30th January, 2024

How to Feel Confident in Any Situation

With Helen Leathers

Photo of Helen Leathers

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On this episode

If you’re in a job where you use your brain a lot, it can be easy to feel disconnected from your body and emotions. This in turn can lead to a lack of self-awareness and even difficulty in expressing yourself. That lack of awareness changes how we outwardly express ourselves, even in ways we’re not aware of.

But by becoming consciously connected with our body, we can get a bit more control over our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, and over how others see us.

This week, Rachel is joined by coach and trainer Helen Leathers, who shows us how our posture, our movements, even the way we dress, can affect not only our mood, but how we’re perceived at work. She also shares a practical exercise that can help us cultivate stillness, so we appear more confident and open.

It’s natural for those of us in cerebral jobs to see the body as just a vessel for the brain. But if we disconnect for too long, we can find it harder to tap into, understand, and express difficult feelings like stress and overwhelm.

But there are simple things you can do to reconnect with your body, to literally shake off those negative feelings, and to “fake it ‘til you become it”.

Show links

About the guests

Helen Leathers photo

Reasons to listen

  • To learn practical steps to cultivate self-awareness and express yourself more effectively
  • To discover how becoming consciously connected with your body and emotions can lead to positive changes in your life
  • To understand the practical applications of embodiment, and separate it from the pseudoscience

Episode highlights


Consciously connecting body and mind


How posture and movement affects how we’re perceived


Fake it ’til you become it


How we dress is a signal to our body


Embodiment and overwhelm


Acknowledging where feelings sit in our body


Shake it off


Does it matter where in your body you feel something?


Helen’s embodiment tips

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] When was the last time you went into a meeting and didn’t feel confident? Did the meeting go well? Or did you feel ignored and sidelined? It tends out a surprising amount of how we show up in these situations is down to our body language.

[00:00:13] If you’re anything like me, you probably think about your work as being mostly cerebral, but even in jobs where our brains do, most of the heavy lifting, being fully connected with our body can help us get a handle on our emotions, cope with negative feelings like stress and overwhelm and protect a sense of calm and confidence, even if we’re not feeling it.

[00:00:35] Today, we’re going to learn what our posture, our movement, and even the way we dress has to say about us and crucially, what we can do to put the right image out there, or to put it another way, fake it

[00:00:47] till you become it. If you’re in a high stress, high stakes, still blank medicine, and you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, burning out or getting out are not your only options. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, and welcome to You Are Not a Frog.

[00:01:08] Helen: I’m Helen Leathers and I’m a transformational women’s coach, specializing in empowerment and helping women to kind of find their way in life again when they’ve perhaps gone a little bit lost or overwhelmed with everything that’s going on, especially if they’ve found themselves living for years in one label or another. Um, and I’m also a coach trainer.

[00:01:28] Rachel: Wonderful to have you on the podcast. Helen, thank you so much for being with us. Now, I first encountered Helen at the, um, your coaching journey conference, wasn’t it? With, um, with your, your partner, Tom and you, ’cause you guys run coaching courses for doctors, and it’s really nice to have a real expert coach.

[00:01:46] We have a lot of coaches on this podcast, but you are like the coach’s coach or the teacher of, of the coaches, so it’s really great that you’ve got these things to, to pull on.

[00:01:54] But at the conference you did a session, which really fascinated me. It was all about using your body to access your emotions or, or know what you’re thinking. And uh, we had, we had quite a lot of fun at the conference doing various things, but it really got me thinking about how much we don’t use our bodies, particularly in very cerebral professions like medicine, when there’s a lot of thinking. And that means that we become very distanced from our emotions, from our bodies, and then we start to ignore what we’re feeling because we think the only thing we can really believe is what our mind is telling us.

[00:02:30] But I guess, you know, it’s all, it’s all interconnected, right? So actually, yeah, I mean, I know that’s really, really obvious, but yeah, just start off by, by telling me. What do you, you know, you work with a lot of doctors, particularly doctors who are learning to coach. Is, is that a quite common theme that actually most of us are pretty cut off from our, our bodies and, and emotions, or is it just some of us?

[00:02:51] Helen: I, I think it’s quite a common theme globally. I don’t think it’s a common theme necessarily, just in the medical profession. And pardon me if I make a, a sweeping statement, but I think it’s quite common for women. I. Ironically, um, when we are, so we, so many parts of us are about our body, like our menstrual cycle and having children and all of those things. And yet I think there’s quite a societal move to distance us from our bodies, and that’s for various reasons, uh, which start to get a bit political. Um, but you know, like the sexualization of women and the shame around our physical bodies, um, trying to compete in what is still very much a man’s world.

[00:03:34] And so we’ve almost been told we have to be separate from our bodies. And that’s our thinking minds that will differentiate us from other women and draw us up to be equal with men. That’s just a thought that I had. It might not be true, but I think it might be true for some people.

[00:03:52] Rachel: Yeah, I guess when you said, you know, even more so for women, I thought, you know, typically women are seen to be much more emotional, perhaps much more moody, much more at the, well, obviously at the back and corner of their hormones quite a lot and that is a, an actually real thing.

[00:04:06] Helen: It is.

