Archive for Work Life Balance

PanicLife is stressful enough. It seems that there is always too much to do and not enough time. But have you ever noticed that when you even think about that meeting you are dreading with the “higher-up”, or that call you keep putting off, or the difficult co-worker that you have to work with, that your heart beats faster, your palms start sweating, and your mouth goes dry like cotton? Adrenaline is flooding your system and you feel anxious just thinking about it!

So why is that, and what can you do about it? To explain, let me tell you about Michelle. I was introduced to her in Norman Doidge’s excellent book, The Brain that Changes Itself. Like many of us, Michelle loves good conversation, reading, and watching movies. Although Michelle has a few disabilities, she has a job, and in many ways her life is rather ordinary.

What is not ordinary about Michelle is that she only has half a brain. She’s missing the entire left hemisphere because it never developed when she was in the womb. So how is she able to function with only half a brain?

As you probably know, until recently, scientists believed that your brain was “fixed” after early childhood. In other words, whatever you’ve got is what you are stuck with for life. If that had been the case, Michelle’s prognosis for a “normal” life would not have been good. But now we know that far from being fixed, your brain has amazing capabilities of changing its very structure.

It was also previously thought that different sections of the brain were allocated different functions, and if part of the brain was damaged, the corresponding function would be permanently lost. Not so! Not only can the brain grow new cells, but Michelle’s right hemisphere rewired itself to take over the functions that her left hemisphere would normally control.

Rewire Your BrainThe implications are profound. But what does that mean to you? If your actions and thoughts can actually change the physical structure of your brain, which in turn influences how you think and feel, that means you have a lot more control over your mental and emotional states than was ever thought possible.

For example, every time you worry or awfulize, (to imagine something to be as bad as it can possibly be) it’s as if you just hit an internal panic button, and your body will prepare itself for fight or flight. And every time you do that, you add another layer of stress to your system.

Soon you may not recognize how much stress you are carrying! Numerous research studies show that specific physical responses to negative emotions and unresolved stress can completely deplete us of energy and vitality. No wonder we sometimes feel so tired!

In an ideal world you would realize that thinking about something that has not actually happened, or is unlikely to ever happen, is a false alarm. Then your brain would send a message to your body, which would quickly relax back to normal. But with our busy lifestyles and the constant stream of noises, interruptions, and stressors (both real and imagined), our bodies have forgotten what it means to really relax.

Happy WomanTo make matters worse, what we now know about the brain is that over time, if you keep hitting the panic button, it will actually learn to be stressed. Then it will start hitting the panic button for you, even when there is nothing to panic about.

But the opposite is also true. If your brain has learned to be stressed, there are things you can do to rewire your brain so you can experience more joy, enthusiasm, and satisfaction in life, even during challenging situations. (I will cover this in detail in another article.)

So remember, your brain is greatly influenced by the day-to-day thoughts that you have, and you can wire it for success, enjoyment and happiness or for failure, stress and misery – it’s up to you.

Edited from Full Wattage! A Practical Guide to Living an Engaging and Purposeful Life Worth Celebrating by Liz Fletcher Brown

 

 

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Healthcare CareerSo you have visions of getting that big promotion in your career. Yet, even though you are clear in where you want to go, somehow you feel you are not reaching your fullest potential – something is holding you back.

I’ve often heard it said that once you get clear on what you want it will manifest effortlessly. However, the truth is, everything in the way of it manifesting is first likely to come up in your face, especially your own limiting beliefs. Then you end up with one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake.

Here is a simple process you can use to reveal and then eliminate the limiting beliefs that might be getting in your way as you strive to advance in your career.

Revealing Mixed Messages (RMM) Process

Clarify. Get clear on what you want to manifest and write it down. What is your highest vision for career success?

Observe. Visualize having exactly what you wrote down, in as much detail as possible. Include all your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, or touch? Observe how you feel and the thoughts that go through your mind, both positive and negative.

Brainstorm. Take a piece of paper and divide it down the middle into two columns. At the top of one column write “Positive” and at the top of the other write “Negative.” Then list everything that occurred to you when you visualized your success (both positive and negative) in the appropriate column. Even if something seems ridiculous (especially if it’s negative) write it down.

Reveal. Everything in the positive column reaffirms why you want this success, while everything in the negative column is a limiting belief that can sabotage you. The good news is that with awareness comes liberation! So first, just read through the list of limiting beliefs and conflicting intentions. Notice any reactions you have as you do so.


