86: Fending off Overwhelm Before it Ever Happens

Discover red flags and specific skills you can use to fend off the overwhelm before it ever happens with expert Lauren Parsons as host Mike Domitrz asks her questions for helping each listener gain skill sets.

   

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Lauren is an award-winning Wellbeing Specialist who believes that everyone deserves to thrive. She is passionate about equipping and inspiring people to truly boost their health and happiness. With 18 years’ experience in the health and wellbeing profession in New Zealand she is a sought after speaker, coach and consultant.  

TEDx speaker, Author of real food less fuss, founder of the online programme Get Fit Feel Fabulous and the Snack on Exercise movement; Lauren helps busy people re-discover how to feel vibrant, confident and energised. Based in Palmerston North, New Zealand, she travels regularly to speak, helping organisations create a high-energy, peak-performance team culture that enables people to thrive.  

For more see: www.LaurenParsonsWellbeing.com and www.snackonexercise.com

 

Links to Lauren:

Subscribe for inspirational updates at: www.LaurenParsonsWellbeing.com  

Join the online community at: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenParsonsWellbeing  

Be part of the Snack on Exercise movement at: www.SnackonExercise.com  

Follow her on insta at: https://www.instagram.com/laurenparsonsnz/  

Contact Lauren at: lauren@laurenparsons.co.nz

 

Books Lauren recommends:

 

YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com

 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE:

Mike Domitrz:
Welcome to the Respect podcast. I’m your host Mike Domitrz from mikespeaks.com, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US Military, create a culture of respect. And respect is exactly what we discuss on this show so let’s get started.

Mike Domitrz:
And this week, hailing from New Zealand, new Ziland, oh my goodness, New Zealand. Lauren is an award winning wellbeing specialist with 19 years experience, mother of three and military wife. She specializes in helping people thrive and helping businesses create a positive, energized workplace culture. That is Lauren Parsons from New Zealand. Thank you so much for joining this.

Lauren Parsons:
Thanks Mike. It’s great to be here.

Mike Domitrz:
Well, we’re excited to have you on here. Let’s dive right into this because you talk about wellbeing. Why do you say it’s vital to respect your own time and energy on that journey of being our best as far as wellbeing goes?

Lauren Parsons:
Well, I think because there’s so many people these days that are feeling overwhelmed with the pace of life, the way that technology affects us now, and I’m hearing that word more and more that people are feeling overwhelmed. People have got a lot on their plate right from the moment they wake up in the morning, throughout the day, managing themselves and others and workloads are just skyrocketing. Being able to respect your own time and energy, being able to structure, especially the way you start your morning routine and the way that you end your day, being able to bookend your day well to preserve your own energy so that you have more love and energy and passion to give out to others is really key. And often if we don’t respect our own time, we’re saying yes to too many things and we end up becoming overloaded.

Mike Domitrz:
What are specific steps people can look for, watch for, or participate in to make sure they’re honoring that? Before they’re in overwhelm, what are red flags or what are skills they can actually use?

Lauren Parsons:
Yeah, well there are a lot of different red flags, so some things can be feeling constantly fatigued or tired, noticing more pain in your body, more aches and pains and tightness, feeling like you’re losing that emotional intelligence, that ability to stay cool, calm and collected. For example, parenting and just flying off the handle or getting upset with a colleague at work and just letting loose, noticing that you’ve lost some of your spark or your joy. All of those sort of things are good to keep an eye on and to take check and take stock. And then I guess the other thing is what people could do is think about their daily routine. It’s things like getting up and waking up at the same time each day, starting the morning with a practice of gratitude in some way. Perhaps a movement practice with your favorite music on, even just for three or four minutes, changes the way that you start your day in setting a positive intention of how you’d like the day to go. All of these things have been scientifically proven to help train your brain to be more focused and energized.

Mike Domitrz:
What would be a movement practice? What does that mean?

