Improve your relationship with STRESS! | 6 ways to cope better!

Chronic stress creeps into our lives slowly, and we are seemingly unaware we’re operating in a stressed “survival mode”. My biggest wake up call EVER was when I fell asleep at the wheel and drove my minivan off the highway with my small children in the back, strapped into their car seats. “Drove” is an understatement, we flew off the highway, becoming airborne, landed hard, crashed through a massive fence and then many trees. I totaled the car. 

I was a working mom with young kids and decide to take them on a work trip with me. I thought it would be fun. I was in control and capable of managing it all. In retrospect, I was running on empty long before the work trip, it was just the enough to put me over

the edge. Funny thing is, I thought I was fine and coping well. Was I ever in denial!

What I didn’t realize at the time were the effects of chronic stress on our bodies and mind. Cortisol floods our brains when we are in a chronic stress state and the impacts range from forgetfulness, to increased emotional responses, to brain cells aging prematurely, increased production of free radicals, to out right killing brain cells and these are just the highlights.

Of course, we can’t live without stress, but we can certainly become more aware of our stress and its impacts. Awareness helps us implement coping mechanisms, before we get into serious trouble.(Like I did)

Here are 6 tips to help you have a better relationship with stress.

  1. Recognize and name it. We can be our own worst enemies when our brains and bodies are overtaxed, and we tell ourselves “to push through” or “I’ll sleep longer tomorrow night.” If you are saying these things to yourself STOP it is a sign and you need to check yourself.
  1. Establish Control: What can you let go of and what can you impact? Stress isn’t always predictable, so focus on controlling the things that are. Create healthy habits and routines, this predictability can help to combat stress.
  1. Get a good night’s sleep. This is nothing new, we have been hearing this since we can remember. (My mom was extremely strict about this!) Don’t just get a good night’s sleep, value its benefits and prioritize this habit.
  1. Get organized. Stop telling yourself you can do it all. Map it out first and cut some of the commitments out. Planning can also help you predict when you are likely to be stressed. This will help you prevent bad outcomes!
  1. Get help if you need it. Reaching out can help you become more resilient and better able to manage stress. Earlier intervention may reduce disability caused by stress-related complications later on (like a catastrophic accident !!) If you feel supported during your stress, you are likely to weather it more successfully than if you don’t. Partnering with a coach is one way you can do this.
  1. Change your attitude toward stress. Rather than striving for no stress, strive for healthier responses to stress.

The ultimate goal is your health.

Healthy mind. Healthy body. Healthy attitude.

(BTW we walked away from that accident with only a couple of scratches, but my life was forever altered.)


Feeling STUCK? | 5 ways to fire up your motivation

One of the greatest challenges for me during this past year has been motivating myself. 

Obviously, the pandemic, living the same day over and over again and Zoom fatigue are all real but I am pretty sure this isn’t the only reason I am lacking motivation. As the pandemic gets under control, I urn to be out and about again and wonder, will I have more motivation? If so, why? This got me thinking perhaps I could look at this as an opportunity to reflect. What was my motivation pre covid, why and what would I like it to be going forward? Am I pursuing activities and accomplishments in the hopes of an external reward, or do I find the endeavour itself very rewarding?

As you know, many of us have been hard wired to seek external validation, from being told we are good kids, to getting good grades, winning awards, placing in sporting events, and we get accolades for these comparative accomplishments. I am not suggesting these are not valid achievements or worthy goals however it’s my experience that we fuse validation and motivation to the extent that external validation becomes inextricably linked to our motivation. Sometimes (lots of the time) this misleads us, it pulls us in directions we should not be going. It is also a bottomless pit, an insatiable beast! We can’t get enough and often we don’t believe the validating comments anyway, it is a vicious circle …we need more, and more. Are we pursuing endeavors for accolades? Do they align with our own values and our purpose? Do we want to jump out of bed and get to these things because we are excited? If not check out my tips below. 

Here are 5 tips to help you identify this:

  1. Take stock of whose opinion really matters This can be so liberating and it will support you to manage your time better. Why spend time pleasing people whom you don’t really care about or even really know? Make a list of those you really care about, if they don’t make the list DON’T TRY TO PLEASE THEM
  2. Track your energy. When do you feel most excited, most energized? We all have peaks and valleys during the day (I love first thing in the morning and get a big burst of energy around so if I am going to try something new it should be at a time when I am feeling at my best, figure out what is your “best time”
  3. Journal your accomplishments. Don’t wait for others to award you with their praise, praise yourself and then toot your own horn! Write everything down and when you’re feeling down READ IT!
  4. Stop doing sh#@ you don’t like. We all have obligations, but we owe it to ourselves to keep this to a minimum. We always have a choice. When we feel “put upon” energy depletes and our internal dialog is bad. Pay attention to this.
  5. Habits Habits Habits Revisit or form some clusters of habits. This is a great way to build on your intrinsic motivation. Who doesn’t feel proud of themselves for accomplishing a few great things in the day.(I start with making my bed. I love the look of it, drink water, again I love seeing my empty water bottle and think Yeah me I did something good for my body, get some fresh air). It is an easy way to start your day off on a positive note and it is something just for you. 

