Building Resilient Leaders – Strategies to help emerging leaders relax (Step 1)

Concerns about COVID-19 and its risks are becoming a huge concern in many organizations. As a result, you may be experiencing chronic stress. This stress can increase employee stress and leads to absenteeism, limited productivity, and anxiety. It is key for leaders to relax and take care of yourself first. By taking care of yourself first, you will be calmer, and you will increase your creative thinking skills.

The first thing leaders can do is to relax one’s mind on a regular basis. I will discuss a few techniques that will help relax and focus.

  • Mindful breathing
  • Mindful observation
  • Visualization
  • Limit news
  • Gratitude

It is important to take deep breaths and not shallow chest breaths. When we inhale, we are pulling oxygen into our lungs and expanding our abdominal. When we exhale, the diaphragm presses against our lungs and helps expel carbon dioxide. Your exhalations should be a little longer than your inhalations. When you are breathing in, you should focus on your breath and nothing else.

Sit in a comfortable position and breath in through your nose and breathe out through your nose. Practicing deep breathing throughout the day helps you relax and simply calm down.

Mindful Observation. Often, we are so focused on what has happened in the past and what can happen in the future. We seldom spend time in the present moment. Take time to practice mindful observations. Observe what is happening right now. It is just noticing something in your environment and nothing more.

There are many ways to practice mindful observation. You can listen to the sounds around you, such as the sound of birds or the sound of rain. If you are sitting outside, you can watch what passes by your direct line of sight without turning your head, without judging or labeling.  During this time, take time to clear your mind and just be.  

Visualization is a form of mental practice. It is forming a mental picture about what you want to happen. Mindfulness can be practiced in short spurts throughout the day and visualizations can be practiced the first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed.

Sports psychologist help athletes improve their performance through visualization activities. They help athletes improve their attitude and mental game skills, so they can perform their best by identifying limiting beliefs and helping them see themselves accomplish a goal (throwing the ball, catching the ball, winning a game, scoring points etc.). Moreover, psychologist helps athletes break barriers so they can learn how to create an image of the actual event while letting go of thoughts of fear, failure, or limitations.

The following reveals several steps to take to visualize what you want.

  1. Start your visualization by relaxing your conscious mind (follow the steps in the deep breathing section).
  2. Reflect on something or someone that excites you (such as a memory of your greatest accomplishments, a picture of a loved one, etc.). This will help you become excited and full of joy, so you will have positive vibrations as you visualize what you want.
  3. Then, create an image of what you desire by imagining yourself doing or being what you are working toward.
  4. Imagine you are engaging in the activity that you want to accomplish. Create the feeling of excitement that you would have as if you already achieved your goal
    1. How do you feel?
    1. What are you doing?
    1. What excites you the most?
    1. What is going on around you?
  5. Visualize your desires/intentions regularly. Make the vision as real as possible and have the intention to achieve what you are visualizing!

Remember to practice this activity in the morning and right before you go to sleep at night.

Watching TV. You can experience chronic stress by watching the news every day for extended periods of time, seeing the same story line repeatedly. A study by the American Psychological Association (2017) suggest that many Americans say the news causes them stress, anxiety and fatigue. As a result of COVID – 19, many people have started to increase the time they spend watching the news.

Limit the time you spend watching news; try not to watch news after 5:00 so you will not have thoughts of the news at the top of your mind before you go to sleep. Spend more time doing things you enjoy such as hobbies, exercising and other fun activities.

Gratitude. Another way to keep positive thoughts and intentions at the top of your mind is to focus on gratitude. What are you grateful for? What are some of your accomplishments? What things have happened in the last 24 hours that you appreciate? What are some of you employees or coworkers accomplishments?

Write out or think about what you are grateful for each day. Also, express gratitude to those you work around and people you lead. Let them know you appreciate their hard work after and accomplishments. Research has shown that expressing appreciation for an employee’s hard work regularly is a great predictor of success.

If you need additional help increasing your leadership skills, check out our training and coaching services that help individuals, groups and teams lead from the inside out.

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