covid19: work from home

Covid19: 10 Tips for Staying Productive and Mentally Healthy While You’re Working From Home

By now all of us have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have temporarily changed, however drastically, in order to collectively fight against this dangerous epidemic. This is requiring all of us to change our behaviors, make tough decisions and think about alternative ways to stay productive. It’s also requiring us to step into self-leadership to be able to keep ourselves safe and at the same time make sure we are helping our friends, family and co-workers handle this challenging time with more grace and ease.

In order to do that, I’ve created a quick check-list to help you care for your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and stay productive while staying and working from home.

1. Create a separate workspace

Many of us are having to share our living space with multiple family members during this period of self-quarantine. If you’re like me, having your own space and privacy is super important to your sanity. While having your own space may not be entirely possible, you can carve out a specific space in your home that is dedicated to you. You can use this as your workspace if you are working from home or an area where you can go to reflect, meditate or chill out. Let your family members know it’s important for your well-being and productivity to have this clearly defined space and request that they respect the area by keeping it clean.

work from home working space

 

2. Create a Weekly & Daily Plan (and stick to it!)

For many people, working from home for an extended period of time is a new experience and it can be daunting to get into a routine and not fall into the trap of watching Netflix for hours on end. Add in having to care for children, homeschool, cook and clean and it might feel like you are working two full time jobs (which most working mom’s have been feeling for decades!). It’s important to get into a regular routine and have a weekly and daily calendar for yourself and for your household chores, including your children’s school schedule. On a Sunday afternoon, map out your plan for the week and then block out chunks of time on your calendar for all the various tasks you need to get through each day. Don’t forget to schedule time for exercise, meditation and fun!weekly planning

 

3. Utilize Technology and Discover New Apps

There are virtually endless technological solutions to keep us connected, productive and happy! Here are some of my recent favorites that are helping me stay on track:

Zoom: Online Conferencing technology to help you conduct meetings, webinars, classes or a virtual happy hour with your friends!

Calendly: Schedule virtual meetings, phone dates, or other appointments easily. You can block out dates/times with your availability and send out links for others to automatically schedule a meeting with you. 

Krisp: A new noise-cancelling technology that blocks out background noise while you’re on a conference call.

Happify: An app to help you reduce stress or negative thoughts and build skills for a healthy life with fun activities and games.

Insight Timer: An app where you can learn how to meditate, cope with anxiety, manage stress and improve your sleep

 

4. Discover & Learn New Skills

If you’ve been thinking about learning a new skill, this is a great time to take advantage of having some down time to dedicate to self-improvement. There are endless resources and distance learning courses available to develop virtually any new skill, many which are free! If you’re into professional development, LinkedIn Learning has a great repository of online classes you can take to improve your communication skills, learn how to work remotely or brush up that resume. If you’re into personal development or interested in spiritual development, MindValley offers great classes on meditation, breathwork, and similar topics. My recent fave is the MasterClass series that offers online classes with celebrities where you can learn how to cook with the world’s most famous chef, Massimo Botturo or take an acting class by Helen Mirren. If you’re interested in developing more self-confidence, check out my new Beat the Bully Course I recently released to help you build the confidence you need to reach your goals!

new skills while covid19

 

5. Make Money Online

If you’ve been laid off you’re or worried about getting laid off due to the coronavirus epidemic, fear not! You probably have a skill that you can transfer online by teaching others through platforms like UpWork and Fiverr that connect freelance workers with potential employers. Now more than ever, companies will be hiring remote customer service workers and industries such as technology that already see a wide gap in skilled IT professionals are going to search for new talent. If you don’t have the skills necessary, then use this time to gain the knowledge to make yourself relevant in the future job market. Or think about developing an online course that you can sell on Udemy or elsewhere. Don’t let fear immobilize you – make a plan on how to adapt to the changing job market (which was going to happen with or without this pandemic according to recent studies). 