[00:04:07] Rachel: I think what’s really interesting to me is this, the way that we can use our bodies to tell us what we really want or tell us what we already know but haven’t been able to access. And you know, I know I am in my head a lot of the time ’cause of the work that I do. There’s a lot of training, there’s a lot of sort of speaking to people. There’s a lot of podcasts, a lot of technical stuff.. And I find it really difficult to get into my body, but I know that when I am there, it, it’s really helpful and it just takes me to a completely different. Different place. Why would you see that, that there is a need for us to be more in our bodies, in touch with our, our feelings, our somatic sensations, all that sort of thing?

[00:04:50] Helen: I, I think because all of this is happening anyway, um, there is always a communication between our body and mind. Our body is H housing our mind. It’s our brain and our nervous system is part of our physicality. And there’s this constant messaging between the two, if you like, from the central nervous system to the peripheral nervous system, there’s constant messaging. So it’s happening anyway, and it may well be having an effect and impact that we aren’t consciously aware of.

[00:05:26] So by becoming consciously connected or reconnected with what’s going on in our bodies, we can in some ways control what’s happening, also understand what’s happening and maybe influence what’s happening and how we feel and then how we behave.

[00:05:43] Um, because if you, if you look at it from cognitive behavioral coaching perspective, if we listen to our thinking, if we notice our behaviors, if we recognize our emotions and if we start to recognize the sensations and the physiological changes in our body, we can learn to respond differently to a situation. We can observe and notice the cycles we get into, the repeated patterns and behaviors that we get into, maybe in certain situations, maybe with certain people. And then we can start to shift and change it, and we can start to shift and change it in a number of ways.

[00:06:23] But actually I think shifting and changing from the physiological perspective first is the easiest way to change it. You know, I think sometimes people think it’s hard for me to change my thinking around this situation. Is it as hard to change how you’re standing? Perhaps not. So if we change that, what impact does that have on how we feel in that moment, and therefore how we behave and therefore how we’re perceived?

[00:06:49] Rachel: It’s interesting. So my next question was gonna be, well, why can’t we just change our thinking? is that not easier? But since you said well change how you’re standing, yeah, that I, that I can do, even if I’ve got all these angry thoughts in my head, I can change my posture.

[00:07:03] Have you got any examples of people that have radically changed situations or the way they’re responding, literally just by changing something, something physical?

[00:07:15] Helen: yes. Um, I, I work with primarily women and yes, I work a lot with women in, um, the NHS in the medical profession. But this particular client wasn’t, she was in a very male dominated, uh, service industry, and she headed up a department, and she said to me that when she went into interdepartmental meetings with all the other heads of department who happened to be all men, she just didn’t feel she could speak. And yet she was one of the most valued members of the team. And we know that because she was one of the first people walked back in to work, um, after lockdown. She was the one that knew all the systems and could get everything, you know, up and running in a way that nobody else could because they didn’t know the whole system.

[00:07:59] So she was really valued, but she didn’t feel comfortable or confident in expressing herself in the meetings. So we did explore why that might be and how she could get more involved. But what we did was explored her physiology. And she was quite a small lady anyway, and when she spoke about being in the meetings, I could see her shrinking away from the camera, you know? Almost withdrawing into the seat and trying to make herself really, really small. And I said, I’m noticing that you know, this is what’s happening for you. And she said, that’s how I go into those meetings. I just sit in the corner and I make myself as small as possible and hope no one’s gonna ask me a question.

[00:08:36] And we did some work on other areas of her life that she found she had confidence in, what we could bring across to this experience. And we did some work on how confidence felt to her. And I think that’s a really important element with confidence, because everyone can see it in a slightly different way. So how did it feel in her body? And she did a very simple thing, because I think change happens in small incremental steps. Some people can, but I don’t think as general rule, we can throw everything up in the air and change everything in one fell swoop.

[00:09:07] So we tried experimenting, and I think this is the thing with this kind of work, if we try to experiment and see what works, what changes, what shifts, and if it works for us, we can do a bit more of it. And so she decided that on her next interdepartmental meeting, before she went in the door, she was gonna take a breath and become aware of her breathing. And of course, when we breathe, we open. Up our lungs, don’t we? And we, we expand our chest area and she was going to breathe and squeeze the muscles between her shoulder blades to pull her shoulder blades back.

[00:09:44] And it was a very simple thing. So a pause, a breathe, a squeeze, walk in. And she came back to me on the next session, like a changed woman. She said, oh my goodness. Honestly, the difference I felt in that meeting and the way that everyone spoke to me was so incredible and it was a huge change for such a small step for her, and she felt that they engaged with her more, that she engaged with them more, uh, and she was then able to address some of the things, other things that we talked about in the coaching room that I thought perhaps wouldn’t come along for a few sessions, but she was able to explore, engaging with those other departmental heads in a different way, which, um, changed their relationship and changed how she felt.

[00:10:33] Rachel: So what was it that actually shifted for her? Just standing up straighter or having a deep breath in or going into your parasympathetic? What, what was it that made the difference, do you think?

[00:10:42] Helen: I think there’s an element of everything in there. And yes, when we breathe, obviously we trigger or start to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. Um, so we start to relax a little bit more. But there is this idea that when we stand in more open, expansive postures, we feel differently about ourselves, and when we feel differently about ourselves, we are not going to necessarily then behave in an old way, in an old pattern. And I think that’s the key. We have patterns of behavior and with those behaviors are also patterns of that are linked of thinking, feeling, standing, and they’re all clumped together.

