Students- Exam Preparation Top Tips
Published: April 13th, 2021
On today's show, we are getting students ready for exam and finals. So if you, or someone that you know is preparing to take exams, this is the episode for them. By the end of the show, we're going to cover some of my top study and prep tips to stay motivated and learn the material for good recall, and also how to manage exam day anxiety and nerves. So let's get in session.
Welcome to in session with a therapist and coach, Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work, and have satisfying relationships, and while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors and ultimately result in you living your best life. But a question we answer those too. So let's get started.
So let's start with some top study and preparation tips, so that you can have really good recall of what you have studied and also increase your motivation. The first thing to know about studying is that positive emotion, so experiencing positive emotion, when you're studying helps your memory learn and recall.
In fact, to put information in your long term memory, it needs to be encoded. And this allows your brain to make sense of new information in order to store it properly. So we're going to cover is the various coding system that your brain utilizes to do this.
Let's look at how you make study notes, or study materials, that you can practice for your recall when you first come across a text, or a video, or listening to a lecture, that you are going to be making study material from. Once you've heard a piece of information, maybe it's a paragraph, maybe it's five minutes worth of content. What you want to be able to do is pause and then say aloud: what you've just learned, in your own words. If you cannot translate it to your own words and you're simply repeating back exactly what you heard, you may not actually be able to apply it. So you're looking to be able to actually translate that into your own words. Then you might choose to write that down, or record it, or in some other way capture those learnings in your own words, so that your notes are memorable and clear to you.
Now in order to help with making sure you have positive emotion. I mean you can just imagine for a moment, that if you are sitting in a place that you're not enjoying, your feeling tense about the material, you're feeling anxious about the content, you’re really feeling a lot of strain as you try to study, you can imagine why your brain wouldn't be open and eager to learn what you're bringing in the input. So, here are some suggestions about how you can actually increase your own positive emotion, which is really to say that, when you're studying your body is relaxed, your mind is open to learning, and that you are bringing a positive mindset.
One thing that I think can be really overlooked is our environment and making sure that where we are studying is comfortable and visually appealing. So, if it feels really cluttered and messy, where you're learning and trying to study and that's distracting, your environment is going to get in the way. Or if you're sitting in a really hard chair at your desk, and desk is actually the dining room table, and that's just not the most comfortable for you, and you'd rather do it on the sofa, you might want to move where you're doing it.
And indeed, it's not just about having a place to study, but you might involve the idea of moving while studying, particularly if you are someone who enjoys a high level of movement in life. Studying can be seen as very still, or you're just sitting and getting and trying to recall and actually, by following some of the other tips and suggestions, you'll be able to see how studying while moving could not only benefit your learning, but benefit your positive emotion that allows you to encode and keep that material in your long term memory, right where you need it.
Another thing about taking study notes is that they really need to be filled with examples that help you remember the content.
Engaging in group discussions can be really helpful to people who learn auditory, as well as, who like to move a lot. By engaging in group discussions, you share ideas. The only caveat is, you do need to have a pretty focused group discussion, and not get completely off track or end up talking about, you know, weekend plans. Little side note. Be smart about your scheduling. If you know, realistically, if I get together with these three people we’re not going to spend more than five minutes studying, then you need to choose some other people. And likewise, if you know, we'll do 10 minutes of chatting, but then we'll study. Don't book an hour and think you're doing an hour, book an hour and think you're doing 45 minutes.
Another great way of learning is to record your notes. So you can record them on your phone or device and then listen back to your notes so that you're actually learning through hearing. And you can combine this of course with movement, because if you're listening and learning then you can do that anywhere. You might choose to sing or speak or create rhythms and rhymes, your ideas and your learnings aloud. Maybe you have a pet willing to be your audience, or a sibling, or a parent, or maybe it's you! By creating a sound, rhythm, or song, some brains really like to learn that way, and they recall information. I mean, think about when kids are like 5 or 6 years old, or maybe younger, I can't quite recall, but they're learning the A, B, C’s. I'm not about to do this on the podcast, I’m not about to sing it to you, but we all know the ABC song, we've heard it. There's a reason that sound and singing is used in learning; it’s great for recall.
Making your notes, and especially the most important notes that you need to learn, visually appealing is really beneficial for a lot of people. Some people really like to add color to their notes. They like to draw diagrams, and in fact drawing, mapping out, making flashcards, making lists: these things can be really helpful for learners who really rely on seeing things to help them understand the material. And so, if that’s you, make sure that you've got paper and colorful pens or are using your computer to do that for you. Ways in which to make the material visually appealing will help you retain and recall.
Don't forget that exam taking, finals sitting, is actually a skill. And so if you are able to sit essentially mock or practice exams, especially in timed conditions, if that applies to you, then doing that can at least, take some of the mystery out of the process of sitting exams.
Now, let's turn our attention to that second point how to manage exam day anxiety and nerves. Well let's first of all remember that some anxiety is actually shown to increase test performance. We need a little, to keep us really sharp to get our brain really engaged and focused on what is doing.
Beyond that, I really encourage no cramming the night before, you really want to be well rested and to have already done all the input, to trust the studying that you have done, of course, assuming you've done it.
On exam day, being around people and having conversations with people who are highly anxious is really contagious and unhelpful for everyone. So, if you know that you might be triggered by somebody else's anxiety, or that you yourself might essentially inadvertently spread more nerves and anxiety, it's best to really pull back from socially engaging before an exam.
Some things you can do before the exam, you could even start right now is imagine yourself doing well on the exam, visualize how it would go see the pen, write the correct answers, see the computer with your hands clicking the right answers, imagine going through the process. If you sat those practice exams, it might be a little easier to sort of imagine what's expected, but even so, imagine yourself feeling calm and able to recall what you've learned.
You might want to write this down somewhere, but having this thought: I have studied and I will remember what I need to for this exam, is something you can just come back to to support your mind, and knowing you've done the work.
There is no better exam prep for really strong performance than doing the studying that we just talked about, and doing it in a way that your body and brain is open, and relaxed, and feels positive about it. So even if you just take one idea that I shared and implement that one, and add it to your current strategy, I think you'll find a benefit.
I certainly wish each and every one of you are sitting exams, sitting finals all the best you've done the prep work now. Show us what you've learned!
Until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about then. If you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one: click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write as a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on air, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcastthere you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air, or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing, podcasts by their very nature are forms of entertainment, so please keep that in mind when listening to this or any other podcast. Ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast are shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute, addition, or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com.
Until next time.
Ditch the Bucket List
Published: April 6th, 2021
Today on the show. Let's get rid of bucket lists, I’m going to give you a much more viable alternative that means that you will actually do more of what you want. So let's get in session.
Welcome to in session with a therapist and coach Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question? We answer those too. So let's get started.
The idea of a bucket list has actually been around for a very long time, but back about, I think it was 2007, it got really popularized because there was a movie called The Bucket List, where the characters played by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, were both dying, and decided to create a list of things they wanted to do before they died; and then they actually did them.
And from that has been this huge outpouring of renewed attention, where people talk about having a bucket list. The reason why I think the idea is not actually that helpful is because, for most of us we’re not actually in those last number of weeks or months as they were portrayed in that film. Most of us are hopefully, or we hope, far from the final ending. And so, when we write these lists, they often become these…slightly, wishful-thinking lists.
A bucket list is actually supposed to be a collection of goals and aspirations and dreams that you hope to accomplish within your lifetime. And I think writing one, and I'll hold my hand up because absolutely, when this movie came out, and it got really popular to do it, of course I created one. I have no idea where it is, I have no idea what was on it, and I think that's the problem, that a lot of us might do a bucket list, and then we put it somewhere, or we lose it. And there's this idea that because we've written it, we have this psychological relief of, ‘oh, well it's written so it will be done,’ and we get all the way to the end of our lives and we go: ‘Oh shoot, never did find that list and get it done’. This idea that the end point, the point at which you ask: did I complete that list? Is death, seems to me a little final for a little course correction.
And so, I want to offer an alternative, where you can put many of the same items, but with a different mindset. What I'd like you to think about is a significant birthday that will arrive, anywhere between four and nine years from where you are now approximately. So if you are 30 It could be your 40th. If you are 37 It could be your 45th, or maybe it could be your 50th, if you want to stretch it out. And you write, essentially, a list of the number of items that corresponds with that birthdate, so if it's 50 you're going to do 50 on your list of things that you want to accomplish by the time you're 50. If you are 30 You're going to write 30 things on your list that you would like to accomplish by the time you're 30. Now what happens when we start putting these constraints on our thinking is, we actually move out of this thinking where, anything is possible, it could all happen before I die, and we move into what actually is possible in the next six years, for example. If I take that example a little further, let's say there was six years between where someone is now and their next significant birthday, let's just say their next significant birthday is going to be 40, things that they might be able to consider is in these next number of years, six years. What is going on in my life that allows me to put things on the list that I could actually see happening? And it's not about never putting something that's a bit of a stretch, but it certainly is thinking about: if you would like to take a year long trip around the world, It would be really easy for that to go on your list, and never be accomplished. And if you think about: am I going to put that on my six year list? Then you're going to have to put a lot of things in place to make that happen, and it certainly can happen, and it does happen for people with planning. But perhaps instead you decide you know what that might go on the list later in life, and I'm instead going to put a hot air balloon ride because I've really wanted to do that, instead I'm going to go to the Super Bowl, or see the Northern Lights. These are actually some of the items that show up on most people's top 10 lists, along with travel through Europe, go on safari, get to my ideal weight, change someone's life for the better. All of these show up as a lot of people's bucket lists and yet, is everybody doing those things before they die? I don't think so.
So first of all, step one, identify what is my most significant birthday next step to write that number of items that you want to do. This can be pretty fun to do with a friend or loved ones or with a group of people because the truth is, I have sat with many people and completely stolen ideas from their list, because I thought,: yes, that sounds really fun or interesting. Don't overthink the list. If you know, I've got six years till my next major birthday, and based on the work that I'm currently doing, that means I have X amount of time off for myself. Then you can start to think about what really fits.
