Posts Tagged ‘Stress’

Avoiding Burnout

December 4, 2015

There are many “outs” in life. We can be stressed out, worn out, and maybe even need a time out. As passionate as we may feel about our work, we are all susceptible to burning out if we fail to exercise good self-care and relaxation techniques. Burnout is a constant feeling of exhaustion and pessimism in the workplace, which usually results in a decline in performance and passion.

There are several early warning signs of burnout. Do you dread coming back from vacation? Despise work tasks you one enjoyed? Is your overall attitude pessimistic toward your coworkers and your performance? The answers to these questions can all be indicators of workplace burnout.

However, burnout is preventable; consider these simple tips:

  • Take small breaks – Failing to take short breaks negatively impacts your overall performance. Concentration wanes after too long, so take a quick five or ten minutes. Your brain will thank you.
  • Evaluate – Take a step back to see how you’re using your time. Where and when are you most productive? How is the quality of your work? Being efficient does not equal being effective. Take inventory and prioritize your time.
  • Set vacations in stone – If you are financially able, plan that trip today. It will give you something to anticipate. Alternatively, consider doing a “staycation” and rewarding yourself with some rest and relaxation.
  • Engage new passions – Look for a new hobby to catch your interest during the week. Often new activities reignite passions for old ones.

Taking care of yourself with proper rest, exercise, and nutrition is essential to reducing your risk for a workplace burnout. You will have more energy, productivity, and passion for what you enjoy most.

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Stress Less

October 2, 2015

You’ve probably heard countless ways to manage stress: exercise, get enough sleep, talk to a friend, meditate, write things down – the list goes on. But according to Huffington Post blogger Jon Wortmann, before you can even thing about managing your stress, there are three things you must do first.

Notice Stress

This seems obvious, but sometimes we’re so busy or distracted we completely miss our body’s signs that we’re feeling stressed. Have you been getting a lot of headaches or stomachaches? Does it fee like your having a panic attack? Has your appetite or sleep schedule changed? Your brain may be telling you something needs your attention. Instead of shaking off or ignoring these signs, consider if they’re connected to stress.

Admit You’re Stressed

This doesn’t mean you can’t handle what’s on your plate. Once you admit you feel stressed, you can begin to focus on what’s most important at that moment. Making these kinds of choices can tell your brain to turn down the alarm as you work to get things under control.

Focus on One Thing You Want to Think or Feel

If you find yourself in an immediately stressful situation (heart is racing, palms are sweating), focus on the emotion you want to be feeling. Imagine yourself in your favorite location, eating your favorite food, next to someone you care about, or anything that can help you feel calmer quickly. Being able to recall these calming memories in a time of stress can help you work through it and focus instead on what need to get done.

Coworker Woes – Dealing with Unprofessional Colleagues

June 8, 2015

In many office environments, employees have less than collegial relationships, a new survey shows. Over twenty percent of respondents recently surveyed said they work with someone who is rude or unprofessional on the job. Of those, 68% felt coworkers frequently behave badly – and not just to the people who report to them. More than half (59%) of all workers surveyed said their boorish colleagues are equal-opportunity offenders, upsetting subordinates, peers and superior alike.

OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of administrative professionals, developed the survey. The interviews were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from 532 full- or part-time workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

“Most employees will encounter an unpleasant colleague at some point, and how they interact with these coworkers can affect their careers,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Tactfully handling challenging personalities requires strong interpersonal skills and diplomacy, which can help someone stand out for all the right reasons.”

Coping With Unpleasant Colleagues

Although nobody likes working with someone who is inconsiderate or unkind, the survey suggests those who have been in the workforce the longest may have built up immunity to bad behavior. Among respondents, 35% of those age 65 and older said inconsiderate coworkers should be tolerated as long as they are good at their jobs.

The Belittler – Belittlers routinely tear others down in order to build themselves up. Put downs, demeaning remarks and disparaging comments are common trademarks of this person.

Coping strategy: Your confidence is the belittler’s weakness, and he or she will back off if you stand up for yourself. Try refuting a belittler’s criticism by asserting yourself, using facts where possible. For example, if he or she puts down one of your ideas, say “it’s something that’s worked for X, Y and Z, and it’s also more cost-effective than what we’re doing now.”