 

6. Prioritize Self-Care

These are stressful times calling us to step up and prioritize self-care. This crisis is forcing us to slow down, look within, and really re-examine whether being stuck in the rat race has been serving us. While it may be stressful to have to homeschool your kids, isn’t it great that you can spend some quality time with your kids and take more interest in their development? Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways we can keep a positive mental attitude and see the bright side of where we currently find ourselves. Make sure you are scheduling time to move your body, exercise and practice yoga and meditation – remember it’s about mind-body-spirit balance! I myself have been enjoying PopSugar’s Latin Dance workouts in my living room which I find is the best home workout (and the great part is nobody can see how bad my moves are!)

practice self-care

 

7. Avoid Feeling Isolated

During this time of imposed quarantine, it’s easy to feel isolated especially if you live alone. So it’s more important than ever to find ways to connect that are healthy for you. Limit your daily dose of news and social media to keep your stress levels down. Opt instead to read a good book, do some journaling, or set up a virtual happy hour with your friends! Share your gifts with the world whether that’s reading a poem you’ve written, giving a private concert or doing a nine hour DJ set like D-Nice has been doing from his living room which even broke the internet and went viral! Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to for a long time, coordinate a virtual lunch hour with your teammates or participate in one of the many online webinars and events taking place.

 

8. Practice Leading Gracefully

Now is the time to practice selflessness and to give back by helping others. If you have an idea you think will help, make a plan, ask for help and see it through. Find ways to volunteer (safely) by delivering food to an elderly neighbor, share your provisions if you a stocked pantry, or start a fundraising campaign to help your community. Fight for the rights of the vulnerable and realize that if you are in a position of privilege, you have an obligation to help those not as fortunate as you. It is not time to blame, point fingers or give into feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. You are always at choice as to how to react in any given situation and you can choose leading with kindness and empathy over selfishness at any moment.

 

hardcover of book leading gracefully

 

9. Practice Art Therapy

Art therapy is a well-known technique to help soothe the nerves, work through emotions and express

yourself creatively. If you’re like me and have no idea where to start, watch a free Intro to Art Therapy video on Youtube that can guide you through the steps. No supplies? No problem – all you need is some paper and a pencil. You can also ask your kids to share their art supplies with you. Better yet, why not co-create a painting with your children?! Find fun ways to tap into your creative side and if painting isn’t your thing, try a new recipe, write a poem, or do some outdoor karaoke (it seems to be helping the Italians!).art therapy work from home

 

10. Remind Yourself – This Too Shall Pass

It’s easy to give into the fear and anxiety of our current situation and it does require us to all stay vigilant, be responsible and care for the safety of ourselves and others. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that even this challenging time is temporary and we will get through it. Places like China that were hardest hit are now slowly going back to normal life. If we all do our part (like staying indoors!) then we will get out of this situation sooner than later. As the great spiritual teacher the Dalai Lama has said, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source for strength. No matter what difficulties, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s the real disaster.”

 

Hopefully these tips allow you to make the best of the current situation that we all find ourselves in. No matter how long we have to stay in quarantine, we can all use this time to build healthier habits for ourselves and our families that can help us far after we’ve combatted this pandemic. Have some other ideas on how to increase productivity or your well-being during these trying times? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

strong confident woman

4 Practical Ways to Build More Self-Confidence for Women in Leadership – Part II

 

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Christopher Robin

In my last post, we looked at the definition of self-confidence and why it’s so important for women looking to move forward in their careers. If you need more evidence of why confidence is imperative for women, we know that a lack of confidence in millennials can prevent them from  entering the workforce. And since they are now the biggest segment of the workforce, it should be in everyone’s interest to ensure these issues are addressed in companies through women’s leadership training through offering leadership development, mentoring and coaching opportunities for up-and-coming female leaders.

In this post, we’ll introduce four practical ways you can begin working on how to gain confidence, build inner strength and be free of that pesky voice that tells you you’re never good enough!

