Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Restoring Balance in your Life

A few people have asked me recently how to create better balance in their lives. These people are professionals, managers and leaders in very successful organisations and they work very hard. They travel for work and spend long hours in an office environment, and are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by stress and work. My background is in the corporate environment so I know the stressed and exhaustion very well and when people mention the word stress in relation to their jobs I get a nervous tick. 

So how do you create better balance in your life when your life seems to be so heavily tipped out of balance?  It is so easy to advise people to stress less (after all how many times have you heard the phrase “don’t stress it’s only work”), but in reality it can be very difficult when you are consumed by you role. Sometimes you are just in it so deep you can’t think logically which creates bigger stresses.  There are also multiple factors to consider when looking at stress and your job, considering most people work because they need the money to live and have career ambitions. 

So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed by your job I have written 10 ways to assist in overcoming stress and restoring some balance back in your life.

1)      Try to keep a positive attitude. By keeping things in perspective and being present in your role. Take each day and each situation as it arises. Even when you don’t feel like it pretend, it will pay massive dividends.

2)      Recognise yourself if you feel undervalued. Focus on the value you create in your role. This is really empowering. I was working for an organisation  where I felt I wasn’t being recognised and I decided to flip it so I started to recognise everyone I worked with no matter how small their action, the result was that in a matter of days I was receiving more recognition than I had in years! I created this through my actions and you can too.  

3)      Set clear boundaries. Set boundaries between work and personal time. Decide that you will not work past a certain time, or answer emails or calls in the evening. Setting boundaries helps regain power and will assist in restoring balance in your life.   

4)      Explore flexible work options - what does your company offer you? Flexibility at work has become the norm, so take advantage of options to help you deliver better.  

5)      Rest. Taking time off is so valuable to have holidays/getaways especially if you work a lot. Your body needs the down time to restore and you always return balanced from a holiday. Don’t wait until it is too late, plan ahead and schedule your holidays. A regular meditation practice is always a great way to have a mind break and bring yourself back into balance. People who meditate at work are more productive and stress less.  

6)      Make a plan. Be practical about your situation. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the emotion and exhaustion of work. Set a plan, write down tasks, deadlines and clarify your accountabilities, you may even be able to delegate some of your work.    

7)      Make sure you keep moving don’t just freeze where you are.  If you are going through a tough situation, keep moving forward, don't set up camp and stay there.  

8)      Ensure that there is a balanced value exchange. Some organisations will work you to the bone, so ensure that you are receiving the right amount of value back. Whether that is through financial rewards, flexibility, career opportunities or training ensure you are getting value back for the work you are putting in.

9)      Utilise your support network and vent to them if you need to debrief and vocalise the stress out of your body. It is called getting it off your chest for a reason as it will help you release some of the inner stress and restore more balance.  

10)   Communicate your stresses to those at work that can do something about it. Your manager has a duty of care of you and your wellbeing. If you are overwhelmed by workload; raise it as an issue. I have ended up in hospital in a life threatening situation because I  was overworked in the corporate environment. As much as we like to think we are irreplaceable we’re not. You are replaceable at work, your heath on the other hand is not.   

My rule of thumb is that when works starts to cause more harm than good then it is a good sign to move on to something else. I know that sometimes this might not be part of your plan but after all please keep in mind that you do have a choice. You can restore the balance in your life, acknowledging that you are out of balance is the first step, keep going it can be achieved.  

Monday, 13 June 2016

Habits of Highly Mindful People at Work

In my corporate career I work with many different types of people, and the mindful ones always stand out, as they have an ease to how they approach their work, no matter how intense or stressful their job may be. They are usually likeable, calm, show resilience, seem very experienced, wise and have strong leadership skills. So what do they do differently? 

Below is a list of common habits that I have seen from highly mindful people. I have also provided tips on how these habits can easily be incorporated into your daily life so that you can be more mindful in your own work and overall life.

1) They focus inwards. Mindful people have a regular meditation or mindfulness practice. I have worked with many people who have shared their mindful stories with me. Some do morning yoga, morning meditation, they might run or walk through the park or they simply get some 'meditation time' on public transport. No matter what they do, all mindful people spend time focusing inwards. This also means that they have increased awareness of themselves and others. 

When you are at work you are constantly exchanging energy with others and this can be exhausting as you are managing other peoples demands and expectations. If you are a leader of people you have your team constantly taking your energy. Therefore a mindful practice is critical for rebalancing yourself so that you can continue to strive in your job and keep a balance between your body and mind. 

