Category: Self care

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

By , December 11, 2013 3:23 pm

ExhaustedPerson“Because how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

~ Annie Dillard

A tale of Christmas present…

The last few weeks I’ve been coaching a lot of tired and exhausted managers. These people have spent the year working at 150 MPH. They’ve delivered, over-delivered, and in that run up to Christmas, they continue to deliver some more.

Most people see Christmas as a brief ‘time out’ from work. For a few days they get to escape from the busy-ness, usually a chance to over indulge mince pies and sherry!

Working as an international consultant I know how this feels. Once you get to December, the last few weeks up until Christmas can seem a very uphill climb. You’ve been working so hard all year, even though your appraisal says you’re an ‘A’ player and a ‘star’, it’s still hard to take the foot off the gas and not be as hard on yourself in those last few working days before Christmas.

Some of my clients have caught colds; others are just limping their way towards the Christmas holidays.

Sometimes we even forget how to slow down and be gentle on ourselves because we’re not used to it!

Here are a few tips to help you ‘wind down’ for Christmas if you have to work:

1.    Give Yourself Permission to Slow Down – Full on all year is MORE than enough. Slow the pace down and set yourself 1-2 key things that you want to achieve over the Christmas working period. It’s okay to slow down a little. Re-set some boundaries for the next couple of weeks if you’re working. Lighten up on the pressure.

2.    Create Some Thinking Time – This time of year many organizations are goal-setting, so this is a good time to spend ‘on your business’ rather than ‘in your business.’ Instead of doing the do-do of working and reacting. Set some time aside to get clear on your goals for the coming year. Define what’s important, set some boundaries around them. Get clear on how you want to work in the New Year. What do you want to do differently? Create a good foundation for next year…NOW!

3.    Permission to Leave On Time – I always think of Bob Cratchit, who is the abused, underpaid clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic Charles Dickens story ‘A Christmas Carol’. How Bob has to work on Christmas Day. Often Scrooge is not our boss but ourselves making us work harder and squeezing out every last drop of working time. It’s totally okay to leave on time over Christmas. Give yourself permission to go home!

4.    De-Clutter Your Work Space – Why not clear your working space in readiness to hit the ground running in the New Year? Clearing the clutter, whether it’s physical paper work or your email folders, can really help you to start the New Year from a better place. You’ll feel more focused and organized.

5.    Be Present At Home – Forget about work when you get home. Be 100% present for your family and friends this Christmas and have some fun! Take some time out for YOU. Even if it’s playing with your kids’ Christmas presents!

Re-read the quotation at the top of this eZine article – How are YOU spending your life?

Happy Holidays!

 

Travelling Tired or Tired of Travelling?

By , November 14, 2013 8:43 pm

photo(16)Having spent many years on the road, I’m a seasoned traveller. I’ve always got a suitcase packed. As an international learning consultant and coach, I stay in hotels approximately 2-3 nights per week!

As I’ve gotten older, although I love adventure, the travelling has become a harder slog for me and if I’m not organised, it can be quite exhausting.

In the past few weeks I’ve coached three people who have struggled with overwhelm and exhaustion during their business travel.

Traveling for work can be intense because you push yourself to a full schedule, packing everything in to maximise your time away. You travel home and plow straight back into a busy schedule of catch up. Returning home can make you feel out of control, tired, exhausted, and burned out.

Here’s what I’ve learned about travelling:

  1. Travelling IS tiring – Whether you’re flying to India on business or attending a conference 120 miles from home, travelling is tiring — both mentally and physically. Lugging cases around, catching trains, planes, and taxis involve extra effort.
  2. Your routine is gone – Your routine is thrown out of sync because you’re doing something different. You might be leaving loved ones at home or taking them with you. You might be in a different time zone so your body clock gets confused.
  3. You work longer hours – Boundaries of working can become blurred because you’re staying in a hotel. There’s nothing else to do but work! A client recently told me that while in Singapore she ended up working local office hours and then continued working her usual UK time, as they came online. She was working 16 hour days!
  4. Hotel living – While the idea of staying in a 5 star hotel and resort may sound appealing, after two weeks you can become a little stir-crazy, especially if you’re travelling alone. You can wake up not knowing where you are. You can feel lonely and out of alignment with yourself. Eating alone in restaurants can feel uncomfortable.
  5. You eat unhealthily – It’s easy to eat unhealthy while travelling. Grabbing high sugar food because it’s easy. Also flying business class brings free alcohol on tap and good eating habits get forgotten as we eat ‘on the go.’

