Synchronicity

Image from Lonerwolf

Has something like this ever happened to you? You have been thinking about your friend, whom you have not seen in years, and they contact you.  


Psychologist Carl Jung introduced synchronicity.


What is it?
“Synchronicity is a phenomenon in which people interpret two separate—and seemingly unrelated—experiences as being meaningfully intertwined, even though there is no evidence that one led to the other or that the two events are linked in any other causal way. Though many people perceive signs or spiritual meaning in synchronistic events, most scientists believe that such events are more likely coincidences that only seem meaningful due to aspects of human thinking such as confirmation bias” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/synchronicity)

We don’t need to seek synchronous events, we merely need to be aware. If the whole idea of synchronicity seems a bit strange there are other ideas that are somewhat similar: “grace, serendipity, extra-sensory perception, miracles, divine providence, and being in The Flow. They occur without conscious effort; but, what if you could attract or anticipate these experiences to benefit yourself or your organization? There are a few things you can do to cultivate more synchronicity in your life. Tom Zender, in Phoenix Business Journal, gives some ways to cultivate more synchronicity. Stay in the present moment, be authentic, and allow your intuition to help guide you:

  • Believe in your idea with a feeling that it will have a positive effect on you and your organization.
  • Give shape to the idea by visualizing a positive result from implementing the idea. See how the idea can actually work.
  • Ponder the idea, share it with others, and get some feedback. Often, input from others will enhance the idea.
  • Spend time to clarify how the new idea can be implemented. Feel what it would be like to have the idea working perfectly.
  • Allow the idea to rest – let go of it.
  • And when the inner “nudge” happens, act upon the idea.

Examples:
You have just received your last check from unemployment when suddenly a job comes along.
You walk into a book store not knowing what to buy, and the book you need falls from a shelf and practically hits you over the head.


You don’t need to have any belief or thought about synchronicities, but I encourage you to pay attention when they occur. Who knows what you might discover? Sometimes getting out of our head and paying attention to what our heart, gut, and events are suggesting can be well worthwhile.


#leadershipdevelopment#coaching#psychology#heartmath


Our Brain and Leadership: Where Does Neuroplasticity Fit?

Leaders need to always be learning. As I continue to delve into information on leadership, neuroplasticity, and synchronicity I am learning unbelievably interesting material. Of course, I will be sharing at least some of what I read with you.

As leaders, we are influencing others all the time and a good leader is cognizant of their attitudes, actions, and words. Leaders also have a large influence on their work environment. With the influence on the work environment leaders also influence the brain development of employees. Self-directed neuroplasticity, according to Bosch (2021), “is the process of the brain adapting to the work we do and how we do it.” As such, leaders want to endeavour to create a positive workplace recognizing peoples’ needs for such things as “autonomy, relatedness, and fairness” (Bosch, 2021). A few steps Bosch (2021) suggests to create a positive work environment include:

  1. Positive feedback in a timely manner
  2. Learning opportunities
  3. Communication – all forms, by everyone
  4. Participation in ideas  
  5. Limited distractions thus allowing people to focus and develop new neural pathways
  6. Necessary breaks encouraging reflection and new thinking – did you know some studies suggest longer hours make people less effective

Knowing that we can continue to develop neural pathways throughout our life we must consider what those pathways will be and how we will develop them. How we use our brain determines what we develop. Just as you train for physical competition, or for a chess game, or a spot on Jeopardy, we exercise and plan. The same must be done to develop the brain. Practice what you want to learn, expose yourself to new ideas, new people, new experiences. Challenge your brain and your memory. Your neurotransmitters need to be kept in balance.

Our brains play a vital role in emotions and memory. Our brain is also involved in our reaction or response to stressors. As I have written about in the past, the heart is also involved. Stress results in both physiological and biological responses with the fight or flight response: increased heart and breathing rate, increased blood sugar, the release of adrenaline and cortisol, our pupils dilate, and we are not able to digest food as easily as blood is redirected to essential areas for survival. When cortisol (the stress hormone) is released this, in turn, releases stored glucose for energy, and over time our immune system is suppressed.