Now, I'm going to be honest, I'm going to share a few that are all my birthday list, which was written before a global pandemic. So, I'm definitely realizing some of these will not be met in time because my birthday list closes out later this year. But some of the things that I put on here and I have had several years to do them. For example, this year, I finally got around to number 22 which was host a podcast, but I also have in consideration for that sort of time off that I get to visit a country, a new country each year. Now, I'm going to be honest in pre-pandemic times, it was much easier to accomplish. And currently, that's okay because that allowed me to do some other things like visit Yellowstone and go to Utah, and go on a wine tasting tour, get my bike, so it's not that these things all need to be expensive or outrageous. It can be about many areas of life, your financial goals, your activity goals the hobbies, the people you want to connect with, the places you want to go, the things you want to do. On my previous list, so this is the second round of this that I've done, I have things like host a sushi night, and I did it ,and it was great fun…and we have really delicious sushi. And you just think about all the things that strike you as interesting, or enjoyable, and then you get to do that. It’s not even that you're going to be like, ‘oh man, I got 39 out of 40 shoot’. The fact is you're going to have done 39 things that would have been really easy to, not get to, or to put on a bucket list, and save it for sometime, some moment when you suddenly go;’I have all the time, money, and access in the world to do an entire bucket list’. I just don't think that's going to show up for most of us, so for the rest of us. That's my alternative.
What's your next significant birthday, what are some things you're going to do? And feel free to send me some ideas that I could share in a future podcast, and obviously, as I am coming to a close on my list version which is my next birthday this year, I'm going to need some new ideas that I'd like to steal, so I'd love to hear some of yours!
Until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about then. If you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one. Click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write us a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air, or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing. Podcasts, by their very nature are forms of entertainment, so please keep that in mind when listening to this or any other podcast Ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast our shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute, addition or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com. Until next time.
Stop People Pleasing!
Published: March 29, 2021
Today on the show. We look at people pleasing. By the end of the show, you’ll understand the science of, why you're doing it, and also be able to pick out where you're doing it, and what you can do differently. So let's get in session.
Welcome to In session with a therapist and coach Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question? We answer those too. So let's get started.
Friends, I have walked this path of people pleasing many a time. You know, I think of people pleasing as hiding yourself to be acceptable to others. Sometimes we try to stay somewhat invisible so we can stay safe. It's really the opposite. I think of something we might call self-acceptance, that sense of knowing yourself and being loving and inclusive about who you are, and not living on a bunch of: who you ‘should be’ or ‘could be’s’ or looking for the approval of some ‘other’.
Some years ago, I got to wondering why we would even do this. And gratefully, some very smart scientists have already thought about that. And so, if I look at evolutionary psychology, it tells us that being included in a tribe or a group and greater safety. Think about this, if a saber toothed tiger sees you alone, you're probably dinner. If there's a tribe of people, a community of people with spears and weapons, you are more likely to survive. Also, if in a group of community one person has food and the others don’t: everyone eats. If you alone are responsible for sourcing all food and you don't actually produce any, you're going to starve to death. So when we think about evolutionary psychology, it makes sense why our brains would be motivated towards being part of a group, part of a community. Group membership has been important for survival for, forever.
Now, of course, we don't worry about saber tooth tigers so much now, in our modern day wilderness, is really found more in our social circles. Who's out to get us? Who shares resources?Who is kind? Who has power within our social circles? So group membership today means that we're really trying to avoid the painful experience of feeling lonely. And we know this is important because research shows that the brain feels that loneliness akin to physical pain. So in trying to feel included as part of a group, as part of the community, we're trying to avoid the feelings of exclusion, which really preys on our insecurities, and we're really actually ripe for exploiting, because we want to be part of a group.
In fact, there's some brain imaging studies, which I'll link in the show notes, that showed that feeling ostracized activates our neural pain matrix, which is a fancy way of saying our brain hurts.
Okay, all that to say we come by people pleasing honestly: it hurts when we aren't part of a group.
However, if we focus on thing accepted by the group or community at the cost of being ourselves and true to ourselves, then we can feel really lost, lacking confidence, self-esteem, feeling powerless, voiceless, and that hurts too, just differently.
So now more than ever, there are places of belonging that we can participate in, in our communities where we live, in our online communities. Faith organization, protest groups, social media, meet-up groups, families that we're born into families, and that we choose for ourselves, friendship groups. So whether it's a book club or a rowing meet, there are people with whom you can be yourself and be included.
It can feel easy to be trapped by the patterns of evolutionary psychology, by the pain receptors in our brain firing, by the cultural conditioning that we’ve got to ‘fit in’. But sometimes we need to find where we fit elsewhere somewhere new.
I'd like to share a story with you from a very special friend. Someone through his short life on earth was keen to find his own fit in the world as a shaman, healer and world class musician. Sadly, he passed very shortly after sharing the story with me. And so I had follow up questions, for example, the color choice that comes up in the story, that I was unable to ask him as he was sadly killed on a peace mission. His name was Rafa, and he was able to instinctively know what people needed in any given moment, and one day he came up to me and knew exactly what I needed, and so I share this story, his story, with you in hopes that it serves you.
He said: there are three colors in the world orange, yellow and green. And when we show up as yellow, we are trying to people-please, to be acceptable and accepted by everyone. In order to do that, we turned down who we are, we hold back and our values, and our voice. We don't show ourselves fully. We show only the parts that we think could be palatable to those around us, and so many people show up in this sort of yellow way so much of the time, he said.
But there is another way to show up, not yellow. As yourself, fully unashamedly, your voice, your values, you, fully in the world. And when you do that, you attract people who are green for you and green represents: that people ‘get you'. They like you, they love you, they really connect with you. They are your community, your group, your people.
The thing is, when you are fully yourself, there's also the risk of people showing up orange for you. and orange here represents people not liking you, not agreeing with your values, not getting you, not wanting to be around you.
When we show up yellow, we hide ourselves from ourselves, and others in order to fit in, to be liked. But we're left wondering: if we even like ourselves. When we show up fully and truly as ourselves, we find people who love us, or not. But it is amazing how irrelevant those people who are orange for us, who don't get us, become when we see all the people who are green for us, who want us to be part of their communities and groups and life.
And he said, Do you know what the purpose of life is?
Be less yellow.
In that moment, it really hit me how hard I had worked to be yellow, all because I perceived this huge risk, this huge wave of orange if I was truly myself. And I wonder if that's true for any of you? If you're working hard to be something a little less than yourself, like you've turned down the volume of who you are, hidden away some of what makes you, you in order to avoid those few orange, and instead what you're really missing is the green. The people who do get you and the way you feel about yourself.
So I have some questions that I really invite you to reflect on as you take the story away in how it ever it can serve you.
1. Ask yourself, Where am I showing up yellow and why?
2. What would be different if I showed up as myself? What would I do? Say? What would I join? What would I leave?
3. What next steps can I take to be less hidden, less yellow? Yes, people pleasing even to myself.
4. I think this is really important, particularly for children and teens, but truly also for adults. Find yourself in the varied places that you love to be. If you love rowing, then join rowing clubs and meet friends there. If you love art, join art groups and meet friends there, we all humanly need a sense of belonging, of community membership, and so we will continue to seek that out.
But one of the things that can happen, particularly during those adolescent years, is groups can become cliquey. You can be in with a group out of the group. And so what I tend to find is if you have multiple places where you belong, and one group gets cliquey, or for some reason dissipates, that you're not stranded because it's the only group that you're a member of. That you have other group memberships, other places that you belong and connect to where you have already been your full self. So that's my number four top tip, take away.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope that all of us will continue to move away from people-pleasing, to finding our fullest voice and expression in the world.
Let people be green for you.
Let yourself be green for you.
Until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about then. If you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one. Click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write us a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air, or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing. Podcasts, by their very nature are forms of entertainment, so please keep that in mind when listening to this or any other podcast Ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast our shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute, addition or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com.
Listener Question: Finding Work-Life Balance for Perfectionists and High-Achievers
Published: March 23rd, 2021
Today on the show, we have a listener question, and I'm really excited about that! This is our first listener question, and I certainly hope there will be more. By the end of today's episode, you're going to learn three actionable strategies that help you manage work-life balance and minimize problematic perfectionism so that you can live life better. So let's start the session.
Welcome to in session with a therapist and coach Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors, and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question? We answer those too. So let's get started.
Let's dive into our question from Alex. I'm considering applying for a promotion at work, which would put me in charge of a program as well as all of its’ staff. It's a large increase in responsibility. When this opportunity came up a couple of years ago, I decided not to pursue it.
However, I really want to go for it this time. The problem is, I find it hard to balance work and life. I have a husband, and two young children, and I don't want my perfectionism to get in the way of being a parent and partner. I'm wondering if I should wait a few more years until my children are older and then apply.
Well Alex, thank you so much for your question. And first of all, absolutely, it’s a valid choice to wait. However, the focus of this answer is going to be around you actually going for this opportunity.
And I hope that it will be a benefit to listeners who are in managerial and leadership roles as we look at three things, three tools, if you like that, you can utilize, which, by doing so will help you manage both: work-life balance a little better, and keep track of that perfectionism.
Tool number one, is to be willing to reassess. It's really easy when we get promoted, or indeed if our family grows, we just keep adding more and more and more to our plate and inevitably, as I think you're already acknowledging, when you do that, things start to suffer and what I read here in your email, Alex is you don't want your family to suffer, and perhaps you don't want to suffer whenever there's a change.
One of the things I think where we need to become really good at is understanding in this change: what do I need to change about how I'm living life? These two areas, as you think about that, both on the home front, as well as the work front, and all the in-between, is to think about if you need to outsource and delegate differently.
It sometimes surprises me when I'm talking with people who have been promoted through the ranks, how they are still doing tasks that they were doing when they began their job, or a couple of roles previously, and I think it's part of a habit of: I know how to do it, I can do it fast, and I can do it well. And so it's almost like holding on to things that actually should have been delegated or reassigned to somebody in a different position or role. So, depending on how true that is for you, it might be time to look at: what am I currently doing? And what would I actually no longer be doing if I took this promotion? And what would I be doing instead? And to have a sense of clarity because otherwise the challenge can be just adding more on. By taking a step back and really being clear about what comes off my responsibilities, what comes off my plate and then what comes on. You can have a sense of how that would impact the amount of work that you have to do. It will also help you advocate in advance if you can see that nothing is being removed, but this promotion adds more on. That's a conversation with HR in your company about the expectations of these promotions.
