It is a joy to introduce Sarah Crittenden to you, she is a friend of Zeo church and works locally as a personal and executive coach. We have asked her to explain to us how our natural, God-given strengths can help support us throught this time of pandemic and how we can utilise them to sustain our wellbeing whilst so much around us seems uncertain. Thanks Sarah for this fantastic, practical article! 

 

2020 is going to be a year to make it into history books! This article will help you know how you can best use your strengths in a challenging time. Although we are all in the same coronavirus storm, we are not all in the same boat and what we are experiencing will be different. If you are feeling out of your comfort zone and in the stretched and challenged (growth) zone, read on! The future remains uncertain, however there are things we can intentionally practice to remain anchored and rise stronger. This includes a combination of keeping our eyes fixed on God, utilising our resilience skills and personal strengths in new ways. I hope this article helps you identify, recognise, appreciate and value the strengths you already have as a resource to support your well-being.

What are strengths?

Strengths are your thoughts, feelings and actions that come naturally to you – this is where your greatest potential lies! Strengths are innate traits and talents, using them energises you – they are your fuel. You have a unique combination of strengths to be celebrated. Utilising them enables you to put the best of who you are into any situation. I’ll explain what strengths are, ways to identify them
⚓ Strengths act as an anchor, provide a sense of direction and help you navigate the path ahead. Life can quickly change, but who you are and what you naturally do well doesn’t change.

Let your strengths show up in your new normal. In times of change and uncertainty lean into different strengths, according to what you need.
Examples of strengths: empathy, courage, hope, leadership, developer, connectedness, belief, focus, perspective, kindness, humour, responsibility, communication, gratitude, learner, consistency. When using one of your strengths you get a “buzz”, feel motivated and confident.

There are several ways to identify your strengths:

• CliftonStrengths Top 5 assessment (Strengths Finder 2.0 on Amazon or www.gallup.com)
VIA Character strengths (https://www.viacharacter.org free online survey)
• Asking for feedback from people who know you well and have seen you thriving (“What strengths of mine have you seen in action?”)
• Self reflection.

Strengths reflect who you are – at your core

Identify your top 5 strengths:
Previously how have you used your top strengths to help you?
Read about each of your top strengths to begin fully utilising them.
Which strength do you want to use more?
How will you use it in a new way?
Embrace your strengths daily. For one day / week focus on one of your strengths.

Regardless of your combination of strengths, to boost wellbeing it is essential to replenish, connect and create at this time. Consider how you can use your strengths to do each of these.

Time to Replenish (mind, body & soul)

Cultivate moments to rest, relax and pause. Living in lockdown and working from home doesn’t mean we don’t need regular breaks. We have all been flooded with numerous changes and at times you may have felt overwhelmed with high levels of adrenalin, emotions, stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. Our central nervous system needs time to relax.
Embrace a consistent rhythm of rest. Restoration replenishes us physically, fortifies our mental wellbeing, enabling us to engage emotionally.
Do you need to give yourself permission to stop and rest?

Next time you find yourself hurrying from one task to the next throughout the day without breathing space or time to rest in between, press pause and take a break (use the ‘context’ strength)!
Practice a strengths based “mindful pause”
Stop and exhale – take a few deep breaths.
Relax and drop your shoulders and your ‘shoulds’. It’s easy to get stuck thinking in terms of what you“ should” do. Be analytical – ask yourself, do I need / want to do this, or do I feel I should? Ask: which of my strengths can I use to help me do what I need to do?
Go for a walk – clear your mind.
Utilise ‘adaptability’, adjusting your schedule if needed.
Simplify! Write down 3 priorities, focus on what matters most to you.
Taking a mental break helps your brain piece everything happening together to bring clarity, problem solve and make good decisions (drawing on the ‘strategic’ strength).
Just as our body needs rest, sleep and nourishment, our soul needs it too. Rest isn’t only about watching Netflix, but doing something to bring replenishment to your mind, body and soul. Jesus took rest seriously, suggesting we need to make it a non-negotiable too!