Lauren Parsons:
Yeah, so again, great question. Great practice, what I tend to do is just a really nice gentle low impact sort of stretching routine similar to yoga or Tai Chi. Some people would like to do something really energizing. One of my philosophies is to snack on exercise in short bursts throughout the day, like one minute at a time. And it’s what I did my Ted Talk in New York state last year on. The idea of fitting small bursts of movement into your day is incredible in terms of the energy it gives back to you and how well it boosts your mood and supports your mental wellbeing. There’s lots of options for morning routines and movements, whether it’s getting outdoors or just staying on the living room floor and having an lovely stretch. I think that’s basically respond to what your body feels like. For me, some mornings I’ll do quite a relaxation stretch and some mornings I’ll be a little more active and I’ll do a bit more of what’s called animal flow and get my heart rate up a little bit, but just for a few minutes to start the day.

Mike Domitrz:
If someone’s listening going, well wait, how do I get a burst of energetic activity in the middle? If I’m at work and I’m in dressed up for work, how am I running that day? They hear burst and they think sprinting, sweating when they hear burst. What would be an example of an activity somebody could do at work?

Lauren Parsons:
There’s lots of little what I call desk-ersize routines. Or just standing up from a chair at your desk, maybe holding the edge of your desk, leaning back into a lovely stretch, doing some press ups or pushups on the edge of your desk. Just, and really, really the point that you’re in your dress clothes, just doing say five pushups on the edge of your desk, always standing. Now virtually anyone can do a standing press up against a wall or against the edge of a desk. If you’re really strong, you might take it down to a lower surface. If you have stairs in your office, going and taking a brisk walk upstairs. That’s actually been proven by McMaster University recently. They got people just to take 20 seconds to briskly walk up stairs three times a day and they found it significantly increased fitness in just six weeks.

Lauren Parsons:
There’s lots of little things you can do. Sometimes I jokingly say “At lunch, walk to the photocopier,” because often I’m working with businesses where we’re creating a culture change and I kind of say that in tongue in cheek, but just fitting movement and or fitting a stretch and when you have a chance, every time you talk on the phone for example, or when you check your email to get up and move a little. Because our bodies are designed to move and often we become very stuck and static instead and that affects us, it gives us pain and tightness and it affects our mood most of all.

Mike Domitrz:
You give examples, each of those are somebody trying to take care of themselves. A lot of people feel guilty taking time out of their day to do that. Like, well, if I take two minutes to go do pushups then I’m not doing that project I’m supposed to be doing. How do you flip that mindset for people?

Lauren Parsons:
Well, relaying back again to people in the workplace, our bodies have a natural ultradian rhythm, ultra meaning many and diam meaning day that goes right throughout the day. We have a 90 minute up swing, followed by a 15 to 20 minute downswing and that repeats right throughout the day. And so it’s actually much more effective in our work if we can do our focus fact of work during the upswing and then to take those breaks and that timeout. Because when we do that, we actually are going to come back and be much more effective and productive. Our brains going to be switched on. We’re going to be more creative and better at problem solving. We’ll actually work faster and more efficiently. That’s literally how we can work smarter, not harder.

Lauren Parsons:
And the other thing is in terms of people feeling guilty of taking time for themselves, I think in general, taking some me time to do whatever recharges you is so vital. But often I have people tell me, “Oh, but I feel selfish when I do things just for me.” What I would say to that is that when you actually do things for you, you fill yourself up. That’s like you’re filling up this cup to overflowing so that you have more love and energy and passion to give out to everyone around you. And I really believe that when you don’t do that and then you just end up showing up is you’re more tired, grumpy, burnt out, lethargic. At least then you’ll be south. I actually believe that that is selfish.

Lauren Parsons:
And so that may sound like a little bit of tough love for the listeners today, but the thing is that it’s a bit of a mindset that if you can remind yourself that not looking after you is actually selfish because it ends up leaving you tired and lethargic and replace that, re-record over benefits in your head with taking time for me is essential. And if you re-play that in your mind, whenever you’re having that I really should do this or could do this for me, but there’s more washing to do. Oh there’s that report. Just remind yourself that taking time for you is essential and everyone will be better off for it.