There are ways to adapt our response to stress. I encourage the use of HeartMath and any other techniques that you find work for you. Bosch (2021) identifies the following as ways to help reduce your stress level:

  1. Make your goals realistic
  2. Learn your triggers and how to decrease your response to them, or avoid those triggers
  3. Take time during the day to refresh yourself through calm moments that could include conscious breathing, HeartMath techniques, meditation, go for a walk or other physical activity
  4. Connect with people – friends or family – did you know loneliness increases your vulnerability to stress
  5. Physical activity also reduces levels of adrenaline and cortisol, so make it a regular part of your daily routine

We can do a myriad of things to improve our well-being and as leaders demonstrate to others healthy habits. Include healthy habits with additional activities to build a safe, positive, desired workplace.

I can guide you to learn specific techniques and systems that relate to you and your situation, personally or professionally. We all deserve to live a beautiful life.

Reference:

Bosch, H. 2021. Why We Do What We Do. EBSCO Information Services – www.ebscohost.com

Brain Fitness

I recently wrote about Neuroplasticity. I’ve done more reading and am sharing what I have discovered. I found a fitness program for my brain, and it is provided by HeartMath, of which I am a Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor.

According to Amen (2013) “The brain is an organ of loving, learning and behavior, and so is the heart”.

As I get older, I notice my brain is not performing as well as it once did, like my body. I also found things I can do to help my brain be in better shape. Having read that cognitive decline starts in our mid-twenties I can understand why my brain might need some work. We can continue to be alert and be developing our brainpower into our 80s and 90s. I have a few good years yet and who knows, maybe I can keep going past that 90 mark.

To understand Neuroplasticity, you need to know the word Neurogenesis: the regeneration and growth of new brain cells. Neurogenesis goes hand in hand with neuroplasticity. One way to stimulate neurogenesis is through activity – physical activity –

“Aerobic activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even sex, are effective ways of boosting neurogenesis.” (5 Ways to Boost Your Neurogenesis, 2018). Additional ways of encouraging neurogenesis include environment, diet, psychoactive substances, and meditation. More information is needed for a better understanding of how these ways boost neurogenesis. (Caution: Though most of these are harmless, you might want to be careful with psychoactive substances, most are illegal and are still being researched, and have not been approved for medical use. I am not sure about the reliability of the site from which I retrieved this information. I strongly suggest peer-reviewed research for further clarification.)

A current article by Dana Smith, supporting the above-mentioned ways to stimulate neurogenesis was found in MIT Technology Review, Sep/Oct2021, Vol. 124 Issue 5, p30-33.

Through neurogenesis, neuroplasticity is possible. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust and refurbish itself. Some of us older folks, the baby boomers, have been learning how to manage our emotions, listen to our hearts, and become able to enhance our creativity, problem-solving, and discernment abilities. We can continue to learn as we age.

We have been hearing the negative effects of COVID-19 on our mental health: And remember if it affects your mental health, it is also affecting your physical health. We need positive emotional states to help us improve and maintain our cognitive functions. To slow down cognitive decline, we want to ensure we have social support – consider volunteering in your community – to fulfill this suggestion, another way is to learn emotional self-regulation (I can help you with that). Keeping a positive outlook benefits our health by improving the processing of information in our brain and nervous system. All three of these suggestions work best if you do them all. You don’t have to start everything at once, take your time and start with what works best for you.

We want to spend more time being in a positive state than in a stressful state. Some examples of the two are:

Positive Outlook: hopeful, appreciative, joy, caring, compassion, excitement, and loving

Stressful Outlook: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry, fear, or apathy

As I became interested in neuroplasticity and reading as much as possible, I had no idea that I already had tools to help me train my brain. I have been using several of the HeartMath tools for numerous years. There are some specifics I want to review, identifying what each tool is promoting in my brain. Being aware of how these activities work for specific areas/functions such as Freeze-Frame for decision making, or Quick-Coherence for resetting after a challenging situation will no doubt guide me in encouraging neurogenesis to develop some areas of my brain that could use a tune-up.

Watch for more from me about our heart, brain, neuroplasticity, and what evolves from this fascinating area of our lives.  

Amen, D. (2013). HeartMath Brain® Fitness Program. HeartMath.

References

How to Train Your Brain

I recently blogged about Neuroplasticity. I’ve done more reading and am sharing some of what I have discovered with you. I found a fitness program for the brain, and it is provided by HeartMath(R), of which I am a Certified Trainer, Coach, and Mentor.

According to Amen (2013)

“The brain is an organ of loving, learning, and behavior, and so is the heart”.