[00:11:20] And I guess there’s neural pathways that are laid down with every practice of that behavior. And so if we change one of those elements, as I say, posture is an easy one to change, it’s almost like we can’t go into that way because we are not standing in that way. So I can’t behave in that way, and then I can’t think in that way. And it, it just breaks a cycle.

[00:11:44] And I’m not saying this will happen quite instantaneously or amazingly for everyone. It does take practice and sometimes we, it’s a process so. with all of this work where we’re looking and into ourselves, um, and how we can do things differently or notice things more, the first time, she may well have gone into that meeting, completely forgot to do what she was going to do, and then gone, oh, oh, I was gonna do that thing that I spoke to Helen about. I’ll do it next time. And the next time she might well then have done it, but she might have, as soon as you walk through the door, falling back into that old way of being, because those old neural pathways are triggers and so on. But the next time she’ll catch herself and she’ll pull her shoulders back again, and the next time it might last a bit longer.

[00:12:29] So I think for a lot of people, having that idea that it’s going to be a progressive change. You know, like some people talk about smashing limiting beliefs, and I’m a great believer that we dissolve them slowly over time with new ways of being. And it’s the same with this kind of work. If we want to change our behaviors and adopt a new way of being, it can take time and we can have little slip ups.

[00:12:52] But there’s definitely quite a lot of really interesting research about having a more open posture and how that certainly for ourselves, makes us feel differently about ourselves and our capabilities.

[00:13:04] Rachel: So having a bit of a more open posture, breathing, standing up straight. I mean, you can just imagine standing up straighter just makes you, makes you feel bigger, more powerful anyway. Are there any other, I was about to say bodily functions, but you know, like ways of standing or ways of being, ways of moving that can really affect our, our state, our mood, our our confidence?

[00:13:28] Helen: I think tied in with that, um, openness in, in, certainly in the upper body. Um, if we find that we are fidgeting a lot, what’s really interesting is that other people perceive us as nervous and lacking confidence, and then they treat us as though we’re nervous and lack confidence. And of course if we’re trying to get over that as a, a bit of an issue, we just fall back into that cycle. I’m being treated in that way, so I’m gonna behave in that way. So a stillness is definitely, helpful element of how we are.

[00:14:03] And I think also that idea of, and this comes into play in the coaching room, of listening, of deeply listening to people, and not simply listening to then find a gap to get across our point of view, but listening to understand the other people, that gives them a very different impression of someone than if they were jumping in with their opinion or, or arguing their point or simply talking over them. Um, so I think it’s not quite embodiment, but it’s an element of, of that to stand and listen.

[00:14:40] And interestingly and a sight aside, I remember watching, um, I think a Ted talk about someone talking about how salespeople are often taught how to stand, how to hold their body, how to hold their head in a way that helps them to be perceived as though they’re listening to someone. And she said, you know, I’m gonna be really radical here. Why don’t you just listen?

[00:15:01] Rachel: Just actually listen, right?

[00:15:02] Helen: Just listen. People will then know that you are listening to them and they are being heard. Um, so I think that that’s, that’s another part of it as well.

[00:15:11] Rachel: there is something about moving and, and just being in that, that different identity. I was listening to podcasts on my, my way back from, from yoga this morning actually. ’cause I know you’ve just caught, uh, just been taking your yoga teacher exams, but striving along and the, the a guy talking about sort of isolation of identities and how it’s a lot easy, you know, she wanted a mission state from. Statement for your whole life, that’s quite difficult. But if you could, if you asked for a mission statement as a mother or as a father, well that’s much, much easier. So you should have this identity in this particular role. And if there’s a way that you can act in your body in a particular identity.

[00:15:42] So, I dunno. I was watching couples therapy last night on Netflix, which is fascinat. But you notice that therapist sits down and she leans, she’s always in like a particular mode or, or way of, of listening and you think actually if you can move your body, and I guess doctors probably do that and naturally anyway, you know, if you’re a GP, this is how, this is where I sit in my consult, consulting chair and hopefully I turn away from my computer and I’m focusing on the patient. That means I am listening.

[00:16:09] And we don’t often think about that in, in other areas of our lives where we want to sort of embody a slightly different identity or, or even change the identity from that, like you said, that underconfident one or that one that reacts a little bit too quickly, or you know, the one that’s not taken seriously, or somebody who gets very stressed very, very, very, very quickly. And I think that is just a, a quick hack that’s really gonna help you, right?

[00:16:34] Helen: Absolutely knowing the postures and the moves that, uh, you associate with being that particular type of person. And I think this is the, the thing about body language that I love is if you are aiming to be different, how would that feel in your body if you are aiming to be more confident or to be more successful, or to be heard or to be anything, how do other people stand? How would that feel in my body? And how can I adopt that so I can start to become that?

[00:17:10] And um, and Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk on power posing, she talks about this instead of fake it till you make it. She says, fake it till you become it. And I think that’s the key. So going back to that idea of though all of those messages going to and from our brain, from our body, if we’re sending messages all the time, let’s hack that. Let’s stand in a way that says to my brain, I am this way, and you will become it. You will en embody it, which is what embodiment is all about.