The Credit Thief – Insecure about their status, credit thieves boldly steal your ideas and grab the glory when a project is successful. Curiously, they are nowhere to be found when things go wrong.

Coping strategy: Keep a written record of your activities and accomplishments. Give your manager regular status reports about the projects you are working on, and don’t hesitate to correct misperceptions (for example, “Actually, I did the research; John helped input the data”).

The Saboteur – Saboteurs have a knack for leaving colleagues in the lurch. Similar to the belittler, they like to make others look bad. Their tactics aren’t always overt, so you may not realize you are working with a saboteur until a critical deadline arrives. Then, you find you are unable to complete your part of the project because the saboteur has withheld important information.

Coping strategy: Be sure your supervisor or project manager knows the roles and responsibilities of each team member, and insist on regular progress reports so that saboteurs can’t take advantage of lapses in oversight.

The Rumormonger – Rumormongers like drama and often spread half-truths or lies by talking behind others’ backs. This is an especially dangerous type of coworker because he or she has the ability to tarnish your reputation.

Coping strategy: The best defense is to avoid engaging in any kind of gossip – remember that anything you say can be held against you. If the rumormonger starts swapping stories with you, say only good things about your colleagues and excuse yourself as quickly as possible.

The Slacker – This person may try to pass off tasks to other staff members. The slacker often claims he or she is “too busy” to help out yet will make time for water cooler chats and web surfing during office hours.

Coping Strategy: Be sure this person carries his or her weight on project teams by documenting the responsibilities of each member of the group and making for regular status reports. Hold everyone accountable for his or her portion of the project, and be firm with deadlines.

Caring for the Caregiver

February 23, 2015

Many people are responsible for ailing parents or loved ones. Many are serving as caretakers in addition to working full- or part-time. This can lead to burn out, depression and physical illness for the caretaker. Now two people need help!

To avoid the double whammy of trying to nurse yourself while taking care of another, consider the following pointers for self-care from the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan.

  • Prioritize your time.
  • Set realistic goals for your time. There’s always tomorrow.
  • Identify the main stressors in your caregiving role and find ways to cope with them.
  • Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage.
  • Eat and rest properly and exercise daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Hire a teen or older adult for daily breaks.
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh.
  • Don’t take the ill person’s negative moods personally.
  • Ask for and accept help.
  • Develop a support system for yourself – and remember that you can feel supported and in touch with others on the phone and via email if your time is restricted.
  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect.
  • Take one day at a time.

Practicing Mindfulness

February 12, 2015

Chances are, if you’re breathing, you’re experiencing varying levels of stress all within a 24-hour period. Perhaps you regularly judge your performance in life, work, and relationships. This pressure and consistent negative thinking puts you at a greater risk of anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness is one way to redirect yourself away from these thoughts. This meditative practice focuses on the present moment in a non-judgmental way. You begin to experience the world through a new lens, engaging all your senses.

How to Practice Mindfulness

Learn the art of mindfulness by following the steps listed below.

Focus and practice good breathing – First, sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Pay attention to what it feels like to breathe in and out. Relax your m ind and dismiss other thoughts. Notice your abdomen as it rises and falls with each breath. If your mind does begin to wander, redirect your thoughts back to the exercise.

Pay attentionĀ  to your senses – Focusing on your sense can be calming. Try this exercise while walking outside. Concentrate on what you hear, see, and smell. Take a deep breath. Direct your mind away from any negative or stressful thoughts.

Listen carefully to others – Truly listen to people you’re meeting for the first time and those you’ve known a long time. Hear what they’re saying with new ears. Consider what messages they are trying to convey.

Delay judgment – We tend to size people up immediately. When we are slow to judge others, we discover what’s special about the individual. In turn, we might be less negative about the world around us.

Mindfulness might seem awkward or uneasy at first. However, as you practice it every day for several months, it will begin to feel more natural. Dialing down the stress level is always beneficial so when you practice mindfulness, great things can happen.

Self-Control – An Exercise To Help Keep It Together

December 16, 2014

Most people have good self-control. Even when angered or jostled, most people can keep it together.
But some people sometimes lose control and go into fits of rage, creating tense moments for those around them.

For someone who wants to regain control, it’s important to identify how rage begins and what alternative behaviors are available. Therapists recommend these four steps for accomplishing these tasks.

