Raising Robust Employees in Challenging Times

When the days draw-in and sunlight begins to wane (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), you may notice a drop-in your energy levels, motivation and mood. This most often rears its ugly-head in the workplace.  Maybe it is a missed deadline, a skipped meeting, or lack of follow-through on a commitment.  Maybe it is increased anxiety about job security due to your poor performance. However it is showing up for you, it is a problem and you may not be able to solve it on your own. According to the Washington Post [1] depression and anxiety cost the global economy over $1 trillion in lost productivity. In the USA alone that is upwards of 200 million lost work days every year!  With numbers like this, everyone will benefit from workplace wellness initiatives that respect and create a work-life balance.

As an employee with autonomy and self-agency, there are simple ways you can increase your energy, commitment and focus in the workplace and beyond.  Having worked through this topic with so many clients, I would like to offer some tips on this subject. 

Firstly, no matter what, take a lunch break every single day. This is paramount. During your lunch break take a walk outside. No matter the weather conditions or environment, the fresh air, natural light and physical movement will provide you clarity, focus and fresh perspective. During this time, be as present to the moment as possible. Leave your device in your pocket as it will only serve as a distraction. When you are able to stay focused in the present moment, rather fixating on the past (e.g. what went wrong already this morning) or focusing on the future (e.g. what will be requested of you at your next meeting) you allow yourself to feel peace and calm. If your day simply won’t allow for a lunch break, fit in a break somewhere, whether it is mid-morning between conference calls or 30 minutes before you head into your commute home. You deserve it and your productivity will increase; not decrease!

Secondly, set yourself regular working hours and stick to them. In this 24 -hour world, we can easily be persuaded to work around the clock from the car, our bed and even vacation. Being realistic and discerning, prioritize your deadlines and commitments. With this in mind, only respond to urgent matters outside of your working hours. This is called setting healthy boundaries and creating a work-life balance for yourself.  Set expectations with your peers and clients so that they understand your commitment to a healthy work-life balance.  Many professionals have forgotten that not every email, text or call is urgent.  Again, use your discernment, intuition and expertise to determine if you must work outside of your normal business hours and respond accordingly. Keep to your rountine, it’s good for your mental health!

Thirdly, create a practical, achievable and sustainable routine for self-care. This will depend greatly on your areas of interests, passions, and abilities.  Self-care is a huge factor in defending against career burnout.  Some ideas may include: journaling, jogging, attending a pilates class, reading scripture, joining a prayer gathering, free-writing, creative dancing, cooking, investing in musical lessons, walking your dog or volunteering a homeless shelter.  Create a list of accessible activities that you can engage in if you have 10 mins, an hour, or a full-day to dedicate to yourself. Creating this list ahead of time will prevent you from the paralysis you may feel if you find yourself with a precious, but unexpected, unscheduled window of time. Self-care, like all worthy pursuits, takes time and dedication.  If you don’t commit to caring for yourself, you will likely stop prematurely and regress into old, familiar habits.

Fourth, learn to meditate.  Meditation is the simplest and most accessible ways for anyone to create a sense of calm within themselves.  Anyone who can breathe, can meditate! Meditation requires practice and discipline but it’s not about achievement. It’s about being present, calm and open to your experience in the world. Meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time, so there are no excuses. Harvard medical [2] studies confirm that adults can increase gray matter in 4 regions of the brain (including the frontal cortex) and reduce size of the amygdala (aka ‘fight or flight’ command center) after just 8 weeks of 27 mins per day of meditation practice.  If that doesn’t excite you, you can stop reading now!

Below I have provided a simple meditation that can practiced anywhere. To do this brief meditation, you only need to stop where ever you are and use your 5 senses to ground yourself in the moment. By grounding in the present moment, you allow yourself to be open to the experience of life that is unfolding in your very presence. The point is to stay focused on each of your senses as you move through this exercise. This meditation can be done in a just a few moments or stretched out when time allows. The important thing to remember is that you are sending calming signals to your brain’s amygdala as you meditate and therefore you are eliminating anxiety. Repeated practice of such a meditation will allow your mind easier access to its calmer side. 

Five Senses Meditation

Imagine you are sitting in a coffee shop on your lunch break… With your eyes you will take in the colors of the food in the display counter, the patterns of the shirt of the barista and dried-up spilled milk on your table. Stay there a while, observe and notice what you can only using your sight. With your ears you may hear the sounds of the espresso machine brewing, the chatter of the adjacent table or the honking horns of the cars outside. Stay here and take in all the sounds and notice how each feels to you. Close your eyes to deepen the experience. With your nose smell the bold scent of roasting coffee or the sweetness of the fresh baked pastries. Can you smell any specific ingredients like cinnamon, butter or fresh berries?  Maybe the scents are mixed together and you are intrigued by the combination of coffee and sweets.  Stay here, what else do you detect with only your nostrils? With your skin you may detect the heating blowing against your skin, the softness of your cotton shirt or the heat coming off your coffee cup. Stay here. How does each sensation feel and is there anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable with this new knowledge? With your tongue observe the taste of your coffee and how each sip differs from the last- is the coffee hot, cold, strong, mild, bitter? Does the second sip taste as good as the first? Can you taste the cream and sugar? Stay here and notice if there are any lingering tastes in your mouth such as your minty toothpaste or this morning’s everything bagel? Engage in each sense individually until you are fully present in your body and the experience.