[00:17:41] You know, one of the challenges I think with having gone online is, that we don’t dress for the occasion. And I’m not saying we need to dress up all the time. That has been a freedom as well. I mean, I know women that have thrown all their heels away because why would you, why would you wear heels now and crucify your feet when you can wear trainers and it’s so much more acceptable? And I think that’s lovely.

[00:18:03] However, if we are trying to conduct a telephone interview and we are sitting there in our pajamas, that’s gonna feel different in our body. It’s gonna be a trigger or a reminder that we are actually in slobby Stay at home, sit in front of the TV and watch Netflix mode. Not I’m conducting a professional interview.

[00:18:23] Rachel: Uh, that’s interesting. So I’m, I’m sat here in my fleece having come from my, my yoga thing. But it’s interesting if I, and this is a yes, like you said, this is a podcast interview, so it’s, it’s on YouTube and audio. but yeah, if I was doing a webinar, I would be in really smart clothes.

[00:18:37] Interestingly, the same thing, right? It actually more people are gonna listen or watch this podcast than will be listening to that next webinar that I do, but it’s really weird, isn’t it? So because me, this is my more relaxed chatting to the expert guest, which is you. So yes, it’s interesting. We often don’t, don’t consider those are important ’cause we think that’s just vain or, or stupid, but it is not. It’s about giving your bodies the signals, I guess,

[00:19:03] Helen, lots of people who listen to this podcast, as you know, are on the brink of overwhelm and burnout and stress. We know it’s pandemic in the NHS. In fact, frankly, it’s pandemic everywhere. Everywhere I look, you know, and I’m sure you get that with lots of other coaching clients, even if they’re not working in the NHS. Can this help with stress and overwhelm?

[00:19:24] Helen: I think it can if we come at it from a slightly different perspective. So I think that connecting with our body so that we are listening to our body. What I’ve talked about up until now has been a bit of a let’s hack this, you know, let’s tell the brain something different so that we can become that way or adopt that new behavior.

[00:19:43] But if we look at it from another perspective and we listen to our bodies, really, really connect and listen, our bodies will tell us what’s going on.

[00:19:52] And I know I’ve managed to get on top of overwhelm, but I, I would have when I was younger, I know that I tended to, and this started at school, tended to take too much on and then have a complete panic about all this stuff that was overwhelming me. And I’d release everything and I’d quit and not, I don’t literally go back to basics, the basics that I needed to do. So, you know, at school, doing three A levels, took on another qualification and then did some voluntary work and they wanted to do something else, and, and, and then I was like, but I can’t cope with my studies, so, you know, just let everything go and it was a pattern through my twenties as well. to do this, to take too much on and then feel totally overwhelmed.

[00:20:39] What I learned was there were certain signals that I could pick up on from my body. And I would most definitely encourage people to find a way to connect with their body so that they can start to listen to their body, and then they can learn to recognize the signs of growing overwhelm. And not all of them will be in our body. There will be, uh, uh, behaviors as well that we recognize. And then we can start to, again, incremental steps.

[00:21:10] One of the things that I would do if I had too much on my brain, and I still do it now when I’m a bit, when I’ve got too much in my brain, I walk round in circles. I know that sounds like a really peculiar thing, but when I was, you know, holding everything in my head that I had to remember and maybe something else just came into the mix that I had some had to worry about, obviously, um. I would find myself walking around the living room in circles, and it was almost like it was emulating what was going on in my mind. And when I realized it one day, I was like, oh, stop. And I could recognize and go, this is a sign of overwhelm for me. And for others it might be something physical that becomes associated with. Being unwell. So it could be that you start with getting knots in your stomach and that progresses onto stomach problems, digestive problems, that kind of thing.

[00:22:02] we’ve noticed it, and then we can start to think, oh yes, retrospectively that happened, that happened, I should have known. Um, so instead of beating ourselves up, we need to say, okay, let’s try and spot it earlier next time. And eventually we can start to spot those signs of overwhelm. In advance.

[00:22:21] I often talk to my clients about it being like a monster that usually it just jumps at us, and once we start to spot the signs, we can see it before it’s even coming over the hill. And um, we can go, okay, I’m about to become overwhelmed. I’m on the edge here, let’s dial it back.

[00:22:40] And so I think that that’s something that’s really, really important. Um, I think it’s really important in, um, illness as well, you know, learning to listen to our bodies. I’ve had times where personally I’ve been to the doctors and said, there’s something wrong. And they’re like, how do you know? And I don’t know, but there’s something wrong. And you know, obviously we have to be careful and cautious about hypochondria, but we do know our bodies, and, and there was something wrong it turned out.

[00:23:08] Um, so connecting with and understanding what’s normal for us and what is not normal, what’s relaxed, what’s stressed. Some people don’t know what relaxed is, right? Because they’ve just been stressed their whole lives. So let’s start to practice what is relaxed and how can I do more of that, and then I’ll start to recognize those signs of overwhelm even more easily.

[00:23:33] Rachel: But what Would you say to someone who was saying that? Uh, I literally, I’m always, always overwhelmed and it’s got all this stuff going in my head, ah, what do I do?

[00:23:40] Helen: I, I think it’s, it’s not easy and it’s not easy if you can’t stop. I think the, the most powerful thing that you can do is to stop literally everything. Although I understand that’s also a privilege for reserved for a few people, um, because most people can’t stop everything.

