<![CDATA[DIRECTIONALITY - Blog]]>Fri, 08 May 2020 18:18:14 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[5 Minutes in the Mayhem]]>Fri, 08 May 2020 14:23:25 GMThttp://directionality.ie/blog/5-minutes-in-the-mayhem
Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash
It’s not easy, is it? There are so many demands on your time right now, homeschooling, laundry, keeping the kids occupied, uncertainty over exams, constantly moving things so that everyone has a desk, cooking, cleaning, shopping, queuing, caring for relatives, reaching out to friends, making sure family, friends and colleagues are safe and that their mental health isn’t being impacted, oh and keeping all the plates spinning in work in all those ‘spare’ minutes. And that’s not even mentioning Covid-19 or anything that’s happening outside your own bubble. You’re going to bed late and up early and you’re exhausted. It’s hard being that person who holds everything together, the person who has to be ok.
This ‘always on’ and ‘always ok’ takes a toll. Physically, Mentally and Emotionally. It can be very tough, particularly if you don’t have the support you might otherwise have had and if your workload has doubled/trebled by all that’s going on. It’s not surprising you’re on your last legs.
If you recognise yourself in this it might be worth taking 5 minutes to step off the treadmill and reset a little, so that you are in a better place to go back to being a superhero. 5 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but when things are threatening to spin off out of control they can be incredibly powerful and can really help, so why not give it a go. 
And I promise. Things can wait 5 minutes. 

  1. Find a time and a place to stop. Somewhere with no interruptions, no emails, no distractions, no notifications, no phone, no lists. Just stop. This can be a walk outside on your own. It can be sitting in the supermarket car park. It can be locking the door of the bathroom. Just stop. Put the mental load down and let it all go for 1 minute.You might feel yourself getting emotional. That’s ok. It has been a heavy load to carry. The tears are simply the relief from setting it down for a moment. Let them come. There’s a huge amount of research into the benefits of crying, so allowing yourself a moment to release them helps immensely.
  2. Breathe. In and out. In and out. Slow down your breathing. Breath in through your nose, keeping your shoulders relaxed if you can. Breathe out through your mouth, relaxing your jaw.  You might feel yourself getting anxious, what are the kids up to, you should be getting lunch ready, you forgot to put that on the shopping list, you need to send that email, set up a meeting with that colleague, support that person in need.  That’s ok. It’s just your brain reacting to the pause. It doesn’t feel right because you haven’t practiced this. It’s a new pair of shoes that you have to wear for a bit to get used to them.  Those things only have to wait 4 more minutes for you. They can wait. Do this for at least 3-4 rounds - about a minute, and for longer if you can spare the time.
  3. Notice what you are feeling. Take a minute to explore what it is that’s going on for you right now. Name it if you can. No judgement allowed, just name it. Anxious, exhausted, emotional, overwhelmed, under resourced, under pressure, stressed, lonely, incapable, unloved, unseen, under appreciated.  They are feelings. Just thoughts and feelings. And it important to know that we are not our thoughts, and we are not our feelings. They are transient. They will pass. And they may not necessarily be true. Just because we feel unloved for example does not mean that we are unloved. Developing the skill to notice what those feelings are and separating ourselves from the feeling allows us to become more resilient, and cope better. 
  4. The 4th minute is to think about what’s really important. When the situation changes yet again, how do you want to remember this period in your life? What do you want to be proud of when you’re telling this story at your 100th birthday?  You already know what this is. Maybe what you are feeling is a pointer for what is truly important to you. If you are feeling unloved for example it highlights how important it is to connect with those you do love and who love you.  You know this stuff. It just gets clouded by all the busyness and you need a moment to remind yourself of it. Pick one thing in each of your roles that is the most important thing to focus on. What is important as a caregiver, what is important as a family member/ friend,  what is important in your job and what is important for you. Go with your gut. Repeat them to yourself.
  5. The final minute is to plan your actions. For each of those roles decide one specific action that you can do and when you can do it today.   For work it’s important that I am X so I will do Y today. For the people who depend on me it’s important that they see me being X so I will focus on Y for them today. For me it is important that I X so I will make sure I Y today.The action doesn’t have to be big and dramatic. Even the tiniest actions help you feel more in control and if they can be focused on what’s important to you then they will give you a sense of purpose and meaning that allows you to keep your head above the wild waters we’re swimming in right now. 

And thats it. unlock the bathroom door, or come back from your walk and face the madness again. But this time it's on your terms. You are calmer. You are more confident. You are more in control. You are someone who is in control of just these next steps and who knows  why they're important. And you are someone who knows the benefit of taking 5 minutes for themselves. 
There’s a caveat to all of this of course. This article provides general suggestions for managing those moments of overwhelm when they arise on an adhoc basis. If you are experiencing mental and emotional distress that you can’t manage on your own there are many options for support. Pieta House, Aware and the Samaritans offer an incredible service. For those on the frontline  ConnectACoach offers free coaching support and Lust for Life/ Therapy Hub are offering a free 3o minute psychological first aid session to anyone in need.
This week is International Coaching Week and many ICF coaches are offering pro-bono coaching that may also help. Please reach out to one of these that you can relate to and take advantage of the free coaching. Coaching has been shown to help you process what is going on and helps you tap into your own resilience and capacity. 
And finally please never hesitate to contact us here at Directionality where we strive to help you ease your burden and make your load a little easier to carry. 

