It’s springtime in the northern hemisphere! Here in the Midwest that means winter’s icy tentacles are receding. We’re feeling a warmer sun and seeing bright green shoots of early flowers. For many, spring represents renewal, resilience, and optimism as we look forward to longer hours of daylight, warmer temperatures, and more time outdoors.

Still, some aren’t feeling it. Not everyone has moved on from the pandemic. There are financial pressures and other life stressors. As a member of my team recently stated, “Life is lifing.” In other words, there are ups and there are downs, some of which are beyond our control. Through it all, we can lean on our strengths to keep us grounded and focused.

In the spirit of spring, there are many strengths practices that can help you plant seeds of strengths in your life, nurture those seeds, and experience the wonders of personal and professional growth. Below are two practices to get you started.

Create Space in Times of High Stress

Sometimes we need to slow down to speed up. What that means is we can’t operate at a pitched frenzy indefinitely. Some of us think we can, but humans aren’t made that way. We benefit immensely from pausing, breathing, letting go, and then continuing. Just the simple act of focusing on breathing has mental and physical benefits that allow us to renew ourselves, even if momentarily. These moments matter in a day, a week, a life. They can change the trajectory of a conversation or widen our view of available solutions to a problem. They can change us.

Try this practice to bring fresh focus into your day.

Lead with Strengths

Reflection is often noted as a key skill for effective leadership. Some people lead families, teams, or organizations. Others lead volunteers or social groups. We are all leaders in some way, even as we lead our own lives.

As a leader, how often do you stop to reflect on what’s happening within and around you? When you pause to reflect, you offer yourself the opportunity to choose how to face the next moments. Throughout the day, you can feel grounded and balanced in your strengths versus reacting to stressors.

Build brief reflection times into your busy schedule to lead with strengths.