Radiant Life Chiropractic

As I get older, I notice my brain not working as well as it once did, like my body. I’ve also learned that there are things I can do to help my brain be in better shape. Having read that cognitive decline starts in our mid-twenties I can understand why my brain might need some work. We can continue to be alert and develop our brainpower into our 80s and 90s. I have a few good years yet and who knows, maybe I can keep going past that 90 mark.

We can’t talk too much about Neuroplasticity without the word Neurogenesis: the regeneration and growth of new brain cells. It goes hand in hand with neuroplasticity. One way to stimulate neurogenesis is through activity – physical activity –

“Aerobic activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even sex, are effective ways of boosting neurogenesis.” (5 Ways to Boost Your Neurogenesis, 2018) https://www.neurotrackerx.com/post/5-ways-to-boost-your-neurogenesis. Additional ways of encouraging neurogenesis include environment, diet, *psychoactive substances, and meditation. I will do more reading to get some details on these suggested ways to boost neurogenesis. (*Caution: Though most of these appear harmless, be careful with psychoactive substances, most are *illegal and are still being *researched, and have not been approved for use. I am not sure about the reliability of the site from which I retrieved this information. I strongly suggest peer-reviewed research for further clarification).

A current article by Dana Smith, supporting the above-mentioned ways to stimulate neurogenesis was found in MIT Technology Review, Sep/Oct2021, Vol. 124 Issue 5, p30-33. Through neurogenesis, neuroplasticity is possible. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust and refurbish itself. Some of us older folks, the baby boomers, have been learning how to manage our emotions, listen to our hearts, and become able to enhance our creativity, problem-solving, and discernment abilities. We can continue to learn as we age.

We have been hearing the negative effects of COVID-19 on our mental health: And remember if it affects your mental health, it is also affecting your physical health. We need positive emotional states to help us improve and maintain our cognitive functions. To slow down cognitive decline, we want to ensure we want to have social support, also consider volunteering in your community, and learn emotional self-regulation. Keeping a positive outlook is beneficial by improving the processing of information in our brain and nervous system.

We want to spend more time with a positive, outlook than with a stressful outlook. Some examples of the two are:

Positive Outlook: hopeful, appreciative, joy, caring, compassion, excitement, and loving

Stressful Outlook: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, worry, fear, or apathy

As I became interested in neuroplasticity and reading as much as possible, I had no idea that I already had tools to help me train my brain. I have been using several of the HeartMath tools for many years. There are some specifics I want to review to identify what each tool is promoting in my brain. Being aware of how these activities work for specific areas/functions such as Freeze-Frame(TM) for decision making, or Quick-Coherence(TM) for resetting after a challenging situation will no doubt guide me in encouraging neurogenesis to train some areas of my brain that could use a tune-up.

Watch for more from me on our heart, brain, neuroplasticity and what evolves from this fascinating area of our lives.  

If you want more help training your brain schedule a chat at your convenience: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

References

Amen, D. (2013). HeartMath Brain® Fitness Program. HeartMath.

Neuroplasticity: Train Your Brain

No alt text provided for this image
Photo by Margarida Afonso on Unsplash

Why would someone want to retrain their brain? A few reasons could be to overcome depression or anxiety, learn new physical skills, improve memory, and build your resilience. This is an area in which I have had an interest for many years before I ever heard the word ‘neuroplasticity’.

In the past scientists did not think the brain continued to develop after childhood. Now, it is known that the brain continues to grow and develop through life. How exciting! Knowing that the brain continues to grow and develop: What are you going to do? There is so much to do and to investigate, let your curiosity run wild. There is much to learn and changes to be made.

I am not well-versed in neuroplasticity, but I have several articles to read and plan to investigate what we might be able to do. According to Psychology Today

The importance of neuroplasticity can’t be overstated: It means that it is possible to change dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behaving to develop new mindsets, new memories, new skills, and new abilities.

Psychology Today

This sounds incredibly beneficial to those with mental health concerns; neuroplasticity is a foundation for mental health treatment (reference: Psychology Today) I am also wondering about skills – what kind of skills can be learned? Can someone who has had a stroke recover more than we have thought in the past? I also wonder about developmental concerns – this sounds like another area that would be of great benefit to many. I guess I can’t blame my advancing age on my memory concerns – time for me to find out what I need to do to develop some new neural pathways. After all, we can continue learning throughout our life. The information related to age and memory suggests lifelong stimulation could well be a way to decrease memory loss, dementia, and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and maintain optimal brain health. I think I exercise my brain quite well on a regular basis, but I might need more as I certainly notice my memory is not as good as it once was. On the other hand, maybe I just have a lot of information stored there and I need to clean out some files. Or are our devices that store phone numbers and other information for us eroding our neural circuits to where they are no longer functioning in an optimal manner?