As a life coach, I love helping transform and change. I am guided by my clinical training as a psychotherapist, expertise in human relationships and my well-honed intuition. I especially enjoy working with people in major life transitions such career change, retirement, separation, or loss. If you would like to know more about how professional life coaching can benefit you, please reach out.  Set-up a free consultation by clicking here. You can find all of my contact information on my website: www.curiositylifecoaching.com or at https://www.linkedin.com/in/carriecmead/.


[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/brand-studio/kaiser-permanente/the-economics-of-workplace-wellbeing/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/

The benefits of hiring a professional life coach

We all go through periods of time when we could benefit from some wise, objective, and thoughtful support to reach our goals.  Friends and family can be great for offering advice, but life coaching isn’t about advice-giving.  Life coaching is about empowering you to identify your desires, set your intentions and then, of course, achieve your goals.  

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a working mother, a college student, a highly respected expert in your professional arena or just starting your adult life, life coaching can be beneficial to your personal and professional development.  Although many niches exist within the realm of life coaching, all coaches have one common goal and that is to help you, the client, set and achieve your goals.  This is why I feel so strongly that everyone can benefit from professional life coaching.   

Maybe as you read this, it occurs to you that you don’t have a clear goal or sense of direction for your life.  What a great realization!  Life coaching can assist you in getting clear on your values, your purpose and your passions. Through this process, undoubtably, goals will arise and hopefully excitement will arise about the possibilities for your future.

If your interest is piqued, here are some brief exercises of self-discovery to help you hone into the aspects of your life that are flowing in the right direction and where you need to direct extra attention. Make time for yourself to sit quietly and thoughtfully with the questions below. Have some materials nearby for taking notes; I prefer pen and paper, but you may prefer taking notes on a computer or dictating thoughts into your phone. No matter the method, it’s important to take notes! 

Do not rush the process, self- discovery and intentional inquiry take time. These exercises are designed to get you off auto-pilot and back into your present life. If you enter this exercise with an open and curious mind, you will have a lot of fun and discover something unknown about yourself.  

  1. When is the last time you experienced overwhelming joy? What were you doing? Who were you with? What surprised you by your joyous reaction? Describe this time in detail in your notes and replay it in your mind as if it were happening now.  Engage your five senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel and taste as you recall this memory?  What stands out about this memory or experience?
  • How and when do you know when you are in the flow of life?  What are the signals you receive internally (i.e. sensations in your body, physical health, dreams or thoughts in your mind) and externally (i.e. how do you engage with others and how do they respond to you)? How can you create more of this in your life? Is there a specific action, thought or way of being that might help you create this experience again, no matter what’s going on around you?
  • Reflect on just one major area of your life such as your profession, your finances, your romantic relationship or your spiritual practice.  Is this area of your life as fulfilling and abundant as you want it to be? Are you dedicating time and energy to this area?  If so, how?  Be specific. Does this area of your life bring you joy, pride and a sense of fulfillment? Or does this area leave you with a sense of dread, regret or fear?  Are you possibly ignoring this area of your life simply because you don’t how to move forward or are you over-focused on this successful area of life while ignoring less appealing aspects of your life? Be honest with yourself. Describe your thoughts, feelings and intentions around this subject.  At a later time, you can repeat this exercise with another focus.

As you have worked through these teachings, reflect on what you have learned.  Have common themes or patterns arisen? If so, are these patterns facilitating your growth or impeding you?  Reflection is a process, so pay attention to what arises for your in the coming days and weeks as you continue to think through these self-discovery lessons.  

The experience of receiving life coaching is a way to discover unknown aspects (aka, Shadow work) of ourselves, and, perhaps most importantly, make changes in our lives so that we are truly living the life we desire.  Without action steps, the self-discovery is somewhat inefficient. What good is it to understand all aspects of ourselves- known and unknown; light and dark; positive and negative- but then do nothing to make adjustments accordingly? Taking action and bridging the gap between where you are today and where you want to be is a key component of life coaching. With this in mind, a professionally trained life coach will assist you in creating and executing a strategy for your life.

Again, the benefits of creating the plan or new years resolution without follow-through are quite limited.  I believe all of us have had ‘great plans’ that never materialized. This is a common human experience. With a life coach by your side, you are sure to take to those action steps. Think of your life coach as your accountability partner.  This means that as you create your plans and make commitments to the steps of your plan, your coach will hold you responsible for taking the steps. That doesn’t mean you must complete each step exactly as planned, but it does mean that you will explore, adjust and refocus if you find you are unable or unwilling to stay on task.  This is a fundamental part of the process of coaching. And, all the while, you are supported by your coach.

Are you intrigued? Do you want to know more? Are you ready to get started? Set-up a free consultation by clicking here.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have or to offer you a free phone consultation to assess if I would be the right professional life coach for you.   As with all healing professions, not every coach is right for every client nor is every client right for every coach.   This free consultation will help us find out if we’re a good fit for one another. I look forward to hearing from you when the time is right.

You can reach me,  Carrie C. Mead, by email at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook @curiositylifecoaching, Instagram @curiositylifecoachandreiki or the web at: www.curiositylifecoaching.com.

Carrie Mead, MS
Curiosity Life Coaching
Baltimore, MD