As you think about delegation in the workplace. You might also reconsider delegation on the home front. And you know, delegation is really that the task that need to be completed or to be completed within the people within the company or within the household. And so delegation is something you and your partner are already doing. I'm sure, for example, when your kids get a little older, you start to delegate to them. When you're done playing the toys, you pick them up or you put your dirty clothes in the hamper. Those are ways of naturally delegating as children get older, and you might need to take a step back at this point and consider what other delegating might need to happen within the confines of our family and home environment.
Outsourcing is reaching beyond that family environment are reaching beyond the typical company employees and staff and processes to seek support beyond there, you might want to consider: what do I need to outsource that currently I've been doing, or that currently within the house or within the company we've been doing. As you consider what to outsource, bear in mind it's not that you cannot do these tasks, it’s that you are evaluating your time in a way that allows you to understand that while you can do the task that you can do the activities, it may not be in the best interest of you and work- life balance, and family needs, and personal needs to do so.
Warren Buffett was really clear to remind us all that time is the only asset that we cannot get any more of, and this really reminds us of how to think about time as being really precious.
And if that means that ordering your groceries to be delivered to save you a trip to the store, or having somebody else come in and clean your house, or prepare your taxes, or take care of childcare or lawn care or food prep. Whatever it is that, of course you can do, but is that the best use of your time? And allowing somebody else to do those things, or companies to step in really challenges, I know some of that perfectionism that people have, that they feel like they're doing it better their way or there's a way to do it, and it allows you to kind of take that step back: of course, you can do it your way and that might feel familiar and comfortable. But taking on bigger roles, having new challenges involves also releasing things. We have to start saying: I'm no longer going to continue this in order to say yes to that.
Sometimes in this idea of delegation and outsourcing, what you're looking at is how can the time that I give to home, myself, my work, be the best value? So that would be my first strategy for you to immediately start to implement reappraising and reassessing what comes off my plate, what comes on it and what do I need to delegate or outsource?
You know, part of leadership and good management is discipline and particularly self discipline and point number two really speaks to that. It's this idea of setting yourself limits or boundaries that you hold yourself accountable to. Now it may work better to have an accountability partner, but be thoughtful about who this would be. It's someone who really cheerleads you towards improvements, and maybe isn't directly impacted if you don't make your goals that week. So somebody who can be a little removed, but certainly in your court or you could self-manage these if you are really strong at staying accountable and self disciplined, you might be able to also put these in place just within your own monitoring.
One of the things that I find happens in the workplace, and certainly, I myself have fallen prey to this historically, is this idea that there's always reasons to go ‘above and beyond’ to do that bit more, and the truth is, in life, there definitely are those moments. But I think, sometimes we can use that as a bit of a crutch to give ourselves permission to work more hours, or weekends, or take work home, or stay late, more often than it's actually really truly going ‘above and beyond’ because it really needs to be a moment of going ‘above and beyond’.
So I'd like you to think about how you would set some limits. It might even be as practical as giving yourself a rule: I have two tokens that I can use a week, or I have five tokens a month. And these tokens allow me to say: I’m going to work late, or bring work home, or do something in the realm of work that is ‘above and beyond’ its going to demand more of my time than I'm used to giving, more of my energy or attention that I'm used to giving. The cost is one of these tokens, and so if you have a limited number available, it's going to force you to prioritize carefully when you are going ‘above and beyond’.
When you are going that ‘extra mile’. It can be so easy to say: I'm going to work late and get through emails because the emails can feel so immediately overwhelming. But if you know that that uses one of those precious tokens for your ‘above and beyond’, your: I get to come home late, you know, free cards that you’re self-monitoring, it might make you wonder if that's the absolute best use of your time. So that's thought number two, where we're really holding ourselves accountable to how much more we're doing outside the bounds of our normal day-to-day work.
The third thing that I'd like you to consider is putting the most important meeting in your week on your calendar, in your schedule and keeping that as a weekly time when it is just you meeting with you. That's right. The most important meeting of your week is a reflection meeting with yourself around your leadership. Certainly some people might choose to do this meeting with someone else, it could be their accountability partner or a coach, and if not certainly have this meeting with yourself.
Now, one of the things that can happen is you set that meeting, you know what it's about, and then those emails just keep piling up and you think: you know what? I’ll do that meeting later. I’ll just think about it in the car on the way home. And so what I'd like you to do is understand. This meeting is so crucial because this is what allows you to grow as a leader, to keep yourself accountable to your work-life balance, to any perfectionistic tendencies that are, you know, right now taking hold. So you don't do that. I'd like you to think about, if I put a meeting in my calendar, one that I would never cancel, shorten, or say I'm just going to do in the car, or at some other point in time. If I'm going to show up this meeting, who would I show up for? And if you are able to say yourself; wonderful. But if that is a little less, definite that you would show up. I wanted to put someone, they could be alive, they could be dead already, somebody that you would definitely show up for. Put their name in your calendar. You let your team, and staff, and colleagues know: I'm not available from 2 to 3 on a Friday ever. I have a really important meeting, the most important meeting of my week, so I don't get interrupted. Don't try to schedule me. And by doing that, setting that one hour, it's time to really reflect on a number of questions.
And you might even decide to put those in an agenda that you follow each week so you can
really track your progress and your answers over time. Here are some questions that you might want to review as I reflect on my past week. Where could I have delegated or outsourced in a way that would have bought me back precious time? And from that, what do I want to do next?
Another question you could look at is: how am I doing with keeping to my limits? How much time am I spending ‘above and beyond’? When am I focusing on a project until it feels like it's perfect when it needs to be done?
And really challenging yourself in being honest with your answers. Again, we use this so that you can re-set for the next week. You're going to want to set priorities for the next week. And as you think of that, I encourage you to think certainly in the workplace, but also holistically to take time to also think about how is my self care? How am I showing up as a parent, as a partner as a family member is a friend? How is my health? My sense of psychological well being? You're looking at the very many elements that are really important and taking an honest reflection of: where have I done well and where do I want to improve and prioritize?
You may find that your priority list includes work items, certainly, but also includes I really want to get to the gym this week. I didn't make it last week, and I'm going this week and here's when I'm going and you really prioritize that item or I want to reset. How many of those tokens for ‘above and beyond’ and working late that I get because even though I cut it back, I still missed too much time with my kids. It's by sitting and taking a moment to reflect that your leadership and your self management really develops and grows.
It's a wonderful modeling tool for other people as well, for you to to be able to take that time and to notice how you can purposely grow your leadership and particularly your self-leadership. Don't forget to notice what has gone well, and to give yourself some credit for that. And then really be courageous in challenging what still needs to change in order for you to live into a work life balance that really works for you and those who you care about.
So, Alex, I'm going to review those three things we've covered.
Number one. Take a moment of reflection to understand: where can I protect or buy back my precious time through delegation and outsourcing?
Number two. Where can I set limits, which helped me truly prioritize my time and my tasks efficiently?
And number three. How can I become like great leaders who take time to reflect on their leadership and purposely grow it by setting a weekly meeting, perhaps the most important meeting of my week?
I love to answer listener questions, so if you have a question, you can leave us a voicemail or send us an email message just like Alex did at www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast.
Until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about. If you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one, click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write us a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast there you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing. Podcast by their very nature are forms of entertainment, so please keep that in mind when listening to this, or any other podcast. Ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast are shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute, addition, or alternative to professional support.
For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com
Until next time.
Boost Happy Hormones with Humor
Published March 9th, 2021
On today's bite sized episode. Laughter.
Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones in our bodies while increasing those feel good endorphins that we all love. So today we take a look at the most relevant research information about the type of humor that we should be engaging in, in order to increase those great endorphins.
As always, you will leave with immediately actionable things that you can do to increase laughter and humor in your life.
Welcome to In Session with (a therapist and coach) Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors, and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question? We answer those too. So let's get started.
Belief that laughter heal the mind has been around for centuries, and why not? It feels good. It distracts us from problems, and it promotes a lighter perspective. So, all the way back from philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle to the more recent scholars and researchers interested into the importance and the benefits of humor, humor has been sparking curiosity for a very long time.
So today we're going to look at some of the highlights from the research to guide us about how we should be engaging in humor to benefit our well-being, build our resilience, and we'll also look at the kind of humor that detracts from that. And as always, we will look at really easy to implement ways that you can start to infuse more humor in your daily lives that you can get all those wonderful benefits of a little bit more laughter.
There is no shortage of research, especially of recent, into humor and laughter and the very many benefits. But I'm just simply going to highlight a couple of relevant areas for us. Edwards, in 2013, found that humor exercises are associated with positive mood. And Maiolino and Kuiper in 2016 noticed in their research that positive cognitive appraisals, which means we interpret things with a more positive lens, occurred more when connected to humor. A sense of humor is associated with increased life satisfaction and pleasure as you engage in life events and relationships humor is also said to relieve anxiety and stress, boost immune functioning and may even reduce pain.
However, it is worth noting that in 2019, a researcher by the name of Martin found that detrimental humor, things like sarcasm and particularly self-disparaging humor is actually negative for our well-being. It reduces our relationship quality and lowers our self-esteem. So what the research is suggesting is that the type of humor that we engage in is actually important to our well being.
Now, one thing that the research is also clear about is that humor that we might think of as a bit darker, twisted, can actually be really beneficial as a way to release and relieve stress in really tough situations. So, a lot of times for first responders or those who are working in really stressful jobs, people coming from very complicated family dynamics sometimes that dark humor serves an important protective mechanism. I often think of the fact that health care workers employed dark humor really as a way to manage the stress of their job. I really get this. When I was back in the field many years ago as a frontline social worker. My team and I regularly used humor to help buffer some of the horror we had to process as part of our jobs.
You know, even without the research, intuitively, we get that humor and laughter makes us feel better. In fact, if you've ever been around somebody who's laughing out-of-control, it's not even that you need to know the source of their humor. If they continue laughing long enough, you'll find yourself starting to laugh as well. And somehow, even though you're simply laughing because somebody else is, and you don't even know why it's funny, it feels good.
I'm going to share with you a personal story before we get to the part where I share some really easy to implement ways to increase humor and laughter in your life. And I tell it because it was a moment in my own past when I realized how protective humor could be in extremely challenging times.