As a Leadership Coach, and HeartMath Trainer, Coach, and Mentor among my specialties – helping people build resilience. Psychology Today had the following information about the brain’s ability “…to change and grow in response to experience enables people to bounce back from setbacks and adversity – to be resilient.”

Severe stress, trauma, or worry can disrupt neuroplasticity. This disruption is characteristic of depression and PTSD. An example given by Psychology Today is that of former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who after her shooting was unable to speak, but through therapy had regained her ability to express herself.  This information suggests to me just one more reason why it is important for each of us to learn how to use our brains for optimal wellbeing and to manage our responses to concern and adversity.

How do we stimulate this neural plasticity, so we get the most possible benefit? Physical activity. And you thought I was going to say mental activity. Aerobic exercise helps both the heart and the brain. Aerobic exercise helps the brain stimulate the release of “brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which sets in motion the growth of new synaptic connections and bolsters the strength of signals transmitted from neuron to neuron. (Reference: Psychology Today)  I think we all know that the human body wasn’t meant to be sedentary, we are built to move.

Are you always happy with the way you respond? Do you say things you don’t mean when you are angry or upset? Are you at a loss for words when someone challenges you? Do certain things trigger you to feelings of sadness, anger, frustration? You can change how you respond. A few simple steps to retraining: 1) Identify the response you want to change – name it. 2) Identify the response you want to develop. 3) Explore what could decrease the undesired responses and boost the desired responses. 4) Practice the new desired response until it becomes natural to you. Let me help you with this process, sometimes we can’t quite grasp how to do these steps, as simple as they seem. You do need to be focused, aware of what you are doing, what you want. Let’s talk more about this and see what we can do: Give me a shout drelaine@drelaineleadership.coach

Hope: Looking Forward to 2022

Another year coming to an end. The passing of time; so quick as you get older, so slow when you are young. We’ve gone through a lot in our lives – good, bad, and so-so. The past couple of years has certainly challenged most of us in a variety of ways. What have we learned from the challenges?

I’ve learned that there is far more dissension than I thought. Masks, vaccines, conspiracy, are only a few of the items that have elicited the numerous disagreements in the world. Nonetheless, hope remains.

Our hopes can range from big to small, from personal to international. For what are you hoping?

I am a Life and Leadership Coach, and a Certified HeartMath® Trainer, Coach, and Mentor, and as such I continue to hope for a world of love, peace, kindness, caring, respect, compassion, and cooperation. I will continue to encourage and guide others to focus on gaining control of their responses as they work toward a life of love, health, and prosperity (not necessarily money).

It is easy to lose hope, or for hope to wain during these times of chaos. That sounds pretty normal – after all, how could we appreciate the benefits of hope if we don’t experience disillusion from time to time. But don’t let that disillusionment become your norm. We can learn to have hope, even when we have been let down (and I’m sure we have all been let down at some time).

I recently received this email message from HeartMath® which prompted me to write about hope.

Having hope is important, but it’s time to start creating forward steps along with it – not just waiting for hope to put solutions on our doorstep. A good first start is to begin expressing more care and compassion and bringing it to the street in our day-to-day interactions, then the rest will unfold….We were born to love, respect and cooperate with each other, and collective humanity is starting to move in that direction, although it may not seem like it at this time. Sara Childre

(https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgzGllMDQTCFhstXPfRJlXWdchbSL)

Learn to listen to your heart and heed its guidance. Our hearts are quite brilliant. They send more messages to the brain than the brain sends to them. Something to think about, something to learn about. We have more control over our lives than we know. I suggest we keep delving into that theory and see how we can improve our lives, the lives of our family and friends, and the lives of the world population.

To increase hope for a better future, we can learn to connect with our available heart’s guidance that’s within all of us. This connection born from love and care, can unfold the higher qualities of life we are looking for, and increased joy and fulfillment. Sara Childre

(https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgzGllMDQTCFhstXPfRJlXWdchbSL)

Build trust in your heart and the intuitive guidance it can give you. Believing in your heart’s intuition will help you reveal those qualities of life, joy, and accomplishment.       