[00:24:02] I think that differentiating what is ours to own and, and our ours to not own, if you like to, that’s something we are worrying about taking on that actually we’ve got no control over? What is it that’s causing me the overwhelm? The only way that we are going to be able to assess that is if we get it all out of our heads or find some calm in our bodies.

[00:24:30] And I mean, you’ve, you’ve mentioned that you’ve just been to yoga this morning. Hopefully you had a lovely relaxation session at the end, and I, I dunno about you, but I find that when you do that, it’s like all of the things that were sitting around in your brain or on the periphery before they go. And you kind of think, I’m sure I was meant to do something. I sure I was thinking about something before I went to yoga. Completely forgotten what it was. and that allows us participating in something like that allows us to release our worries.

[00:25:03] It’s almost like if we keep worrying about it, we keep attachment to the things that are causing us worry. And it’s like, I suppose it’s like a whole load of dogs and you’re holding all the all of the leads at the same time. And when we find some space we can let go and like everybody else’s dog’s gonna go back to them and ours is gonna come back to us.

[00:25:23] Rachel: I like that. I like that. We, we’ve used all sorts of metaphors on the frog. Well, obviously the frog, we’ve had stuff talking. People talk about naughty monkeys, but I like that metaphor of the dogs. You know, you’re holding all these dogs and if you just have tight, just let them go, some of the dogs will, will go away to, to their, to their rightful owners.

[00:25:40] But I think there is that thing that when we are overwhelmed, it just, well, obviously it’s overwhelming and we’re like this, we’ve got these thoughts.

[00:25:49] Helen: So we hold on tighter to the leads, right?

[00:25:51] Rachel: Yeah, we do. And you saying, well, it’s a privilege to be able to stop, actually, most people can stop, even if it’s for just 10 minutes or in the evening, you have to cancel something. You know, not, not, not many of us are having to work seven days. We always have time to stop, but we, we, we fill our lives with other things, other obligations that we think we are, we have to do. So the shoulds and the haves are mostly in our, in our brain.

[00:26:17] So even if you’ve got a very, very full on job, there will all, there will be some time off somewhere, but it’s what we then choose to do. But you choose to stop, you stand much better chance of, of finding a path through if you firstly concentrate on relaxing your body.

[00:26:34] Helen: Absolutely. I think that if, if you, I’m a big fan of journaling as well, um, as a way to get everything out of your head. Obviously it’s a bit like coaching. So again, I, I often think when we think about stuff it, I think of it like a bit of a ball that bounces around the inside of our skull and it seems to gain momentum with each hit on the edge of the skull. And then when we talk about it, we go, oh, it’s a much smaller ball than I thought. You know, it had grown in size and momentum inside my head. And so when we talk about it in coaching, in therapy with our friends, it becomes less. And it’s the same with writing about it. I think journaling about, it’s a great idea. And then, you know, that stilling the mind, stilling the body.

[00:27:19] And like I say, if we can do that, and then if we can start to make that a habit, we can start to understand perhaps what relaxation feels like. And I think once you find what relaxation feels like, then you notice the stress more. And then you think, oh, oh, that’s the stress thing again. I wanna go back to a relaxed body. And so. It’s understanding the difference so that we can spot those feelings as that tension creeps in again.

[00:27:45] Rachel: So I’ve had coaching in the past, and you’ve already mentioned this phrase before in this conversation, where the coaches ask me, so where do you feel that in your body? And I’d be thinking, well, why, why are you asking me that? What, what is that gonna tell me? What difference is that gonna make to me solving my problem? What, so what difference does it make to us solving problems if we can locate it in our body? What, what’s all that about?

[00:28:08] Helen: I think it’s, that’s a really interesting question because I, it’s something that I use a lot. And I was actually listening to a podcast yesterday where someone was talking about the same thing and the person being coached said, well, now I’m focusing on that irritation, I’m wondering why I’m even irritated at all. And so sometimes by acknowledging where it sits in our body, it can help it to dissipate. It could be as simple as that.

[00:28:31] Also, I think what it does is it gives us a bit of a tool, a bit of leverage. So if we can, um, tap into where something perhaps, let’s call it negative, um, for want of a better word, sits in our body and what it feels like and what it looks like, we can start to change our association with it.

[00:28:51] So one of my favorite things is to, let’s say, let’s compare stress and relaxation. So where does stress sit in your body? What does it look like? And I would go further and say, what color is it? Is there movement to it? Does it vibrate or is it still? Is it big or is it small? Has it got a shape? So I, I would explore it in quite a lot of detail. Has it got a sound even? Has it got a smell?

[00:29:16] And then. I would get someone to physically stand up. We do a lot, a lot of standing up out of the seat when I do coaching. And shake off that feeling of stress. And then come back and think of a time when they were totally relaxed and how does that feel in their body? And then we’ve got two very stark comparisons.

[00:29:37] When someone feels those feelings of stress and they go to that place where it sits in their body, they can find a way of moving through visualization, moving those elements of the stress feeling towards what they would rather feel, which is the relaxed feeling.

[00:29:57] So one of the, a great example, um, would be a client of mine who, whenever something specific happened, she felt this tension in her stomach. And she described it as though it was a big, like a big chain, you know, like you’d get on boats with anchors? So big chain, and it was all coiled up and it was tight and it was heavy and it was constricted and it was sitting in her lower abdomen. And then we talked about what she would prefer to feel like. And she said, well, it’s freedom. It’s butterflies, it’s floating on the air. And so we created. Or she created a way of imagining the chains uncurling, unlinking and turning into little butterflies and flowing, floating away.