Mike Domitrz:
And what you’re describing is emotional intelligence and you believe it’s vital for parents, individuals, any form of leadership. How do you define emotional intelligence?

Lauren Parsons:
Well, for me it’s that ability to be able to respond to situations in retaining your own personal power. And your calm sense of self rather than just reacting because we all have moments in our days when our buttons get pushed. Now I have three young children under 10 and boy as a parent I had no idea what I was in for in terms of the emotional roller coaster we go on when our kids [inaudible 00:08:28]. Or it could be colleagues or our boss or situations, even strangers, interactions that we have and things happen. Things are said that push our button. And emotional intelligence is that ability to be able to take a deep breath, to step back and realize it’s not actually about you. Maybe it’s what’s going on with the other person and then to be able to respond in a positive way that will create a positive parenting solution or create a better relationship with your colleague. To be able to stand up for yourself and own your personal power but not to react or overreact. To be able to respond.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. And you started bringing up there, the taking a breath. How do people master that? How do they master that emotional intelligence of remaining calm and centered under those moments that it’s very quickly to easy, it’s very easy to sort of lose control at times and either snap at someone or just want to walk away from the situation. How do you help people master that?

Lauren Parsons:
The most powerful, simple way that we can actually quickly shift ourselves back to being in control is through deep diaphragmatic breathing. And it’s interesting, I mentioned I was a military wife and many years ago my husband was going on his first tour. They hit all us as families together and they did a workshop with these top military psychologists. And it was really interesting because the key thing that they taught us that day was just how to breathe diaphragmatically. Pausing and taking a breath is powerful because it’s the one part of your autonomic nervous system, that automatic part of the nervous system that grows you hair and your skin and your nails and repairs cuts and bruises, is the one part of that system that you can help to influence because your breath, while that’s automatic, you can also influence the way that you breathe.

Lauren Parsons:
And as soon as you do that, when you slow your breath, if listeners are doing it right now as they’re perhaps listening in, if you just start to slow your breath and take a deep breath in, ballooning your belly out and just keeping your shoulders relaxed and then breathe out slowly, relaxing your belly back in. Working towards being able to do that really naturally, when you do that it sends this beautiful message to your entire body through your nervous system that you are calm and centered, and safe. And so in those moments when you feel the opposite happening, when you can feel yourself going into fight or flight, into anger, into wanting to react, you can actually pause and physiologically it will make a difference to just pause and take five breaths even if you have to walk out of the room. And this can also be helpful if you’re going to do a presentation or a high stakes meeting or to have a courageous conversation with somebody. Pause and take these deep breaths so that you shift your physiology.

Lauren Parsons:
Because when you shift your physiology, you shift your psychology. What your body does affects how you feel and what’s actually happening in your brain. I know that it was a bit of a quick demo I guess, but I’d encourage, if people aren’t familiar with how to breathe diaphragmatically, just to Google it, watch a video and spend some time practicing that because it is one of the most powerful ways to shift your body instantly out of fight or flight and engage your body’s natural relaxations response. And our bodies are amazing and they can deal with a huge amount of stress as long as we manage to oscillate out of that stress from time to time and engage a relaxation response because if don’t, we head towards burn out. It’s vitally important to have that skill in our lives.

Mike Domitrz:
All right, so now that was great. I love the specifics. Thank you of helping people pause in that moment. What if somebody who wants to boost their energy? That’s the, now I want to calm the energy. What if I’m feeling a little lethargic I want a boost energy, what are things they can do?