Several of the HeartMath® Techniques can help you become aware of your heart’s intuition i.e., Quick Coherence Technique ®, Heart Lock-In Technique®, or Freeze Frame Technique®. I can teach you these techniques and many more that will help you be in control of your responses and connect with your heart.

What the World Needs Now from Our Leaders

close up shot of a blue pansy butterfly
Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

I am a supporter of Complexity Leadership. I discovered Complexity Leadership as I worked on my Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership several years ago. When I read about this leadership theory, I was asking myself ‘why haven’t I heard of this before?’ and ‘why has this not been adopted much more widely?’ I  was thrilled to see and read an article by Aaron J. McKim and Catlin M. Goodwin (2021) espousing the qualities of complexity, leadership, and sustainability. Non-linear and dynamic systems are something that I relate to, I am not particularly good at linear. This goes back a long time as I have always asked ‘but what if,’ ‘can we try,’ and ‘how will that influence [e.g., another department, etc.]. I believe that what one person does has an effect on everyone else. Think butterfly effect – a butterfly flaps its wings in one area of the world it can result in  weather change elsewhere. Making even small changes can bring about large consequences.

As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, and extreme weather conditions resulting in numerous disasters, and the environmental changes threatening our existence on this earth I have become aware that we – humans – need to do something different. If we keep doing the same things, we will continue to get the same results. (“Austin Talent Acquisition | High Tech Recruiters-HireFactors”) If we continue with the same results, the outcome will not be favourable. Thus, following what McKim and Goodwin (2021) have to say we need complexity theory as the foundation of leadership for sustainability.

Will we embrace leadership for sustainability?

We are not seeing any form of leadership for sustainability from the current leaders making the headlines. Maybe we need to step up and be leaders rather than leave leadership to the elected officials, big corporations, and the very wealthy. Afterall, they don’t seem to be doing a particularly good job. There have been changes occurring over the years that have not been addressed.

What can we do?

According to McKim and Goodwin (2021) “leadership scholarship and practice must change to equip all individuals with the capacity to disrupt systems, collaborate across differences, learn continuously, and build relationships in an effort to collectively advance toward a more ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable future.” (“Complexity theory: The changing role of leadership”) This resonates positively and powerfully with me.

Though this might sound a bit rebellious I adamantly support this notion and believe it is where our hope for the future lies. We will not go back to what we thought was normal prior to COVID-19. Those days are long past. Nonetheless, we do not need to be fearful or mourn their loss. We simply need to open our minds, hearts, and emotions to view the world in a unique way. If you are not curious you need become curious and ask difficult questions. I suggest we start with ourselves; ask yourself the difficult questions; what are my values, what beliefs have I carried all my life that might no longer be true, and where will I be and what will my life look like in the future – five years, ten years, maybe even as far as twenty years. Though we probably can’t fathom what changes will take place in those time frames, it behooves us to at least ask and make changes according to our values and strive for a positive future. If the current path of our world continues the future seems somewhat bleak.

Complexity theory is a profound shift in the way we understand and see the world. The linear thoughts, still very prominent in our world, need to change. Complexity theory suggests a non-linear, dynamic, emergent, and self-organizing system that is unpredictable and uncertain, according to Marion and Uhl-Bien (2001). Already we have complex systems where the interactions of the parts require understanding. An open, curious mind is needed to understand these interactions and encourage innovation, on-going learning, and change to evolve or emerge.

Complexity theory has provided a basis for complex leadership, systems leadership, and adaptive leadership. Moving away from traditional leadership models where hierarchy, prescriptive processes, and managed change are the roles of a few at the top. With complexity leadership we will see leaders clarifying the emergent processes of systems as they self-organize (McKim & Goodwin). Leaders will encourage disruption of existing patterns of behaviour within systems and will stimulate the exchange of information, ideas, and innovation (McKim & Goodwin).

Anyone and everyone can and must identify as a leader and accept the connected responsibilities (McKim & Goodwin). There is no place for anyone to sit back and say, ‘it’s not my job.’ Leadership is everyone’s job. Open your minds, your hearts, and your curiosity to move forward, disrupt, and see what emerges.

I will be continuing to share information about complexity leadership in future blogs and I look forward to your comments and discussion.