Here’s how to integrate with your travel schedule:

Plan the day before your trip to allow yourself time to pack and prepare. Don’t rush around last minute. This can cause you anxiety, stress and overwhelm – and you’re more likely to forget something!

During the Trip

  • Look after your body – Build some exercise time into your day. This could be ½ session at the hotel gym or sit ups in your room. Exercise helps you mentally and physically. I often go straight to the gym for 30 minutes when I arrive at a hotel.
  • Eat healthy – Carry healthy snacks with you. Look for healthier options as you travel. Make a conscious choice. Don’t skip meals or eat ‘junk’ because it’s better than nothing! Travel makes you dehydrate so be sure to drink loads of water!
  • Get some sleep – Have an early night. It’s easy to stay up late especially if you’re in a different time zone.
  • Treat yourself – Get a massage when you arrive or before you leave. I do this every time I fly in and out of the USA. It really helps me to re-align my mind and body.
  • Have a night off – You don’t have to go out with friends or colleagues every evening. Sometimes we do this for FOMS (Fear of Missing Something!). Listen to your body, not your head!

Arriving Home

I call this my Integration Day.

  • Allow one 1 day to recover from any significant travel and be gentle on yourself. Allow time to unwind from the road and adjust back into your home environment and routine. Otherwise it’s easy to get overwhelmed and over tired.
  • Self-care is paramount – listen to your body. Eat healthily and nap if you’re tired.
  • Allow time for unpacking.
  • Do things little and often and gently to integrate back into your routine.
  • Set boundaries with work so it’s not full on when you return from a trip. You’ll do a better job if you’re refreshed and not burned out!

Create some good habits, systems, and rituals and look after yourself when you travel. Build in some integration time so you can adjust to your changing environments.

5 Ways to Restore Your Physical Energy and Be More Effective

By , October 31, 2013 5:28 pm

Man chained with office table (workplace) 2“In reality, physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel, even if our work is almost completely sedentary. It not only lies at the heart of alertness and vitality but also affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, think creativity, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on.”

~ Jim Loehr, Author

I was recently working with a coaching client (…we’ll call him John) who was tired and couldn’t understand why despite working longer hours, his performance wasn’t as good as it used to be. He was throwing more hours in to the job in hope that he could get everything done.

Believe it or not, John had actually become disconnected from his body!

Let me explain…

In his determination to get things done, John had become unconscious to the need to replenish or even manage his own energy levels. Especially his own physical energy reserves that were being depleted.

John described his life as numb. He was busy ALL the time. He was struggling to keep up with the heavy demands of his job and trying to get everything done.

Although he knew that exercising and sleeping well were important, he saw them as a luxury in his busy life: He just didn’t have the time. His diet wasn’t healthy either, as he had gotten into the habit of grabbing food on-the-go: convenient fast food – snacky, carb-loaded stuff. He’d put on weight in the last 18-months while working in his current role.

Here’s the thing…

Many of us lead relatively sedentary lives.

What we do is measured and evaluated with our minds, rather than our bodies (unless we are professional athletes!). Most jobs involve sitting at a desk and working at a computer or attending meetings. Performance is measured by hard work – sitting down and getting the job done!

The choices John had made were depleting his ability to concentrate, think creatively and manage his emotions. He was less tolerant of other people and would get anxious and frustrated when things weren’t going well.

He started to realize the impact these factors had on his performance at work. He had gotten stuck in a pattern of low motivation to change despite knowing the consequences of his choices.