Reveal Whats Holding You BackQuestion.
Then, go through each item on the negative list and ask yourself if it is true. Be honest! Often, when we bring our conscious attention to these limiting beliefs we realize they are not true. They are simply things we made up, especially when we are stressed and overwhelmed. Have you ever taken the time to call into question these self–limiting beliefs? Cross off every item on your list that is not true.

Formulate. Sometimes, the beliefs and negative thoughts holding us back are based in truths. For example, you might be dealing with long work hours due to lack of staff, irritated customers, or even issues with co – workers. Still, there are often things we can do to reduce their impact on you. Look at each limiting belief still on your list that you think is true. Then, go through them one by one (if you have more than one) and ask yourself the following question: “What could I do to reduce or eliminate the impact this challenge has on me?” Write down any ideas that occur to you.

Plan. Based on the ideas you generated in step six, create a simple plan that will help you deal with the real issues you are facing in your career. Having this in place will deflate the beliefs that were holding you back and allow you to move forward. If you need further help with this, I recommend working with a coach or an accountability partner—someone who will help you stay on track.

Along the way, it is important that you acknowledge the progress you have made. Seeing your progress gives hope, encourages you to move forward, helps you enjoy your career, and nurtures your life enthusiasm.

If you ever find yourself stuck and unable to move forward, give the RMM Process a try. What it reveals may surprise you.

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Living Full WattageResearch shows that professionals who exhibit greater levels of enthusiasm have less stress, make fewer mistakes, and enjoy better relationships both with co-workers as well as in their personal lives.

But how do you keep enthusiasm levels high when you are feeling overworked and overwhelmed? What stops you from fully experiencing enthusiasm, joy, and significance in your daily life? What stops you from living with Full Wattage?

I have found the three biggest saboteurs that keep us from living with Full Wattage are:

Saboteur #1 – Your own beliefs.

For example, think about your beliefs and what you tell yourself (and others) regarding your work. Maybe you entered your career path because you had a passion for it, but now you view your work as a necessary evil. Is your goal simply to get through the day or through the week, or till that next vacation? Are you counting down the time until your retirement?

A recent survey showed that less than 15% of us are engaged at work… and that figure is on the decline.  But is it right to spend such a great portion of our lives doing something we feel is unfulfilling at best? I don’t think so.

So what are your beliefs about work? And where did these beliefs come from?

Often, they came from the things we heard as kids. Did you ever hear any of the following…

  • “You have to work hard to make a living.” Just like Donna Summer sang, “She works hard for the money. So hard for the money….”
  •  I was lucky that my family supported my choice to become a dancer, but many of my friends were told, “Get a real job.” Ouch!
  • “It is selfish to have work you love.”
  • “Someone has to take out the garbage.” The underlying belief here is that if everyone only did what they loved, nothing would get done!

So what beliefs about life, work and overall success influenced you growing up? And do these beliefs still serve you today?

If you find that you are being influenced by beliefs that are holding you back or are no longer supportive, take a few moments to think about the time you decided that your chosen career was right for you. What about it motivated you ? What drew you in? What were your positive thoughts and beliefs? And can you re-invigorate some of them now?

Tired ProfessionalSaboteur #2 – Focusing on the negative.

While we are on the subject of your own beliefs, have you noticed how much time we spend worrying about things that have not happened yet, and that probably won’t ever happen.

When you get caught up in negative self-talk you are simply awfulizing (to imagine something to be as bad as it can possibly be). More often than not, the things we spend most time worrying about never come to pass. Awfulizing is one of the biggest destroyers of joy and enthusiasm.

If you tend to awfulize, begin by simply noticing when you are doing it. That is the first step to being free of this self-defeating habit. With awareness comes liberation!

Saboteur #3 – Not taking time to nurture yourself.

This one seems so obvious but can be the most difficult saboteur to address. It seems that many of us take the time to look after everyone but ourselves. But it is essential for us to take some time to decompress and rejuvenate ourselves if we want to have productive and happy lives.

What feeds your soul? What brings you meaning and joy? What makes you laugh? Find ways to incorporate activities that are nurturing for you, not just once a week, but every single day. It does not have to be a big production, or take a long time. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most meaningful. But failing to take time out for yourself on a regular basis is a recipe for burn out.

So these are the three biggest saboteurs that keep us from living with Full Wattage. Don’t let them stop you!

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No Laughing MatterThere is nothing funny about feeling burnt out, dissatisfied at work, and stuck in a rut. But what do you do to get energized, enthused and engaged?

A good way to get inspired is to simply get out of your normal groove and do something different.

For example, can you remember some of the things you loved to do as a child. The more fun and wacky, the better!