References

McKim, A.J. & Goodwin, C.M. (2021). Emergent opportunities in complexity, leadership, and sustainability. Journal of Leadership Studies, Volume 15, Number 3, 2021.

Marion, R. & Uhl-Bien, M. (2001). Leadership in complex organizations. The Leadership Quarterly, 12,389-418.

How Is Your Team Functioning?

I enjoyed and learned a lot from Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you are a leader, a manager, a coach, or at any time have people who look to you for advice, coaching, or leadership I recommend you give it a read.

The Five Dysfunctions that Lencioni identifies are: 1) Absence of Trust 2) Fear of Conflict 3)Lack of Commitment 4) Avoidance of Accountability 5)Inattention to Results.

Absence of Trust: If the team members are open and honest with each other trust will exist. Team members need to be able to share what they might have done wrong, what their concerns are, and any weaknesses they might have. There is a need for vulnerability among the team members.

Fear of Conflict: Many people want to avoid conflict. Conflict can be ok as long as it is respectful and not about a person but about a process or a thing. However, to have open discussions the team members need to trust each other. Passionate debate that is open and respectful can be a great advantage for any team.

Lack of Commitment: How committed would you be to put into action something you thought wasn’t right, but hadn’t had an opportunity to express your thoughts and ideas? If team members haven’t had a chance to freely discuss their concerns or resistance to ideas and to offer other suggestions, they are not likely to have the necessary buy-in and won’t be in a hurry to accept what someone else thinks is right when they disagree.

Avoidance of Accountability: If that buy-in is not present there isn’t commitment, and without commitment, there is no reason to call attention to any errors along the way. If there is no commitment a person won’t be eager to share their own errors let alone someone else’s. Errors need to be out in the open to allow everyone the opportunity to ensure they can be overcome. There might be a need to change a process so the same error is not repeated.

Inattention to Details: Who cares about details if you aren’t in favour of what is going on anyway? Individual needs are put ahead of those identified by the team as their priorities and goals. How many organizations actually do this? The well-being of the employees is essential to having a successful organization. The details of any project will only be attended to by workers who feel valued and cared for.

These Five Dysfunctions build on each other and the first one and all the others start with Trust. How can Trust be built? Before even thinking about building trust everyone on the team will want to examine their personality type and the personality types of the other team members. There are a variety of personality evaluations available for this purpose. I know the DiSC method and am a certified partner, so will refer to it from time to time. Once personality types are identified, and all types are important, then the work of finding out how to get along begins.

Having a functional team takes work from everyone. It is a journey to create the functional team, and the journey will need to be repeated with new team members, and at times with a few new roads.

Are You Stressed This Festive Season? What to Do

Our beautiful Sadie enjoying our backyard.

The festive season, whatever that means to you, comes at the same time every year. Yet, for some reason, many of us seem to be caught off guard and aren’t ready. We experience stress as we work at decorating our homes, shopping, and wrapping gifts, baking, and organizing and attending parties – and I have probably missed something from that list. The end of the year is also approaching and for many that means the end of a business year and lots of bookwork and deadlines. For students and teachers, there are final exams and the marking of those exams. Good grief – so much going on.

Will we never learn?

How do you handle the extra work and the stress?

We all experience stress, there are stressors every day. Some of our stressors are small and we don’t notice them – though they do build up. At this time, we might want to identify the stresses of the season and figure out what we can do to really make this a joyous, beautiful festive season.

Another person’s stress might not be the same as yours. I know some people get excited about decorating their homes, baking, shopping, and parties. But, for many, it is an overwhelming amount of work and stress.

Our coping methods also differ. There are a wide variety of methods to deal with stress, but they are not all equal. Some coping methods are also not good for our health.

With the season comes parties which include food and alcohol, and maybe recreational drugs. These tend to not be good for your body if overdone.

Not so good coping mechanisms – Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs (prescription and recreational).

Coping mechanisms that can be good or not so good – depending on how much you do them – Sleep, Watch TV, Hole up in your bedroom, Ignore the stress, and carry on.

Better coping mechanisms can include – Exercise, being with Friends/Family, Read, Meditating, getting a Coach, Praying, get a Massage.

Distinguish helpful from harmful. What really works for you? If you aren’t sure what works, take some time and become aware of when you are stressed and what you do to help you cope.