The size of your energy reserves depends on the quality of:

  • The foods that you eat
  • The amount of sleep you get
  • The degree of intermittent recovery you allow yourself during the day
  • Your level of fitness

Here are some ways to top up your physical energy reserves:

1. Conscious eating – Take time to eat healthy food regularly. The impact of being hungry has an impact on your ability to function. Breakfast is critical! The frequency of how often you eat also has an impact on your capacity to stay fully focused and engaged to sustain high performance. Listen to your body… remove the junk food and add healthier options such as fruit instead of cookies and crisps!

2. Change your sleeping patterns – Create an evening routine. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. An evening routine might be turning the laptop off at 8pm, having a bath and reading before you go to sleep. Most of us need 7-8 hours sleep per night.

3. Drink more water – Most of us are de-hydrated! We don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Drinking water is one of the most undervalued sources of energy renewal. This is a key factor in improving your physical energy levels.

4. Regular moderate exercise – Despite knowing that taking some regular exercise is beneficial, most people do almost none! Twenty to thirty minutes a day of continuous exercise, a minimum of three times per week, can make a huge difference. Get outside and walk. Be prepared to stretch out of your comfort zone and feel a little discomfort. NOT having the time is an EXCUSE! Including this into your day can help release tension and help you to manage your emotions better.

5. Take regular breaks – To maintain full engagement we must take a break to recover every 90 minutes.  Step away from what you are doing, stretch and allow yourself to recover. Build some recovery rituals into your life. This includes down time on an evening and during the weekend.

Have ever noticed the difference physical activity makes to your emotional and mental state?

 

Lighten Up and Let Go – How to get in the flow of what you WANT…

By , October 2, 2013 7:15 pm

iStock_000012339432Large“Struggle and efforting always means that you are in resistance. As you relax, lighten up and let go, everything begins to flow.”

 ~ Gill Edwards, clinical psychologist and author.

A few years ago, I took a HUGE leap of faith and completely changed my life. I resigned from being an International Learning and Development Consultant and Head of Coaching in a very reputable training consultancy, so that I could develop my own coaching and learning consultancy business full time.

Back then, I had no real idea of how to run a business or market my services, as I’d been an employee ALL of my working life. I had some jumbled ideas on how I could earn a living and grow my business AND I had the support of an awesome business mentor.

Step by step I did it scared, took risks and lived through fear of uncertainty, ignoring the negative voices in my head, who were constantly poking holes in my confidence and offering up daily serving of self-doubt. Where are you going to get clients? Who do you think you are? What if you don’t make any money? What if no one wants to work with you?

Having being used to a regular income and the security of a J-O-B, I remember moments of terror in those early days. I regularly questioned my sanity! Work was a little patchy at the very beginning: I’d get a few clients, then a gap (the gap scared me the most!).

Taking one step at a time with guidance and support I started to move in the right direction. Former colleagues or clients asked me to run workshops or coach their leaders. I knew deep down that I was on the right path. One thing led to another and opportunities started to manifest. As soon as I stopped struggling and efforting to get clients, everything started to flow.

Something had shifted…

I stopped wasting energy on worrying and feeling desperate. I changed my inner dialogue from: But what if it doesn’t… to: How can I… and got to work on making things happen.

This created a profound shift in my energy. Instead of being focused on moving away from what I didn’t want to happen, I focused my energy and thinking on moving towards more of what I wanted.

In other words… I focused on being a successful business owner and NOT being a bag lady living on the streets!

What you focus your attention on grows!

If you start to focus on the things you love doing: what makes you feel good, looking after and appreciating yourself (and others), filling your day with activities that you enjoy and being surrounded by people that you love, you can’t help but attract gifts and coincidences. Opportunities will start to open before you because you are aligning with your soul and your purpose.

Does this mean that you should resign from your job tomorrow if you hate it?!

Absolutely NOT!

…Especially, if you don’t have any other source of income just now!

I didn’t hate my job when I resigned, I’d just simply out grown it. I got tactical and created a plan so I could transition and step into a growing business.

Whatever you want to create… Lighten Up and Let Go – Here’s how to get in the flow of what you WANT…

Set a clear intention – Start getting clear on what you want. What do you want to change? Clarify what makes your heart sing! Examine your beliefs about work, wealth and money.