Did you ever play outside in a hailstorm?

Dance around to your favorite song on the radio?

Climb a tree?

Build a fort with sofa cushions?

Allow a friend to blindfold you and guide you around?

Swing on a rope?

Whittle a stick?

What did you love to do?

Now ask yourself, “Is there any way I could incorporate any elements of those things into my workday?” Even if it is a bit of a stretch. What could you do?

Here’s what Sue did:

LaughingAs a child, Sue used to love raking huge piles of leaves and jumping into them. So one day, when she was feeling particularly frustrated about a project at work, she went out to the local park at lunchtime, found a private spot, gathered a huge pile of leaves, and kicked and jumped around in them.

She admitted that at first, she was kicking up the leaves in anger and frustration. But after a few minutes she was laughing out loud. Sue went back to work feeling lighter and definitely in a better mood.

Taking time to play increased her energy and released the tension she had been feeling. That, along with the laughter, gave her a fresh perspective, and she was able to view her project from a much more resourceful place.

Sue said the best laugh of all was when she got home that evening and her daughter asked her about the leaf stuck to the back of her jacket. Nobody had mentioned it all afternoon!

Don’t underestimate the power of laughter. In fact, Dr. Lee S. Berk, a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunology researcher at Loma Linda University’s Schools of Allied Health and Medicine, and his colleagues have done numerous studies on laughter.

Man LaughingWhat they found was that repetitious “mirthful laughter,” which they call Laughercise©, causes your body to respond in a way similar to moderate physical exercise.

Dr Berk said that laughter enhances your mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol.

And that’s no laughing matter!

In addition, doing something that is outside of your normal routine can be invigorating, especially when we associate the activity with something fun, as Sue did.

So what could you do today to introduce fun and into your work and home life?

Even one small thing could make your day!

So do take the time to recharge yourself.

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Liz Fletcher Brown on the BayYesterday I was feeling somewhat unmotivated and didn’t have my usual energy. The words I used were “like a slug”. Just didn’t seem able to get much accomplished.

By late afternoon my husband, Francis, was done with work. He doesn’t usually finish that early and so he wanted to take advantage of it.  His idea was to go for a boat ride on the Chesapeake Bay. And he wanted me to go with him.

I felt I needed to stay home and “be productive” to make up for my rather non-productive day.

But he insisted. So off we went.Chesapeake_bay_boats

It started off lovely and very soon I was so glad I chose to get out of my office. By early evening there were so many boats out on the water. It was beautiful.

But then a storm rolled in. The sky got rather dark and you could hear the thunder in the distance. And it kept getting closer.

We decided to try to get back to the dock as quickly as possible. I have to say, it was rather exciting. We flew through the waves, staying just ahead of the storm, all the while keeping our eyes glued for crab pots. The sky continued to get darker and darker.

We were almost back when the sky opened up and the rains came. And it was heavy. Very heavy! Within seconds we were both soaked through.

Luckily there was no lightning, for which I was grateful. But it rained so hard it was difficult to see. Despite that, when I looked at Francis with water pouring off him I couldn’t help but laugh. He laughed too.

It was still torrential when we reached the dock, so we quickly took care of the boat and ran for the house and dry towels. We both felt exhilarated. I had been transformed from a slug to an energizer bunny. I felt so alive and energized.

It made me realize that we all need a bit of adventure now and then to get us out of our routine. And it doesn’t need to be something huge. For me, a simple boat ride out on the bay did the trick.

Today I still feel energized from it, and, yes, I’m getting things done 🙂

So what do you need to do to add more adventure to your life?

Sometimes, it seems like a luxury, but taking time out to renew and revitalize us can actually lead to getting much more done in the long run. And it’s a lot more fun.

May
25

Smile…

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smileI was recently taking a dance class and the combination we had to learn was very demanding. Everyone was having a hard time with it.

Then, just when I was beginning to get the hang of it, the teacher told us to reverse it. Yikes! I barely could get through it as it was, and now I had to switch the whole thing in my head. Every step, every gesture or arm movement that had been to the right was now to the left and visa versa.

I wasn’t the only one having trouble. All around the studio dancers were getting frustrated and there was at least one collision (luckily nobody got hurt).

But then, unexpectedly, and somewhat out of character the dance teacher told a brief but rather funny story of an on-stage collision that happened early in her career. Everyone was laughing.

Then she told us all to try the combination again. This time, everyone did it perfectly…. while still smiling.

Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as a smile can have such a positive impact?

