way. Create a powerful reason why that makes nothing more important than your goals, tasks and actions. Time is yours to command. learn that. Also check out the blog article on my website called The Catherine Wheel Effect. This looks at the impact of being thrown in any direction. You want to get back your lasered focus to get what you want. Be aware of what you want and time becomes a powerful commodity not a guilt ridden procrastination.

Do you forget to sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom?

Well even if you do eventually your body catches up on you! You are made of nature, you are not a robot. Instead of steam rolling through life working stupid hours thinking that is the smart way to success. What about a new approach, where you listen to your body? The day you feel tired, slow down a bit, “I can’t!” I hear you cry. “Really?” I say. Because a body not listened to or respected will prevent you from doing things at the most inopportune moment. Ever noticed how you get ill on holiday? Ever noticed how you have a big day and you feel awful? That’s your body saying “I really wished you listened about a week ago!” By learning to listen to your body more you can also start to tap into your mind more. And by doing this instead of your goals, ambitions and actions been in adversity to your human needs and the natural cycle of you, it will learn to be in-tune with it.

This may seem way out there wacky stuff, but the fact is the person that accepts that it doesn’t matter how powerful a golden hour at 5am is if you are a night owl and your circadian rhythm says “don’t function until after 9 and that still needs caffiene!”, it still won’t be the most powerful way for you to achieve. So start listening! 

Make time 

Ever have your Nan say this to you? I did, and my Mum “But I don’t have time to tidy my room!” “Make time!” was the reply. And its true, time is an illusion, we get to choose every day where we spend time. But be careful of the words you use. Notice the words connected to time? The words make it sound like a commodity that is leaking away all of the time. That is not necessarily so. In some cultures this is not even the real deal remember? 

I read a great article in Psychologies by Eleanor Tucker (December 2016 issue) that talked about how in some cultures time is actually cyclical. Think of Spring, to Summer to Autumn to Winter, repeating year on year. (In actual fact I often see clients repeating the same patterns, the same stories, and the same mistakes – cyclical!) By becoming aware of this they are able to change their patterns and adapt a new more productive way of thinking and living. Thus seeing that “I’m not stuck with this, I can change it.” And I would say the same is true with time.

As someone who learnt to be successful in the car industry many years ago. Time was finitely measured. Every bolt that was removed from a bumper added up, mud caked over the wheel arches and rust obstructing the Panel Beaters task? Add .1 of an hour. Because of this I have been able to break down time into tiny bite size pieces every day. It means that I can make time for lunch, to stroke the dog, to hear the birds and still get my important money making, change my life for the better things done first. I can look at my daughter as she whizzes through the door with her mad speed and put my phone down because I know she won’t want a lot of my time, and since there are 1440 minutes in a day why would I begrudge time to the things that really matter? It really is time to know what those things you want are and make time for them isn’t it? 

If you liked this my book looks at our choice of words associated with time, Can you Justers and the techniques, even the phrases to use with them, how to say No and how to ask for help, as well as how to understand your true values (Chapter 1 often throws a reader a curve ball!) Mandie Holgate Fight the fear book

  • February 1, 2017