[00:30:38] And again, doesn’t work every time, doesn’t work straight away. But just shifting that feeling consciously and deliberately, into the preferred way of feeling can be quite liberating. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s perhaps worth a try. And I think that’s the thing with all of these things, especially if someone’s thinking sounds a load of nonsense, Helen, might be for you. Why don’t you give it a go? You know, is it working, not doing it? Is it worth trying to do it and just see what comes up?

[00:31:12] Rachel: it’s interesting ’cause you said, um, we, we sort of come of full circle, you know, back to that the woman goes into meeting, just puts her shoulders back, squeezes her shoulder blades and, and breathes. I remember was it, was it at the conference where you were doing the shake it off thing? The, the Taylor Swift? Did we all just get off and shake it? Shake

[00:31:28] Helen: you absolutely. I thought it was brilliant, like 70 odd doctors, um, dancing around and shaking it after Taylor Swift. Brilliant.

[00:31:37] Rachel: what I have used? I mean, at the time it was like I, who doesn’t like a bit of Taylor Swift, right? But. It was quite fun, but actually I’ve used that since with a slightly difficult situation I’ve been in with a, a person that, that kept triggering me that I couldn’t, you know, that I had responsibility for whatever. And I would just start going, okay, I’m just gonna shake it off. So when I’d had a conversation with that particular person, I’d just literally go off and shake it off and like. Actually, I think it was something my therapist talked about with, but you know, it’s just, just, let’s just shake it off. It’s just let it go. And it was amazing how that really, really helped.

[00:32:11] And I know we talked to somebody else on the Dr. Kathrine Hickman on the podcasts, one of our first podcasts. But she was talking about squeegee breath between patients where you sort of take a big breath and in between patients you just breathe out whatever is staying with you from the last patient. It’s just an exhale to. Let that energy out and then you are ready for the, ready for the next one. So it’s a little bit of a ritual using your body and it is surprisingly effective

[00:32:37] Helen: It is, and it is, um, really useful in terms of overwhelm because, one of the things about life, uh, about people is they will try and do everything all at once. And they will not only try and do everything all at once, but they’ll try and shift between jobs quickly, multitasking, and so on. Uh, we know we can’t multitask easily, uh, at all. And, um, what I find really interesting is people often get more done when they focus on one thing and shake it off in between. Because we shift our energy.

[00:33:11] A lot of the energy that we use, and a lot of the reason we feel overwhelmed, just on an ongoing daily basis like, you ,know that residual overwhelm that just exists perpetually, is that we try to do this, then do this, then do this, then do this, then do this, then do this, and we never shift our intention fully. We never shift our energy fully.

[00:33:36] If you can imagine that you have got to have a team meeting with your lovely team and talk to ’em about how well they’re doing, and then you’ve just, before that, you take a really awkward phone call where someone’s really annoyed you and wound you up, if you then walk into that nurturing team meeting, you’re gonna have a very different energy than you would’ve planned on having with them.

[00:34:02] So if we can get into the habit of focusing on one thing and then doing a really tiny bridging ritual between that and the next thing, and it could just be shaking it off. We don’t have to listen to the whole track. It could just be standing and, you know, waving our arms around for a little while. it shifts our energy, it shifts our intention, it shifts our focus to the next thing. But also, of course, what it does, as you I’m sure know, is when we get an adrenaline rush, we need to move our bodies. We need to move our bodies, otherwise we still retain that adrenaline. And then we’ve got cortisol and we are in a, a heightened state of awareness and all of that.

[00:34:41] So adrenaline is designed for us to fight or run, and we need to do something with that energy before we move to the next thing. So a little mini bridging ritual between any jobs. Mine is regularly getting up and making a cup of tea, but that’s because, um, I’m, I have Irish heritage. You drink a lot of tea in Ireland, so, um, it’s often something that, that I do, and I think that that’s really an important element to manage, overwhelm. Use our bodies to, to bridge that gap between roles.

[00:35:13] In the same way that I always talk to people about what they can do to bridge the gap between home and work, especially if they’re not going into work, if they’re still home working, doing telephone consultations or Zoom consultations or something like that.

[00:35:28] Often one of the biggest challenges during lockdown was people would have the commute to decompress. All of a sudden they don’t have the commute. In fact, they have this mushing together of home and work, and that made it quite stressful, but without them realizing, and that added to overwhelm. So I think that idea of shifting your energy, shifting your body in some way between jobs can really help with overwhelm.

[00:35:56] Rachel: I love that and I’m so glad you brought in that point about adrenaline, because, yeah, stress is, is a really, it’s a really physical thing. You know, if, if someone has pissed you off. You’ll get that adrenaline going round. And most of us think, well, a professional, we just carry on. We go into the next, you know, we go to the next patient, we just go into the next meeting, blah, blah, blah. But you have, you’ve got all that adrenaline in your body, not just in your brain, in your body, and, and it, and it’s affecting you. So be able to just move or, I don’t know, kick a door, punch a wall, or, or even just make an aggressive cup of tea or something like that, I get sit out, but we forget, and I think we do just forget.