Relax into what you do now – Most people don’t get clear and then give their job up the next day. There is a transition. So while you’re still in your current role, re-align to what you like about what you do already. Relax into your work rather than resisting it. Your current role is a key stepping stone to whatever you want to do next. Engaging with it will open doors to new opportunities. It helped me to reframe my existing job to become part of the transition.

Watch your language MOVE TOWARDS what you want, NEVER focus on moving AWAY FROM what you don’t want . Re-align your thinking to what you want to achieve. Create a positive focus. Check your language. How do you talk to yourself about it every single day. Shift your energy before taking action!

Don’t worry about HOW it’s going to happen – Trying to FORCE something to happen can actually push it away because you create resistance! Once you put it out there, the Universe handles the details: the when, where and how! You’ll figure it all out as you go along and everything will happen at the right time. You don’t need to know ALL the details before you begin. Timing is all about aligning with your higher self.

Things start to flow – As you grow, you’ll start to notice opportunities open up for you. You’ll meet an old friend out of the blue who can help you. You’ll hear valuable information on the radio. Things start to happen around you and you’ll attract the right people to help you. You’ll get some traction and motivation as things begin to feel lighter and you feel more on purpose.

Lighten up, let go to get in the flow of what you WANT…

 

Big Boys (and Girls) DO Cry! How Your Emotions Can Make You Smarter…

By , August 21, 2013 10:13 am

Big Boys don't cry“Crying can make you smarter.”

Nancy Kline – Author

I was talking with a manager who admitted that he struggled when one of his team started to get emotional and cried. He wasn’t sure how to react; it made him feel uncomfortable, and he just wanted them to ‘get over it’ and get their control back. He’d find himself over talking and saying anything to try to stop their reaction. This didn’t make him feel good.

It’s funny how we label crying, anger, and even fear, as being out of control.

If you watch other people’s reaction to someone crying at work they might panic, look uncomfortable, or start talking and smother them with their own concern. This reaction is more about them and wanting the other person to stop, rather than about the person crying.

Our society is scared of tears, anger and fear. We just want it to stop. We think that the pain will go away if you just stop it!

Here’s a recent real life example…

I was watching a Mother at Tescos supermarket yelling at her 3-year old child who was crying because she couldn’t sit in the cart. The Mum grabbed her child by the arm and shouted: “Big girls don’t cry – Just grow up! Stop it! You’re a bad girl and you’re embarrassing me in front of all these people!”

I had to walk away from this…

The Mother was teaching her child to repress her emotions and push them down. The child was learning how to become acceptable. Of course, the little girl sobbed even more because of her Mother’s reaction.

We have been taught to pull ourselves together, not show our weaknesses, and we are encouraged to stop showing our emotions.

Here’s the thing, though… Our emotions are there for a reason.

When we get upset (angry, scared or tearful) our thinking stops. Human beings minds are designed to get logic and thinking back if an emotional circuit breaker kicks in. Expressing your feelings, e.g. talking your anger out with a friend on the phone, can be enough to restart your thinking.

Crying is a natural process to rid the body of pain and upset. It’s completely natural and a healthy way to release toxic energy that has built up inside us.

Myths and bad advice that our parents and teachers have taught us:

  1. Crying increases the pain – So if you want it to stop – STOP crying!
  2. Being angry means that you’re out of control – You need to control your anger. Anger is a bad thing – no one should be angry EVER! Stop being angry and your anger will go away.
  3. Being scared is a weakness – You need to toughen up and be more confident. Just stop shaking and you’ll not feel scared.

Stopping this natural release makes the pain find another route to flow. It is absorbed inside you, where it goes underground. Holding this in can cause pressure, anxiety and even physical illness if the issue is held down long enough. These built up feelings churn around inside you and block your thinking.

Here’s my response to the manager who was struggling…

If someone is crying at work it could be for many reasons: frustration, sadness or even because of a paradigm shift in their thinking that has had a profound impact on them.

In that moment, their emotions trigger in to release the energy; they need to cry because in that moment they can’t think. It’s the same with being angry or scared…

Allow and hold space for this to happen for a few minutes.

In those few minutes, they don’t need your platitudes or smothering with words.

