5 easy ways to reduce overwhelm – in any situation

5 easy ways to reduce overwhelm – in any situation

5 easy ways to reduce overwhelm – in any situation

Do you experience moments at work, when deadlines are fast approaching, to-dos are piling up, you’re feeling overwhelmed with competing priorities; where you feel it’s difficult to concentrate or focus on one thing at a time, emotions are running high and perhaps you even feel a physical reaction?

I’ve put together a couple of strategies (a couple that may be surprising!), that are useful to reduce stress during your work day so that you can quickly get back ton track.

You can try these in different situations – whether in a meeting, on a crowded train, or when you are alone:

  1. Connect to your senses, slowly and one by one. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you taste? What can you feel (touch)?
  2. Put both feet on the ground and imagine strong, healthy tree roots growing from your soles, right down to the middle of the earth. Feel anchored, strong and supported.
  3. Connect to your breath. Notice your inhales and exhales and slow your breathing down. Count in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4. Try this for about a minute
  4. Literally slow down. Walk more slowly, speak slower, type slower. If it helps, pretend you are underwater and it’s simply not possible to do things quickly.
  5. Think of 3 things you’re grateful for.

Which of these tips do you think would be most useful for you?
And do you have any others to share that have worked well?

Useful Resources

Please get in touch if you’d like my support to manage your stress better!

Flow-the ‘secret to happiness’

Flow-the ‘secret to happiness’

Flow-the ‘secret to happiness’

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the founders of positive psychology, interestingly describes flow as “the secret to happiness”.

What is flow?

Here’s his definition of flow: “The intense experiential involvement in moment-to-moment activity, which can be either physical or mental. Attention is fully invested in the task at hand and the person functions at her/his fullest capacity.

And this can apply to any activity that captivates us and where we forget time – socialising, sport, reading, studying, etc, etc. I experienced flow when I was researching for my assessments – my attention was fully focused on the content I was researching and writing about, I wasn’t checking my emails or worried about the time – I was fully immersed and very much enjoying what I was doing. 

Does this sound familiar to you?
When was the last time you experienced flow?
What were you doing?

How can flow make us happier?

When we experience moments of flow we:

  • lose our sense of self temporarily, and with it the self-judgment and comparison with others
  • are focused and doing an activity that moves us towards our goals
  • are being challenged
  • are positive and energised
  • are feeling in control and are not self-conscious 

By having experiences in flow, it also helps us to: 

  • make better decisions about what enriches us, and what depletes us
  • know our strengths and what we can do well 

Reflecting after spending hours researching and writing for my papers, I have to say that I definitely do feel happier! I have been focused, productive, cemented new knowledge, learned new things, and I felt particularly happy that what I was learning can help others. I also felt satisfied, accomplished and that I’ve worked hard.

How about you, when you’ve been in flow, what emotions have you experienced?
And how about after – what impact did it have on you afterwards?

What can you do to find your flow? 

According to Csikszentmihalyi, there are a few common characteristics of flow:

1. The activity must have a clear structure, set of milestones or rules, and the participant must know what they need to do within the activity. 

For example, I have very clear criteria for what is being assessed. I also wrote on my to-do list each day the sections of my papers I wanted to complete by the end of the day, and from the detailed criteria I knew how long each section needed to be. 

2. There must be an immediate sense of awareness that participants are on their path to achieving their goals. 

My to-do list helps me with this. Once I’d finished each section, I crossed them off my list. And when I finish writing a section of paper, I highlight it in yellow.

3. This is the characteristic that I find most critical – When the challenge and the person’s skill are balanced, they become lost in the activity and flow is the likely result.

If the skill and challenge levels are unbalanced for the activity, it’s possible to experience boredom, anxiety or even apathy. 

The work I do for my assessments is compatible with my skill levels – I’ve already completed a research degree and therefore have the experience and skill for this task, and the challenge is at the right level as the content I’m researching is not basic, but it’s also not extremely complicated. Therefore, creating the right conditions for flow to occur. 