Lauren Parsons:
Yeah, well this is really interesting and this is what I love. Looking at how we use that energy over a day. Yes, we need moments where we can be calm, but we need moments we can lift energy. For example, when I’m speaking, I’ll always start any presentation with everyone up standing and usually playing a game and interacting, connecting eye to eye and creating laughter. Now you may or may not have people around you to be able to do that with, but for yourself there are different things you can do to instantly boost your mood. For example, five little things are that you can lift your gaze, so count the lights on the ceiling or look up at the sky. You can roll your shoulders down and back and have tall, proud posture. You can smile because when we smile, it sends a message back to our brain that we are actually happy even if we’re not feeling the best at that moment.

Lauren Parsons:
You can also take that deep diaphragmatic breath. And then you can punch both arms up in the air in a V formation. That if you’ve heard of Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on how our body shapes our lives, raising both arms above your head as if you’ve just kicked the winning goal in the football game, that position instantly boosts your mood and shifts your psychology. That’s one thing in terms of energy in terms of mood and then coming back to the whole idea of snacking on exercise. Just doing something for say 30 seconds or one minute to get your heart rate up. It could be just doing some squats on the spot or what I call a squat reach. Where you reach your arms high above your head, standing tall and then not bending over trying to touch your toes, but just go down into a squat with your hands by your shoulders and just taking your arms up, your whole body high and then going low.

Lauren Parsons:
And if you’re listening and you’re by yourself right now, you could do this. Reach your arms up high with me and then squat down. Then reach your arms up high as you can up tall and just doing 10 of those squat reaches I find is a great little energizer. Gets the blood flowing. It doesn’t really work as sweat up as such. As you mentioned before during the work day, but it just, energizes you and even clapping your hands, making yourself laugh. There are lots of little triggers you can use to literally be intentional about boosting your body’s energy so that you can head into that maybe that dreary task that you’re not really looking forward to. You can get yourself pumped up and ready.

Lauren Parsons:
And when you think of top sports psychologists and top athletes, they use all of these techniques to help people perform in the moment because it takes more than just thinking about it. We need to create change in our body and we can shift our body’s energy by what we do with our hands, our arms, our intentions, our thoughts and all of those things to get a help, boost it in a moment.

Mike Domitrz:
What got you so passionate about movement? How’d you get to this journey, this place?

Lauren Parsons:
Oh, that’s an interesting story. I actually started off as the shy unsporty kid to hit school. I was always the one standing there when the teacher would say, “Hey guys, pick some people for your teams.” And my classmates would say, “Hey, I’ll pick you and I’ll pick you and I want you and I want you.” And I would be the last one, they left standing, just wishing that the ground would swallow me up in that moment because all I wanted to do was cry and I didn’t want anyone to see that.

Lauren Parsons:
And I honestly went through all of my school years just hating physical education and trying to avoid it, being sick on sports days and just being so intimidated and really lacking confidence in myself physically and then somehow when I went to university, just like all my friends, I joined the gym. But I was still really intimidated by the gym. And I can recall walking in there and looking into this big sports hall with all these ladies, with these bows on these shoulders, with these circles on the end. And they were doing these movements and I really didn’t know what it was called and thought to myself, I could never do that. I would never be able to do that. And I’d just go and hide down in the little circuit room at the end and copy everyone else. But one day a friend dragged me along to what was called to step aerobics class, which is actually one of the most complicated classes to do because you’ve got the step to try and step on and off and different arm lines and leg lines to do.

Lauren Parsons:
And so I certainly didn’t get all of the moves. But what I found was by the end of that class, I had actually really enjoyed myself. I loved the music and the group. And so I went back a few times and after a while they said, “If you want to be an instructor, just come and see us afterwards.” I did. And before I knew it, I was actually teaching. And that taught me three things. One, I discovered that I had enough coordination and rhythm to do choreography, which was great. And two I discovered there was someone who believed in me and that was Amy, my boss at the time, and she was amazing. And three, I discovered something that I think is true for all of us. I found out that I was capable of more than I first imagined. And I think that’s true for everyone. You are all capable of so much more than you ever imagined.