Great, you have this year under control now. But will it be the same next year – too much to do, too much to eat and drink, too much spending?

Consider taking time, reflecting, and discussing with your loved ones what can be done to make this a fun, joyous, and beautiful time.

Traditions – outdoor fun like tobogganing, building that snow person, cross-country skiing, skating or if you are in a warm climate, swimming, hiking, walks on the beach, water skiing. Maybe the tradition of watching a Christmas movie on Christmas eve or day, or board games. Spiritual practices can help alleviate some of the frantic activity of the season.

What if we were to spread the joyous season out to cover the entire year – what would that look like. Family get-togethers and small gifts more often throughout the year. Getting together with friends more often would be nice (depending on what COVID is doing of course). All the activities we cram into a few days could be spread out over the entire year.

That doesn’t have to leave us without a special celebration. Decide what you want to celebrate, and how. Also, think about your values and align your celebrations with those values to get the greatest benefit. I love the food of the season, but I don’t necessarily have to prepare all of it, and I could enjoy it at other times throughout the year; I love the time with family and friends, but it doesn’t all have to be done in a day or two or even a week. Re-think that special meal and divide the duties. We have learned over the last 2 years that we can visit virtually – not quite the same, but it can be done and might be better for the planet and the pocketbook. You can decide you don’t have to do everything on one day and spread it out for the time(s) that work for you.

For years I worked on Christmas Day. The father of my children and I had divorced. His family celebrated big for Christmas, and we figured it was more fun for the kids to spend time with their dad and his family. And, by my working someone else would be able to spend time with their family.

Do what you can to make this a beautiful and joyous time.

Contact me if you need some help cutting back or reflecting on the past year and deciding to make 2022 a better year.

Enjoy this festive season, no matter how you celebrate.

Has Your Work Increased Over Time?

When you started your job, you probably had a fairly good idea of your job description and what your work would involve. You knew that as you became more competent at the various /tasks you would have more responsibilities added till you were proficient in your role.

You are starting to find this a bit too much for you to manage. You are becoming tired, less enthusiastic about your job, and the stress is starting to get to you. You are asking yourself, “how did I get into this situation”?Have you heard about boiling a frog?

You have become proficient and taken on the additional tasks and projects given to you. You have done well and are proud of yourself. Now the additional jobs and projects are becoming more frequent and many are now expected of you and added to your responsibilities.

Recipe for Boiling a Live Frog

Ingredients

  1. One live frog
  2. One pot large enough to cover the frog with water
  3. Enough water to cover the frog

Fill the pot with water. While waiting for the water to boil, catch your live frog. Once the water is boiling, drop the frog in the water. Boil till done.

Comment:

My frog jumped out of the water; I don’t think your recipe works.

Response:

My goodness, everyone knows you can’t boil the water first. You must put the frog in the pot of room temperature water, then bring the water to a boil.

Why Have I Given You This Information? What Does This Have to do With the Changes to Your Work Responsibilities?

More than once I have ended up in such a situation. One time when I moved on two people were hired to replace me. Has this happened to you? As in the opening description, I took on one more thing, then one more thing, and it continued – after all, how much time can just one more thing take? One little task, no problem.

More tasks are given to you and you are managing them quite well, but you are getting tired. You are no longer sure if this is the job you want. Your family is complaining that you spend too much time working and that you are too tired to do things with them when you get home.

What has happened here? Just like the frog, the heat was slowly turned up, you didn’t even notice until it was too much and you were done – just like the frog.

What can you do about this type of situation?

You might have been in the job for years and you are satisfied. You are working in a field of your choosing. When you first started you were excited to go to work every day. Some of that initial enthusiasm has worn off now as your workload has increased and no longer aligns with your values or the direction of your goals. It is not too late. You can start now to set your boundaries. Of course, it is difficult to backtrack, but it is possible. A carefully thought-out plan is needed, and this plan begins with an open mind, courage, and a clear understanding of your values and goals. What is important to you? What are your priorities? This can be a hefty task and you might want to get a bit of help.

Know your boundaries (ideally from your first day of work, but it is never too late). I suggest you go back to look at your values. Is the job in alignment with your values? As you determine your boundaries are they in alignment with your values and goals?

Guidance at such a time might be valuable. This is where a coach or mentor can come in handy. Give me a shout and let’s figure out what you want to do and how you will go about getting what you want.

drelaine@drelaineleadership.com