Do you have the tools to help you stay focused under pressure?

With the New Year already in full swing, shoots of fresh beginnings and new resolutions are starting to grow. A new year is an opportunity to reshape our lives, to change elements that we’re not comfortable with and grow in ways we are. One month into 2021: have you made decisions to positively impact the direction of your life?

2020 was a year of inordinate change—metaphorically and in some cases, physically, our lives were turned upside down as a result of the pandemic. Organisations pivoted, jobs were lost, families kept apart, children home-schooled, and new learnings developed. It’s been hard to keep up with the frenetic pace of change.

It feels somewhat as though 2020 was ‘done unto us’ and to that extent, it was a reactive year in which we responded to events beyond our control, but in many cases felt powerless to take control of our own lives. It’s still challenging to predict the rapidly changing course of events, but within a difficult set of circumstances, we’ve still had room to manage our own response throughout the whole crisis. Did you manage to respond in the way you’d have liked, or did the rising overwhelm and stress take over?

There’s little doubt that as a society, we learnt an incredible amount in 2020—we acquired an outer resilience that perhaps wasn’t there before, we learnt what is important to us; what makes us passionate about life; how important it is to plan, to prepare; and how resilience can see us through the most challenging parts of life, if only we dare to persevere and stay agile in our response. We now know that resilience is our mode of transport to carry us through difficult situations and to proactively seek ways to better manage the hurdles we come across in life.

So, how can you re-ground yourself when the obstacles appear at work and you’re finding it challenging to stay calm? Your role as an EA is to keep a clear head but we know when under stress, that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain doesn’t perform as it should, and decision making is impaired. You’re probably always on the go, so the first action to take to become more mindful, is to just stop for a few minutes. Even if you’re at your desk, concentrate on taking a few deep, slow breaths and focus only on the flow of your breathing. Mindfulness is about becoming more aware of the present and calming your ‘fight or flight’ mode—it’s teaching yourself to learn to switch off, even momentarily. Short bursts of meditation can do wonders for your productivity, focus and stress levels—if you’re new to mindfulness, try a short-guided meditation from Sound Cloud to get you started, all you need is 3 minutes. https://soundcloud.com/sabina-vitacca/mini-mind-nap-3minute

Another way you can equip yourself with the right tools to tackle 2021 is to learn the SBNRR technique (Stop, Breathe, Notice, Reflect and Respond)—well known for its ability to instantly refocus, calm and take shape of your own reaction. It’s a technique that I used to practice regularly as an EA in busy times of stress, and I highly recommend that you adopt it, too.


Stop: Literally stop what you’re doing and what you’re thinking.
Breathe: One of the key principles to mindfulness and meditation: focus on your body for just a moment, take a few deep breaths and create an imaginary space between you and the causer of stress.
Notice: What are you feeling right now? Observe your own feelings and how they’re making you physically feel. Acknowledge your feelings and accept that they are valid but will pass.
Reflect: Tap a little deeper into yourself, what is making you feel this way? By understanding the reasoning behind your overwhelm or negative emotions, you can find ways to bypass them and communicate better with those around you.
Respond: Take just one more moment before you respond. Allow yourself the gift of time and provide a conscious response, which is far more considered than a snap reaction. It’ll also buy you more respect and inner calm in just about any relationship—business or personal.


It’s time to assess what’s in your control and take positive action to run your own show for the rest of 2021, not let it run you.


Sabina is the founder and developer of the Meditate Now 1:1 Corporate Mindfulness model and has made meditation an integral part of her life and career. After discovering a pattern of behaviour where her work colleagues were constantly feeling tired, anxious and were under-performing at work, Sabina wanted to make a difference. Over the last 10 years, she has helped 100s of professionals become more present in their day-to-day life through her workshops, one-on-one Meditate Now program, and the Mindfulness in Action 6 week Masterclass which allows you the opportunity to complete the course from the comfort of your own home while interacting directly with Sabina with one-on-one sessions.