Lauren Parsons:
That process of going from being really intimidated to then teaching aerobics went into me getting into lecturing, personal training and nutrition and then life coaching and then helping businesses and individuals boosting health and happiness. And it’s been an amazing journey. And what’s always remained at the center of it is being passionate about helping people get started, especially people that were maybe perhaps intimidated, not confident about getting going or getting into physical movement because it can be a really scary space. And I think the people that need it the most of those that don’t naturally want to spend time there.

Lauren Parsons:
And not that I’m saying you actually spend time at a gym at all. Now mostly what I do is help people with routines they can do in your home and routines they can do in the workplace to boost their productivity as well. Yeah, so that’s kind of my back story. And as I say, I believe that everyone is capable of more than they first imagine because if little old Lauren Parsons from Palmerston North New Zealand who was intimidated by the gym and always last to be picked at school, if I can go on to help thousands of people boost their health and happiness, then you can do anything and change really is possible.

Mike Domitrz:
Lauren, you clearly believe in people standing up for themselves. You’ve stayed at that beautifully throughout. How do people stand up for what’s important for them and get what they want at the same time?

Lauren Parsons:
Yeah, that’s so key. Well, if I think of, I’ve had a lot of clients over the years where communication really is the key. For example, if I share a story, I once had a husband and wife and I was coaching the wife of this partnership and she was chatting about some frustrations that she had in her relationship. And when we unraveled it all, it really came down to a miscommunication. And this is another thing that I’m passionate about because so often this happens that we assume things in life and we make all of these assumptions that actually mean we miss the boat in terms of clearly communicating what we want. And so I believe in using this process for complete communication, which is all about sharing what we want and stating it clearly and why we want it and how we want it and when we want it.

Lauren Parsons:
And most of all thinking why is it important for me? And why is it important for the other person? And that last piece of the puzzle is the most important part. In this story, for example, my client said, know that it was a busy weekend day, she’d been out with her daughter for the afternoon, came and noticed that the kitchen was still full of dishes. And so she went up to her husband who was just sitting, relaxing, watching some sport and said, “Hey honey, can you do the dishes?” And he said, “Yeah, sure.” And so she then went and bathed their daughter and got some other things ready. She came back about an hour later and was really frustrated walking into that kitchen and saying these dishes were still spread all over the counter. And so she ended up just getting frustrated and did all the dishes in a grumpy mood.

Lauren Parsons:
You can imagine just, the vibes coming off. And later on we were talking about this and her husband popped in a few hours later and said, “Oh, oh, I was going to do the dishes.” And she as you can imagine responded, “Yeah, but didn’t in turn. I need to get on for dinner and we were going out to the show tonight.” And so there’d just been this breakdown in communication and at the time she couldn’t really see it. But what I’ve talked through, what if you’d said, “Hey honey, could you do the dishes? Is it okay to get them done by 3:30 because I want to get that lovely roast meal on so we can sit down as a family and really enjoy it before we head out to the show. Is that okay?” And so by sharing it that way, you might have notice that there was the what, there was the why there was the when, which was really important and there’s what the benefit was going to be for both her and her husband and the whole family.

Lauren Parsons:
I think this is something, and I constantly found out this is as well, I noticed that myself recently we were going to do a photo shoot at home and they always say don’t work with kids or animals. But I wanted to get some family photos and some photos of my husband and kids as well as some professional shots for the website. And I noticed at one point when my husband was there, and he was wearing his green military socks and quickly, because I was feeling quite stressed out at the time, I had lots going on, my daughter was playing up and it was really hard to try and get some nice photos with your being grumpy.

