Author Ally Nathaniel: “5 Ways To Develop Serenity During Anxious Times”

Dr. William Seeds
May 11, 2020 · 11 min read

Count your daily victories — training your brain to notice what’s working well is a great tool to develop emotional resilience. Naturally, we tend to pay more attention to what’s not working well, and this is why our brain emphasizes bad news or criticism. Training your mind to do the opposite will contribute to your overall serenity.

As a part of my series about the the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ally Nathaniel

Ally Nathaniel is the creator of The Emotional Business IQ, a best-selling author, and a leadership and productivity consultant who specializes in building emotional resilience to avoid burnout. You can download Ally’s book for free at www.TheEBIQ.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Ally! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I’m a leadership and productivity consultant, the creator of The Emotional Business IQ method, and an Amazon best-selling author. My framework helps leaders develop emotional resilience to avoid burnout, being productive and achieving their goals with ease.

In my mid-30s, after immigrating to the US with my husband, two young children, and one on the way, I lost my confidence. I left everything and everyone I knew behind: my family, my friends, and the job I loved. I came to the US looking for a better future for my children, but I didn’t expect it to be that hard — the reality was tougher than I imagined.

Having no support system and my broken English affected every area of my life, including my career — I was lonely and miserable. Feeling unworthy and less than, combined with a lack of confidence and support, held me back. It took me years to build my career again because I was lost.

To make a long story short, when a friend asked me to join a support group, I said yes, simply because I had nothing to lose. That was where I came across the idea that an emotional release is a powerful tool rather than something to be ashamed of.

I witnessed people starting world-wide organizations, growing businesses, and getting promotions by paying attention to their feelings. It was simple, yet revolutionary, and it prompted me to look deeper and find answers. I was inspired by leaders who were not afraid to be vulnerable while making a difference.

The big lesson I’ve learned is that people get stuck at work (as well as other areas) because their emotions stand in their way. They try very hard to keep it all in, and that doesn’t work — it leads to stuckness, insecurities, and sometimes, depression. I learned that to become a great leader, you have to train yourself to think differently about emotions and develop emotional resilience. That’s what led me to develop The Emotional Business IQ method.

The reason I’m doing my work today is that leaders, employees, and business owners deserve better. They deserve to know about their internal power and how to use their feelings to their advantage. They need to build emotional resilience to grow as leaders and to advance their careers while staying connected to who they are.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In my early 30s, when the high-tech bubble exploded, I was laid off. Except for the wounded ego, I was amazed to realize that I was happy to not be working for that particular employee anymore.

Don’t get me wrong; the job itself was interesting and fulfilling. Still, the way employees were treated was not something to brag about. To my even bigger surprise, many employees I talked to after I was laid off shared the same feeling — they couldn’t wait until they would find another job and leave that place. Although the company had great benefits, people hated working there.

This experience raised many questions for me and was the beginning of my journey of making the workplace a more human place that employees love.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

My advice to colleagues would be to incorporate emotional resilience practices into their daily routine. Burnout happens when you don’t take good care of your physical and mental health, as well as paying attention to your emotions.

Make sure to bring those things into your life to stay emotionally resilient:

Be emotionally aware — identify your feelings and let them out

Persevere — know that difficulties are temporary and keep moving forward

Have internal locus of control — believe that you have the power to make things happen

Be optimistic — everything that happens happens for the better even if it doesn’t look that way at the moment.

Look for support — surround yourself with like-minded people who are on a mission similar to yours, and allow yourself to be valuable with them.

Have a sense of humor — it makes things easier to deal with.

Look for a different perspective — any situation has more than one way to look at it. Look for that different angle.

Find your spiritual path — spirituality will help you gain a different perspective on whatever happens at the moment and deal with it.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

A great work culture starts with good relationships. To build those relationships, you need to understand:

  • The importance of investing time and money into improving leader-team relationships.

I always recommend creating a “wellness room” inside the workplace where people can let their emotions out and move on. A room with noise cancellations, punching bags, tissues and a bed. I also recommend having an in-house professional who can listen to people to relieve emotional pressure, much like an in-house massage therapist that can alleviate physical discomfort.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Two books made a massive impact on me: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christian Northrup and The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.

The first taught me about the mind-body connection and how our thoughts and early traumas affect our bodies. Northrup writes about how unrecognized emotions can cause physical illness and why it is essential to be emotionally aware and find a way to emotionally release. It is about our mental health and the effect it has on our physical body.

The second book focuses on the connection between mindset and success. It is about training your brain to focus on what’s important to you so you can achieve your goals. It is about creating a mental gym in the form of affirmation, visualization, and other techniques, and it is also about finding support and surrounding yourself with the right people.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

That is a great question. I always start by saying that the first step in developing serenity is to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Proper sleep allows our body and mind to process information, recharge, and repair itself. Research shows that poor sleep is linked to physical problems like a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Now, the problem is that many people are so stressed out, especially during these times, that they can’t get a good night’s sleep. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken, so here are a few suggestions on what to do to calm your mind and have sleep better:

Avoid the news — the news is like a drug. They keep our brains occupied by throwing new information at us. Most of that information is scary and puts our bodies into fight or flight mode. Watching the news causes the body to release stress hormones, which affects your sleep and your overall health.