  • Tune in to what is going on in your body that lets you know you are bout to lose control.
  • Figure out what happened to make you feel this way.
  • Think about ways in which you might control yourself.
  • Choose the best way to control yourself and do it.

It’s unrealistic to expect someone who has lost control to calmly and deliberately go through each of these steps. So here’s an exercise that may help: Think back to a time when you lost control. What triggered the event? What signals did your body give off that you were about to lose it? With the answers to these two questions, you can engage in a mental exercise that can help prevent losing control in the future. Picture the same circumstance. Imagine your body giving you the same signals that you’re about to lose control. then, imagine yourself doing something else, anything else, constructive. Imagine this over and over again until you have the alternative behavior firmly imbedded in your mind. You’ll find that the next time you begin to feel rage, your mind will already be sending you the message that you have a choice – you don’t have to lose control.

Learn To Love Your Body, Inside and Out

September 16, 2014

“Mirror, mirror on the wall… who’s the thinnest one of all?” According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the average American woman is 5’4″ tall and weights 140 pounds. The average runway model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds. All too often, society associates being “thin” with “hardworking, beautiful, strong and self-disciplined.” On the other hand, being “fat” is associated with being “lazy, ugly, weak and lacking willpower.” Because of these harsh critiques, rarely are women completely satisfied with their image. As a result, they often feel great anxiety and pressure to achieve and/or maintain an imaginary appearance.

Eating disorders are serious medical problems. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are all types of eating disorders. Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can also occur during childhood or later in adulthood. Females are more likely than males to develop an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are more than just a problem with food. Food is used to feel in control of other feelings that may seem overwhelming. For example, starving is a way for people with anorexia to feel more in control of their lives to ease tension, anger, and anxiety. Purging and other behaviors to prevent weight gain are ways for people with bulimia to feel more in control of their lives and to ease stress and anxiety.

While there is no single known cause of eating disorders, several things may contribute to their development.

  • Culture. Women partially define themselves by how physically attractive they are.
  • Personal characteristics. Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and poor self-image often accompany eating disorders.
  • Other emotional disorders. Other mental health problems, like depression or anxiety, occur along with eating disorders.
  • Stressful events or life changes. Things like starting a new school or job or being teased about traumatic events like rape can lead to the onset of eating disorders.
  • Biology. Studies are being done to look at genes, hormones, and chemicals in the brain that may have an effect on the develop of, and recovery from, eating disorders.
  • Families. The attitude of parents about appearance and diet affects their kids’ attitudes. Also, if your mother or sister has bulimia, you are more likely to have it.

If you think you or a loved on may have an eating disorder give us a call at 850-226-8585 or 850-689-7844 to set up an appointment.

Stress Management Strategies

May 13, 2014

Stress is something everyone faces, and it is no secret that it can be overwhelming. Moreover, if stress is prolonged or particularly frustrating, it can be harmful. It is important to recognize early signs of stress and do something about them. Doing so can dramatically improve the quality of your life.

Every day there are many tasks that need to be completed. Trying to take care of all of them at once is overwhelming. In the end, you may not accomplish anything. Make a list of the tasks you have to do; then work on them one at a time, checking them off as they are finished. Give priority to the most important ones and take care of those first.

Avoid self-prescribed medication to deal with stress. Although some people use prescriptions or over-the-counter medications to temporarily relieve stress, they don’t remove the conditions that first caused the anxiety. This means the problem continues. In fact, medications may be habit-forming. This often creates more stress, rather than decreasing it.

The best strategy for keeping stress out of your life is learning how to relax. Take time to tune out worries about time and money. Focus on relaxing and enjoying life.

Managing Stress

Discovering how to manage stress can enable you to better handle life’s demands. Bring more success and satisfaction to your day by using the following strategies from the University of Michigan’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

  1. Set small goals
  2. Do your best on everything
  3. Learn to laugh under pressure
  4. Take time to be organized
  5. Avoid leaving loose ends
  6. Prioritize responsibilities
  7. Handle multiple tasks efficiently
  8. Enjoy your commute
  9. Plan ahead
  10. Identify your problems
  11. Examine your motives
  12. Be ready for challenges
  13. Avoid procrastination
  14. Find your productive time
  15. Let music soothe your worries
  16. Make time for fun
  17. Escape stress with relaxation
  18. Discover a new perspective
  19. Defeat anxieties by facing them
  20. Take inventory of your stressors
  21. Consider every option
  22. Attain a healthy outlook
  23. Increase your job enthusiasm
  24. Look at the positive side
  25. Keep your chin up

Finding Your Balance: At Work and Home

March 27, 2014

For a lot of people, the pursuit of a healthy work/life balance seems like an impossible goal. In our rush to “get it all done” at the office and at home, it’s easy to forget that, as our stress levels spike, our productivity plummets.