We must start somewhere. Like everything there is a first step. Start there, start small and build on your plan. Science has our back on this as well. Research shows when we shift our mindset from external motivators (extrinsic) to internal motivators (intrinsic), we’re far more likely to achieve our goals and research also suggests we might be healthier and happier for it.

Working with a coach is a great way to identify your purpose and values, supporting you to make the best decisions for you and build up your engine of intrinsic motivation! 

Feeling Stuck?

Trust Issues, they are everywhere! 5 ways to build trust in your workplace today! 

Personally, and professionally, we talk about trust A LOT. We learn at an exceedingly early age, trustworthiness is everything. “Your word is your bond”.  If I were to ask you a time when you were caught in a lie, I bet you can recall it perfectly. What you did, what you said you did, to who and with whom, the whole deal. You likely remember how you felt as well. The shame and remorse possibly the disappointment, in yourself. It is a big deal, a non-negotiable and it is all around us, why do we have such an issue with it?

We have heard the saying “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to rebuild”. I am not sure I agree with this. Trust does not take years to build, we generally trust people and we trust them immediately. If you say you are pilot and can fly this plane, I am going to go with that. We do not ask the Doctor for her resume. We count on servers to clean their hands and not recycle our food. Do you check your receipt every time you buy something?  Nope, for the most part we blindly trust much of the world around us, particularly when it comes to strangers. When we are at work however things can get messy. All of sudden we are nervous that perhaps those we work with don’t have our best interests at heart. Maybe there is side talk and the belief that our trust, though easily passed out to the barista this morning, is much harder to give to the person in HR. 

Why is this? Well, we know the barista does not have a hidden agenda, she is just doing her job and she does not really know us anyway. Those we work with know us, they see our strengths and our weaknesses, they may have an agenda, but most importantly we have an agenda. We are making assumptions and withholding in some cases. We do not want to look incompetent, and we can be quick to judge when others do. We build up walls to protect ourselves for what may be a toxic work environment and we form alliances with only a few of our coworkers. We have doubts about our boss’s competency and we feel threated some how, some way many times a day. Does this sound familiar? Well, if not YIPEE for you, you are in a great headspace and workplace. If it does sound familiar, please read on. 

Five Tips to build trust in your workplace.

  1. Start with you! What is your headspace? The environment may be toxic and that is a lot to deal with. Your mindset and attitude will need to be in tip top form if you are going to tackle this. Be clear with yourself. What can you influence? How can you approach your co-workers and what kind of energy will you bring to the office, virtual or in person? Have you checked in with your own code of ethics? Sometimes we get drawn into the gossip or side talk. Is this the kind of co-worker you want to be? If you want trust in the work workplace, ask yourself first, what do I need to demonstrate to be trustworthy and what specific behaviour should I exhibit. Get crystal clear on this first. Once you feel sure of how you want to show up and what you can realistically influence you can go to step two.
  2. Ensure the team has a common understanding of what trust looks like to THIS team. That may sound obvious, but each team will have different norms of communication and execution. This would be a great team building exercise. Brainstorm with the team a list of “What trust looks like for the team” and brainstorm a list of “What trust does not look like for the team” Then talk about how you will hold each other accountable. This will be the game changer. If you do not hold one another accountable the process is a waist of time. ***This does not have to be spearhead by the head of the department or the manager. This can be suggested and lead by any team member. 
  3. Are you making assumptions? STOP this can be the biggest game changer! Establish a norm on your team whereby if you catch yourself or a teammate making an assumption STOP! Go with the facts and otherwise ask questions and clarify. This can be part of your team norms, set something up with the teams input to support stamping out assumptions. This is made up stuff in our minds that sets us on the wrong path almost every time. 
  4. Create or connect to Vision, Mission, Values. This can be something the team works on together, revisits quarterly and has a common sense of purpose and language. Do not leave these sentiments on paper, ensure they come to life and guide your work. They will provide tools to fall back on when things seem to be going sideways. They will provide you with something to check in about. “Is this allowing us to accomplish our mission? Or Does this align with our team values?” 
  5. In a recent literature review by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) 2019, they found 25% of employees do not feel safe voicing their opinions about work-related issues. This is serious and compounded when people do not feel safe reporting harassment, discrimination, or serious conflict. Organizations will first suffer from loss of productivity due to disgruntled and disrespected employees, and then they will suffer from turnover. Creating an environment of trust that supports and encourages honest conversation is integral to a healthy and progressive workplace and also supports diversity, equity and inclusion. Ensure your organization has mechanisms in place to encourage honest and difficult conversations. Peer conversations with structure and confidentiality can be a first step. Rather than gossip, set up formal chats where coworkers can productively discuss and even document questions, challenges and issues. The intentions are to provide objective support, circle back to the values and move forward with a positive perspective and possible solutions to address the issue. 

“We don’t build trust when we offer help, we build trust when we ask for it.” Simon Senik

We benefit from admitting we don’t’ know it all and we can’t do it all. We need each other to accomplish our work we are not a one-person organization! How would you feel if your co-worker asked you to support her initiative to create an amazing work culture?  We want to share our ideas and we naturally want to hear those of our colleagues. Blindly trusting all those we meet and those we work with may be a bit naïve, but I prefer this to the assumption that everyone is out to get me. I certainly get far more work done and have access to many great ideas, when I trust those around me and make it known, loud and clear, I don’t have all the answers and I need help! 

Trust Issues