1. Write down the words of your Inner Bully

Now it’s also important to know the primary job of our Inner Bully. The job of our Inner Bully is to keep us safe. It wants to protect us by reminding us of our past failures and limitations so we won’t repeat the same actions that have caused us pain and humiliation in the past. But although it thinks it’s keeping us safe, it’s unaware of the damage it’s doing in the process, especially to our self-confidence. It’s like the operating system on a computer – it runs in the background so you can’t see it but it runs the entire thing.

 

woman working on herself

 

So how do we control the Inner Bully? We have to update our operating system.

The first step is to identify the voice of our Inner Bully. We are going to bring the Inner Bully into our conscious awareness so we can begin reshaping our beliefs into more positive ones. 

Take a moment now to think about your Inner Bully – what does it say to you? What are the words it uses? What is the dialogue? What are those limiting beliefs? 

Pick the main one, the one that is usually right there, and jot it down in your journal.   

2. Get in touch with your Inner Cheerleader

Now that we have identified the words of our Inner Bully, the next step is to replace those words with the words of our Inner Cheerleader.

Our Inner Cheerleader is the part of us that knows that we are good enough, we are smart enough, capable enough. It is the part of ourselves that is confident. Think about your best friends. Every time you are sad or not feeling particularly confident, you will probably call a close friend or family member and they will remind you of how wonderful you are. And you would do the same in return. What we have to learn to do is to do that same thing for ourselves especially when we notice the Inner Bully becoming loud.

So we are going to get in touch with our Inner Cheerleader as the second step to learning how to boost self-confidence. This exercise is a favorite with women who attend my workshops and keynotes because it helps them immediately connect to their power and authenticity.

To do that, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a moment. Bring to mind a peak experience from your past – a moment or a time in your life where you accomplished something big where you felt like you were at the top of the mountain. Really visualize that moment in time and bring it into your mind’s eye.

 

 

Think about the qualities you showed up with to reach that moment. Who were you being? What did it take to get there? Think about the qualities that got you there, and who you had to be to get there. What words come to mind?

 Open your eyes and write down the words that came to mind. What qualities did you exhibit to reach that moment? Write those down in your journal. Then turn those words into phrases or sentences. These phrases will begin to make up the dialogue of your Inner Cheerleader.

 3. Replace the Inner Bully with the Inner Cheerleader

Every time you notice your Inner Bully voice, you’re going to replace it with the words of your Inner Cheerleader from Step #2. I recommend starting out by first:

  • Keep a tally of every time you hear your Inner Bully getting loud.
  • Notice how many times a day it speaks to you.
  • In what situations or contexts does it tend to come up?
  • Do this for at least one week.

woman keeping the balance

 

In the second week, begin replacing the words of your Inner Bully with phrases you came up with from your Inner Cheerleader. You’re going to use this confidence building activity by practicing self-compassion and kindness with yourself. You’re going to talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend and it’s going to help you remember how amazing you truly are.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

As you continue to replace the words of your Inner Bully with the words of your Inner Cheerleader you’ll begin to notice the volume of your Inner Bully go down and you’ll be able to turn up the volume of your Inner Cheerleader. Over time the voice of your Inner Cheerleader will become a part of your inner Operating System. But in order for this to become truly a habit, you will need to practice to get good at noticing each time your Inner Bully rears its ugly head!

If you want further exercises to help you practice, check out the additional exercises I’ve developed featured in my book Leading Gracefully.Leading gracefully

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. Dalai Lama

 

What Results Can You Expect?

I usually recommend at least three to six months to begin noting a shift in your inner dialogue. Be patient and realize that it’s taken you a lifetime to develop an Inner Bully, so it will take some time to undo that programming. But if you approach these exercises with the same dedication and discipline required to lose weight, learn a new language, or develop any habit, you’ll begin to see changes over time. The goal is to eventually turn down the volume on your Inner Bully and turn up the volume on feeling more self-confident, have more self-esteem, and more inner trust.