[00:36:32] We, we, we think that our body is just there to carry our brain around so that we can, so that we can talk to people without realizing the effect. And you know, this, um, thing about, we talk about the third space all the time, you know, this decompression zone between work and, and home. If you’re sort of working from home or living at work or what, whatever. Yeah, being able to do something to dmar the end of the day often, actually I’ll go change clothes. That’s quite helpful as well. Go for a walk around the block. Also, some just actually physically doing something different is, is so, so important.

[00:37:06] Helen: One of my coaching mentors actually, um, she was working from home and, um, her kids were small and she would, she taught them that when mommy comes in the front door, she’s home, but if she comes in the back door, she’s not, she’s still at work. So every day she would go out through the front door and walk round to the office in the garden, and if she wanted a cup of tea or anything, she would come in the back door. And then at the end of the day, she would walk all the, go for a little walk around the village and then come in the front door and that was her coming home. And I thought, that’s lovely.

[00:37:39] Rachel: That is lovely, isn’t it? And it just, what’s going through my head there is so many of us arrive home, even if we’ve been out. But we are still at work, ’cause we’re still on our emails, we’re still, we’re still checking things. We’re still, we’ve brought our work home yet we’re trying to do this. And you’ve already talked about that, um, the difficulty in, in context switching when we’re trying to do emails and a meeting and deal with the family and do that. And we are all doing it at the same time and it’s absolutely exhausting and, and knackering on the brain. And so if we can do everything we can to actually shut down at the end of the day.

[00:38:10] And, and, I dunno, most people do just keep on checking their emails and checking their emails. And for most of us, it is a habit. We do not need to be checking our emails in the evening. We do not need to be doing that. It’s just our brains have got so used to being on that, we just, I do it. I’m like, oh, let’s check my email. Yeah, I really don’t need to, don’t need to do it. I could have just taken it off my, off my phone.

[00:38:32] But Helen, I’ve noticed we’re nearly outta time. I do just wanna ask you, is there any truth you think in the,. In identifying the physical sensation you are having and then saying, oh, that’s fear. So I’ve heard some people say, oh, if it’s in your throat, it’s fear or sadness. And if it’s in your gut, it’s this. And if it’s in your, you know, left elbow, then you’re ashamed. Oh yeah. I don’t, I mean, is that just a little bit woo woo. Is that actually true? Can you make generalizations or not really?

[00:38:58] Helen: Um, there are some woo woo things that I buy into and I think are quite useful. I think what we always have to be aware of is it’s so different for everyone. That you can’t buy a book that tells you. If you feel something in a certain place, it’s this. It’s about how it feels for you. What does that feel like?

[00:39:18] And you know, if someone said to me, oh, I’ve, I’ve got a feeling in my throat, and um, I’ve been told it’s because I’m not, you know, speaking my truth, then that’s all very well. But actually, you know, as I say, like a bit of woo sometimes. My, my cynical side always says, go get it checked out first. Like you’ve gotta look for the practical.

[00:39:39] Rachel: Are you sure you just not got cold?

[00:39:41] Helen: Exactly right. So have you got something that is a physical problem that you are ignoring? Because I think this is the thing when, when we ignore our body in so many ways, and I would like to add this, if you don’t mind, Rachel. When we’re talking about connecting with our body, when we’re talking about listening to our body, and then when we’re talking about using our body to help us, the most important thing we can do to reconnect with our body is to learn to love it and look after it and care for it. You know, no one else is gonna do that for you. You might get hugs from the kids and that’s beautiful. You know, get hugs from your partner and that is beautiful. Get hugs from your friend, but actually sleep. Replenish. Drink some water. Eat some really nutritious food, and love yourself and your body and reconnect with it in that way first as a foundation stone. Because then you can add other things on.

[00:40:41] Like I’ve got a lovely lady who I did a lot of embodiment work with when I was doing my coaching training, and she would talk about applying body lotion after a shower and loving every part of your body. If you can do that, if you’ve got time, great. But you know what would be better? Spent getting an early light and getting an extra hour and a half sleep cycle in, right? Because that, that is where we have to start.

[00:41:05] Um, and also those hacks to use your body to get through the next thing, don’t use that as an excuse not to rest. You know, we have to acknowledge that sometimes we need to rest. And then if we do need to. Do something that is different, then we can use the hacks, but we use our body with a newfound respect for it, perhaps because we’ve given it some time out. And I think that’s the foundation piece of embodiment work and the best way to, to start to learn to reconnect with it.

[00:41:39] Rachel: Thank you. I’m so glad you mentioned that. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the state of us, the state that I am in, because everything feels so much more overwhelming and awful when I’m tired, when I’ve had a few late nights out, when I’ve, you know, drunk party, much wine the night before. You know, it’s just everything is worse.

[00:42:00] And if you’re in a high stress job, you’re just not giving yourself a fighting chance. And you know that person’s irritating. That person’s irritating. Probably they’re not, they’re probably just being themselves, but you are knackered or you haven’t eaten properly, or you’ve done no exercise and say you’re all fidgety or whatever.

[00:42:14] So, this thing about getting the basics right, and I absolutely agree. Sleeping, exercising, eating well, those, those three, if you do nothing else, those three above everything, and then you give yourself a fighting chance of actually being able to cope with any of this. But so often we just don’t think, don’t think it’s important. Maybe I’m just getting old Helen.

