Manage your mindset
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
It’s interesting the conversations you have – especially in isolation.
I have been dealing daily (as I am sure has everyone else) with friends and family and the constant roller coaster of emotions we have all been going through.
The unsettling of the mind is phenomenal - yet warranted - given the extreme circumstances we are facing; the trick is in how to calm and quell the turbulence. And it is not always so easy.
How do you stop the constant incessant, gnawing, worry when you fear losing your source of income, or have already? When you receive rejection letter after rejection letter, when the bills are piling up, when your livelihood has been taken out from under you and all the blood sweat and tears, not to mention savings that you poured into creating a business disappeared over night? For some, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
But, (surprisingly enough given those sentences!), this post is not meant to be about the doom and gloom scenario, they are big issues, granted - but they are not insurmountable. This post is about offering some ways to (hopefully) help people cope. I am no therapist, but I have had many expensive counselling sessions in my professional history, conflict management training - and this is a form of inner conflict trust me - life coaching, resource saving, life affirming, positivity begetting sessions. And seeing as many of us cannot afford these in a time when we probably need them the most, I thought it might be an idea to share some of the professional insights I gathered along the way.
I have to reiterate - I am not a professional - but these are some of the small tricks I took away from my personal sessions that I am happy to share, in the hope that they may offer some calm amidst the storm.
One thing I have consistently told my husband, whose surf/yoga business is of course on hold for the unforeseeable future, is to not think too far in advance. No future scenario planning, as it opens a Pandora’s box of what ifs, and then we are dealing with those things, things that may never ever happen.
Worry is interest on trouble before it becomes due, as my dad always says. And so, I have tried to impart that worrying is the worst thing we can do (as if we didn’t know that already!).
But for many of us controlling worry is an incredible, if nigh impossible, feat.
One of the best ways to combat worry, that I have learned, is to simply deal with just the present. Only that day, or even better that moment, that circumstance. Don’t think too far ahead. No future journeys. Once you get your head around this, and it is not really that hard - just takes practice - you will be amazed at how it calms. If I start thinking of what I want to do, for example get back to Europe, and I then start thinking - but what if they close the borders and then I am stuck in… oh I don’t know Spain, and then I need money to stay there, and how long will I be there, and how would I cope as I don’t speak Spanish, and are the hotels even open? My phone only has a Moroccan number, so how would I communicate? I don’t know anyone in Spain. And so, it goes. And all of this time, I haven’t even left for Spain yet. Can you see how crazy that is – and why it makes us crazy!
If we just deal with what is happening to us on that day, or at that time, then we are managing in bite size chunks, and the operative word there is managing. We feel we are in control, which calms us. So, if I want to get back to Europe, what I need to do is look for a flight to Europe and maybe even book myself on it. Mission accomplished. It stops there. I don’t know what will happen after - I cannot begin to guess, but I have moved forward, I have a flight booked to Europe (just as an example of course it applies to anything – if I need a job, I apply for a job, and leave it there. I have accomplished something and moved forward. I don’t need to imagine all the other people applying for that role, or what it would mean if I did or didn’t get it. I just apply and let go).
Letting go – is the key.
There is a plethora of books, and online courses, and ways to learn to let go. Understanding that holding on is of no benefit is just the first step.
Yoga and meditation have long been touted as amazing platforms to help with resilience, and with good reason. Now, trust me, even though my husband has a surf/yoga stay, I am the least likely candidate - or should I say was -the least likely candidate for yoga, until the pandemic. I started practicing yoga for 30 minutes a day in isolation - but sometimes I only did 15 minutes, yes you can start small, no-one says you have to become a guru - and, only last week started to try meditation exercises as isolation is still going on here. I started for just for a couple of minutes because if you try a 15-minute meditation and fail, which let’s face it most of us will, then you have a feeling of failure, not of coping - which defeats the whole purpose.
Exercise is also something that cannot be underestimated. Nothing new there. Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer, on one of her Instagram posts mentioned that she dances every day, and I get that. Dancing stimulates happy hormones (no, that is not the technical term but it is very apt), and I can’t think of a better reason than that to have a dance. It’s worth a try, right? In your living room, bedroom, backyard it doesn’t matter - just put a song on and bust a few moves. No harm done, and hopefully a lot of good.
That aside, anyone who knows me will know my obsession with creating a Vision board (But they truly work, so I just want to share the love). In all of my coaching sessions, a Mood board, Vision board, whatever you want to name it was required. As I see it, the whole intention of a Vision Board is not solely the end result, it is the gathering process which helps to streamline what you want, what you are aiming for - which whittles it down to a strong vision, and when your energy is concentrated, when you know what you want and let go, things happens. Basically, it works like this - you can do it with a bunch of old magazines and a large piece of cardboard, or online and gather images from websites etc. and put them on a page. However you go about it, when you are looking for images naturally the entire time you are thinking of the things you want in your life - not so much a shopping list (although I have seen this work as well), but how you want your life to feel, what makes you happy, where you want to be , what kind of job you want - management, remote work, creative, etc. Where you want to live - mountains, beach, city - in which country etc. You look for images that portray what you want your life to look like, feel like, words that convey what you want: Happiness, security, health, wealth, travel… and you collect them all and arrange them all together. In your own vision. There is no limit, this is your imagination, your life so you don’t have to think: oh, I can’t afford that BMW, or I can’t live there, I don’t have a visa - it doesn’t matter. The details are not yours to worry about, the universal energy will do that for you. You just put down whatever you want your life to look like, and put it out there. It will come. And in doing so, it will become clearer to you. Clarity is one of the most important steps for calming a mind. When you have clarity you have focus, and you are not tossing up a million different scenarios and what ifs. And when you have focus, you have stillness.
Some other indispensable advice I received during one of my life coaching sessions was to understand my worth. Trust me, this is a biggie, most of us do not have a lot of faith in ourselves, even if we think we do. To achieve this, I was required to put together an Xcel table of all the things I managed in my daily life - not just in my job. For example, at the time I was a Creative Director but I had to learn that this was not all I was, I had come to think of this as defining me, which was incredibly limiting, and is also one of the major issues about us losing our jobs - we lose our sense of self because generally, most of us, without even knowing think we are defined by our work. So, in my table I had to write down things such as, if I had a mortgage? If I managed a household? Yes, and yes. I was not starving, and I was paying off a mortgage - voila! Money management was a core capability. I was actually a financial success! Which highlighted that I could do more than just conduct photo shoots, and meant that there were many more skills I had than just the ones in my job description. That is pretty powerful food for thought.
And finally, one personal thing that was not given to me in any coaching session but I have found to be indispensable of late, is limit time on Social Media and reading the “news” (I use that term loosely). Find out what you need to, but don’t pore over the stories of woe, they just drag you down and there is nothing you can do.
And there’s the rub. All of these things have one thing in common - at their core is one consistent thing - they are something you can do.
And that my friend, is the trick, a sense of accomplishment.
I sincerely hope any one of these helps.
From my heart to yours - as my youtube yoga teacher always says.