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  • Writer's pictureKaty Lloyd

Have you ever accidentally superglued your glasses to your desk in a meeting?


I have - I did it this week. But I won't start my story there - I'll share what lead up to it, and what I am doing to make sure I don't do anything like that again (it could get quite expensive......)


Recognising when you're "not at your best"

A few years ago, our team did a wellbeing activity, that continues to be particularly helpful for me. We reflected on and identify, the signs for when we are "not at our best" ie in the struggle/suffer zone. We shared these so we could recognise these and support each other. It's not always easy to recognise the signs ourselves when we are struggling.


These signs can be different for everyone, and are generally a signal for us to slow down and focus on ourselves a bit more. We might scrunch shoulders, eat more, talk more, sleep more, don't sleep, the list goes on. For me - I walk away leaving stuff behind that I need. Like my keys, wallet and phone. I know when I start getting to my car parking building, then needing to go back to the office for my keys, that something is going on I need to work out.


Last week I started to realise something was up. At kids swimming I managed to leave my phone behind both on the way in, and the way out. I was doing the 2 am wakeups, and then I had a real clanger at the weekend, which resulted literally in being up a creek without a paddle.


Up the creek without a paddle

I arrived at a beautiful little spot just north of Auckland called Point Wells. It's a great place to paddleboard and kayak etc. Last time I had been there I hadn't used my paddle board for ages. The bag zip had seized up, I finally got it open and then when I had blown it up, it deflated because I hadn't locked the value. Fixed that, blew it up again and managed to get out for a paddle eventually. When I went last week, I was so pleased with myself that everything was in working order, until I went to get my paddle and realised it was in my garage back in Auckland..... Luckily my wonderful friend Emily had a spare paddle so I managed not to waste the 20 minutes pumping it up this time. To compound matters, I ended up having to tow my 8 year old son and his kayak back upstream for about 1 km, because he got too tired. You can imagine how stoked I was after all that - helpful for the mental health!


It's all too much

This forgetfulness, for me, is a symptom of trying to do too much. Generally that's not just in one sector - it's work and life. A prime example of this was one day last week. I was trying to balance the kids first proper day back at school for 6 months, sort out logistics for kids sports, overcome some relatively complex landscaping issues, navigate an intensely full calendar with a short week and find time do work on my masters. Gosh I'm a bit tired even writing that! This clash of factors resulted in me multitasking in an MS Teams meeting and accidentally super-gluing my glasses to my desk in the middle of a meeting when I was trying to fix them. I then glued them to my fingers, and all the tissues I was using to clean it up, which also got glued to my fingers - you get the picture #hotmess. All whilst trying to remain professional and in control for the serious meeting I was having...


What can you do to help yourself?

I realised I needed to help dampen down my survival/fight or flight system (limbic system) and on ramp up my thinking brain (pre-frontal cortex) so I could think clearly instead of remain in a fluster! Something that can help us to do this is what the Neuroleadership Institute calls "clearing the space" by labelling the emotions you are feeling. The act of doing this quite literally turns on your brain to help think more clearly and settle your emotions down. A really useful tool for this is the Riders & Elephants Emotional Culture Deck. These are a set of cards that contain both positive and negative emotions that you can play with to identify how you are feeling, how you don't want to feel, and most importantly how you do want to feel. You can use them in a range of ways. On this day I wanted to do a current state of what I was feeling, and what I wanted to feel instead. Laying them out like this helps me to work out how to make sure I feel the positives not the negatives. This is actually something I did quite regularly last year to get me though lockdown.


I wrote the emotions out and had them by me for a few days, worked on some key actions when I could either make progress with issues, find a way accept them and let them go, or realise they were not quite the big issue I was thinking they were at 2 in the morning.



So if any of this sounds familiar to you, I'd encourage you to think about what those indicators are for you to know when you

are not at your best. It can help to ask some of your nearest and dearest if they can identify what these are with you as well. Share them with others you trust so they can hep you identify and manage them, and check out the emotional culture deck here. It's a great little easy resource to use.





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