In comparison, when I reflect on an activity such as surfing through websites looking at pretty dresses, I quickly see that there is absolutely no challenge, and only basic internet skills required, so when doing this (even though I do like pretty dresses) I quickly become bored and even apathetic. Which brings me into a state of negative emotion. 

How can you help others to find flow? 

Whether you are a parent, a leader or someone who simply likes to support others, think about the positive impact that it would have on those around them when your child, team member or colleague experiences more moments of flow!

Here are some questions to consider to help others find moments of flow. 

  • How could you design an activity for the person you have in mind, that has the right balance of skill and challenge to get them to flow?
  • Do they know enough about their activity to achieve flow?
  • Think about what their natural strengths are, and in what activities they can use them to get them into flow?
  • How can you encourage them to stop activities that result in apathy or anxiety?
  • What else do they need to support them to find flow – do they prefer to work quietly, or do they thrive in noisy, stimulating environments?
  • How can you best explain your moments of flow to them?! 

I’d love to hear your experiences of flow, please leave your comments below!

Useful resources

– Watch the TED talk from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Read my blog on how to reduce your multi-tasking to create conditions for flow to occur

 

Newsletters

Newsletters

Newsletters

Every couple of weeks, I share short and sweet tips and insights from my work as a leadership & career coach and a student of positive and coaching psychology, as well as exclusive special offers on my products.

If you’d like to subscribe to receive all future newsletters, please click here and you’ll receive a gift from me5 Simple Ways to Integrate Positivity into your Work Day. Otherwise here are previous newsletters for you to enjoy and benefit from!

What's wellbeing?!

Your best self, optimism and doing more of what you love at work

Positive energy, inspiring people and being kind

Successes, more strengths and a positive psychology exercise for you

Spotlight on applying character strengths at work

Innovation, engagement and gratitude

More happiness, less busyness

Kindness, excitement and a special offer

Spotlight on flow

More habits, more strengths, a celebration and a gift

Spotlight on mindfulness (and creme eggs)

R U OK, bad habits and 3 good things

Productivity, focus and authentic happiness

Positive Psychology, personal branding and nap pods

Spotlight on positive emotions

Values, good deeds and celebrations

Highlights, boosting strengths and positive futures

Strengths, intuition and little brothers

My best self, more optimism and finishing 2018 on a very positive note

Positively thriving at work

What’s wellbeing exactly?

What’s wellbeing exactly?

What’s wellbeing exactly?

Wellbeing is a topic that has become very close to my heart, and is something that I work with ALL of my clients on. 

Until I started studying positive psychology, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what it meant… it sounded so… ‘soft’ and like it didn’t have a place in the world of work.

Now I see it VERY differently…. For us to function effectively, be happy, and healthy in all parts of our lives, including at work, it is CRITICAL that we take care of our wellbeing! And there is plenty of research that supports this.

The way I explain what wellbeing is very simple:

it’s your capacity to feel good, be healthy and live a life of purpose.

Within my coaching, I utilise the PERMAH framework and assessment of wellbeing, which is based on Martin Seligman’s theory of wellbeing:

PERMAH
Positive emotions: feeling good
Engagement: finding enjoyment and flow in activities
Relationships: cultivating meaningful connections
Meaning: our why or purpose
Accomplishment: achieving and moving towards our goals
Health: taking care of ourselves – physically and mentally

There are many easy ways to improve each of these elements and increase your levels of wellbeing. BUT making sustainable changes can be challenging, this is where working with a coach is super effective to make effective and lasting improvements to your wellbeing

(AND back to my point of wellbeing sounding ‘soft’, MANY studies have proven that good levels of wellbeing lead to greater levels of satisfaction, physical health and happiness, etc, etc. And at work… better performance, job satisfaction, increased engagement, less sick days, etc, etc, which of course leads to better company $$$ results!).

How PERMA can help us at work

Here’s an overview of how high levels of wellbeing in each of the pillars can benefit us, with a focus on the work context!

