On Women & Wellbeing with Sara Daher
How do you manage stress and avoid burnout?
I think the secret lies in finding a formula that works for us and to be consistent in our daily practice. As with all things, long term consistency trumps short-term intensity so it is about finding what works and committing to doing it regularly.
Meditation is my go-to practice to manage stress. Since I started meditating, I saw a huge improvement in my stress and anxiety levels. This is not to say that I don’t experience stress anymore, I think we all do and that’s a natural part of the human experience. I do feel however that my capacity to deal with anxiety has improved and I now have a healthier relationship with stress.
Working out (yoga and running specifically) also helps me connect to my body and dissociate from my mind when I get caught in a thought storm. I also listen to inspiring talks and podcasts when I experience anxiety, some of my favorites speakers are Tara Brach, Wayne Dyer, Joe Dispenza, and Louise Hay.
What is your proudest achievement? & your biggest challenge?
My proudest achievement was to follow my calling and deepen my knowledge in the field of mindfulness therapy. I am happy I left a stable job to follow what truly resonates with me on a deeper level and share it with my community.
My biggest challenge is also my proudest achievement in some way, as it is making sure I am authentic and live by all the guidelines and practices I talk about. It is also to continue learning and growing and making sure I bring these experiences into my teachings.
What triggered you the most to shift from the banking world in London to the coaching world in Dubai? How has this shift affected your overall wellbeing & mindset?
I am a curious person by nature. I have lived in many cities throughout my life and explored many different fields. I learned to always follow my gut feeling and not to allow the fear of uncertainty to stop me from moving forward in life. During my last year in London, I felt it was time to move on to something else and so I followed my instinct and did that. The key, I feel, is to allow fear to be here (as it is a natural response to change) but do what matters most to you in your heart anyway.
Nowadays, people are so eager to achieve the needed work-life balance, while they are constantly surrounded with stress and burnout.
How were you able to achieve and maintain this work-life balance and why are people still struggling to do so? What are the main steps one must follow to start this process of stress management and anxiety relief?
At the risk of sounding too cliché, I want to say that there is no work-life balance to be achieved, but simply a healthier relationship to be built with our minds, bodies, and emotions. I don’t believe there is a specific number of hours we should work in a day, and I know scientific research has come up with such conclusions, but I believe each human is unique and different; we cannot be reduced to statistics. I am sure you have noticed that sometimes you have more energy, sometimes you feel more inspired, motivated, and driven than other times. So, I believe the key is to listen to how you feel. The more aware you become of your body, the more you can find that ‘work/life’ balance.
It is not really about the quantity, but quality of work, and by gaining awareness on yourself, you will be able to maximize your efficiency and productivity by knowing when to work and when to rest.
What is Mindful Living and how can we implement it in any work environment?
Mindful living is awareness and consciousness. It’s always being aware of your mind, so eventually, it pulls you less and less until the point where you can finally be fully present and emerged with reality just as it is. A good way to define mindfulness is to pay attention – on purpose – to the present moment, non-judgmentally.
Mindfulness is willingly bringing your attention to the here and now with a sense of openness and acceptance. As we start building a mindfulness practice, we automatically become more mindful and present in all areas of our life including work.
How can a mindful stress management improve our corporate wellbeing? Does mindfulness have a direct impact on the company’s overall success? Can you tell us about your Corporate Program and its role in ensuring such success?
Being mindful helps us deal with the uncertainty and volatility going on around us. As you learn how to cope with stressful times, you become less reactive and more responsive, which – in turn – improves your personal performance and also your work relationships.
The corporate programs and workshops I run help build a mindful culture within the organization as a whole but also help each individual find their own ‘mindfulness formula’ so they can show up to the workplace in a way that is aligned with their deepest values. Ultimately, being mindful allows us to build a richer, more meaningful life and find a sense of purpose in everything we do.
Is it true that the human brain is naturally biased to be negative? How does the mind work in times of crisis?
Yes, that is true!
Because of our mind’s ‘negativity bias’, we humans have a tendency to give more importance to negative experiences than positive or neutral experiences. We tend to focus on the negative even when the negative experiences are insignificant or inconsequential.