As someone who grew up in a war zone (Israel, near the Lebanese border,) my body was used to stress hormones and I was not even aware of it. It took me years to realize that listening to the news made me feel the same kind of stress I felt as a child when I needed to run to the bomb shelter. At that point, I decided to stop watching or listening to the news. I realized there’s no point in doing that if I want to stay healthy and calm.

Allow your feelings out — the missing link in keeping ourselves calm and healthy is using our natural healing mechanism — our emotions. Although we all know that crying, laughing, yelling, or shaking is natural to humans, we, as a society, do an excellent job repressing those emotional outlets. Have you ever been told, “Stop crying, or I’ll give you a reason to cry,” Or “that’s enough, snap out of it”? I’m sure the answer is definite. The thing is that after a proper emotional release, you’re calmer and able to think clearly — so why stop it when it is so beneficial to your mental and emotional health?

I have a listening partner, and we use our time together to allow emotional discharge (you can read more about that in my book The Emotional Business IQ). Whether it is crying, laughing, or feeling terrified, letting it all out without interruption is my secret to a peaceful mind.

Count your daily victories — training your brain to notice what’s working well is a great tool to develop emotional resilience. Naturally, we tend to pay more attention to what’s not working well, and this is why our brain emphasizes bad news or criticism. Training your mind to do the opposite will contribute to your overall serenity.

Here’s an exercise I do every night before I go to bed — I count my victories for the day. You can start by making a mental list of all the things you were able to achieve, as small as it might be. Did you get out of bed? Did you dress up? That’s a victory. Do it every night until you’re able to notice bigger wins. Start small and you’ll be able to notice more significant achievements soon.

Write those victories down and remind yourself about them whenever you need an emotional boost.

Stop worrying — this one is easy to say and hard to execute, so let me explain: worrying is an illusion. By worrying, you trick your brain into believing that you’re taking action, even though it is the opposite of taking action.

Let’s say you watch the news and learn about the rising number of deaths from Coronavirus. Your body becomes tight, and your heart starts pounding hard. Your mind is racing, and you’re now in fight or flight mode. Does worrying make any difference? No!

You can only stop worrying by taking action. Taking action can be wearing a mask or staying home and ordering food online. But sitting there, worrying about the worst-case scenario will not help your mental health.

A year ago, I was worried about my finances. I wasn’t sure when the next client would show up. And then I had a realization: I’m doing everything I need to do to win new clients (marketing, networking, and speaking), and worrying has no meaning. Worrying takes away the energy that can be put into action. Worrying doesn’t change my situation. Get it?

Meditate — meditation has many forms and shapes: listening to music, reciting a mantra, or visualizing a peaceful place. It can be done almost anywhere — your house, your car, your workplace, nature- you name it.

The idea about meditation is to stop for a short (or long) time and calm your brain down. There’s a whole science behind it, and in short, it changes your brainwaves in a different way than just resting.

I like to sit in a quiet place and take five to ten deep breaths to help my brain relax. You can also put on meditation music of your preference and close your eyes. (YouTube is a gold mine)

I suggest you use this mantra, which I learned a while ago, but you can choose any other mantra you like. The idea is to keep repeating it.

May I be free of suffering.

May I be well in body, mind, and heart.

May I be peaceful and live with ease.

May I be happy .

Repeat this mantra whenever you’re stressed, even if it’s for only five or ten minutes. You’ll notice the difference.

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Sleep — going back to my previous answer- to support others, you need to take care of yourself first. That means to get a good night’s sleep, so your mental and physical health is in top shape.

Become an intentional listener — people have the answers inside them, so to support someone, all you need to do is become a good listener. The listening itself will provide the best support to anyone and allow them access to their inner wisdom.

Let people express their feelings — if someone you support (whether it is an employee, a family member, or a friend) needs a good cry, simply be there with them. Allow them to release the emotion. Stay there with them during that time, and don’t try to provide advice or stop them from crying. The emotional release will do the trick, and they will be thankful forever.

Ask them how you can be helpful– asking for what one needs is a powerful tool. Many times we assume or provide the help we would need. By asking, you make sure you deliver what the other person needs, without assuming anything.

Help them take the steps to feeling better — by asking the right questions, you can help a person come up with a plan. It shouldn’t be your plan, but theirs. You can help them write it down, or organize their thoughts, but mostly just be there for them and nudge them to take action on their plan.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

I’m a big believer in taking care of your body and mind to relieve stress. It can be a good massage, Reiki session, acupuncture, or any emotional release.

I love this article from Thrive Global: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/coronavirus-crisis-toll-on-mental-health-solutions/

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

~Marianne Williamson

This quote beautifully sums up why so many people are getting stuck. Stuckness is an excuse, and it is rooted in our fears of showing who we are and speaking our truth.

When I first came across this quote, it struck me, and I had an “Aha” moment. It helped me shed light on my deepest fears and then move forward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

The Emotional Business IQ- where I help employees and leaders use their Emotional IQ to lead and do good in the world.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/ayelet-ally-nathaniel-25698721/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ayelet.nathaniel

If you’re willing to be honest, leave a comment below and let me know what your biggest fear is when it comes to leading or advancing your career. I’ll get back to you on how you can overcome it.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Dr. William Seeds

Written by

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon and physician, with over 22 years of experience, specializing in all aspects of sports medicine and total joint treatments

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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