Sustaining Balance Amidst Virtual Chaos | Monica Thakrar | Skillshare

Sustaining Balance Amidst Virtual Chaos

Monica Thakrar, Organizational Consultant and Coach

Sustaining Balance Amidst Virtual Chaos

Monica Thakrar, Organizational Consultant and Coach

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7 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:21
    • 2. Resilience

      6:11
    • 3. Mindfulness Activity

      3:21
    • 4. Setting Healthy Boundaries

      6:47
    • 5. Living Out Healthy Daily Habits Assessments

      3:17
    • 6. Living Out Healthy Daily Habits Taking Action

      5:10
    • 7. Wrap Up

      1:16
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About This Class

Are you struggling with working from home trying to balance work and family commitments? Has the virtual environment caused a lot of stress and uncertainty for you? Come and learn three skills on how to Sustain Balance in Virtual Chaos. These skills include: how to build up your resilience, set healthy boundaries, and build healthy habits. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Monica Thakrar

Organizational Consultant and Coach

Teacher

Hello, I'm Monica. I am an organizational consultant and coach based in Washington DC. I have 18 years of experience working with medium and large scale corporate and government clients leading large scale change, teaching leadership classes focused on soft skills such as  emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, presentation skills, and mindfulness. I also am an executive coach helping leaders gain skills and grow in their leadership journey.  I am most passionate about helping leaders and organizations grow into their fullest potential. Sample clients include Marriott, NASA, MedStar, National Science Foundation, and Columbia University.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hello, I am Monica Tucker, R. For the last 20 years I've been working as an organizational consultant and coach, specializing and leadership in the Federal and commercial sectors. And now I'm also a mindfulness instructor for this course on sustaining balance amidst virtual chaos, on partnering with John reared him, who's an amazing leadership trainer and team effectiveness consultant who I have the pleasure of partnering with today. You're going to be glad I did. Finding balance between our work and our lives can be a challenge in any circumstance, moving into a suddenly virtual work environment presents a whole new set of challenges as the divide between personal and professional disappears, stressors from homes suddenly invade our work and pressures from work, or literally with us in our homes. And less virtual meetings and constant reliance on technology have their own draining factors which are multiplied when others in your home or experiencing the same stressors. It's a battle to identify healthy strategies, demarcate healthy boundaries and protect healthy balance. In this course will offer three fundamental strategies that will help you create and sustain balance in the midst of the chaos. First, we'll focus on building resilience, recognizing and managing stress in yourself and, and others in order to find a sustainable pace as you encounter variety of pressures. Next will emphasize the importance of setting healthy boundaries, defining what's okay and what's not okay in the various relationships in our lives. And third, will encourage you to establish and live out healthy daily habits. These daily activities that bring oxygen into our stressful situations and keep us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually balanced. There's a few questions for reflection in the workbook to help get you started. We hope this course proves helpful and navigating these challenging and strenuous times. Turned to page three in the workbook, a quick self-assessment with regard to how well balanced or out of balance you're feeling right now in each of these areas. On page four, describe more specifically where you're feeling balanced and what's helping you, and where you're feeling out of balance and why. And finally, consider what forces or factors you're currently facing that make it hard for you to sustain balance. 2. Resilience: So during challenging times, it is normal to experience increased stress. Stresses the body's response to a perceived threat or challenge whether conscious or even subconscious. And it can show up in various physical ways. Assessing our physical state, maybe the easiest way to determine if stresses being built up. You might feel back pain, neck pain. I know sometimes I have restless sleep. In the physical round. Stress can show up as fight, flight or freeze. In the fight mode, we can become argumentative or even aggressive, especially in the way others experience us. In flight mode. We might distract ourselves and focus on other things or distance ourselves from the present. And in freeze mode, we might shut down all together or avoid the threat entirely. Without a way to deal with the stress, it can build up an impact us in all kinds of negative ways. So in order to sustain balance amidst the virtual chaos and combat the stress, we've gotta build up resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenging situations and to have the wisdom to know when does set a boundary and effectively adapt to change and thrive. One way to build up resilience is to manage our emotions and regulate our mood by being mindful. In other words, ONE your emotions, but don't let your emotions own you. So I walked into a Barnes and Noble bookstore and I saw a book titled mindfulness for fidgety skeptics by Dan Harris. Well, I was immediately intrigued and had to buy the book. Harris is a well-known reporter who experienced an anxiety attack on live television and discovered the practice of mindfulness. He likens managing his thoughts and emotions to a lion tamer trying to control a wild animal that resonated for me. Monika is well-versed in the practice of mindfulness. She's gonna walk us briefly through the intent behind the practice and then give you an example of a mindfulness exercise you can use anytime, anywhere. Mindfulness is being aware, paying attention in the present, in the mind and body with an attitude of curiosity and kindness. It's really being in the now, rather, rather than having our mind wander, worrying about something in the past or being anxious about something in the future. Being in the now is