 

happy woman walking

 

As you complete these exercises:

  1. What do you notice?
  2. Does your Inner Bully become less loud?
  3. Are you feeling more confident?

Leave your comments in the feed below and share how these tools worked for you!

what is self-confidence

What is Self-Confidence and Why is It important for Women in Leadership – Part I

It is confidence in our body, mind and spirits that allow us to keep looking for new adventures. Oprah Winfrey

I speak to audiences of women as part of my day job at Highest Path Global (a boutique firm specializing in building future female leaders), and the one thing I hear all the time are women at all levels in their career dealing with a lack of self-confidence. I am always shocked to see so many hands go up when I ask the question: “how many of you in this room deal with the Imposter Syndrome,” no matter how accomplished, successful or experienced they may be. Luckily, this is one of the main topics of my book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic, & Effective Leadership, where I explore this topic in more depth and offer practical exercises and tools to combat the Imposter Syndrome.

For those of you who haven’t read my book, I want to break down why I think self-confidence is critical if you’re aiming to move forward in your career, start a new business, or interested in leveling up in some way in your life or career.

Let’s first start with defining what is self-confidence because you can’t have more of something if you aren’t sure what it really is in the first place.

What is Self-Confidence?

Confidence is what turns thoughts into action. Without it we hold ourselves back. We need it to get into action. And I describe self-confidence in two ways: a belief and a feeling.

Confidence is a belief we can create a successful outcome through our actions. In other words, when we are confident we believe we are good enough, we believe we have value to offer and those beliefs are what leads us to take action, for example to apply for a job, to ask for that promotion or move to another country (like yours truly!). 

confident woman on the pho

And confidence is also something we feel in our body – it can be hard to pinpoint, but it’s a feeling we have inside. For some, it could be a feeling of excitement or passion or a feeling of being calm or collected. Confidence is a feeling we experience within ourselves. 

So to understand confidence we have to look at both the mind and body for answers. 

Why is Confidence So Important?

For a long time there has been a commonly held belief among professional women that if you work hard that it would be enough to get ahead. I want to shatter this myth. The truth is, it is actually NOT enough to just be competent and perform well at your job. 

You need to be competent and confident to be successful. You need both!

But many women make the mistake of only focusing on proving themselves through their performance. They forget to take other actions necessary to increase their personal brand and exposure in an organization. 

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E.E. Cummings

In order to increase your image and to gain exposure, you need to be able to go out of your comfort zone and build relationships with key decision makers. You need to be able to voice your opinions and speak up at meetings, give presentations and find ways to showcase your achievements. You need to be authentic and gain the trust of others. And here’s the thing: all of these things require you to be confident in yourself.

I know this first hand because I’ve dealt with a very strong Inner Bully myself and have had to overcome a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem to be able to step into my full potential. I used to be so afraid of saying the wrong thing and embarrassing myself, that I would literally just stay quiet during team meetings. My Inner Bully was so loud it would say things like, “You are too young to be in this job,” or “If you speak up, people will realize you’re a fraud.” So I would just sit there, not contributing my ideas and opinions.

woman giving presentation in office

And of course this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I stayed quiet, the more people probably thought I had nothing to contribute of value. So my biggest fear actually came through! But it wasn’t because I said the wrong thing, it was because my Inner Bully convinced me that I wasn’t good enough.

Not feeling good enough is the biggest barrier to us following our dreams, making changes in our lives, and contributing our ideas to the world. With this lack of self-confidence, we hold ourselves back and stay stuck in our comfort zone, which eventually leads to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and lack of drive and motivation.

How To Get into Action

In the next post, I share four practical ways you can begin to get a handle on your Inner Bully and start building self-confidence. These are tools I’ve used on myself to overcome my own fears and insecurities as well as with my clients who have all seen huge transformation in their lives and careers. I hope they will be helpful in helping you to improve your self-confidence to have more freedom, pursue your dreams, or take actions in your job that will make you shine in the eyes of others.