  • If they are angry – Let them just talk it out. ALL you have to do is LISTEN. Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t jump in there and agree – you’ll make things worse! Ask them: what is it that is making you angry about this?
  • If they are crying – Let them cry and just sit with them (don’t do anything!). They may cry because they are frustrated and unable to think. This will pass sooner rather than later, if you don’t stop them.
  • If they are scared – Let them talk through their fear. Sometimes just articulating their fear and sharing it reduces its power. Again, all you have to do is LISTEN.

Hold space for them and act as if it’s perfectly okay and normal (because it is!). Give them your respectful attention.

Observe what happens…

They will recover in a short space of time and their thinking will re-engage. You don’t need to over compensate by thinking for them and rambling out loud!

It’s natural for people to occasionally get angry, cry or say that they are frightened. Allow safe space for this to happen and you’ll observe how quickly people can recover from their emotion and think more clearly afterwards.

Next time you’re feeling angry, sad or frightened, give yourself permission to allow your emotions out rather than keeping it all inside and pushing it down.

BIG Boys (and Girls) DO Cry!

 

Are You Too Busy To Look After Yourself?

By , July 10, 2013 8:44 pm

iStock_000011570636Large“A healthy and happy YOU is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone else. Yet most of us don’t look after ourselves. We are too busy getting things done to get around to looking after own emotional, psychological and physical needs as a human being. We only take it seriously when something goes wrong!”

- Elaine Bailey, Author, Speaker, Coach

Many of us spend most of our time doing things for everyone else:  the boss, clients, family or friends. Sometimes our own needs are neglected. We relegate ourselves to the bottom of our To Do List hoping that we’ll get around to taking a break, eating healthily or going to the gym soon!

I was working with a coaching client recently who was exhausted with her busy life and the demands others placed upon her. She felt obliged to be the constant support for everyone else. The more she gave, the more they seemed to want. She was locked in this holding pattern because she didn’t want to let anyone down.

Taking personal timeout wasn’t an option and the thought of it made her feel guilty. How could she be so selfish and do something for herself?

My client had assumed the role of a rescuer in many of her current relationships. She’d become the go to person for everyone. She felt exhausted and unhappy.

She was:

  • Doing more than she really wanted to
  • Discounting her own needs
  • Doing more for others than they were willing to do for themselves

Our lives constantly inter-connect and we all have needs and wants. It’s sometimes hard for us to weigh our own needs against the needs of others and own needs get neglected as we try to help.

The truth is that we care and we want to help those that we love, but we also need to look out for ourselves.

We consciously hang onto our old conditioned patterns of behavior. My client had no-energy for herself, because she was unconsciously giving it all away to everyone else.

Taking care of YOU is NOT selfishness.

So what does ‘selfishness’ actually mean?

Selfishness – Many people confuse taking care of themselves with selfishness.  There is a significant difference between the two.  Selfishness is about getting what you want without any consideration for the other person’s needs. It’s usually at the expense of the other person. Selfishness is an intentional release of negative energy. For example, it’s purposely not sharing information with someone that might save them time, because it might make them look better than you.

Self-care  Is a totally different energy. You are look after your own well being in a healthy way. It’s a commitment that you make to yourself. A healthy and happy you is hugely important because your energy affects and interacts with everything and everybody that you come into contact with (See Radiators and Drains).

Invest in yourself.

If you’ve never done this before consciously, those closest to you may notice a difference and feel uncomfortable to begin with because you are doing things differently and they are not used to it. They prefer the ‘old you’ because they were easier to manipulate! Teach them how to treat you.

Here’s how to get started…

1. Take responsibility  We are each responsible for our own life and the choices we make. Therefore, we have the right to take care of our own needs. The balance between commitment to yourself and the desire to help someone else requires us to define some lines of responsibility. As a coach, I’m responsible to my client, but not for my client’s results. They have to take action in order to get a result. It’s more difficult to draw lines with those we love.

2. Determine your own needs and wants – To live authentically it’s important to consider your own needs, wants and to identify what’s important to you. This clarity helps you to live your core values and create your best life. You also get to decide when another’s needs supersede your own. Take conscious action do one thing every day for yourself.