I was going through a really nasty breakup of a really significant relationship, and during that time I was receiving a lot of mail, email primarily, from my ex that was accusing me of all sorts of things. The accusations were wild and one day it occurred to a friend of mine that they were really so fictional as to be ridiculous. And I don't know what it was about that day, but something shifted. And the perspective through which I saw those shifted because what my really, really good friend and I did was we would take the contents of whatever the latest accusation was, and we would write a really ridiculous song to a favorite, like a re-lyricing of a song. So, we would take an ABBA song and we would take out the ABBA lyrics and we would put in our own based on the ridiculousness that was in these emails. And by doing that, the content became funny, it became fodder. In fact, when I saw an email rather than feeling the old tension and groan that I used to feel, I would think. I wonder what kind of song we're going to write from this? And it became really entertaining. And truly, as I look back on that time, I can recognize how powerful that was in allowing me to proceed with this really challenging, but absolutely necessary situation, and come out much more resilient, allowing myself to recover during the process rather than from it or after it.
I share that story with you because I really have had such an interest in the power of humor, and the power of laughter, and the power that we have to create more of it simply by choosing how we're going to interact with what comes our way. Those emails could have shut me down and hurt me, and really created a lot of psychological un-wellness or distress for a long period of time. But instead I look back on that time is a great learning about a how hilarious my friend and I can be when we are re-lyricing songs, and be the power of humor as a protective mechanism.
Okay, so let's dive in now to what you can do to increase humor in your life. I think one of the easiest ways to access a little more humor in your life is simply to turn onto YouTube or Netflix or Amazon and look up those shows, and those clips where comedian are putting on shows. Those are streamed now, so easy to access. But I understand that not everyone has an hour plus at a time to engage in some humor. And so, what I really like to do is these little humor breaks during my day. What I will do is I'll go onto something like YouTube, and I will look for funny clips. So maybe something that's trending, but more likely, I search for somebody or something that I know is more reliable in amusing me. So I quite often search for Jimmy Fallon so that I get clips from his show. I will search for Saturday Night Live skits. Oh, another favorite is looking for Out-takes from my favorite comedy shows. Those tend to be really high value, and even funnier often than the actual show. I also have some go to podcasts that I enjoy for both interest as well as entertainment, and the hosts are usually quite amusing.
Another idea would be connecting more with people in your life who are already really quite funny, people that make you laugh, and you may determine that you may want to be one of those people, and the good news about humor is that it can be learned and developed. It's only a practice and so if you want to become someone who is enjoying more humor and the benefits of it, but also sharing that and spreading that with other people, you might do as one of my friends does every single day on social media, they post a joke once a day, every day. They did this specifically, they told me a long time ago, to increase how funny they are, and I've got to tell you it's really worked. They are funnier! And I really enjoy seeing their jokes, and I also enjoy seeing how other people will comment with their own jokes, or their own add-ons to the jokes.
Another thing you can do is, there are places online that you can sign up to have a joke delivered to your mailbox every day. I don't know about you. I'm not crazy about the idea, honestly, of having anything else enter my mailbox. But this could be something of high value if you're really trying to enjoy some more jokes,
Of course, you can also type in jokes into any Google search bar and arrive at Pinterest or any Google page and find hundreds, thousands and of millions of jokes to read through, and search through.
The idea is get around things that make you laugh, and that make you smile. And, you know, at the end of the day, especially for you parents, the easiest way to do that is to be around your children because children create a lot of things to laugh about, and to laugh at. For the rest of us. Turn to YouTube.
Until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about. Then, if you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one. Click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write as a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air, or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing. Podcasts, by their very nature, are forms of entertainment. So please keep that in mind when listening to this or any other podcast ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast our shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute edition or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com Until next time.
Beyond Medication: Proactive Well-Being Practices
Published: March 16, 2021
It’s really easy to take psychological well-being for granted. Until, that is, we start to notice symptoms that we are over stressing our emotional systems and running low and resilience.
Today we go beyond medication to understand how we can proactively engage in practices which manage our well-being state, regardless of what is happening in our lives.
So by the end of this show, you'll have a clear direction that specifies exactly what you need to maintain optimal well-being, whether it's another Monday at work or you're an overwhelming crisis, giving you the know how of what you need to do and the confidence that it will be exactly what you need. Let's start the show.
Welcome to in Session with a therapist and coach Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question. We answer those too. So let's get started.
Today we're going to talk about three ideas that are interconnected and and work together at different levels of supporting your psychological well-being. We're going to begin by talking about your daily dose, which is that personal self care recipe, if you like, of the elements that you would do daily in order to have just the right amount of support for you to be in your optimal well-being. To manage those daily challenges and setbacks, and emotional highs and lows that can come up.
So, the idea being this personal self care recipe, your daily dose is, of course, specific to you. In a way, it's quite similar to daily prescription that you might take, where maybe you work for the medical provider to figure out exactly what prescription and just how much is what you need to be at your best. In a similar way, we’re looking at doing that with your daily dose. By utilizing behaviors and mindsets and things that you can do naturally but consistently in a small amount daily to support your well-being.
When you think about the daily dose, the purpose of it is to help you stay in a place of well-being and feeling good and feeling better and able to cope with life so that you're reducing your sense of stress and anxiety, boosting your sense of resilience and competency. And so to figure out what that would take for you. It's a really personal question, and that's why I wanted you to have a few minutes to actually jot down some notes. Because as I cover the breadth of possibilities of what might be relevant, some will be more likely to resonate than others in the same way that you take care of your teeth by brushing them twice a day. We don't tend to think about it. We just get on with it. This daily dose, that idea, we just do it, we get on with it.
But first we identify what it is we're going to do, and we figure out just how much we need. And it needs to be really easy to do daily, so it can’t take up hours of our day or else we'll never get to the stuff that we have to do to live life. So you might consider areas like paying attention to your mind, your body, your social relationships, your connections and consider the ways in which, when you have access to something that supports those areas, how it benefits you, you might be thinking about creativity or gratitude and that idea of including music or the visual arts or performance learning, growth movement, stillness, nutrition. You know so many elements could be so meaningful to people. Some people love to meditate, and if they meditate or sit with silence or stillness, they feel ready for their day. Other people need to move, they need to exercise, and then they feel ready for their day. Some people feel a lot of connection to how they're eating, so the nutrition they put in their body and how they feel emotionally, for others still, how our relationships are running and working is really impactful. There are some couples that have rules right: we don't go to bed angry, and that's one of the ways in which they're supporting their well-being by having that role is bringing them some level of peace of mind that we can sleep and everything's okay.
So, considering for yourself, what is it that forms part of your day? Do you like to wake up to music or to silence or to cuddles or to chaos and noise and excitement in the house: the day has begun!
Do you think about your daily dose? It doesn't necessarily only happen in the morning. It could be something that you do a little and often could be something you do. At the end of the day, many people find identifying those three positives, those three gratitude at the end of the day, a part of their sense of optimal well-being. However it works for you, it's going to be personalized to you. So as I've suggested all these different things, my hope is that you started to pick out things that resonate more and just discard the ones that don't fit.
So those are some ideas around this daily dose that we're talking about, and the daily dose is really keeping us focused on those very few short activities that we do daily so that we can be at our best. But sometimes we need a little more than that, or we like a little more than that. Sometimes we like to feel that we've got a little bit more space for our family or our life or our work and so we have these boosters, which is your second idea of this. The idea of being able to boost the benefits of paying attention to this.
I sort of think of it as like when you go to one of those places that give you those healthy juice drinks where they're putting fruit and vegetable juice together, and it tastes really yummy usually, and sometimes you can also elect to pay a bit more and get a booster of some sort. So maybe it's a vitamin or something else is going to do something really good for your body or your brain. So whatever that booster might be, what we're really looking at is those things that you do periodically, which, by doing them, really boost your sense of well-being. Those things that give you more energy, more purpose, a sense of resilience, just more emotional bandwidth, so that when life is demanding and stressful and challenging, you've had some boosters to support you.
You know, I think of boosters as vacations and holidays, travel, hiking, being in nature, kayaking. But for you some of those may or may not resonate. Maybe country walks do, but perhaps you feel a sense of really boosting when you volunteer or when you get to spend a whole day reading a book or maybe a whole day being with your loved ones. One of my favorite boost is to spend a whole day with a really good girlfriend at the spa. Some other boost activities that clients have come up with is: visiting art galleries, going to the theatre or the cinema, meeting up with friends on a Friday night or the weekend. A lot of boost type activities actually happen in the evenings and on weekends. Those times when we have more control over our schedule, typically. So just being thoughtful about: am I accessing booster activities regularly? Again, these are not meant to be daily activities, but just these periodic activities that help us increase our sense of well-being.
The third idea is about an emergency pack, but this is a psychological well-being emergency pack, if you like. It's for when life has become overwhelming. Perhaps even there's a crisis. It could be because we've neglected our needs, so we haven't taken care of our daily dose, so we haven't had a booster in a while. It could be that something has happened in our life, a natural crisis or a really big emotional setback or challenge. So as you think about what is the emergency pack for its those times when being able to even do the daily dose or even engage in the boosters might feel really effortful and difficult. Perhaps it feels like: I know I love to go hiking, but I can't get off this couch because I am just really feeling so pushed back and shut down. And so what we want to do is actually prepare the emergency pack ahead of time.
Now, this looks different for different people, but on this one, I actually strongly encourage you to actually create some sort of pack or some sort of box that gives you instructions or gives you the tools you need in order to be able to self administer that emergency well-being care. Some people put in their box favorite pictures that really make them smile. Some people put poems or write themselves little encouraging notes. Some people put other kinds of mementos, but some people put really practical things. I had a client some time ago. He knew that if they could take their dog for a walk to the specific place and just take in the view in nature, that’s a really good reset. But the barriers to doing that were: getting from the couch to out the door with the dog, and the steps in between just felt too much and overwhelming. And so what was in their emergency pack was actually dog treats, and the dog leash, and a note reminding them exactly where to go and why. And that's what it took to help them actually activate an emergency plan.
And so, as you think about this for yourself and anybody else in your household, for those times when we're really having a big step at what do we need? You know all of this is about becoming more and more empowered in taking control, in charge of our psychological well-being in ways that are completely accessible to us. And I think that's what's so important is to feel that sense of “I can take care of this” whether it's my daily dose that I'm responsible for, or ensuring I get some of those boosters or if we get into a crisis place, I've got an emergency pack. I've got a plan ready to go.
