Isolation at work – sometimes that phrase sounds so obvious in that it can’t be true, doesn’t it. I can’t be isolated because I’m surrounded by a team, wider peers, external stakeholders etc
But feeling isolated isn’t about whether there are people around you or not. I think it’s about whether you have a safe space to speak up bravely. Can you trust the people around you when you need someone to confide in? Can you trust people not to take your knowledge and ideas and broadcast them as their own? Can you trust people to do right by you and not sabotage your work? I bet you can think of other examples like these.
If you can’t speak openly with someone in your workplace and not fear repercussions that may impact your reputation (what people say about you) and/or your credibility (what people believe you can do), then your trustworthiness (what you actually do) is the only thing you can rely on.
That is, unless you have a great coach or mentor outside of your organisation of course!
So how do you maintain #trustworthiness when you’re scared, panicky, can’t concentrate, feeling blindsided all the time, using up energy to mask the real you to conform with the organisation’s idea of professionalism?
Here are suggestions that are tried and tested by me, in times gone by at work when I felt isolated:
#Deepbreathing - extend your outbreaths and make them a few seconds longer than your inbreaths. This definitely calms you down and slows down thought patterns.
#Walkinginnature - green and blue spaces are excellent, and forward movement helps the mind to get unstuck.
#EyeScanning – sitting quietly, and just letting your eyes wander without forcing them to look at anything specific. They will naturally rest on things in the fore, middle and far distance. After a few minutes you will be calmer, I guarantee it.
Listening to #soothingmusic – Mozart and Bach are great for lowering the heart rate apparently, and classical music is my go to in these moments. Sometimes I will listen to soundscapes like the sea or rainforests.
Touching #sensoryobjects – I like natural ones, like a smooth pebble or hugging a tree. This is very grounding and helps us feel connected to something much bigger than the human race. It could also be a good hug of course (with humans, pets or perhaps a big teddy bear).
#Calmingscents - like lavender oil in your diffuser or smelling coffee, herbs. Our sense of smell is the most primordial of all of our senses. It’s why a quick sniff of something takes us straight back to a childhood memory. Make sure you choose one that you love and then have it on standby.
#Gardening – I don’t have a garden, but I’ve always had pot plants. The act of watering my plants and observing how they change over time, takes my mind off loads of things in the moment. I find it a very mindful activity.
#Meditation – there are free apps out there to help you with self-guided timers and lots of guided meditations. I particularly like Kristen Neff (radical self compassion), Tara Brach (she has a Buddhist perspective) and Julie Smith (uses nature as inspiration a lot). Compassion is a go-to topic of meditation for me.
#EmployeeAssistanceSchemes – many, many moons ago I found an excellent a counsellor through my organisation’s EAP. She helped me make huge strides in just a few months to cope with the stresses I was facing. Usually, you can self refer and no one has to know! Make sure you find someone you like. If you don’t, move on swiftly and find another counsellor.
Feeling connected to others is fundamental to our health and wellbeing. Humans are social creatures, on a sliding scale of course as we’re all different. Without safe and brave connection, we cannot test our emotions and our ideas. We don’t feel like anyone empathises with our situation. We become anxious, depressed and at worst could have suicidal thoughts and feelings. Our happiness hormones (dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin) aren’t stimulated sufficiently. We struggle to make goals and take action to achieve them.
When we don’t have #connectionatwork, all of these things are in play – even if we have great connection with people outside of the workplace. This is because we’re one person, we’re not different people in different situations. Our feelings and senses interlock between different environments.
So how can coaching and mentoring, particularly with me, help you to feel more connected and less isolated?
It’s a trusting partnership between two people, where we discuss and agree how we will work together.
We start by understanding our similarities and differences – so that we can develop trust and be aware of where we might make assumptions about each other. This is a pretty unique start to a coachign and mentoring relationship. I still haven't met anyone who does this.
I have hundreds of hours of coaching experience, especially with women leaders who are from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic background. I also coach women who feel marginalised for many other reasons, such as their age, neurodiversity, sexuality, social class, and level of seniority (or not) at work. And being a leader is a state of mind, not a job title!
Time with me is a dedicated space to test your feelings, thoughts, reflections and conundrums.
I have loads of theories, models and techniques at my finger tips to look at situations from different perspectives – I introduce what I think *might* be helpful, and *you* get to choose whether we try them or not.
You identify actions that you want to take – not me or your boss.
I’m a member of the UK Chapter of the ICF and I’m a coach within the NHS too – which means I get access to hours and hours of coaching training and supervision every single year. Which means you get me at my cutting edge best, month in month out!
All of this also means that you aren’t alone – you have a trusted partner beside you, to help to you work out what your own way out of isolation at work looks like. There’s no formula for this.
And if you’re interested in speaking with me directly, you can book a free, 30minute discovery call on my website too.
PS – not sure what a discovery call is? Check out this blog for more information about that.