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I was having one of those mornings. You know the ones where software you’ve used a thousand times just doesn’t work? I’d tried deep-breathing, stretching and taking a break from it, but nothing helped. Close to tears of frustration, I decided to go for a walk (change my physiology, from Workshop 3.)

As I was walking, I saw a man ahead of me drop his bag. He was an older guy, well dressed, wearing a sharp suit on a hot day. As I got closer, he was bent over the bag, audibly muttering ‘don’t lose your temper, don’t lose your temper…’ The strap had broken and he was trying to fix it. As I walked passed, he picked it up and I heard it drop again. I turned around and the look on his face said it all.

I walked back and said ‘I’m having a tricky morning too. Can I help you?’
Within a minute we’d fixed the bag and his mood had completely changed. He was incredibly grateful and said this simple act of kindness had made his day. It had made mine too – my mood had completely shifted.
‘Are you doing something nice today?’ I asked, as we walked together.
‘Does running this place count as nice?’ he said as he gestured to the Royal Free hospital.
‘What? Really?! What’s your name?’
‘Hi Sloman, I’m Maria.’
‘David. Sloman. Sir. Maria, thank you, you made my day.’

So Top 5 Tips from this?

  1. When things are really getting to you and despite your best efforts, you can’t crack it, take a break and change your physiology. Walk, run, cycle, dance. Anything. It will change your mood faster than anything else.
  2. Ask for the answer to your problem or for someone to help you. I instantly got the mental answer ‘update the software license.’ I remember that I had not renewed the license as I didn’t think I needed it any more. I updated and it worked instantly.
  3. Help someone else. Nothing will take you away from your own problems faster than a simple act of kindness.
  4. Connect with them, or someone else, however briefly. We’re wired for human connection and often as freelancers or entrepreneurs, we spend too much time on our own.
  5. Try to get really conscious and present in the NOW. A simple way to do this is by making your breathing slower and deeper and acknowledging
    • 5 things you can see around you
    • 4 things you can touch
    • 3 things you can hear
    • 2 things you can smell
    • 1 thing you can taste inside your mouth. This is so beautifully simple and works like magic. It’s a really useful tool to use when feeling anxious too.

These simple practices will get you back in your body; present, grounded and in a much better frame of mind to get back to work.

How can you change your physiology, or move your body, to support your well-being, especially when you’re under pressure?