Based on the conversations I’ve been having with leaders, managing stress in these unprecedented times we’re living and working in has never been more important. They are relied on to make sound decisions and building mental resilience is key to being able to do that.
Even in “normal times,” we as humans have a tendency for distraction. According to a study done by the Potential Project, 58% of employees report an inability to regulate their focus or attention at work. Add to this the propensity to become hooked by negative news, and we’re at risk of falling into the trap of negative thinking. This ignites a chain reaction: fear narrows vision, and with it, creative solutions. Sound familiar?
Building mental resilience requires intention and practice. It’s a skill of noticing our thoughts, un-hooking from those that are unhelpful, and refraining from punishing ourselves for less than helpful thinking (which also begins with awareness).
Guided meditation is a great option, and there are many Apps available to help. Two of these include Insight Timer, where you can access more than 25 thousand guided meditations led by some of the most renowned leaders, (including Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and Sharon Salzberg); and UCLA Mindful, which offers English and Spanish meditations ranging from 3-19 minutes long and works with difficult emotions.
These tools also help with decision-making. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss the importance of slowing down to make better decisions.
Make Better Decisions
Threats to our (and our loved ones) well-being, uncertainties, and awareness of our lack of control elevate anxiety, stress, and lead us to make short-sighted decisions. Unwittingly, many of us feed the beast of uncertainty by consuming more negative news and rushing to action. But as a wise teacher once said, “don’t just do something, sit there.”
Here are three techniques you can use to slow down:
- Calm your mind. Use a four-second breathing technique. Slowly breathe in for four seconds. Hold your breath for four seconds. Slowly exhale for four seconds. Pause for four seconds. Repeat.
- Rest your eyes; if possible, gently gaze out a window. Give your mind space to unhook from screens, images, and headlines.
- Find new ways to connect with others. Meaningful connection begins with compassion. The practice of compassion starts by asking, “how can I help this person?” The great paradox is that by opening ourselves with this one question, we actually build mental resilience and manage stress.
Leaders who slow down, deliberate with data and reason, make better decisions. Take the time to read, verify, reflect, and check before making personal and business decisions. A qualified executive coach can help.
You will be called to make many decisions over the course of this period of time we are living through now, and your decisions will be critical. Slow down to make better decisions.