<![CDATA[When OK is not OK]]>Thu, 23 Apr 2020 22:23:13 GMThttp://directionality.ie/blog/when-ok-is-not-ok
“How are you?” 
“Ah, I’m ok.
It’s the standard answer to a question that’s asked thousands of times a day. The words pop out so fast that we don’t even think about what it means. Wikipedia says it’s the most spoken and written word on the planet. And if Wikipedia says it it must be true :-D
But are you? OK, I mean? I mean, it’s easy to say I’m OK, but are you really?
Thanks to all the social distancing and restrictions and handwashing, most of us are thankfully staying Covid-free, and we’re grateful for that. 
But the reality is that things are pretty crazy for us all right now. 
We’re dealing with all sorts of stuff. Grief. Checkpoints. Loss. Joe Wicks. Fear. Relief. Cabin Fever. Testing. Holiday homes. Anxiety. Stress. HomeSchool. Shopping. Overwhelm. Income worries. Panic. The Curve. Caregiving. Experts. Working from Home. Zoom. Loneliness. Stir-Craziness. Wifi problems. Houseparty. Handwashing. Kids NOT Handwashing. Sadness. Gratitude. Compare-itis. Exam Stress. Uncertainty. Grey Roots. Comfort Eating. 2Km limits. Joggers. Baking. Queues. Anger. Strawberries. Free events. Offers. News. Cocooning. Lost Jobs. Advice. Joy. Statistics. Sunshine. Relationship worries. TikTok. 
It’s a lot. 
This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon - an endurance event - and we’re in this for the long haul. And as any marathon runner knows, the first 20 miles is only half the marathon. We need to conserve our energy so that we don’t hit the wall and risk severe burnout, mental illness and a vicious circle that ends in a very dark place. 
So yes, maybe it is easier to say I’m OK, but it might not be the best option for you right now. 
Maybe it’s easier to say I’m OK, because if you pull that plug, if you acknowledge that you are finding it tough, that you’re exhausted by it all, that you can’t think straight, that you hate working from home, that you’ve got guilt because you're shouting at the kids, that you can’t face another queue at Aldi, that you want 5 minutes peace and quiet, or that you don’t want to get up in the morning, maybe you won’t be able to stop the tears and that you’ll lose control completely. 
You won’t. It’s the opposite. Even when there’s so much going on that you can’t control, accepting that things aren’t ok is the first step to gaining real control over your life. 
Connect with someone you trust, and answer the “how are you” question honestly and ask for help. That help,  a friendly ear, someone else doing the cooking for once, an email to the children’s teacher, resilience training, mental health support, psychological coaching, whatever works for you, that is what will allow you to rest, refuel and restore your peace of mind so that you can get back to REALLY being ok. 
 Take back control. You've got this.

Mind yourself.
Directionality is still very much open for business, so if you are an employer who feels your employees might benefit from some emotional and mental support, if you think their ‘OK’ might be covering up a ‘NOT OK’, please contact us and we will design a resilience programme that meets your needs. 
We are also proud to be supporting 2 incredible free initiatives which might be the help you or your friends and family need right now:-
 - Frontline healthcare and emergency workers can access free coaching sessions with Niamh on www.connectacoach.org
 - The general public can get free psychological first aid sessions with Niamh through www.alustforlife.com

<![CDATA[Woo hoo - It's the weekend...... Oh wait...]]>Fri, 20 Mar 2020 00:00:00 GMThttp://directionality.ie/blog/woo-hoo-its-the-weekend-oh-wait
This has been a week like none other. 
The sun’s out, it’s Friday evening, and part of me is thinking, at least it’s the weekend and I can have a break from all of this.
But of course I can’t.
Because of Covid-19.
Because my business has been impacted.
Because my life and that of my loved ones has been impacted. 
Because I can’t go anywhere to get away from it for a while.
Because I’ve a to-do list as long as my arm that I haven’t even started on because of all the juggling this week.

But mostly because of everything in my head. 
There’s a lovely quote attributed to Mark Twain “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which have actually happened”.  
Whatsapp messages, phones pinging, homeschool ‘schedules’, terrifying predictions, well-meaning suggestions, public service announcements, screaming headlines, evidence of incredible stupidity and selfishness, fears, worries, job losses, deaths, pleas from those at risk, stories of bravery and courage, community spirit, offers of help, and fears; huge scary undefinable, breath-stopping fears…
My mind doesn’t have a fitbit linked to it but if it did the numbers would be off the scale this week. 
And it takes its toll. 