When I first started coming up with this concept years ago, working with a specific client, we actually had a list of the daily activities that he would do in order to maintain optimal well-being and as long as he was doing those that's exactly what happened. So I do encourage you to make it visual and keep yourself on track. And when you do that, you will notice, perhaps at the beginning you think you need 10 things, and it's going to take 30 minutes of your day to do it. And then over time you realize, actually, the most important are these three pieces.
When you can start to actually really break it down to what is the most necessary in your daily dose, you'll find that you don't need nearly as much as you might anticipate. It's the frequent, consistent actions you're doing of your daily dose that makes all the difference. It sets a new baseline for you, and that's a good thing.
Well, I hope you found these concepts helpful, and I really hope that you'll actually implement all three levels of support from your daily to your boosters to your emergency pack so that you can have the confidence to know that whatever comes your way, you're ready and prepared.
Thanks so much for joining me. It's been a pleasure until next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about. Then, if you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one. Click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write as a review. Three. Share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air, or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing. Podcast by their very nature are forms of entertainment, so please keep that in mind when listening to this or any other podcast ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast our shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute edition or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com
Till next time.
Boost Happiness with Science
Interview with guest Helen Day.
Published: March 2nd, 2021
Rachel- We have a really special show today, one of the UK's leading well-being experts. As our guest, Helen Day, will be sharing with us the PERMA model and importantly, how we can easily implement it into our daily lives. By doing so, we implement what science tells us takes us closer to a sense of happiness and well-being. We will live with more meaning, feeling better, accomplishing more and really engaging in life. Our show today is a little bit longer, since we do have a guest and we are diving into five areas.
At the end of the episode, you will hear me. Recap the five takeaways. Welcome to in session with a therapist and coach Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical wellbeing strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors, and ultimately result in you living your best life. Not a question. We answer those too. So let's get started.
I am so excited to have on today's show Helen Day.
She is the founder and CEO of Positive Leaders, a positive psychology, consultancy, training and coaching company based in the UK She has to date worked with over 11,000 people, facilitating workshops as well as in the coaching environment, bringing positive psychology to life within teams and organizations that she works with. She has gained a reputation for engaging and inspiring audiences while facilitating a variety of bespoke in house courses as well as 1 to 1 coaching within the corporate, educational and charitable establishments. Her focus when she works is to enhance a positive culture within the workplace that truly allows people to flourish and thrive.
Today she is joining us to talk about something that I am really excited to share with all of you listeners. Welcome, Helen Day.
Helen- Rachel, I am so pleased to be here. Thank you so much for asking me.
Rachel- Well, I have invited you here because, as you know, you and I chat with some regularity, and of recent, I have been wanting to listen more and more to what you are researching, learning about, and sharing in the world around positive psychology and how we can utilize that into easy to implement tools to live our lives better, which is a perfect match for this show.
So, we are only on one of our earliest episodes, and here you are. And I hope you'll be a regular. I've invited you to talk about something that you first spoke to me about last year. And I just thought it was so exciting. I’ve thought about it, I've talked about it with clients, I've utilized in my own life, and I'd love for you to explain a little bit about PERMA to our listeners.
Helen- Ah, PERMA the wellbeing model. I would love to talk about PERMA. It’s one of the favorite things.
So we talk about well-being, it's quite a well used term. The World Health Organization actually came up with a definition for well-being, which I think is really useful for all of us. And they state that well-being is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Have a guess as to when was that written?
Rachel- I genuinely don't know. But I guess I'm thinking more recently, I feel like positive psychology is quite recent. Maybe the last 10 or 20 years.
Helen- That would be a good guess.However, you are completely wrong. Sorry, Rachel Moore, it was actually written in 1948.
We've been talking about, well-being for for decades. And what really excites me about PERMA is that I think it actually answers a lot of those questions as to how we have a state of complete mental, physical and social connection. And Martin Seligman, who is the father of positive psychology, has developed this model. Now this model, it's evidence based, and it's a robust model. And he states that well-being is made up of five key pillars.
And these are the pillars: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and purpose, and accomplishments. Now each of those pillars are of equal importance, and although they are seen separately, they are actually intertwined. So if you start to build your well-being by focusing in on one pillar, it undoubtedly has an effect on your overall well-being.
Rachel- That is so fascinating. Now, one of the things we love to focus on is how do we take things and make them actionable, easy to implement. I wonder if you could take us through each of those five pillars and help us put those into really practical terms that we can start to improve our own well-being.
Helen- So let's start off with the first one first. One, positive emotions. Positive emotions is beyond happiness. It's more than happiness. It's a sense of love, joy, contentment, peace. Those are positive emotions. And the more positive emotions we have, the more the more enjoyment we have in our lives.
Now Barbara Fredrickson has done a lot of research around this very area, and she has a coined a phrase, which I absolutely love. And she says that actually, the more we have positive emotions, it feeds into what she calls the ‘Broaden and Build’ theory. What she says is that when we feel positive emotions, what happens is that we it engages our cognitive abilities to actually move forward and deal with challenges in a far more creative way. And I think one of the reasons this happens is that when when we are thinking about positive emotions, our brains are flooded with serotonin, and when we are in that state, then those challenges that we're all facing at the moment and various different ways. Those challenges just become easier.
So I don't know if you've experienced this, you know, you've perhaps you perhaps had a great testimonial through from a client or you've received good news from somewhere. You get that elevation of positive emotions and that that's when you decided to pick up the phone and make that really difficult telephone call that you've been putting off or do something because we're fueled with those positive emotions.
Rachel- Yeah, it's like that Resilience buffer.
Helen- Yeah, exactly. So there are lots of different routes to building up positive emotions, and it could well be. Some of the listeners today can already think about ways that they increase their positive emotions. A really easy way is just writing down three positive things at the end of the day, that we have noticed happened during the day.
Now, when I give these to clients to work with, they invariably flounder because they think they should be looking at really significant moments. And actually it's the smallest moments that sometimes we just miss in the busyness of everyday life. The small moments of looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful blue sky or, I'm very blessed where I where I work. I work in an office at the bottom of my garden, and I have an old apple tree. It's about 200 years old and I look out and I see I see little birds just flying around and perching on this tree moments like that that when I stop and I notice I'm fueled with those positive emotions.
And the research indicates that when we write three positive things down just for two weeks, that our overall levels of well-being increase and our overall levels of stress and anxiety decrease up to a month later, three months later and up to six months later just by writing for three things for two weeks.
Rachel- That sounds like an incredible deal. Two weeks for six months of benefits, and benefits that decrease anxiety and stress. I mean, that's an easy sell. We can do that.
Helen- Well, I don't know if anyone in the present moment is dealing with stress and anxiety, but certainly over here in the UK, we're just, you know, starting to to look forward to the easing of lockdown in the next month or so. But, you know, there are a lot of reasons to feel stressed and anxiety and anxious. And yet, through that, we we forget to notice the very simple things that can lead us to joy, contentment, peacefulness, whatever it may be. And the lovely thing about this exercise is that the more we do it, the more we see it in our everyday lives.
Rachel- I love that. And I do believe that the stress and anxiety may be a tad global. I may have noticed some myself on the State side. What about engagement? Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Helen- Oh, I love talking about engagement. So engagement is when is when we find an activity where we we go into something called a state of flow, and a state of flow is those wonderful moments when we are so engaged in what we're doing, that we lose all sense of time, we lose a sense of place, we even lose a sense of ourselves as we become completely engaged in the activities that we're doing. So again, another researcher, Hungarian researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Mihaily has done a lot of research around this, and the health benefits of of us going into a state of flow are enormous. What happens, Rachel, when we go into a state of flow, if we if you think about a time when you've been in a state of flow, undoubtedly in that time, as you think back, you won't have felt any sense of anxiety or stress in those moments when you are completely engaged.
What happens when we go into a state of flow When we're stressed? We have something called an amygdala response, which is really what can cause us to feel stress and anxious when we go into a state of flow. Actually, what happens? The blood flows away from the amygdala and into a different part of our brain. So when we are in when those those activities that completely engage us, then we don't feel any of that sense of stress. We can find these activities lots of different ways. So I know I'm learning how to play the piano at the moment. And as you know, through our conversations, I've been learning for quite some time. I'm a really slow learner, and my dear old mother taught me who's a very good pianist herself. She taught me how to play with my right hand, but I was the third child that she was teaching, and she got a bit bored, and so she just stopped before we got to the left hand. So I'm now teaching myself how to how to play with both hands, and it's a long, long process. But actually, when I sit down at the piano and I'm playing sometimes, you know, I think I'm just gonna sit and play for five minutes, and I look up in an hour has gone, and what's interesting is that it's not.
We don't feel we don't feel anything in that moment other than completely engaged. But it's what we feel afterwards, which is again a heightened state of positive emotions. I'm talking here about long periods of flow, but we can also we can also enjoy micro-moments of flow as well, and they're of equal importance. So maybe just an activity, even just when we engage in activity, just for a minute there are significant health benefits, so you might just want to think back over your last day or week or so.
And was there an activity that you did? Either in your personal world or in your working world, where you've got completely lost in what you were doing, make a list of those things and then commit to doing those things more often? Sometimes, particularly when we're mindful of going right now, we're going to go into a state of flow. We're so focused on going to a state of flow that actually we miss being in a state of flow. We don't get to that state of flow because we're thinking too much.
But if we know those activities, and they can be anything, they can be gardening, playing the piano, swimming. I know. So my really, really sad one is that I'm doing a masters at the moment. And when I find myself referencing, which I thought I would hate, I literally can, when I'm putting my reference list together, I can spend hours on it, and I love it because I just get so absorbed into that activity. So whatever it is, make a list and then commit to doing more of those activities.