really the only place we can manage our stress. One tool we can use to become resilient as the stop method. Stops stands for stop. Three breaths. Observe and proceed. Let's walk through each step. Now. The first step is stop. So often when we are in stress, we will go into fight, flight or freeze mode, as mentioned earlier. But if we can just stop, we can pause in the middle those responses and slow things down. The second step is three breaths. By taking three belly breaths, we can physiologically shift the emotions in the body and become more present to the moment. It also gives time for our brain to move from the amygdala or the emotionally hijacked part of the brain, the one that gets triggered to relax and move back into the prefrontal cortex or the more rational side of the brain will now take three breaths together. So take a deep breath in. And as you breathe out, feel the breath. Now ticket. Take a deep breath in. And as you breathe out, feel the body. And now let's take a deep breath in. And as you breathe out, set an intention. The third step is observed. In the observed step, we'll check in with the body thoughts and feelings through a short guided mindfulness practice. At the bottom of page six in the workbook, there's a link to the guided mindfulness exercise. I recommend you pause this video and take part in the three-minute guided mindfulness activity now. And remember, you can use this exercise anytime you need it. The final step is proceed. Once you've slowed down your body and mind, we have the option to now step back, reflect, shift perspectives, create options and respond flexibly. Often in stressful situations, we react without thinking about things. The stop practice is a great way to slow things down and respond much more effectively, thereby showing resilience. So when we practice mindfulness, this can be done in an integrated fashion, does not always have to be sitting in a corner practicing meditation. I understand that you have children at home, phones ringing off the hook meeting after meeting after meeting those three belly breaths you can take at any moment. As a leader, it's critical to watch and listen for signs of stress in yourself, but it's also part of your role as a leader to support others as they manage their own stress levels. Your team members, colleagues, your supervisor, and of course, your own family members are likely to be all experiencing their own various levels of stress in the midst of disruptions. Ask them how they're doing, and then listen, encourage, and support them to notice and manage their own stress levels and find balance in their own lives. Take out your workbook and turn to page six. Now that you have practiced the stop practice, think of a challenge you are currently facing at work or around balance. Journal your answers to the two following questions. Take three minutes for each question. And without lifting up your pen or taking a pause, keep writing for the entire time. If you can't think of anything to write after awhile, right? I can't think of what to write next until more thoughts arise. 3. Mindfulness Activity: Please sit with your back straight. Feet on the floor and eyes closed. Taking a deep breath in and out. Another deep breath in and out. And now begin by noticing your body. Your feet, and your toes, your calves, and your thighs. You're growing. And your abdomen, your chest, arms, hands and fingers of 3-year lower back, mid back, and upper back. Noticing your neck and your shoulders all the way through, up through your jaw and your head. Bringing a small smile to your face. Just relaxing the whole body. Now bringing attention to your thoughts. Whether good thoughts or bad thoughts, just let them come. Not pushing away any of the thoughts, just allowing them to arise and allowing them to go and coming back into the here and the now. Now bring attention to your feelings. Whether pleasant or unpleasant. Just let them come, allowing the feelings to wash through you and remaining in the here and the now. Again, bringing your attention back into the body, take a deep breath in and out. One more deep breath in and out. And whenever you're ready, you can come on back. 4. Setting Healthy Boundaries: All the good strategies in the world are useless if I don't set healthy boundaries, boundaries around my work, with my supervisor and my colleagues and with my family. They're essential to healthy personal and professional relationships and thus to a healthy, balanced life. So what are boundaries? Well, consider what boundaries are in the physical realm. Obviously offense or a stone wall is a boundary between properties. But even yellow lines on the highway or a boundary, there's simply a demarcation of what should be on one side, what should stay on the other. And our personal and professional lives, boundaries are harder to define because there are often intangible. Well, imagine life without boundaries. The boundary less swamp, where everyone invades your space and takes your things. Expectations are forced upon you at all times of day and night by everyone in your life. You might feel like you're living that way right now. The opposite extreme is a life full of razor wire fences. These are dangerous, damaging, and threatening. They sound like extreme ultimatums. I will never speak to you again, or you're dead to me. Or perhaps you're fired or I quit and an emotional outburst. These are examples of unhealthy boundaries, but it's also unhealthy to not have any boundaries at all. So what is a healthy boundary as burn a brown, One of my favorite authors defines it as healthy boundaries are simply a delineation of what's okay and what's not okay. A healthy boundary means is an appropriate for the context and carries appropriate positive consequences if upheld and negative consequences if breached. In an affirming positive relationship, boundaries may be quite flexible and relatively minimal with consequences as simple as hey, we agreed we do X, but it's not happening. Can we recommit to that? In most everyday personal and professional relationships, there is a need for some degree of boundaries when it comes to clarifying expectations, coordinating work, utilizing resources, and any other area where boundaries can be helpful. In these relationships, boundaries ought to have some degree of structure, strength and appropriate consequences, but with flexibility. So the boundary can be adjusted as the relationship continues. Ideally, these