Try it for yourself, commit to just 2 minutes a day of your own mindful practice and work up to 5 minutes a day. Make mindfulness a priority and increase your own level of awareness. 

2) They are kind to themselves. Mindful people fill their own cup first and looking after themselves is a priority. They have self respect and self worth. By being kind to themselves, mindful people set clear boundaries, have clear communication styles, set expectations and can manage their time better. 

Being kind to themselves also means that they have energy to help lift others up as well. Mindful people invest in others and consciously spend time guiding and inspiring others at work.   

3) They observe more. Mindful people have immense awareness of their own thoughts and words and choose them wisely. They talk less and observe more. They don't get caught up in gossip, stress or anything toxic, rather they let it wash over them and move on. 

4) They journal. Mindful people write down their thoughts, insights & goals so that they don't dwell too much on their heads. They get it out and then move on to something else. Once you write it down, it gets out of your head.

5) Simplify, simplify, simplify! Mindful people simplify tasks and problems so that they don't over analyse or complicate anything. Simplicity is so important in mindfulness. Get back to basics. From my experience simplicity is a true super power and should not be underestimated especially in the corporate environment. Great leaders are able to simplify, try it and see the power for yourself. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Use mindfulness to take back your power - WITH GUIDED MEDITATION

We all have an immense amount of inner power within us, and I think why is it then that some of us can feel so powerless in so many different situations? How and why do we give up our inner power?  And when we feel like we have lost our inner power, how do we reclaim it?

Whether you call it inner power, personal power or empowerment, we all have it and I am increasingly finding that the lack of inner power is causing of a lot of frustration or unhappiness. In many conversations recently I have found that the driving force behind peoples issues is that they have unconsciously given up their personal power or they have become submissive to other people's power.

I am a yoga teacher, and in yoga we talk a lot about owning your own space and how important it is as a yoga teacher to hold the space when you are teaching a class. I have taken this concept to all areas of my life, for example; I am an expert at work, I am in expert in yoga, mindfulness and meditation and I am an expert in my family. In each of these roles, I hold my space and to me this means reinforcing my inner power. 

How mindfulness can help
We all know those really calm and wise people who at the same time are really powerful, their inner power radiates from them. What do they do differently? I have listed some tips below on how YOU can be mindful and reclaim your inner power so that it can radiate from you too. You are so powerful and mindfulness can help you unlock this power and help you block out outside noise so that you can just focus on yourself and your own power. Tips include:

Be conscious of your physical presence - Stand tall, strong and confidence. Be aware of your physical presence and posture. This will help you feel empowered and boost your self confidence. Not only will this make you feel good but people will also take notice.

Raise awareness of your own inner power - Be aware of your inner power and if you feel like you have been disempowered - take it back! Set the intention to take back your power and more importantly GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BE POWERFUL.

Set clear boundaries - Set boundaries in your life. If you haven't done this yet, then start. Be assertive about your own personal boundaries and don't feel that you need to push your own boundaries to make others happy (especially if this makes you unhappy in the process).

Lead by example - You can't control other people but you can lead yourself and I have found leading by example really empowering.  There is a lot of strength in backing yourself and leading by example will bring you a lot of credibility and awareness of your own actions.

Choose you battles - Don't try and fight every battle, choose your battles wisely and this can be very empowering as you are choosing where you focus your energy. Some things can just be let go of without having to fight, so choose to go with the flow and don't take on all the battles in your life. Also remove yourself from other peoples battles (they have their own lessons, as do you!).

Short meditation for inner power:
  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position
  2. Close your eyes, feel your eyes soften and loosen your jaw (we hold a lot of stress in the jaw) 
  3. Take 3 deep breaths and feel yourself settling into your body
  4. Choose one or all of these and repeat over in your mind:
  • I am worthy of my power
  • I take ownership of my power
  • I give myself permission to be powerful 
  • Using my inner power helps me to be kind to myself
  • Using my inner power helps me to be kind to others
      5.  In your own time, bring your attention back to your breath and observe how your body is   
           feeling and observe how your mind is feeling
      6. Gently bring awareness back into your physical body and open your eyes.

Being aware of your power gives you a sense of empowerment. Nobody owns your power but you so don't let anyone take it from you. Stand strong and feel your own sense of power and hold your own space. You are worthy and powerful. Believe in yourself.