Enjoy more quality time through emotional awareness



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“People mirror what you give them - quite literally.” – Shadé Zahrai

Humans are social animals. We’re very good at picking up the emotional states of those around us – even if we aren’t consciously aware of it. The company we keep has a massive effect on who we are and how we feel. Emotion is contagious.

When it comes time to switch off your professional mindset and instead spend quality time with family and friends, your emotional and mental state can make a big difference to the experience for everyone involved.

So what does that mean for you, if you’re carrying the stress and anxiety of an incredibly tough working year into your summer holidays with family and friends? It means that you could inadvertently disrupt the quality time that you really need to reenergise yourself and that those closest to you have been looking forward to.

But don’t worry. Recently at The Tax Summit, award-winning leadership strategist Shadé Zahrai lead a session around maintaining your best self throughout challenging times. A huge part of that, she explained, is being aware and in control of your own emotional and mental state.

Shadé shared some of her tips for regulating your emotional state. And while her session was too jam-packed with insights to for us to possibly cover them all, we’ve handpicked a few key takeaways that might help you out these holidays.

1. Acknowledge your emotions

When we’re dealing with stress or anxiety (and who isn’t, these days?) recognising and acknowledging those emotions is the first step to overcoming them.

“Simply naming your state, reduces activity in the amygdala, which is the fight or flight part of the brain and decreases your experience of those negative feelings,” Shadé says.

“You have to name the emotion, if you want to tame the emotion.”

This isn’t always easy – especially if you’re used to being the person with all the answers. But before letting your leftover stress from work impact what should be quality time with your family or friends, take a moment of active recovery time to acknowledge and sit with that feeling. Then, give yourself permission to let it go.

2. Go outside

We’re wired to not only enjoy experiencing and looking at nature, but to be restored and refreshed by it, explains Shadé.

“When you go outside and you’re exposed to nature – so nature meaning trees, grass, leaves – this acts like a mental battery, charging the attentional reserves of your brain. It’s actually called attentional restoration,” she says.

So this summer, if you’re feeling tightly wound, head outside to the beach, a National Park, or even just for a walk around your neighbourhood. Or if you can’t get outside physically, due to either restrictions or La Niña, the next best thing is surrounding yourself by pictures and sounds of nature, which are also shown to having a calming effect. Planet Earth marathon on Boxing Day, perhaps?

3. Take a technology break

We all know that being too attached to technology can have detrimental effects for our wellbeing, and especially our sleep. That’s not just because of blue light – technology also tends to be the way we become inundated with bad news (you might have heard the term ‘doomscrolling’).

Shadé shared that just 3 minutes of negative news in the morning can ruin the rest of your day. So if you find your phone tends to be a gateway to the day’s bad news, it may be better to simply not pick it up, and instead, connect with people in real life for a more positive day.

Get more inspiration for going #OutOfOffice and having a real break this summer.


About Shadé Zahrai
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Shadé is an award-winning leadership strategist and one of Australia’s leading self mastery and peak performance educators. After a successful career in corporate, Shadé now runs a global leadership development, consulting and research firm with her husband, partnering with Fortune500s around the globe to boost engagement, elevate leadership and to empower professionals to thrive. To detail some of her achievements, of which there are many, she is a best-selling author, was named Adweek’s Career Content Creator of the Year, is a two-time Telstra Business Women Awards Finalist, a Harvard-trained coach, former member of the esteemed Forbes Coaches Council, host of CommBanks Leading Women Podcast and a 3x Australian latin dance champion. Shadé has featured on TED and TEDx and has 2.1 million followers on social media.