While we all need a certain amount of stress to spur us on and help us perform at our best, the key to managing stress lies in that one magic word: balance. Achieving a healthy work/life balance is an attainable goal.

Here are a few practical steps we can all take to loosen the grip that stress has on us and win back the balance in our lives.

At Home

Turn off your PDA. The same technology that makes it so easy for workers to do their jobs flexibly can also burn us out if we use it 24/7. By all means, make yourself available – especially if you’ve earned the right to “flex” your hours – but recognize the need for personal time, too.

Divide and conquer. Make sure responsibilities at home are evenly distributed and clearly outlined – you’ll avoid confusion and problems later.

Don’t overcommit. Do you feel stressed when you just glance at your calendar? If you’re overscheduled with activities learn to say “no.” Shed the superwoman/superman urge!

Get support. Chatting with friends and family can be important to your success at home – or at work – and can even improve your health. People with stronger support systems have more aggressive immune responses to illnesses than those who lack such support.

Treat your body right. Being in good shape physically increases your tolerance to stress and reduces sick days. Eat right, exercise and get adequate rest. Don’t rely on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes to cope with stress; they’ll only lead to more problems.

At Work

Set manageable goals each day. Being able to meet priorities helps us feel a sense of accomplishment and control. The latest research shows that the more control we have over our work, the less stressed we get. So be realistic about workloads and deadlines. Make a “to do” list, and take care of important tasks first and eliminate unessential ones. Ask for help when necessary.

Be efficient with your time at work. When we procrastinate, the task often grows in our minds until it seems insurmountable. So when you face a big project at work or home, start by dividing it into smaller tasks. Complete the first one before moving on to the next. Give yourself small rewards upon each completion, whether it’s a five-minute break or a walk to the coffee shop. If you feel overwhelmed by routines that seem unnecessary, tell your boss. The less time you spend doing busywork or procrastinating, the more time you can spend productively, or with friends or family.

Communicate effectively. Be honest with colleagues or your boss when you feel you’re in a bind. Chances are, you’re not alone. But don’t just complain – suggest practical alternatives. Looking at a situation from someone else’s viewpoint can also reduce your stress. In a tense situation, either rethink your strategy or stand your ground, calmly and rationally. Make allowances for other opinions, and compromise. Retreat before you lose control, and allow time for all involved to cool off. You’ll be better equipped to handle the problem constructively later.

Compulsive Spending

December 13, 2013

It’s a disorder as powerful as compulsive gambling or compulsive eating.

 

Overspending around the holidays is a problem for many people. But it’s one that can be easily remedied with thrift and good-spending habits in the months that follow.

But for some people, overspending is a year-round compulsion with drastic complications. Compulsive spenders may fisk their jobs, their families and their careers to acquire things.

University of Florida researchers estimate that between 2% and 8% of the population spends compulsively. Symptoms of the problem include:

  • being preoccupied with shopping or the idea of shopping
  • frequently buying unneeded items
  • routinely spending than one can afford
  • shopping for longer periods than initially intended

U of F researchers say compulsive spending is just like any other impulse-control disorder: shopping and the act of acquiring things lessens feelings of emptiness or anxiety. The disorder eventually takes its toll. The average compulsive spender is $23,000 in debt, usually in the form of credit cards or mortgages against his/her home. The person’s marriage or family life may suffer due to high debt, his/her job may be in jeopardy due to absenteeism following a shopping spree, and his/her social life may be in shambles due to borrowing money from friends. Some compulsive spenders may be in trouble with the law, stealing from their employers or others to pay off debts or to buy more.

To end the cycle, the person must acknowledge the problem and get help. If you or someone you know may be a compulsive spender, seek professional help.