Rachel- First of all, I can tell you that my days of referencing for my masters didn't bring the essence of flow you're talking about. In fact, I almost ran out of breath as you brought it up. But what I have noticed recently, sometimes it's so busy, and I love to go for a walk in nature. And recently I've noticed, even if I take what I might think of as a micro-moment. So just a 15 minute walk, when usually I like to walk 2, three or four times that. But even 10 to 15 minutes of getting out and breathing the air, and hearing a few birds, and taking those steps just really does feel like far more time passes. It actually does, and I still get all the benefits as if I've been out there longer. So I love this. I think it's when we recognize we've been in an altered state of consciousness, which I think is what flow is. As I said, when we just we just lose all sense of time and place, and it's how we feel afterwards, how we feel afterwards. So that's what I would recommend people do. I sometimes feel like a conversation with you might leave me feeling like that afterwards. I know flattery. I'm already trying to entice you back. I'm loving this. Okay? Relationships tell us a little bit about that.
Helen- Well, I don't think it's going to come as any surprise that relationships are part of our overall well-being. We just need to see what's happened to us over the last year. In as much as, you know, we have been denied access to our friends and our family, to those key positive relationships and the effect that it's had on us far more than anything else that we've lost, I think. And so relationships are absolutely key to our overall well-being. And there's a couple of things I want to talk about. Where relationships are concerned, the first one is taking a significant relationship. Maybe somebody that you're living with at the moment partner, a child friend, whoever it may be, and doing a random act of kindness for that person. Now there's a lot of health benefits of doing a random act of kindness when we, when we do a random act of kindness, our levels of oxytocin raises.
Oxytocin is that gorgeous love hormone. Do you remember first falling in love, Rachel? For me, it was quite a long time ago.
Rachel- Oh, it's a great one that wasn't it?
Helen- That heady feeling where you just, you know, you're just consumed by that other person. And what happens in the at that time is that our levels of oxytocin have raised quite significantly, and generally, after about 18 months, we come out of that stage and we even recognize that. Actually, we're not that in-love with the person and we go our separate ways or, um, as in my husband's case, I go…actually, I still quite like you, so let's let's spend our lives together, let's let's go for it.
So when we do a random act of kindness we are actually fueled by oxytocin. Interestingly, our levels of oxytocin raises by 50% when we witness a random act of kindness, so there's lots of health benefits. What I love about doing a random act of kindness is that for whoever we are really investing in that relationship.
Remember in the good old days when I could I could send my child to school, and I could send her with a packed lunch and I would put a little note in there, just just telling her how much I love her. It's a random act of kindness putting something in the bathroom cabinet, so when my husband opens the cabinet, there's something there that just tells him that I thought of him. Or so this is less romantic. As you know, we live with hundreds of animals. We live in a zoo, and one of the things like my husband hates yeah, one thing my husband hates doing is the cat litter tray. He hates it, and you know, it's not one of my favorite activities, but I do, I do the cat litter tray. I know it doesn't sound very romantic, but we've been married a long time. Go with me on this one, I do the cat litter tray cause I know he hates it.
And in the same way, my husband every single day makes me a cup of tea. It doesn't sound massive, but he never drinks tea, and he will invariably, he did this yesterday, when I was in a meeting and he walked into the garden with a cup of tea without being asked, a random act of kindness.
Now, the thing about that is that I feel good when he does random act of kindness for me, and he feels good. So it's reciprocal. So I would genuinely suggest that just have some fun thinking about doing a random act of kindness for somebody in your life, whatever that may be. Sending a text of appreciation, putting a little note somewhere, buying a gift and hiding it, make it playful and just see what happens to your relationships.
Rachel- I love this one. Recently, my sweetheart was out of town for a few days, and I put a card in his luggage that he found on the second night. However, I can't believe that we have suggested in this show that cleaning the cat litter tray is the most wonderful random act of kindness. But I'm going to go with it because you know what? I love some of that oxytocin, even hearing about it. Actually, I was kind of like Oh, that's really sweet. Also, I don't know that I volunteer for that, but you do have a lot of animals. So I can appreciate that your husband likes that.
Helen- Can I just often one other piece of advice where relationships are concerned,
Rachel- of course.
Helen- because I think this is quite a big deal for all of us. Invariably, when couples or friends fight, we focus in on the negative impact on that, and particularly if we get to the point where you know, we go and see a couples counselor, we focus in on those moments of negativity.
But the research would indicate that what is more important in a relationship is how we respond not to negative news, but to good news. And there are various different styles that we can respond to good news. And I'm just going to focus in on on the most positive one, which is called actively constructive engagement. And that means that when we hear a good piece of news, we stop what we're doing. We turn and face the person. We asked them to embellish their news. We congratulate them. We join in in their excitement and it's those moments of active, constructive engagement that is really key to our relationships. It's focusing in and hearing the good news and really responding to the good news in a way that makes whoever is telling us the good news, feel as if they've been heard, that they're valued and that they're good news is something to be celebrated. So that would be another tip. I would give where relationships are concerned.
Rachel- I am loving that tip. Okay, we're going to talk about meaning next, tell us a little bit about that.
Helen- So Martin Seligman suggests, and I would agree with him, that what is key importance to our well-being is having a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, and we can find meaning and purpose in lots of different areas.
One way to highlight this, actually, is that research has shown that by having children does not overall increase our level of happiness and life satisfaction. I know, right? I know. When I read that I was on the phone to the adoption agencies going, I'm really sorry I made a mistake, before your listeners go out and do that you don't need to do that because it doesn't significantly raise our levels of happiness. But what the research has shown is that it does increase our overall levels of meaning and purpose.
Now, that doesn't mean you can only find meaning and purpose through having a child far from it. But it's really important that we find meaning and purpose in what we're doing. It can be through our work. I definitely have meaning and purpose in the work that I do. But it might also be in an activity that we do. It might be through parenting. It might be looking after our aged parents. It might be doing a support work at volunteering, work in the community. It doesn't matter what it is, but finding that meaning and purpose.
And I think one ways we can do this is by just stopping and pausing and thinking about as we as we can progress down that road of life as we are nearing the end of it, just going out to that point and imagining how do we want to be remembered? How do we want to be remembered by others in the world? So how and for What do I do? I want to be remembered and also by whom. And by asking yourself that question that will start to give you some indication as to where meaning and purpose lies for you.
It's a question that quite often I bring into my workshops, and it's the one that most people stumble across because if you know Simon's next work, the Golden Circle, he talks about this premise that we spend so much of our lives talking about, what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. But actually, what is key? What is the key driver is why we are doing it. Why why are we doing it when we get to that? Why, when we get to that sense of meaning, even on those tough days, Rachel, that we all have When I engage with why I do what I do either personally or professionally, it it just It just helps me get out of bed, because do you know what?
When things are going well, when things life is easy, getting out of bed is a cinch, right? It's easy. We can all do that. But on those tough days that we are all having getting out of bed on some of those days for some people has been really difficult. And I'm gonna be honest. There have been some days it's been difficult for me, but what has got me out of the out of my bed and face the day is when I engage with my meaning and purpose.
Rachel- Yeah, I love that question. It's really given me pause. The kind of pause that I feel like I should take away and really consider for myself and that bit, by whom? Yeah, that really got my attention. All right, well, the last but certainly not least accomplishments.
Helen- This is a really interesting one, because again, I don't know what it's like in the US, but I, um I was working with a team of senior leaders on this very question a couple of weeks ago, and when I asked about their team's accomplishments, they were extraordinary at being able to pinpoint other people's accomplishments.
And I went, Uh huh, tell me about yours and literally I was going to say the room went silent because, of course, we weren’t in a room. We're all doing this virtually. I thought we'd lost connection, the room…
Rachel- The zoom went silent.
Helen- went silent, which is never good in the middle of a training session. And we are, we are conditioned, I think, from a relatively young age not to celebrate our accomplishments. And yet, I think if we really want to build our well-being, if we want to build our resilience, we need to focus in on the small accomplishments every single day.
Quite often. In our work with companies, they will celebrate the big wins at the end. And I'm encouraging them to think about the small steps of success along the way and the example I give again. If you think about a young baby just getting up and moving for the first time, what do they do? What do they do when they try and stand up? First of all, they fall down. Do we? Do we criticize them? Do we admonish them? No! We celebrate the fact that they tried to get up and then they fell down and we encourage them, and we focus in each and every time that they stand up and they learn to do it in a way that actually works for them.
And yet somewhere along the line we are told not to focus in on our accomplishments. My daughter when she was little would come running down with a piece of artwork, which I had no idea what it was. She was so proud of it. She was so proud of it. At some point in her young life, she will learn to hide that away. Now I don't I don't know where that comes from. It might come from school or or other adults around. But we are conditioned not to focus in on our successes.
And yet we need to. We must focus in on our accomplishments. Most of the people I know at the end of the day will look at their to do list and look down their list at what they still haven't achieved. So I would really recommend this that instead of a to-do list, you have a ta-do list. Ta-da! And write down the things that you have achieved, and sometimes, sometimes it is just getting through the day, those tough days that we've got through and we have fed ourselves and maybe anyone else that we've lived with and we have managed to get on with a bit of work, and we have emptied out the cat litter tray, whatever it may be we've done there today, we've done it.
There'll be other days that we focus in on more on more significant accomplishments. But writer ta-da list every single day of the things that you have accomplished because the more you focus in on what you can do, what you have done, knowing that if you've done it before, you can do it again. And that again just increases our resilience. Increases our overall well-being.
Rachel- I feel like I would need glitter or sparkles on it.
Helen- you can certainly have that.
Rachel- I can. I can. That's right. That is fantastic!
Helen, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing all about PERMA and, most importantly, how we can implement it, I mean, that's what this show is about. How do we take all of this really valuable research and share it so that anybody access it and improve their own sense of well-being, happiness, joy, sense of peace of mind, and contentment. And you've just talked us through all the ways we can do that, Helen, It's been a pleasure. I hope you will come back because I have learned, and we've even talked about this some months ago, and I learned even more today that I can go away and implement. And I hope many of the listeners will. I'm really hoping you might come back for a future episode where we can answer listener questions. So if you have a question, please go to my website and leave us either a voicemail or you can write an email and we will answer those on our show. Thank you so much for joining us, Helen. If people want to find out more about you or connect with you, how can they do that?
Helen- The easiest way Rachel, is for people to find me on LinkedIn. So just look up, Helen Day, Positive Leaders and they can find me there. And as always, it's lovely to get a message. So if you have heard from this and you want to connect on LinkedIn, do send me a message. It would be lovely to hear from you. And thank you, Rachel, for having me on. I've loved talking about PERMA with you.
