Rob Bravo is the Director of Coaching EMEA and Head of Wellbeing at Talking Talent. He gives some top tips for wrangling your feelings.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. I’m a dad-of-three, an executive coach and a workplace wellbeing expert. Here are my top tips for working dads on how to manage difficult emotions at work and at home and mindset hacks to nurture a healthy working environment.
Experiencing difficult emotions is an inescapable fact of life – we’re all aware of that and it’s the nature of being human. Whilst experiencing difficult emotions is healthy, sometimes it can be unhelpful – especially as parents or leaders – where we have an enormous impact on everyone around us.
Emotions have a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, and problem solving. When emotions become overwhelming, and leaders fail to manage them appropriately, the negative impact can have far reaching effects through an organisation. The impact on the home and family can also be significant – but there are some simple steps anyone can take to manage these overwhelming emotions.
When I’m coaching business leaders who have to cope with stressful and demanding environments day in, day out, I often invite coachees to consider the three first A.I.D. steps for difficult emotions:
Emotions may show up like uninvited guests at a party, but trying to block, hide, or deny them can mean they leak out in more harmful ways, like stress eating, muscle tension, or outbursts when they can no longer be contained. Allowing your emotions sets you up to move forward with increased insight. If you’re feeling emotional, check in with your body to connect with it more clearly.
Experiencing an emotion is not the same thing as reacting to that emotion. Instead of reacting immediately, try to take a moment to breathe, and check in on what you’re feeling is the first step to turning overwhelm into calm control. Ask yourself: What am I feeling? What happened to make me feel like this? What do I want to do about these feelings? Is there a better way to react?
Once you’ve allowed and identified your emotions, accepting them without judgement is a great act of self-compassion. Self-talk like, ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this way, or, a better person would never think…’ is a sign of self-criticism. Stop and give yourself permission for whatever it is you’re feeling, and ask yourself what you need to feel better.
Building a habit to respond rather than react can be very effective in the moment – but it’s also important for leaders to invest in their mental health and wellbeing at work long-term, and there are some really simple ways to do this:
Workload and expectations should be reviewed to ensure that they are reasonable based on the way you work now. Ask yourself: Is there a better way to manage this task? What could I delegate or outsource to lighten the load? Working smarter helps you to feel more balanced and motivated.
Protect and conserve your energy by setting personal boundaries. By setting energy boundaries for yourself, you can stay on track with your goals and avoid feeling overwhelmed, especially during heavy workload seasons.
Develop emotionally intelligent leaders who have the ability to manage capacity, are empathetic, and who embrace their own humanity and that of others. Provide your team with tools and language they can use to proactively address signs of overwork, stress, and burnout. Good leaders honour the human being over the human doing.
Help create an environment in which asking for help is encouraged and conversations about needs are natural. Lead by example and demonstrate what it looks like to be vulnerable, teaching people how to ask for the support they need from the team and organisation.