Wisdom can be found in the most unplanned moments and unexpected places. This is what happened to me on a day when I was feeling frenzied and frazzled before 9am! As an antidote to the stress I was feeling on a day when I had way to much to do and not enough time in which to do it, I decided to go for a brisk walk to destress. That is what most of the gurus and books tell you, right? Exercise will do the trick.

I donned my running shoes and my Garmin watch, setting off at a pace to walk my sillies out. Well, the walk had the opposite effect. The more I walked the more I stressed. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing and I was most certainly not calming down. This is not how I was supposed to be feeling. I wanted to feel better, not worse. I needed to clear my head not feel like it was full of fluffy cottonwool. I needed clarity not feelings of overwhelm. How was I going to cope with the rest of my day that was already crowding in on me, making it hard to breathe and concentrate?

So I stopped, and did something completely counter-intuitive. I found a resting place to step out of the rat race. It was a bird hide on the other end of the park in the estate in which I am living, and it overlooks a little dam. I climbed the wooden stairs to the thatched viewing deck and I sat down surveying the scene in front of me, watching flocks of little birds swooping and soaring and listening to their loud and melodious chatter. Then I saw, right in the middle of the lake on the island, a mother blue crane sitting on her nest of eggs. She placidly, but determinedly sits. She just sits! Patiently. Peacefully. Seemingly doing nothing.

I just sat

And so I sat, staring at her. Breathing in her presence, her peace and acceptance. She is not rushing around. She is not multi-tasking like us crazy human beings. She is just sitting, doing the most important job in the world, incubating her eggs. At some point I got up and did some very slow, long stretches with deep inhales and exhales of breath, bringing me back into my body, all the while maintaining eye contact with ‘my’ crane. After I had communed with her for half an hour, and feeling much more grounded and together, I reluctantly descended the stairs and took a slow walk back home, to reality.

I proceeded to have the most wonderful day because I had shifted my perspective. Nothing was as urgent as I had thought. I had brought myself out of my panic and down the pressure gauge out of the red zone. I was engaging with life again from the perspective of love, not fear, and it made all the difference.

Over the past few weeks when I have felt the need to recalibrate and rebalance myself, I have taken my soul for a walk to see my mother crane. She has taught me the meaning of slowing down and smelling the roses, that not everything is urgent and has to be down now. That I need to sometimes ask myself if I am being kind to Nikki. When mental confusion and overwhelm engulf me it is a warning. It’s time to sit up, take note, create space between myself and the frenzy out there and decide what it is that Nikki needs. And what she doesn’t need is to do more stuff. She usually needs to stop and be for a while.

Take aways for winning at work:

When things are feeling like a blur it’s time to stop thinking and getting trapped in the tornado in your head. Rather:

  • Take yourself for a slow walk with no pressure to perform or achieve any time
  • Take yourself for a cup of coffee/tea by yourself, without any devices, paper or pen and just be, just sit and watch the world go by and breathe
  • Become more mindful. Here are some questions that have become part of my daily practice and have helped me to bring my authentic self to work and be more engaged and productive:
    • What am I grateful for?
    • What surprised me today?
    • What did I learn today?
    • What can I do better?
    • How or where did I add value today?
    • Where do I need to slow down?
    • Where do I need to make more space in my life and relationships?

Take aways for winning at home and life:

  • Everything listed above applies if you are a parents too. It’s important that your children see you:
    • Acknowledge when you are stressed
    • Manage your stress in emotionally intelligent ways
    • Rise above your stress and grow resilience through your challenges
    • Find ways to regain balance and perspective
    • Avoid taking your stress out on others by taking ‘time out’
    • Accepting support when it is needed
    • Slowing down from time to time
  • There isn’t a child in the red zone of stress whose parents aren’t up the pressure gauge too.
  • Parental stress an anxiety is the most infectious thing in the world and we need to keep it in check and deal with our own stuff
  • It is much easier to fix ourselves than to fix our children – I promise you!
  • Play is a fantastic way for the whole family to press the pause button, to take a break and reset the energ.
    • We are all born to play and big kids still want to play and have fun
  • Do something multisensory together like swimming, taking a bath, have a water balloon fight, bake or cook together or even wrestle – it diffuses stress in an instant

I’ve learnt that it’s okay to say to myself:  not now, slow down and listen. Listen for that voice inside that knows exactly what you need and where you need to be. Slow down enough to ‘feel’ that voice and to trust that it is there to help you. There is a wise soul inside each of us that knows just what we need. Listen and learn. Find yourself a blue crane.

Human Potential and Parenting Expert, speaker and author:  Helping you win at work and life