Lauren Parsons:
And I noticed my husband was wearing these socks. And so I say to my husband, “Hey honey, could you just take your socks off?” And it was all a said. And so in my mind I’d very clearly asked him to take his socks off. But what happened next was he disappeared for like the next five to 10 minutes. And during this time I was increasingly feeling concerned. My worry was escalating. Dinner had not been prepared and we’re supposed to be doing some photo shoots with dinner. The kids were playing up and getting smack at each other. My other daughter didn’t want to change her outfit at all. And I was trying to remain calm and keep smiling. When my husband comes back downstairs and he’s now wearing black socks and I am, in my mind, why are you wearing black socks? I did not ask you to put black socks on, but he’d gone away and understood that I’d asked him to change his socks so he disappeared upstairs and he got distracted doing some things.

Lauren Parsons:
But this was actually not his fault. It all comes back to me because if I had actually said to him, “Hey honey, I think this photo’s going to look really great with bare feet, so can you just take your socks off and then would you be able to help prepare the salad because I’m running a bit behind and I really need your help right now.” That would have actually explained what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted it, why I needed it and what the benefit would have been. It wasn’t his fault about the socks, I just put that blame all on me. I guess that gives a couple of examples of where the people listening may recognize times in your own life where you’ve assumed things. If you can use that complete communication process and most especially find out how it’s going to benefit the other person, it will give you smooth sailing to get what you want so much more often.

Mike Domitrz:
Well thank you for sharing. Those are great examples that we can all fall into very easily and I want to make sure everybody can find you Lauren. I want to make sure they know your website, which is laurenparsonswellbeing.com, which we have in our show notes so all of our listeners can find in the show notes. You also have snackonexercise.com which is great. I love that snackonexercise.com and I want to thank you so much for sharing with us today Lauren.

Lauren Parsons:
Thank you. Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure and I hope that is helpful to you all. Thanks so much, Mike.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely, and for our listeners, you know what’s next? That is question of the week.

Mike Domitrz:
Before I answer this week’s question of the week, I’d love to ask you a question, would you please subscribe to this podcast, the Respect podcast with Mike Domitrz. By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now you might be wondering, Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact? Well, here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of the show in the search engines. For people who care about respect like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcasts, they’re more likely to find this show, thus providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast. Plus the second benefit is by subscribing, you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you’re listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically. Subscribing also makes your life easier.

Mike Domitrz:
Now, let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called the Respect podcast discussion group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and or address in this segment of the show, and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.

Mike Domitrz:
This week’s question is, Mike, for a person that has never been sexually intimate with someone, how do you approach your first kiss, the first time you have sex, the first time you engage in a sexual act? This is a great question and the good news is that the answer is consistent no matter what choice you’re making for the first time. Share your thoughts with your partner and let people know that. Set a foundation. If you’ve never kissed someone, there’s nothing wrong. In fact, it can be very empowering to tell a partner, “I haven’t kissed someone.” And when I do, I want to know that it’s the right person in the right moment and I want to make sure they give me a choice. And likewise, if I make the choice that I want to kiss them, I’m going to give them a choice, I’m going to ask them, “Would you ask me before you would ever kiss me to honor myself and my boundaries and my wants? Would you be cool with that?”

Mike Domitrz:
And you make it sound fun. Now, once you’re in a relationship with someone, you can have the same conversation about any sexual act or any level of sexual intimacy. Hey, before I make that choice, I want to know it’s the right situation, the right time, the right partner. Would you always give me a choice and respect my answer? And of course I’ll do the same for you. You use your words and you use your spoken words so that you two are able to connect and listen to each other. See how each other responds in those moments. And it’s everybody honoring the other person’s boundaries and their own boundaries throughout that process.

Mike Domitrz:
Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. Would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show. All you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called the Respect podcast discussion group. The Respect podcast discussion group and share with us what would your answer of been to this week’s question of the week and if take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode? That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is the Respect podcast discussion group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz:
Thank you for joining us in this episode of the Respect podcast, exploring work, love and life. And this episode, like every episode is brought to you by our organization, the Center for Respect, which you can find at centerforrespect.com. And of course you can find me your host, Mike Domitrz at mikespeaks.com. Thank you so much for joining us.

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