Our latest blogs focussing on grounding are a trilogy and can be read in any order. Blog one is Grounding myself in the moment, blog two is Grounding and re-connecting as a team, and the third is Grounding ourselves by planning ahead.
Sometimes I am surfing the wave and sometimes it feels like it am about to get dragged under by the power of the current. Other times I feel like the waves are even more powerful and I am struggling to keep my head above water at all. Over the years I have learned that there are things I can do to get back above the surf, regain a sense of perspective and calm. I have used the following three mini tools personally and professionally for years, as well as many other variations. Over time and with practice, they become more and more effective at managing unhelpful feelings and bringing a sense of calm, just when it’s needed most.
- 1 2 3 4 5 – this technique is widely used in helping reduce the impact of panic attacks and I find it a strong anchor to the present and physical place. Its very simple to try, when you have feelings of anxiety, panic or a sense of being overwhelmed – Stop for a moment, take a few deep slow breaths and count…
5 things that you can see – What do you notice about each of those items?
4 things that you can hear – Are they loud? Soft? Inside or outside? What kind of sound is it?
3 things that you can feel – what are you touching? What is your body supported by? What physical sensations do you have?
2 things that you can smell – Anything? Something? Several things? Nothing at all?
1 thing that you can taste – Anything? Something? Several things? Nothing at all?
- My Core – when things seem overwhelming, uncertain or negative, it is easy to lose touch with the things that are more positive, constant and psychologically safe. It can be really helpful at times like these to pause and encourage ourselves to reconnect mentally with some things that ground us. These mental images can be whatever works for you, although they do need to be, positive, real and meaningful . Examples could be; what are you grateful for? Who cares about you and has your best interests at heart? What are your values? A memory of happy times, If you were at the centre of a spider diagram, what positive things would be around you? Here is an example from someone I have worked with who is happy to share.
- My Anchor – When talking with a group of senior leaders who were experiencing exhaustion and ongoing stress I asked them to find (from home), a small physical item that had positive memories or meant something positive to them, once they had identified their object they held it tightly and closed their eyes, allowing their mind to explore what the item meant to them and what they wanted to think about and feel every time they held it in the future. The items ranged form a heart key ring to a small fridge magnet, a pendant necklace to a photo of a love one as a phone screen saver. By identifying a physical item and allowing it to symbolise something constant and positive in our lives we can use it every time we need a boost of positive calming energy to ground us in the moment. The more we use a anchor and the more powerful the positive thought it represents to more it will act as a grounding tool.
There are times when teams can experience additional stress and pressure for a wide range of reasons, some teams find themselves working in highly pressurised and challenging environments a great deal of the time. Having a range of tools and techniques to draw on when times are tough can make all the difference that reconnect and ground can be invaluable.
- Team Tale – At a team meeting take a few minutes to talk about your team at it’s best, what are you like when you are fully on form? Come up with stories that are real examples of the great things about the team. Once you have talked it over, agree on one or two that seem to best represent your team strengths. Having agreed on the story, you use it to remind one another of how things have been and will be again at points when everything is tough or too demanding. The conversation, ideas, identification of positive memories all help to release ‘feel good’ hormones like dopamine which naturally reduce stress and increase a sense of wellbeing.
- Team Talents – Another way of reducing team stress and increasing connectivity is by collecting a list of team talents, achievements, skills and qualities. A large sheet of paper can be attached to an office wall or a virtual list can be generated on a team communication platform or a list can be gathered collectively through group conversation. The important thing is that everyone has the opportunity to consider the positives that make up the team. We don’t often reflect on these things and hearing colleagues talk about strengths as well as sharing our own perspectives can be incredibly grounding and energising. It’s not to say that things aren’t tough right now or that sometimes things don’t go to plan, it is however about reminding ourselves that teams are greater than the sum of their parts and always have a strengths.
- Team Motto – when things are overwhelming, exhausting or uncertain it can help to have an opportunity to chat with colleagues in a more light hearted and appreciative way. By generating a team motto that reflects the team in good times and when strengths are at play can be humorous, relaxed and release tension for a short while. It can also act as a reminder of better times and when used as a term of encouragement can provide light relief and support. A team I was working with recently decided that their motto was ‘all for one and one for all’ and reminded themselves that however challenging things seemed that they were there to support one another. The conversation to create the motto was actually more important and helpful that the actual motto they agreed, as it helped them all feel reconnected and more grounded during a very demanding period at work.
We all find ourselves making and keeping commitments, almost all them are to other people or to do things for our roles at home or at work. How often do we show true self compassion and make personal commitments to ourselves? Commitments that can support our wellbeing and our sense of being grounded? When things are overwhelming, exhausting or particularly demanding it can help to make some additional ‘above and beyond’ commitments to our self and not just to others. Below are three good solid ways of adding in an extra layer of self care when needed and the process of deciding to make an extra self-compassion commitment is likely to help ground and calm in the moment as well.
- Treat – When things feel too demanding or your reserves of energy and good will are running low, consider committing to giving yourself a treat. Something you like, don’t often have and something that you can look forward to however hard things are right now. Examples I have heard recently have been …. A virtual clothes shop on line, a stay at home spa, booking a trip, outing or event for the future, turning off all gadgets for an entire weekend, a positive addition to an exercise routine, a long lie in with coffee and weekend papers, reconnecting with a long lost hobby.
- Promise – In moments of feeling overwhelmed or exasperated try making a promise to yourself, something tangible, needed and full of self compassion. Prioritise yourself in a way that shows that you matter too and that you have control over many things in your own life. Promises I have heard include…. a walk before work, taking a full lunch break twice a week, setting limits to working hours, speaking to a colleague about work related stress, mindful eating times and sleep when stressed, seeking out friendly colleagues regularly, adding in ‘thinking time and reading time’ to work schedules and sticking to it, giving positive feedback to others as a matter of habit.
- New chapter – Many people like the idea of starting something fresh and feeling like it’s a new beginning full of possibility. A technique that I use myself and with people I coach is to choose that the next day or week or month or even season is the beginning of a new chapter. That way it can be viewed with an increased level of optimism and energy, its true that this method doesn’t change things beyond our control, however it can have a powerful impact on the things within our control….How we feel, how we respond, what we do and how we perceive things. By deciding what this new chapter is going to be called can help cement an increased sense of persona empowerment into our lives and provide a helpful sense of possibility. It can be useful to actually name this chapter as if it were in a book or a pod cast. Chapter headings I have heard recently include…. Snakes and ladders, the only way is up, counting my blessings, its not over till its over, spring is around the corner, in it together, hello to the new confident me, put your own oxygen mask on first… grabbing every opportunity… learning to fly…. Happy to be helped.
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