I am well. My family and loved ones are well. But we are all at risk of being suffocated with information. 
We can’t control Covid-19. We can’t even control our automatic reaction to it. The fact is the human body is designed to Fight or Flight. That’s what has kept the human race alive till now. 
But exposing ourselves constantly to anxiety-provoking information is something that we’re doing. Not Covid-19. Us. Me.

And the irony is that if we don’t mind ourselves, we are putting ourselves at risk of a lowered immune system, and increased susceptibility to the very thing that’s threatening us all. 
Whether I like it or not, it’s as important as washing my hands and keeping my distance. I need to rest. 
And that I can control.

So, yes, it’s an absolutely gorgeous Friday evening, it’s the weekend, and I am going to have a break from all this. 
You can too. You just have to choose it.

Mind yourselves, nx

<![CDATA[Survival, Our Way...]]>Fri, 13 Mar 2020 00:00:00 GMThttp://directionality.ie/blog/april-01st-2020
So with the news that St Patrick’s day parades are to be cancelled country wide, what does that mean for us now? Are we any less Irish without a parade, a pint of the black stuff, a jig at the crossroads and a “Top of the Mornin’ to ya”? Ah, I think we’ll be ok without a parade or two(!)
But the St Patrick’s Day thing got me thinking. There are very few places on earth that are unaware of this ‘Paddy’ Power of ours. We’ve got something special. We have a way of seeing things, of feeling things, of expressing things. 
We’ve known hardships as a nation. We’ve known tough times. We’ve known starvation, separations from family, job losses, homelessness, poverty, deaths. We’ve known conflict, distrust, worry, despair. We’ve made tough decisions to emigrate, to shut down businesses, to stay, to fight. We’ve done what was necessary to keep our families safe, to keep things going as best we can. We do survival.
So is that it? Our grit, our ability to just get through it? That helps, but it isn't everything.
This time two years ago we were coming out of the cold grips of the Beast from the East. It wasn't easy, but what do we really remember though? Brennans bread. Talking to neighbours you hadn’t seen in months.  Helping each other out. The jokes that went viral. The connection, the Irishness of it all. 
This is what we do when we’re at our best, our most Irish. This is when we face our reality with heart, with passion, with connection, with a real grá for life and for each other. It's what reduces the panic, makes things easier on us all. And this is what shines through. It’s what gives us the music, the poetry, the stories, the memes, the witty black humour, the “wait till I tell you”, the “jaysus, did you hear the latest”, the “Sure this virus won’t last long, it was made in China!”, the “I used to cough to cover a fart, now I fart to cover a cough!!”, the “are you all right, love?”, the “can I get you something when I’m down in the shop?”, the “I’m really sorry for your troubles, I’m here for you”, the “look, we’ll figure this out”. 
And it’s this connection, this grá, that will help us with what we’re facing now. When we unleash the full power of our Irishness in all it’s glory we get kindness, conviction, purpose. We get determination, focus, pride in how we do things here. We get a “Come On You Boys (and Girls) In Green” for all the health service workers who are doing incredible work at their own personal risk. We get a “Shoulder to Shoulder, We answer Ireland’s Call” from the healthy and abled to make sure those in need of extra support and protection in our communities get it. We get to support Irish Cancer Society through text donations instead of the traditional Daffodil Day (Text Cancer to 50300 to donate €4). We get Empathy and community solidarity rather than stigma and fear. We get Rory’s Stories, and #selfisolationhelp, and daft-but-possibly-better-than-the-real-thing notion of Twitter Parades instead of the real things. We get to laugh at our own ridiculousness. We get to help and smile and love life, in spite of the terror and anxiety and panic and pain. We get to survive. We get to help ourselves. We get to hope. We get to live. 
We do things our own way in this country. We can choose to do this virus the Irish way too, to gain control over the uncontrollable that way - the VIrish way, if you like. 

So me? How can I do my bit?
Well, I’m pretty good at helping people find direction, clarity, a way forward when they’re faced with change and challenges, so for my part, I would like to offer free 1:1 online coaching sessions to business leaders who need to reduce their anxiety and stress and boost their resilience in the face of this current crisis. I am also offering free sessions to healthcare workers who are facing overwhelm and overload. My hope for anyone who avails of this offer is that they will be in a better position to support their employees, their customers, their families and their communities, and those people then will be in a slightly better position too. I can’t fix the Covid-19 problem but with this offer I hope to spread small ripples of kindness, comfort and peace of mind at a time when it is sorely needed. 
Please share this message so that those who need the support can avail of it.
Share how we’re more than this pandemic, this panic, this worry. Notice how a focus on action helps you feel better, helps others feel better. Share facts and empathy rather than rumour and stigma. Notice what's working and do whatever you can to fix what's not. Share how you are showing up and are part of this courageously focused, seriously funny, community minded, desperately caring nation of ours. 
Survival we know how to do, survival with bells on and maybe even a laugh thrown in? 
That’s our way, and we don’t need a parade to prove it.
#gombeirimidbeo #Resilience #Covid19 #Coronavirus #washyourhands #kindness 
I will provide as many sessions as I am able to facilitate - simply contact me by DM or by email for further details.