boundaries would be agreed upon by both parties. These could be called operating agreements or a set of norms and behaviors that guide a working relationship. I highly recommend that you define a set of operating agreements with key colleagues and with your team as a whole, and maybe even at home. I know these can be helpful. There's a link to several examples of team operating agreements in the workbook. When it comes to positive and negative consequences in these relationships, what is appropriate will depend on the power dynamic in the relationship. With your children. You can establish consequences by removing privileges or the like with your boss. On the other hand, you probably don't want to come across as threatening, rather make a request and ask for what you need. In very difficult or destructive relationships, very firm, or even absolute boundaries with very clear consequences are warranted to ensure that health is protected. I will not tolerate this behavior. If you continue, we will need to part ways or I have documented this event and if it happens again, I will speak to authorities. If you're facing a serious or damaging situation, gets support right away to set boundaries. Do not go it alone. So where could you benefit from setting some healthy boundaries? In the workbook, there's a worksheet for you to consider various relationships with several examples of what healthy boundaries might look like. Consider applying, how are things with your supervisor? Are there any areas that could benefit from a Boundaries conversation? Do you have clear agreement on when you're expected to respond to requests or what access they have to your scheduled is set up meetings. Obviously, there are sensitivities to setting boundaries with your boss. So you may want to consider how to appropriately broached the subject. What about your team? Have you established operating agreements with your team members collectively and perhaps individually if needed. Think about key colleagues that you work with regularly. Might your working relationship benefit from some specific boundaries? And how about your personal relationships going to have balance? It's got to include relationships at home. When is it okay for someone to interrupt your work? When is it not okay. In these days of multiple family members working in schooling from home, boundaries are more important than ever for everyone. And finally, when it comes to having a Boundaries conversation, prepare, and practice, you wouldn't dream of taking the field for a challenging opponent without preparing or playing a difficult piece of music, without practicing over and over. To prepare, gather your thoughts and write them out. Get input from someone you trust to check your thinking. Try to articulate your perspective in a clear, calm, firm, and non-threatening manner. Practice. Ask a family member or friend who you trust to walk through the conversation with you, have them articulate the worst possible response. Practice pausing the conversation and stepping away. If it doesn't go well, then practice a more likely response so that you're prepared to carry on a healthy dialogue. Practice, articulating the boundary request and the consequences, and asking for their perspective and practice standing firm, even if they don't agree. Additional resources in the workbook. If you'd like to have guidance in preparing for some challenging boundaries conversations. On page nine in the workbook, you'll find some examples of what a healthy boundaries conversation might sound like. On page ten, there's a worksheet where you can write out a first draft of what a healthy boundaries conversation could sound like in various relationships. Consider which relationships could benefit from setting boundaries. Describe the situation, and draft a boundary request. Consider what consequences might follow if the boundary is respected or if it is not respected. 5. Living Out Healthy Daily Habits Assessments: As he started to think about healthy habits, let's first get a baseline of where you currently are. As we look at what can help us to build these healthy habits, we can look at it from four different types of habits, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. On pages 1112 in the workbook, you'll find a tool that will help you assess your current state of balance. The circle is split into four quadrants. Emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical. On this scale, write yourself from a one not very healthy to attend, very healthy. For each of the sections. You can see an example on page 11. When you start thinking about this assessment tool, I want you to determine where you are in terms of healthy habits for each of these four quadrants, let me outline what good healthy habits look like at each of these areas before you proceed in assessing yourself. Healthy habits in the physical segment include things like exercise, nutrition, sleep, as well as keeping up our physical energy, all the things we know. Right. But did you know that only sleeping for five to seven hours a night over a period of time increase the blood alcohol level to 0.08%. This is almost like you're walking around legally drunk. How many of you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night? We might know these are healthy habits, but practicing them may be hard, especially during this chaotic time. Now let's move to the emotional quadrant. Healthy habits here include things like having a healthy community to share and support each other. Practicing mindfulness, which we just got a taste of, connecting with a sort of support group and having people that you can share things with. Being emotionally balanced looks like being able to manage your stress and having just enough stress to get things done. Mental area, we can look at expanding our mindset by reading different journals, listening to different podcasts are TED talks and engaging with different kinds of people that'll stretch our boundaries. This area also includes practices such as visualization and positive thinking, expanding and exercising our mental capacities. Finally, on the spiritual side, this doesn't necessarily mean religion, but for some people it might. Prayer, spiritual reading and music are deeply encouraging for many. For others, this could mean reflecting on your own values, actively living your life on purpose, understanding and practicing interconnectedness with people and giving back to others. On page 1112, you'll find the healthy habits. We'll consider your habits in each quadrant, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Where do you have healthy daily habits? And where do you have unhealthy habits? Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten in each area, with one being not good and up to ten being, I'm doing great. Once you've rated yourself in each area is step back and consider if your wheel is balanced or out of balance. Write your answers to the questions that follow on page 13. In the next segment, we'll discuss the critical importance of building healthy habits into our daily lives to sustain balance. And we'll offer some practical ideas for you to consider. 6. Living Out Healthy Daily Habits Taking Action: So if you've ever flown on a commercial flight, you may recall the safety message. If the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling. Place your mask on your face and breathe normally, and then assist those around you. And Southwest Airlines, they say if the oxygen mask falls from the ceiling, stop screaming, place the mask over your face to your favorite child and help them. Think about it. It's such an incredibly powerful metaphor for what it means to live a healthy, balanced life in the midst of a chaotic and stressful world. Why is it that they instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on first? Isn't that incredibly selfish? Shouldn't you help your children first? Shouldn't you help your spouse or someone next to you? The obvious answer is no. Why? Because if you don't put your own oxygen mask on first, you will very quickly become part of the problem and everyone else will have to help you think about how this applies to living out healthy habits that bring you balance. If you don't make it a point to get oxygen in your life, literally and figuratively, you will quickly become part of the problem rather than being able to help others, you will be the one who needs assistance rather than being able to assist others. This point seems painfully obvious. So why does so many of us have such a hard time putting healthy habits into place? One obvious answers, self-discipline. There are often challenges when it comes to being disciplined around avoiding unhealthy practices and choosing healthy options. However, another powerful barrier to daily healthy habits is the unhealthy habit of putting other demands ahead of our own well-being, ahead of our own oxygen mask. Rather than going out to exercise, I stay home and help the kids with their homework. Rather than taking a peaceful quiet break from work, give into the temptation to respond to more of the endless emails. Rather than shut down my work at a healthy time, I slip into the unhealthy habit of going longer and longer to the point of fatigue or even exhaustion. You've got to get your head around one particular effect. It is not selfish for you to prioritize your health and well-being. And in fact, it's exactly the opposite. It's the best thing you can do for everyone else around you. It's not selfish for you to take time to exercise is essential. It's not selfish for you to insist unhealthy nutrition options. It's critical. It's not selfish for you to take time for your own well-being. It's the best thing you can do for everyone and encourage others to do the same. Put your own oxygen mask on first and then assist others around you. So what drains you and what brings you oxygen? What drains me as these back to back virtual meetings all day long or I feel like I'm talking to a lot of people but still not getting the same energy back like I do in the classroom, it leaves me exhausted, drained, and completely depleted. What gives me oxygen, however, is my daily workouts, even though it's on zoom. I'm with my best friend and who's in another city and we got to re-energize, work out, and start the day off really well. One thing that really drains me is all the digital details, the constant looking for the next appointment link, trying to figure out whether it's a Zoom meeting or a WebEx meeting or a Teams meeting or whatever. And try and make sure I'm in the right connection at the right time, finding the right documents and the right folder on the right drive. I find I have to build in breaks between virtual meetings, step away from the screen and get some fresh air. When it comes to getting oxygen. For me, it's the outdoors. I love a walk or a run in the morning when it's fresh and cool and get my blood flowing for the day. Whenever I can. I take my laptop out on the back deck and work outside. This past weekend, I took my son up to the mountains and we just sat by the river and did nothing, which is a big deal for me. It was incredibly refreshing. Gets some oxygen into your daily habits. Even though there may be some activities that you can't access right now, there are endless possibilities for you to consider and take action on. Look back at your initial self-assessment on page 12. Consider where you most want to invest in bringing some oxygen into your life by strengthening your daily habits. In the workbook on pages 1516, there is a list of ideas in each area, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Choose from this list or add your own ideas that will work for you. Talk with family, friends and colleagues, and look online for articles, videos, and books to get ideas that will work for you and your specific situation. Take action on building healthy daily habits in various areas to bring healthy balance to your life. 7. Wrap Up: There are ideas for going deeper on page 17 to help you and other sustained balance. And a long list of excellent resources on page 18 that you can use to dive more deeply into any of the topics we've discussed. Thanks for joining John and I in this course, sustaining balance amid some virtual chaos. I hope this was helpful in building up the three skills that we spoke about today. Resilience, healthy boundaries, and creating healthy habits. Just as a reminder, we can integrate these skills into everything that we're doing all the time. We don't have to be sitting off in the corner and meditating while children are running around the house. But we can just take three belly breasts and take a pause or connect with somebody that we love, a friend or a family member, or even our dog, and allow our emotional self to get rejuvenated. Even in this chaos, we can bring joy and balance back into our lives amidst the chaos that we're currently living in.