PERMAH pillarEvidence-based outcomes
Positive emotions•Development of personal resources including resilience
•Dealing better with stress and challenges
•Starting a contagion effect of positivity
Engagement•Increased job enjoyment
Relationships•Better relationships throughout the organisation
•Improved coping and reduced conflict
•Better problem solving and job performance
•Improved morale and increased enjoyment
Meaning•Increased happiness and engagement
•Improved performance
Accomplishment•Reduced turnover
Health•Reduced stress and depression symptoms
•Increases in positive emotions, feelings of achievement and engagement

 

How do you define wellbeing?
What do you do for your wellbeing?
And do you feel it’s in balance?

Useful resources

Here’s an article on the PERMA framework

Download my guide on how to integrate positivitiy into your work day

Watch this video of Martin Seligman explaining PERMA

Or get in touch if you’d like my 1-1 support to improve your wellbeing

 

Want to feel more satisfied at work? Use your character strengths!

Want to feel more satisfied at work? Use your character strengths!

Want to feel more satisfied at work? Use your character strengths!

Want to know a relatively easy way of feeling better at work?

It’s simply by intelligently applying your character strengths – more effectively using what you naturally have within you!

Let me explain a little more….

A quick look at character strengths

Character strengths are “positive traits reflected in thoughts, feelings and behaviours” (Park et al., 2004) and are regarded as essential ingredients of a fulfilling and happy life (Peterson, 2006). The VIA Classification consists of 24 different character strengths, which we all have within us and can draw on to support us in all aspects of life.  

By implementing a character strengths approach, our main focus is on what’s right and what we do well, instead of spending time and energy ‘fixing’ our weaknesses, as studies have shown that this where we can experience the greatest positive impact.  

I use the VIA Classification of character strengths with my clients as they are flexible, effective and impactful when professionally applied, and have been proven through many studies to contribute to flourishing.  

What are the benefits of applying character strengths at work?

When we consistently and intelligently apply our strengths at work, there’s evidence to show that we can experience improvements in: 

  • job performance
  • productivity
  • work satisfaction and meaningful work
  • employee engagement
  • job dedication
  • interpersonal facilitation
  • performance ratings  

When I say intelligently, I mean that to really get the most benefit of applying your strengths, it’s important to know the best way in which to use them! For example to understand when to dial up a strength, such as bravery before a speech; or dial down a strength, for example creativity when you are required to closely follow processes. Or by seeking an evidence-based positive psychology intervention to develop your strengths in new and novel ways.   

So, which strengths are most impactful at work? 

Numerous studies have found that when the character strengths of…  

  • curiosity: “interest, novelty-seeking, exploration, openness to experience”
  • zest: “vitality, enthusiasm for life, vigour, energy, not doing things half-heartedly”
  • hope: “optimism, positive future-mindedness, expecting the best and working to achieve it”
  • gratitude: “thankful for the good, expressing thanks, feeling blessed” 

… are consistently applied at work, then we can experience higher levels of satisfaction. 

Some positive actions you can try 

Here are some ideas of how you could apply each in the work setting: 

Curiosity  

  • ask ‘why’ questions more often, especially when making assumptions
  • be curious about a work task that you don’t like – find a new way to view it positively
  • challenge yourself to learn a new thing a day for a week  

Zest   

  • when you feel your energy lagging, instead of reaching for a sugary snack, get out and go for a short walk
  • express your energy and individuality by wearing colourful clothes
  • prepare yourself for new tasks at work by considering the positive aspects   

Hope  

  • observe how hopeful colleagues overcome challenges
  • support someone who may be struggling by offering hopeful ideas and concrete actions they could take
  • set daily goals for what you’d like to achieve and identify 2-3 different ways you could reach these goals  

Gratitude  

  • explain why you are grateful to a colleague, either by what they have done or for a positive aspect of themselves and leave it on their desk in a note to surprise them
  • each evening, recall 3 good things that happened at work each day
  • start meetings by sharing successes 

(Reference: Niemiec & McGrath, 2019; Niemiec, 2018: McQuaid & Lawn, 2014) 

So, which of these 4 strengths will you be focusing on first?! 

Useful resources

Here’s the link to the VIA website where you’ll find the survey as well as more information about each character strength

– And If you’d like my support with developing your strengths so you can be more satisfied at work, here are my products, and you can book a call with me hereI’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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