 

 

How I Faced My Biggest Fear and Won

Although I’m a woman’s leadership coach who helps women overcome barriers to self-confidence, there was once a time where I very much struggled with my own feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence. My biggest fear: saying the wrong thing. I was afraid that I would speak my opinion or express myself in some way, and it would be the wrong thing to say, and people would laugh in my face at how stupid I was. As I write the last sentence, I’m struck at the absurdity of this fear. But let me assure you, at the time, it was a very real, visceral fear. Every time it came time for me to open my mouth, be it at a meeting, during a presentation or in any group situation, this fear would take over my entire body. It would paralyze me, literally leaving me speechless. And then, the internal berating would begin. “Why don’t you open your mouth and say something?” or “People will think you have nothing to say, say something!” and on and on. Needless to say, it was a real problem.

And it was a problem not only because it kept me from speaking up, but it also prohibited me from contributing my ideas and brilliance. Standing in front of a group of people scared the bejeezus out of me, and as I stepped into my leadership, having to give presentations or trainings would literally make me sick. The thought was so terrifying that I would come down with a horrible flu of some kind, forcing me to cancel the workshop or presentation. This went on for years until I was finally fed up and decided to face my fear and do it any way.

One day I had a pretty important training to run, and as usual I came down with a nasty cold a few days prior. I almost cancelled the session but this time I had too much at stake – my reputation was on the line. So instead of cancelling, I showed up, sick as a dog and delivered the session. At the end, after facing my biggest fear, I felt SUCH a sense of relief and accomplishment. Nothing terrible happened! Nobody laughed in my face! In actuality, the opposite happened. People gave me positive feedback, they enjoyed the training very much and I could see that I had made a real impact on them with my teachings. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway helped me beat the plaguing whisper in my head that was constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough. It was the first step in building up my confidence.

Today, about five years later, I am about to give one of my biggest presentations yet – in front of 300 people! Am I nervous? Of course I am, but I’m excited at the opportunity to face my fear and do it anyway. I know it will stretch me and help me grow in many ways. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, or maybe say the wrong thing, but that doesn’t terrify me as much anymore. I know that as long as I am myself, my brilliance will shine through. Authenticity is a great foe to feelings of inadequacy. When we dare to be ourselves, we have nothing to lose! It’s only when we try to be someone we are not, that we are at risk of failing.

Here are my top three tips on how to conquer YOUR fears:

 

  • Feel the fear and do it anyway: The best way to conquer our fears is quickly and swiftly through the 1-2 punch of well, facing your fear and taking action. The longer we stay inactive towards our goals and dreams, the firmer the grip of our fears. They end up becoming the ‘norm’ and eventually we give up or settle for something less. Think about it this way – fear is a fixation of our imagination. It only exists if we give it attention. Once you take that first step towards your goal, the next steps after that become much easier.

 

  • Be authentic: The biggest enemy of our sabotaging thoughts is giving us the permission to just be ourselves. It’s about being OK with your uniqueness; no matter how quirky or odd you think it is. The best part is that there is no way you can fail at being you! That’s when our courage kicks in and we can begin to dare more greatly. One of my favorite quotes says, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Letting go of the need to be like the next person gives us the opportunity to bring our gifts to the table and let go of our inhibitions.

 

  • Tap into your Inner Mentor: The good news is although all of us have an Inner Critic (the voice that puts us down and keeps us stuck), we also have an Inner Mentor. Your Mentor is your inner cheerleader, that part of yourself who knows you’ve got this! The trick is to turn the volume up on your Inner mentor’s voice, and turn the volume WAY down on your Inner Critic. Write down positive statements your Inner Mentor would say to you in times of self-doubt or fear, and remind yourself of those words when you feel insecure. Doing this can be a great first step in turning up the volume on what gets you saying YES!

When have you ever felt moments of inadequacy or lack of self-confidence? What did you do to combat those fears? Share you experience below in the comments.