Being aware of the patterns of the mind is really important, not because we are trying to control our mind but simply to stop allowing it to control us.
How do emotions affect our decision making? And how capable are we to control & channel these thoughts & emotions?
There was an interesting study done by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor that concluded that when a person has a reaction to something in the environment, there’s a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. I found it fascinating to learn that an emotion lasts 1.5 minutes!
We experience a wide variety of emotions and they pass quite quickly if we allow them to! As humans, we tend to seek pleasure and avoid suffering, therefore, anytime we experience an emotion we deem uncomfortable or painful, we struggle with it. It is the fight that we put up with our emotions that makes them last days, weeks, and even months. Numbing our emotions, resisting them, or using distraction techniques may provide temporary release, but these coping strategies will ultimately leave us feeling exhausted and unwell.
Through mindfulness, we learn how to accept our emotions and make room for them even if we don’t specifically like or enjoy them. This makes the ups and downs of life more manageable and allows us to remain grounded and centered through the different ‘emotional seasons’.
Which roles do you wish women would fill more often in the corporate world?
Whatever role their heart desires!! I would love to get to a place where we all empower each other to be whoever we want to be and do whatever we want to do! I hope that the support we have for each other will fuel the freedom of individual creativity and expression!
What do you believe are the common struggles women in the corporate world face nowadays? How can they balance their personal and corporate lives while creating a sense of community and support system for one another?
I believe a common problem we face as women is being perfectionists. Modern women are expected to do it all, from building a career to raising a family and everything in between. This can be difficult to juggle, because we tend to be too harsh on ourselves and want to excel at each and every role we play in society.
I believe that self-compassion and healthy expectations are crucial to remain mentally sound as external pressures continually increase. I also believe we should extend this compassion and acceptance to other women, making them feel enough and whole. We greatly benefit from having open, honest and uncensored conversations with each other. We tend to underestimate how much healing there is in feeling heard, understood and validated.
What has your role been in empowering & bringing change to women struggling with stress & anxiety? Can you tell us more about your Women Circle and the benefits of joining this experience?
My aim is to share all the knowledge I acquired with women around me. I suffered from anxiety at different points in my life and mindfulness has really helped me cope with such times. Through my workshops and courses, I try to shed light on the importance of mental health and empower women to find their own formula to cope with stress and anxiety.
I also find that women sharing circles and group sessions works wonders as it gives us the support we need to flourish in life. Anxiety tends to make us feel isolated and lonely, and the aim of such groups is to remind us that we are never alone. I strongly believe that building a sense of community elevates stress by making us feel connected and loved.
In your opinion, what added value(s) can women bring to the table to the practices of Corporate Wellbeing? In what ways can this impact international corporations & industries on the long-run?
There are many practices that can be incorporated to ensure a healthier organizational culture. I worked with companies that started including two minutes of meditation at the start of each team meeting they had, others have included different mindfulness practices into their leadership programs. Women can definitely capitalize on their innate creativity to come up with innovative and useful corporate practices. This industry is dynamic and fun and so a curious, daring approach can go a long way!
How has your journey in coaching helped you in your own self-healing process and shaped you into the woman you are today?
The best part about my job is that it is directly linked to my life. The more I learn through my experiences, the more material I come up with, and vice versa. This has helped me so much because being authentic is one of my core values which pushes me to live 100% true to what I teach. I feel so grateful to be reminded each day – through my work – of the importance of presence. I also feel grateful that I can bring my growth and my mistakes equally to my teaching, helping others and myself.
Where do you see the future of Wellness Coaching years from now? And why is it important to raise more awareness over its crucial role in improving societies?
The wellness space is becoming increasingly important; more and more people are understanding the importance of both physical and mental health. In volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous times (VUCA) like today, one must commit to prioritizing their wellbeing in order to successfully cope with the added stress and anxiety.
We all know this year has been a lot of things but easy is definitely not one of them!! The more external triggers and pressures we face, the more we need to focus on building strong inner resilience and psychological flexibility. I believe that in the near future, the wellbeing industry will be more affordable and easily accessible to everyone. At least I truly hope this is the future, as we all deserve to eat well and to be healthy in our bodies and minds.
To know more about Sara, visit this link.