During Volunteers Week, we should celebrate and congratulate a shining example of a volunteer led organisation, who have had to work harder during the Pandemic to support individuals. I have recently had reason to examine the support provision for alcohol dependency in my local authority…
When we asked our attendees what they felt was their personal highlight of the 2021 ABP Conference, many named Dr. Audrey Tang’s workshop, ‘A Practical Guide to Resilience.’ With her charm, charisma and actionable advice, it’s not surprising to see why – the session was enjoyed by all who attended, perfectly pairing bubbly enthusiasm with genuinely useful well-being tips and tricks. Dr. Audrey Tang is an award-winning author, wellbeing expert and chartered psychologist. Her books include The Leader’s Guide to Resilience and Be a Great Manager – Now. The following is a little taster of the pearls of wisdom she gave us during her workshop.
Dr. Tang gave some great tips for managing stress, including a few practical exercises to go through whenever you feel overwhelmed. Perhaps the most useful was the following: practice gratitude while stretching. Experts all agree that practicing gratitude is vital for a happy and successful life, so it’s no surprise this concept was included. However, practicing gratitude while stretching at the same time can help focus the mind and make gratitude a more immersive experience.
First, start by stretching your arms – now think of one small thing to be grateful for. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee in the morning or the comforting feel of a warm bed on a cold day. Next, stretch out your legs – now think of one person to be grateful for. Maybe it’s your husband, or your boss, or maybe just a friendly doorman. Finally, stretch your whole – now think of one thing you’re looking forward to today. Maybe you’re going to have a call with a friend or finally eat that cake you’ve been saving. The people and things that pop up more frequently will show you what your priorities in life are and what they should be. Dr. Tang also discussed the importance of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix (pictured right) when trying to reduce the stress of a lengthy To-Do list.
Dr. Tang stressed the need to practice mental social distancing as well as physical social distancing, and to stop and ask yourself, ‘Is this really my responsibility?’ when presented with an issue. She shared some practical ways to establish boundaries with those around us, because while we all know that ‘no is a complete sentence’, it can be very hard to enforce this in real life. So, when approached by someone in need of emotional support, Dr. Tang believes that giving them a time limit can help conserve your energy. For example, ‘I have three hours free on Tuesday, but that’s all.’ Asking people what type of support they need can also help conserve energy, as it makes things more efficient and can save time. Perhaps they need a sympathetic ear or perhaps they need help with a small errand – asking them how they need you to help them can really help ensure their needs get met in the most effective way possible. Don’t forget, you can also delay the situation so that you have time to decide on your best course of action – ‘Let me just check my schedule and I’ll get back to you.’
Regarding self-care, Dr. Tang divulged the six key types of activities to focus on: SPICES (Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative, Emotional, Social). As an exercise, Dr. Tang recommended placing these letters into a hat and selecting one at random each time you are in the need of some self-care, in order to see which style of activity best works for you. A Spiritual self-care activity could be something like meditation, Physical might be a walk or a run, and Intellectual could be reading a book.
For Creative, one might do some painting, Emotional might be watching your comfort movie and as for Social, you could go for coffee with a friend. Dr. Tang also encouraged attendees to create their own ‘positivity reservoir’, which is a collection of positive comments about yourself or your work saved up to be reviewed on particularly hard days. This can be an excellent exercise in self-care and self-love.
While Dr. Audrey Tang’s ABP Conference session wasn’t recorded, there is lots of related content available in the Association of Business Psychology membership media library – please feel free to have a browse! For more content from Dr. Tang herself, check out her TikTok (@thewellbeinglounge), subscribe to her YouTube channel (Dr. Audrey Tang: Tools to Thrive) or browse her website (https://www.draudreyt.com/).
By Tasha Johnson