Rachel- Well, what can we say? Helen has delivered on the five components of PERMA with easy-to-implement takeaways, and I just want to highlight those again positive emotion that bit about feeling good, Helen reminds us.
Take time each day and write down three things we are grateful for, three positive things that happened that day. In doing so for just two weeks, the benefits last up to six months.
Next, we are reminded that engagement is about finding flow with those activities and tasks that we really enjoy. Some might call this like an immersion or a blissful feeling of timelessness as we engage. and what I think is so important about Helen sharing is this idea around micro-flow activities because I know we're all busy people. And sometimes the idea of having endless amounts of time to move into flow with our favorite activity might seem a little bit of a stretch. But micro-moments can also be beneficial in the same way.
Next is relationships, that ability to create authentic connections that brings us a greater sense of joy and also resilience because we have supports in others and the way that Helen has directed our attention is to make this really implementable is simply to engage in random acts of kindness. You can do this with people you know. You can do this with complete strangers. She shared with us that ever memorable example of cleaning the cat litter, and that really shall stay with me forever. However, there are many, many ways, that you can show random acts of kindness to others. The other good news about this is the benefits are to you and the other person. And actually I almost forgot. Also, anyone witnessing gets a benefit.
Next we turn our attention towards meaning. The sense of purposeful existence and the question that Helen really left us with is: for what and how do I want to be remembered and by whom? And by answering this question, we can start to feel a direction of pull towards what it is for us to live in a sense of meaningful, purposeful existence.
Last, but certainly not least, accomplishments. That inner sense of making progress, achieving things. Helen reminds us that it's too easy to look at all the things we haven't done yet. Rather than celebrating those that we have done and a really simple change that you can make today is, rather than having a to-do list is having a ta-da list!
I really hope that you will take away one or more of these five suggestions and begin to implement. Today was a really big bite for our bite sized episode. So, thank you for sticking with me as we had this time with Helen to learn about PERMA, and to learn the easy ways that we can live life better till next time.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about.
Then, if you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one. Click the ‘subscribe button’ and never miss an episode. Two, write us a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air or you can email us your question directly.Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous.
One more thing. Podcasts by their very nature, are forms of entertainment. So please keep that in mind when listening to this, or any other podcast. Ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast are shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute, addition, or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com
Until next time.
Getting Conversations Right
Published: February 23rd, 2021
Rachel Moore- If you have ever had a conversation go wrong, then today's episode is for you, whether we're talking about in your personal life with a loved one or family or friends, or in professional with your boss or a colleague. We're going to leave today with an easy to implement question that will help you get conversations right every time.
Welcome to In Session with therapist and coach Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors, and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question? We answer those too. So let's get started.
Today we are focused on getting conversations right. I've been in many conversations over the years where things have not gone as I had hoped or thought they would. Sometimes I'm able to recover those, and other times not. And it got me thinking, as I had conversations with a couple of clients over the last few weeks, how this shows up in both our professional world as well as our personal world.
And so I thought we could just take a few minutes today to come up with an easy to implement question, one designed for the professional, more formal world and the other for our personal, more intimate world. A question which, by asking it allows us to get our conversations right.
So let's start in the professional world. A few weeks ago, as having a conversation with a client, and they were sharing with me that their company is going through a major reorganization and that their boss keeps calling them into meetings under the guise of having discussions about how to do the reorganization.
And my client, who is familiar with this process, has lots of input and ideas and ways to point out potential pitfalls. However, in those conversations they've been noticing that their boss seems offended at times or disengaged, and they leave feeling frustrated and unheard and really wondering what the point of the conversation was. And they were asking me, How do I get past this? I want to have good conversations with my boss. I want to get along well with them, but this is driving me nuts. And so the challenge ahead of us was how to speak to someone in a professional way, but have them, essentially, identify something that isn't being spoken aloud.
And so what we came up with was a framework which I'm going to share with you today. And of course, as with everything, this framework is for you to take and put into your own words, into how it would fit with you. But the idea being something like, Hey, I really appreciate we're having a conversation or discussion about whatever the topic is…so in this case, the workplace reorganization, and I want to be sure that I can contribute in the most productive way. What kind of input would you like from me in this? By asking the other person who has called that conversation, called that meeting, what they are looking for from you…First of all, raises to people's alertness that in a meeting, in a conversation, there really should be a purpose to each person's voice, each person being there, and it helps them identify why they really asked you. If they're getting stuck, or if you are the person on the side of the conversation that is leading these, or you're inviting people in, some ideas of the roles that people in conversations bring might be worthy of visiting.
For example, are you hoping I'll generate ideas or bring some of my previous experience to see what could apply in this situation? Are you hoping that I'll challenge what plans have been made and play devil's advocate? Or, that I will bring the stakeholders perspective into consideration in this conversation? Maybe you'd like feedback about the practicalities of how we would implement the plans that you're talking about. Or, are you hoping that I'll just listen and be the implementer of what you share with me? You know that last one is really, I think, what a lot of times we get called into meetings for, which is: I want you to listen to my ideas and go execute them. But I don't want to say it quite like that.
When we can find language that is polite, but also pointed, that helps people identify; Yeah, actually, I really do want you to be the implementer of what I share with you. Then it's really clear that we're in a meeting where our opinions, and our feedback are not being invited. We're being invited to participate in what's already decided. But equally, it can help the person who has set up the meeting, or is leading the meeting really identify: what am I asking for?
That clarity helps that conversation go right. It helps you as the person who is joining the conversation, understand the role that you're being asked to play and it helps a person who is setting up the meeting clarify what they're really doing there.
When I was back in the world of working for other people, I would regularly ask a question in my own language around this. What are you looking for from me? Because I could play any of those roles, but understanding the one that's needed right now to move this forward…that’s the one I want to fulfill if I'm going to get this conversation at this time, right.
Okay, so that is in the world of work. But of course, conversations don't just go south in the world of work, they also can go sideways in our personal lives. Very often I will have conversations with one spouse or one partner in a really loving relationship who's pulling their hair out, metaphorically speaking, because there loved one, whether it's in a relationship or indeed a parent, or a good friend, is offering them something that doesn't match what they're looking for in a conversation.
I think the one that comes up most often is, I just want them to listen and validate and be kind, but they keep offering the solutions or suggestions. But truly, I have also, on occasion, heard people say: all they do is sit and listen, it’s like, are they even hearing me? So, in those personal conversations, the question that I invite you to play with, again in your own way is: look, I'm here for you and I want to be supportive, are you looking for me to provide support in the way of guidance and advice and ideas, or would you like me to do more of a witness and listen?
Of course, witnessing is listening, and it's not participating very vocally, and it certainly isn't sharing any of your 10 point plan that would solve that problem they're having with that work colleague, and it can be really frustrating at times, especially if you are a problem solver. I find it frustrating because I am a real problem solver to sit in conversations sometimes and just keep my mouth really, really, really closed and offer nothing but consistent empathy and listening. But some people actually find all the relief they need in just being able to share something and get it off their chest.
Other people find more relief when they leave a conversation with a plan of what they can do or a new perspective. Genuinely, I have talked to people who really do want that feedback and input. So by asking, what are you looking for in this conversation? We allow ourselves to get that conversation right, because we're showing up in the way that our partner, friend, parent, spouse, or child need.
So those are your two questions.
One is for that professional, more formal, and the other is for your personal life.
Use those questions and you will be getting conversations right.
On the other side of that, when you are engaging in conversations and either of those fears, professional, or work, or at home, be willing to share upfront what you are looking for. Model this. Let's say if you're at work, you've invited somebody in for a meeting. You want to share some ideas, but you really want them to share their thoughts and ideas and really see the pitfalls in what you're suggesting and you say that right up front: hey, I've invited you to this meeting, I'm going to share some information and a plan with you, and I'd love you to point out pitfalls and share some ideas that you would have. Now the other person clearly understands what's expected of them.
Equally, in your personal life, letting people know what you're looking for. Now the other person knows what they're being asked to do.
Clearing up communication in this way helps us get conversations right. Isn’t that the point?
So I'm really excited that you joined me today. I hope that you will take these questions away with you.
I always encourage people to make a note of what you're taking away, so that you can go implement it, and check it and come back to it if you need it later.
I'm really excited about some upcoming episodes. I'm going to be answering questions in an episode soon. So if you have a question, then you can call in the leave a voice message or you can email me. You just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast and on that page, you can do either of those two things: voice mail or email.
They can be anonymous or not, it’s up to you. I've also got a guest speaker, and I am so excited for you to hear from her. I hope she's going to be a regular. She's phenomenal. I will tell you more about her when I introduce her next time. Until then.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel Moore. New episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about. Then, if you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things.
Number one. Click the subscribe button and never miss an episode to write as a review. Three. Share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air. Or you can email us your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous.
One more thing. Podcast by their very nature are forms of entertainment. So please keep that in mind when listening to this or any other podcast ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast are shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute edition or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com
Until next time.
Master Uncertainty in 15 Minutes
Published: February 15th, 2021
By the end of this podcast episode, you're going to be ready to manage uncertainty with greater resilience in mind, a sense of self, and in your body. That's right. In the next 15 minutes, you're going to master how to manage life's inevitable uncertainties. That's what's on today In Session with Rachel Moore.
Welcome to In Session with (therapist and coach) Rachel Moore. You can be happier, healthier, feel more confident, love your work and have satisfying relationships. And while this doesn't magically happen, it can be learned. So each show we share easy to implement practical well-being strategies that are designed to change your mind, your behaviors, and ultimately result in you living your best life. Got a question? We answer those too. So let's get started.
Let's dive into today's topic. Uncertainty. And more importantly, what you can do by the end of this podcast show, that will make you more resilient to the uncertainty in life. This morning I was scrolling through Instagram, as I sometimes do, and I saw somebody posting about, inviting people to go from surviving to thriving during this global pandemic. This invitation to, you know, up-level, to improve, to really get that A+ grade for how they're living during this pandemic. And I thought to myself, What a bunch of stress, and also how unrealistic. Stick with me.
So, I'm thinking about uncertainty as being as though we're at sea. And sometimes when we're at sea, we've chosen a promised land in the distance, and we're swimming towards it. And we're doing all those things on a day to day that get us towards that goal, that promised land, that next place that we want to get to. We are striving to thriving. That's cool. But sometimes, like in a global pandemic, in a time of extreme uncertainty, sometimes, I think the thing we have to bear in mind is we have to just tread water to survive all the demands that are placed on us.