Replenish activation

What do I need today?
How am I currently prioritising rest and replenishment?
What brings me joy? What will I do today simply because I enjoy it?
How am I nourishing myself?
Humour is a character strength and laughter the best medicine! What makes me smile?
How will I prioritise laughter? At the end of the day you may choose to write down 3 funny things you remember and let yourself laugh about it again!
Time to connect
Connection recharges us. Connectedness is a strength. Consistently schedule time to connect. As
we establish a rhythm of rest we naturally move to a rhythm of connection. Once we have received
what we need, we can give from a full cup, not an empty one.
There are a number of ways to connect.
Connect with yourself: identify your needs, feelings, strengths and core values. You may find it helpful to write these down, journal or chat with someone.

Connect with God (belief):

Pause, stop and fix your eyes on Jesus. Prayer helps find stillness. “Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46v10. The command “be still” is written in a time of trouble, in this context it can mean “stop striving, stop fearing” – God is asking His people to acknowledge
who He is and be in awe of Him. The psalmist calls the people of God to commit themselves to the
Lord, to seek His refuge, strength and fortress. Psalm 46 starts v1 “God is our refuge and strength”, The Passion Translation says “God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find
refuge, a proven help in times of trouble – more than enough and always available whenever I need
you”.
How can I take time to be quiet with a listening ear to God? What helps me connect with God?

Connect with others: social connection and support.

Who lifts my spirits? Which friend will I message to arrange a time to talk? (Invest in empathy, communication and relator strengths).
Are you part of an online community group? Or could you join one?
Identify an act of kindness you could do in your community.
Connect with nature: Appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, in rural and urban spaces. Walk with gratitude. I am grateful for ________ because _________.
Stop scrolling (disconnect) and start strolling (connection). Walking in nature enables you to think outside the box, get fresh air and clear your mind. This helps open up new ways of thinking, possibilities and creativity.
Daily connection activation
Have I connected in a meaningful / purposeful way – to myself, God, others and / nature?
If not, what is one way I will prioritise connection tomorrow?
Do I need to disconnect from anything? E.g. my phone / screens for an evening / day a week? Do I need to create a technology free zone at home?

Time to Create

When we are have replenished, rested and started reaping the benefits of connection, we have optimal conditions to be creative. We get to use our God given strengths, talents, gifts and passions, to follow our purpose and be in creative flow. This both helps us and releases us to contribute and impact the world around us for the good of others and the glory of God.
Having “normal life” stop unexpectedly creates questions about how and why we live the way we do. Do you find yourself waiting and thinking about when life might return to “normal”?
Create time and space to reflect, when you feel ready, be strategic – look at the bigger picture and think about what matters to you most. Which of your strengths can help you do this?
Deliberately create a ‘To don’t list ’e.g. try to please everyone, say “yes” without thought, ignoring my needs, put off having fun / being creative, hurry, forgetting to rest and what’s most important, worry.
Theologian Howard Thurman said “don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it, what the world needs is people who have come alive”.
Create a future aligned with who you are, your strengths, talents, gifts and passions, who God has created you to be.
Creating the way forward with purpose and vision
Take time to think….. Do I want to return to my previous normal?
What have I learnt in this season? (Use your developer, learner, maximiser strengths). What do I choose to walk out of this season holding on to?
What am I holding onto that I need to let go of?
With so much change, your strengths act as an anchor and you can draw on them in any situation. I hope in the midst of this global crisis, you can create some time and use your strengths to invest in yourself, to replenish, connect and create the best route forward for you, reflecting who you are at your core. Remember, keep looking up – with your eyes fixed on Jesus, He is your comforter, guide and remains sovereign. He walks with you, encouraging you every step of the way and asking you to trust Him.
Bio
Sarah Crittenden – CORE Coaching and Training. Certified Strengths Coach
Personal and Executive Coach
I coach individuals, couples, teams, leaders and managers to support and empower them to Cultivate, Optimise, Replenish and Explore their strengths, wellbeing and purpose, to reach their full potential. If you would like to find out more please get in contact.
Email: sarahcrittenden@corecoachingtraining.com https://www.gallup.com/learning/certification/en/14777/profile.aspx