[00:42:37] Helen: I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so at all. I think that, um, as I’ve get gotten older and I’ve got a big birthday coming up, um, so I appreciate that I’ve got this body for a, a long, more years and I need to take care of it because I don’t want to be achy in my body. I mean, I, I had an injury, um, this year and having that experience of being in pain and incapacitated, gave me another renewed commitment to looking after my body, and I think it’s really important. And it allows us then to, it still allows us to keep going. It allows us to do more if we need to do more.

[00:43:20] Rachel: So Helen, what, what would your three top tips be for using embodiments to beat stress? Live well, perform better take, take your pick. What? What would you be suggesting to people?

[00:43:35] Helen: I think if I could get one person to stop running around, um, on adrenaline. Sometimes we think, oh, that person’s amazing. They’re running around like superwoman, they’re getting everything done. And like to me, that’s a sign they’re just running on adrenaline all the time. So I think that idea of stopping and slowing is the first thing.

[00:43:58] Replenishing our bodies and nurturing them is the second thing. And the other thing, it goes back to that idea of adopting a more open pose and open posture is to understand that we take up space in the world for a reason. Take that space. Own it. It’s yours. And if you’ve listened to your body, reconnected with your body, if you’ve nourished your body and then you own that space, then there’s no stopping you. And you can change the world if you want. Um, or just your little part of it.

[00:44:31] Rachel: I think I’ll start with changing my little part of it.

[00:44:34] Helen: Yeah,

[00:44:35] Rachel: and that is, that is doing a little bit more yoga and

[00:44:37] looking after myself, right.

[00:44:39] Helen: absolutely. But then Rachel, you know, the knock on effect of that is your kids see that. Your listeners hear that, and that’s the ripple effect, isn’t it? And then you are changing the world.

[00:44:50] Rachel: Just a a quick side note. You know, I was always thinking, all these things like breath work, yoga, sound, you know, the things where you just lay and relax and stuff like that. It’s just a bit of waste of time. I’ve got out, I’ve got to, I’ve got to get fit, I’ve got to do that, but I’ve got, so, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve just realized recently about how relaxing and being comfortable in my body is, is so important that an an hour spent doing yoga is, is so replenishing and so almost more important than the high intensity training or, or, or this and that. So it is a realization that has come to me very late in life or far, far too late in life. But, um, I just would encourage people just not, not to ignore that, that part of the, the slowest stuff, the stuff that relaxes you. Don’t always be chasing the, the adrenaline, the dopamine, the, the achievement stuff when it comes to looking after your body,

[00:45:46] Oh, Helen, we could talk about this for, for ages. And I, I know that sort of the embodiment and somatic coaching is something that you, you teach on your course with Tom. So for those people that might be interested in, well, a finding out about how they can get coaching themselves, but also actually learning how to help other people with this is, is that the sort of stuff that you cover?

[00:46:05] Helen: It is one of many approaches that we cover on the Transformational Coaching Diploma. Uh, so we talk, uh, in that module about the neuroscience, um, behind, uh, lots of things that we do on coaching, the mind body connection. Um, I, we use some examples, um, of how we can utilize embodiment in coaching. So that’s one of our modules alongside the cognitive behavioral coaching that I mentioned earlier, that links in embodiment and, um, actions, behaviors, thinking, et cetera. And we also cover positive psychology, which links into what you were saying about, um, the, the slower things. There’s lots of wonderful research in positive psychology around, um, the interventions that include things like yoga and meditation.

[00:46:49] We do person centered, solution focused and a, a number of other approaches, uh, so that everyone can learn what the basics of coaching, but then find their own way to create a coaching, um, approach that works for them. So, uh, yeah, we absolutely love it and we love working with doctors as well. Um, so they bring lots of lovely transferable skills to the coaching room.

[00:47:13] Rachel: That’s great. So if you’re a doctor and you’re looking for a coaching course, then would thoroughly recommend, um, your coaching journey coaching course. It’s the called the Transformational Diploma in Coaching. Is that right?

[00:47:23] Helen: It’s called the Doctor’s Transformational Coaching Diploma.

[00:47:26] Rachel: Great. And so you can find all about that at our website so you’re not a frog. Uh, dot com slash recommends. So it’s on our Frog Recommends page where we have, um, details of the stuff we recommend, and you can get an exclusive discount if you use the code frogspawn, all capital letters.

[00:47:40] So, Helen, if people wanted to get hold of you, how can they, well, you can find out more about your course by going there. They wanted to email presumably on the usual social channels and et cetera, et

[00:47:50] Helen: I am on LinkedIn and Instagram, so that people can get in touch with me. Feel free to connect with me on there and drop me a message if you want to know anymore.

[00:47:59] Rachel: That’s perfect. And we’ll put all those links in the show notes there. So Helen, thank you so much for coming on today.

[00:48:04] Helen: You’re very welcome. I’ve enjoyed it.

[00:48:05] Rachel: thanks for listening. Don’t forget, we provide a self coaching CPD workbook for every episode. You can sign up for it via the link in the show notes. And if this episode was helpful, then please share it with a friend. Get in touch with any comments or suggestions at hello@youarenotafrog.com. I love to hear from you. And finally, if you’re enjoying the podcast, please rate it and leave a review wherever you’re listening. It really helps. Bye for now.