|You may know that I am all about recognising and better managing stress so that we unhook from hustle culture, and are happier in our own skin as we serve and support others. You might also know that this is my passion now because not managing my stress and living myself for a long time hovering around overwhelm before burning out is why many years later, my simple signature process means those I impact learn from my mistakes. It is my joy to share in simple practical steps all that we are learning from neuroscience, lifestyle medicine as well as the ancient wisdom traditions and the natural world that both surrounds us and is part of who we are. We have all that we need and it is beautiful and really simple.
But the beginning place can be really challenging – when we are carrying a stress load it can be so difficult to take even one tiny step to help ourselves move towards inner peace, clarity and focus. When our work is centered on supporting people, and even more so leading and managing others who are themselves supporting people, we seem to be really deeply programmed to ignore our own needs. Once we take an initial small step though, and begin to realise that we too have needs, the inevitable flow towards, calm, clarity and strong natural leadership begins to gather momentum. This week in Blossom we practised the Mountain Meditation – all about finding our inner calm and stability so that we can both notice and be nourished by the joys, and at the same time more easily withstand and remain essentially ourselves through the various storms and adverse weather of our life. It is really this nourishing the roots that stabilises us enough to recognise the stress and overwhelm, and to find our natural small step that will keep us out of burnout and move in the energy of blossoming for ourselves and also in our leadership and support of others. Here is one such step – keeping a reflective practice journal – which will help you notice how stress shows up for you, become more aware of its impact, and begin to respond to yourself with more compassion, and in the process of all of this strengthen your own authentic leadership. If you know yourself well enough that committing to this reflective practice journaling as an investment in future blossoming you sounds too challenging, maybe you can invite a friend or colleague to be your accountability partner. Commit for four weeks and watch the impact!
Reflective Practise Journaling
Journaling is all about reflections on your day. It can begin with a brain dump – just getting the day out on a page so it won’t wake you up at 3 am as you begin to ruminate or spiral about something that happened or that you forgot. I suggest you log about your day at the end so that way you can do the reflections. In reflecting on the questions I suggest below you want to be honest with yourself in your noticing, but from the beginning also bring the quality of kindness towards yourself in the noticing. This alone – noticing with honesty and kindness – is a great transformative practise.
1. What worked for me today?
Name one thing that worked well for you, something that is a familiar strength of yours or a surprise. It could be anything from having a great conversation with someone you are supporting or managing, to having gotten a good nights sleep, or nourished your body with good food, or taken some breaks even though you were busy….
2. What didn’t work for me?
This is often the most challenging part of reflective practice – but commit here because it will really reward you . Name one thing that didn’t work out well for you today. It could be something small or something not so small. It’s not a time to be hard on yourself. Let’s say that you had a challenging conversation, or you forgot to do something important, or you made a boo boo with something you said to another, or you drove yourself too hard because you had an impossibly long to do list and you made little progress. Try to document these things that didn’t go well just as facts – no need to judge or rationalise, just name really what did not work for you today. Then answer these two questions — What does this teach me about what I need to do to support myself and meet my own needs on a daily basis?- What will support me to manage to better meet this type of challenge the next time I meet it – to build my capacity, to respond more wisely rather than react when the unexpected and the unwanted happens?
3) Take a few moments to practise mindfulness
Mental stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, signalling our body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode. The old brain constantly scanning for danger, so we are on high alert and trigger happy as it were.During this reaction, stress hormones are released and we notice changes in the body such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing and constricted blood vessels. Even a very short mindfulness practise can help us to recognise that we are stuck on high alert and activate our parasympathetic nervous system, bringing us seamlessly into the rest and restore relaxation response.It might be as simple as taking a few intentional breaths, focusing your awareness on the breath, and allowing it to become slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly inflates gently and then falls back or contracts on the out breath. Your heart rate will slow down, and you will begin to feel more peaceful. Hope if as you read this you are in need of a little support to nourish your roots, better manage stress and grow your strong leadership skills this reflective journaling practice helps.
As always I invite feedback – always love to know what is helpful and what isn’t and to hear how you are doing! Dee
If you would like a consult with me to get a little more help as you do this important work for future you you can book some time with me here: https://mindfulwithdee.kartra.com/calendar/consult
You might like to read this other recent blog about how to Manage Stress as an Over Busy 21st Century Human Being: https://mindfulfacilitation.com/how-to-manage-stress-as-an-over-busy-21st-century-human-being/