You see, when we choose to swim to a destination, when we choose to strive to thrive. When we set these goals, we have the element of choice. I could choose to take the next step. So sometimes we invite uncertainty into our life in order to achieve something to be something you know, I have spent quite a lot, actually, of my adulthood moving countries and then moving across country. So I've lived on the East Coast, in America, the West Coast, even the middle. I've lived in the UK, I've gone back and forth, and each time there was a lot of uncertainty. So I felt lots of the dysregulation and the worry and anxiety and that ‘what if’s’ and all the stuff that goes on with uncertainty, right? But ultimately I had the choice to say yes or no.
But none of us got the choice about a global pandemic.
And so in this moment, I think we are stranded at sea treading water. But we didn't choose to be there. And the truth is, we don't have a timeframe of how long we’ll be here and what will be required. And so we've got to conserve our energy. We've got to conserve our attitude or mental health or well-being. And so that's really what I'm here to support you in doing. We're going to think about three areas by the end of this podcast, three areas that you're going to have a skill to take, and a mindset to work on, and a new perspective about your identity that I hope will really be helpful for you in building resilience in uncertain times, whether it's a global pandemic or any other time, that you face uncertainty in life. And let's be honest, life is essentially uncertain, but certainly we have times where we choose it in times where we are reacting and asked to step up to it. And I believe one of those times is right now.
So I'm going to stick with this metaphor of treading water and sort of the humility that is required to be willing to simply tread water and to stop looking for a new goal and new land to swim towards in realizing that, actually, at this point, it's almost like we're just waiting for that ship to come by right and rescue us. So there we are. We're waiting. We're treading water and I don't know about you, but I think if I'm treading water, I'm not thinking to myself, why didn't I spend this time learning a second language? Or, why didn't I reorganize my bookshelves to be in alphabetical order? Or any other number of things that sometimes our internal expectations can guide us towards feeling less than ,or not enough, or not doing as much as somebody else.
And so that place of humility is to realize we have to change and adapt what we expect of ourselves when we're essentially being asked to tread water for an unknown amount of time with unknown on-going conditions. And when we do that, we have to think differently.
You know, early on in this pandemic, I was talking to some business leaders about if you haven't adapted how you're expecting your staff to work, what the deadlines are, what the work expectations are. If you haven't adapted those things, then your staff are going to sink. They're going to leave. They're gonna be unhappy. Your business is going to be hurt. You're not going to attract that top talent anymore because you're going to be the business that didn't adapt to a global pandemic. That didn't adapt to the needs of families, individuals your workers who might be sick or juggling more balls in the air than ever with home-schooling, with loneliness, like whatever brought into their lives, you have to adapt.
So in the same way we have to adapt our own mindset for ourselves. And that can be hard, especially for high achievers. Right? To think: how am I going to be willing to tread water rather than do what I always know how to do? And so I'm going to invite you to develop a humble mindset, and it's simply this place where maybe it's a something you say to yourself. Somebody might call a mantra. Or, just a thought that you repeat that allows you instead of striving for that A+ grade in life right now, to get a pass. Not for forever, but for these uncertain times. To release some of the pressure of perfectionism, of doing it all, or doing as well as somebody else or doing as well as I think I should in my head, and instead to be willing to do it, however you can get through it.
So some of those mindsets, I'm going to suggest a few. I encourage you to come up with your own or steal one of these, and that will be your mindset. You see, there's nothing to do. It's just a mindset to hold and come back to. You might throw it on a sticky note to remind yourself or put it in your phone.
But here's some humble mindsets.
I'm doing the best I can, and that's enough.
Another day I asked him to shore. Today I'll keep afloat.
Somebody else might think: one day, one hour, one step at a time.
These humble mindsets that I'm just suggesting here., that’s just three options, certainly come up with your own. These are the things to keep coming back to.
Okay, maybe I feel like I'm not living up to what I could be at my very best. But if I can understand, I'm actually focused on treading water to get through this. I'm doing the best I can, and that's enough.
The second thing we're going to look at is our identity, because part of having this more humble mindset is also can be a little bit of a challenge to our identity, who we've been.
I've spoken to people who are used to absolutely performing at their highest caliber at all times in life. I don't know how they do it, and so not being able to do that right now is hard, and so I want to invite you to think about this idea of who are you called to be in this uncertainty, and not only who you call to be who you choosing to be in this uncertainty? Because the thing about uncertainty is, it can really challenge our sense of control, our sense of choice, our sense of self.
So if you were to answer: “Given this, who do I choose to be?”
So, given this huge uncertainty in my life, who do I choose to be? I encourage you to come up with maybe no more than 1, 2 or three descriptors. So let's start with “I am…” so you might be thinking:
Given this global pandemic and how I want to look back on who I have been during it. I am someone that was optimistic, self compassionate and generous.
And you might decide that if I can be those things during this time, if I can seek ways to do that each and every day, small ways, right, that that means that I am still having choice within all this uncertainty. It might be as simple as I am kind to myself and others. So what is your “I am” when you ask yourself: given this uncertainty, who do I choose to be? I am…, and so that for yourself. Hold that in your mind. Maybe put that on the sticky note or put it in your phone. Um, that's your second resilience booster.
So now we've got the humble mindset of I'm doing enough. We've got the guiding principles of who I am being. That is enough for me that I can look back on and feel good about who I am being during this.
The third thing I want to share with you is a way to support your body, and this is really important because I don't know about you. But I think a lot of us have struggled with our health and well-being physically during this global pandemic. Been really hard to do the things we usually do, and so we've had to adapt, and sometimes those adaptations just aren't as rigorous or supporting as what we are used to doing. Some of us that time challenges like the realities of even being able to get to doing anything.
And so I want to offer you something that adds no extra time. It's something you're already doing: it’s breathing. Of course, you know you're already doing that, and you're probably, some of you at least, thinking like I used to think: hey, don't talk to me about breathing, I do it all the time, I'm excellent at it because I'm alive. But, what I would like to share with you is actually a combination of two breathing techniques that work in a particular way in the body that overrule any anxious worry thought, that overrule any of that prefrontal cortex that's going to interrupt how breathing differently really works in our body, but actually really works to support the vagus nerve and functioning nice and naturally so that your fight or flight can go down and also that your body can move into a more relaxed state.
I invite you to do this breathing with me as we do it right now, and here's what it is. We're going to combine two things. One, diaphragmatic breathing. There’s loads of research around diaphragmatic breathing, and how it benefits your system, how it benefits your body, and really calms your body. So the way that I teach it to people is really simple. Whether you're a kid or an adult. I want you to imagine you have a balloon that is deflated. It's in your belly if you can place a hand over your belly and in each in breath. The goal is that the place that actually expands in your body is where that balloon is. It's like we're blowing up the balloon with our breath. I'm going to be honest when we do this, this is not glamorous, this is not the time to take a sideways picture people, because our bellies get pushed out. And then on the out breath, that hand comes gently back in. I invite you even as I'm talking through, placing that hand on your belly and on the in-breath, blowing up that balloon on the out breath, letting that deflate.
I said I was going to combine two techniques, so I want you to continue that. But as you do that there's another breathing technique that's extremely effective, called 7-11 breathing. So 7-11 breathing is essentially the principle that the in-breath is shorter than the out breath. Now we want all of breathing to be really quite relaxed and gentle. In fact, all breathing techniques should be practiced with that attitude of being relaxed, not forced. 7-11 Breathing is simply breathing in for the Count of seven, into that low diaphragm, right into that balloon… and out for the count of 11. I often say to my clients, I don't know if I have, like, tiny lungs, but I can basically do six and nine on a good day, so you might need to alter your numbers. I think I would alter them lower rather than count faster, because that, to me, doesn't seem very relaxing. But I'll let you make that work. The idea is you don't need to continue counting forever, but just that you get into that practice of blowing up the balloon and letting it out more slowly than you blew it up.
So you're breathing in for the count of seven. So let's just do a couple of rounds right now, breathing nice and low. If your breath feels higher in your body, don't worry. You're just going to invite it to drop, but don't force it to drop lower. It will learn to get there over time for breathing in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 out 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. In, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Out, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and continue. You don't need to add this to your ‘to do’ today. I just invite you to remember it. maybe set an alarm, or if you've got one of those watches that says, ‘Hey, time to breathe’. This is the breath that really supports your whole body at any time of stress, anxiety, worry and especially during uncertainty. In fact, the researchers around this breath work suggests that you do it a couple hundred times a day. I do it sometimes when I'm in session with clients and they don't even know. You can learn to do it so naturally that nobody even notices. Don't put pressure on yourself. Don't count how many times you're doing it. Just do it more than you're currently doing it.
Okay, so those are our three changes. We're looking at humble mindset: another day I'll swim to shore, today I'm treading water and keeping afloat, and that's good enough. Identity: given this…. who I choose to be is…And, I am and a resilient grounding within the body.
Fun fact. When we breathe in, we have more oxygen in our body. And if you think about that for just a moment, like you're out there treading water at sea, you have more buoyancy if you're breathing in that diaphragmatic 7-11 way. So it really is a bit of a lifesaver.
OK, I'm going to leave you with that today. Thank you so much for joining me. I hope that's been helpful for you to implement right away. If you didn't take a chance to get a post it note or write it down, just write those couple of things down. Do that breathing. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode of In Session with Rachel More. Take good care.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of In Session with Rachel. More new episodes are released on Tuesday, so check back next week to find out what we're talking about. Then, if you would like to support this podcast, then you can do three things. Number one., click the subscribe button and never miss an episode. Two, write us a review. Three, share it with someone that you think would benefit from the contents of this episode. If you have a question you would like answered on there, then just go to www.coachwithRachel.com/podcast. There you can leave a voice message and we will play it on air, or you can email as your question directly. Be sure to share your name and location, or simply state that you'd rather be anonymous. One more thing. Podcasts by their very nature are forms of entertainment. So please keep that in mind when listening to this, or any other podcast. Ideas, opinions and the content of this podcast are shared to inform only and should not be seen in any way as a substitute edition or alternative to professional support. For more information about our disclaimers, please visit our website www.coachwithRachel.com
Until next time.