So the next time you are feeling frustrated or stuck, try smiling. It might help you, too.

Let me know how it goes….

work_play_When you are feeling stressed out, how does that affect your creativity?

And I’m not just talking about the more obvious creative aspects of your work. But also think about your ability to deal with a challenging client or coworker.

Or being able to create enticing win win situations or joint ventures with other professionals.
 
Or how about coming up with new ways to serve your clients or customers that make you really stand out.
 
Or thinking up an unusual way of marketing yourself, an idea or a product.
 
Or even your ability to develop new work habits that make your life easier.

How, well do you do any of these things when you’re stressed out?

One way to open yourself up to being more creative is to simply break out of your normal habits for a short period of time. And a great way to break out of your routine is to bring some playfulness and spontaneity to your work environment. You will find that some of your most creative flashes will come when you are having fun, if you allow yourself!

Ann McGee-Cooper in Time Management for Unmanageable People wrote, “The more we work, the more tired we get, the less creative or open-minded we are, and the less we accomplish, so we get further behind and then we think we have no time for play.”

Isn’t that the truth!

So, think about some of the things that you loved to do as a child? The more wacky the better?

Is there any way you can incorporate any elements of those things into your workday? Especially on days that you know are going to be tough on you.

Taking time out to add fun and playfulness to your day WILL actually re-energize you, and get the creative juices flowing so that you actually get more done in less time. Try it!

May
19

Relax, Renew, Revitalize

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10740209One of my favorite ways to interrupt the stress cycle is to get a massage. It reminds the body of what it feels like to really let go. And when the body lets go, the mind does too.

Here are some more of my favorite ways to revitalize and renew myself.

What about you?

 

  • Especially if you’re sitting for extended periods of time, particularly at a computer, a few stretches can really revitalize and energize you.
  • Take a long, luxurious bath.
  • How about a walk in the fresh air. In sunshine is even better!
  • Any time you spend in nature can be calming, healing and uplifting. It’s one of the best ways to renew yourself. Think about taking an occasional trip to the mountains, desert, forest, lakes or rivers. And when was the last time you stared at the stars on a clear night?
  • Listen to beautiful or energizing music. (In studies, playing Mozart in the background has been shown to help with concentration.)
  • Surround yourself with flowers and plants.
  • Light a beautiful candle. (This can also be a wonderful ritual to symbolize the beginning of a new project.)
  • Sit by a fire.
  • Get together with friends. Do you know which of your friends you can turn to for comfort and nurturing, for clarification, for acknowledgement or for energy?

 
These are some of my favorite ways to de-stress and get in a positive state of mind? And you?

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May
17

Expensive But Worth It

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iStock_lavenader_000010728584XSmallHave you ever tried using aromatherapy oils when you are feeling either depleted and tired or too wound up? Certain oils, for example, lavender, chamomile, basil and rosewood, can be wonderful to reduce stress.

You can even buy specialty blends with names like Relax, De-Stress and Sleep Well.  I find that blends like Energize or Concentrate are great alternatives to caffeine or energy drinks.
 
There are many way to use essential oils.  You might want to try roll-on bottles, room sprays, in a bath, in an aromatherapy lamp, or simply wearing them.
 
Do make sure that you use pure oils from a reputable company and not a cheaper imitation or fragrance. High grade essential oils can be expensive, but are worth it.

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May
13

Just Breathe

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iStock_breathe_000000751267XSmallStop right now and notice your breathing? Are you taking nice full, deep breaths? If you are like most of us, the answer will be no.

Simple deep breathing is a great way to still an overactive mind and calm you down, or uplift and energize you.

And yet most of us tend to breathe on the shallow side. And when under stress we often hold our breath without even realizing that we’re doing it.

 So here’s a great exercise to help bring your awareness to your breathing.

  1. Put one hand on your belly and one hand one your solar plexus.
  2. Take a nice long inhale through your nose, and as you exhale through your mouth, imagine you are cooling a hot bowl of soup.
  3. As you inhale, feel the belly gently expand into your hand, and as you exhale feel it soften. Also, with each breath, feel the solar plexus relax.
  4. With each breath make the inhale and exhale a little longer.
  5. If you are feeling tired or sluggish and want to energize your body and your brain, focus on the inhale and make it twice as long as the exhale.
  6. If, on the other hand, you want to calm and relax your body and mind, focus on the exhale and make it twice as long as the inhale.

If you need regular reminders to breathe, simply text the word “breathe” to 313131. You’ll get the occasional text message reminding you to take a few deep breaths. Or you can find out more by visiting www.breathetext.com

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