3. Set some boundaries – As human beings we all have equal value, worth and dignity. You have the right to say no when you want to, to take care of yourself and to ask for what you want. It’s important to set boundaries with other people, so they know what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Boundaries help you to protect your authenticity, integrity and demonstrate how you value yourself and others.

You only get one life (and one body) so look after yourself. After all, your To Do List is pretty useless if you’re not around To Do it! Right?!

If you are not taking care of yourself – Who is?

 

Five ways to protect your confidence

By , June 20, 2013 7:15 pm

Thermometer - Confidence Level“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.” 

~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

I love this quotation because it reminds me that growing and making change comes from taking action. Creating forward motion almost always brings criticism with it. Why? Because taking action tests the boundaries of our own beliefs and the beliefs of others, as we step out of our comfort zone to create a new normal.

It’s normal to feel a little ‘wobbly’ or scared when you are taking charge of your life and making some changes. After all, you are leaving behind what you already know to make a transition in a different direction.

This takes courage.

It’s easy to doubt yourself and lose confidence when others around you are telling you that you are wrong. Friends and family might criticize your decision. Someone else might be doing what you do in a different way, but it doesn’t feel congruent or authentic. Yet you still feel the pressure of how they are doing it because they seem to be getting results. Do you copy them? Or do you carve your own path and do it your own unique way?

Everyone has opinions of what you should do, but here’s the thing – their opinion of you or what you are doing is theirs and not yours! And their opinion doesn’t have to become your own reality.

You get to make your own decisions and you are accountable for the choices you make and the actions you take. You don’t need to ask for permission.

In my experience, most people underestimate their potential and play safe by reaching out for what is within their grasp, rather than stretching and aiming higher. The danger is that you settle for mediocre and what you have rather than what you could create.

As you grow, expect a few obstacles along the way. When you take action you create ripples of change in the energy around you. It’s very tempting to succumb to the belief that your critics were right after all. Especially if you feel tired and things are feeling a little harder.

Here are five ways to protect your confidence while taking consistent action towards your goals and dreams:

1. Surround yourself with the right people – Jim Rohn once said that you are the average of the five people who you spend most of your time with – we become like them. Growth thrives in a positive encouraging environment. Leave the naysayers and negative people behind. Associate with like-minded, nurturing, encouraging and supportive people. As you experience new things you will encounter difficulties. Having a positive sounding board will help you through. Surround yourself with positive people who are authentic, have integrity, and who are the after of your before. They will lift you up.

2. Listen to your body – Your physical needs also affect your confidence. Be fully present in your body and listen to it when you are tired, hungry or dehydrated. These three things can have a huge impact on your confidence. Their absence will have a negative affect on your attitude and state of mind. Take a break, eat healthily and look after yourself. Tired and exhausted people are rarely successful. Take a break – go for a walk!

3. Keep going and keep growing – Life is about the present moment. What you do NOW influences who you will become in the future. It starts NOW! Get clear on what’s important and create a plan of consistent action – one step at a time. You become an expert by taking time to learn about your passion. Increasing skills and competence will help you to feel more confident each and every day. Get good at what you do by practicing it imperfectly. Experience is a great teacher and can lead to significant growth.

4. Take personal responsibility for your thinking Choose to be courageous. Don’t be distracted by external noise – stay on course. Focus on your truth and what is important for you. Have faith in your intuition and believe in YOU. Learn to recognize your own emotions and their impact. Develop a deeper understanding of your emotions, strengths and limitations. Recognize how negative patterns can feel overwhelming and cause you distress. This is known as an amygdala hijack and it’s just your Lizard Brain trying to protect you. Learn to reframe these quickly.

5. Re-decide – Remind yourself of your WHY and in the face of self-doubt, get clear again. Make being authentic your number one goal and stick with it. Allow courage to overcome any fear. Don’t let fear rule your decisions, just because somebody has challenged you. People WILL push up against you – especially when you’re doing something different. Learn to rescue yourself and step back in alignment with your vision every day.

How are you protecting your confidence?

 

 

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