Focus by taking short breaks

taking_breaks_infographic

Employers take note! This may seem unorthodox and surprising but the numbers speak for themselves. Encourage your staff to take more breaks in order to increase productivity.

Allow staff to be social. Socializing having a bit of down time at work with friends is good for productivity, according to a 2007 study reported in the Journal of Socio-Economics.

Allow staff to nap. Taking a nap during worktime can boost performance and alertness, according to a NASA study of astronauts and pilots. They found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.

Allow staff to work with a flexible schedule.  Having flexibility built into one’s workday helps reduce stress, according to research from Global Workplace Analytics.
Learn more here.

Live by the Serenity Prayer

In the early 1930s, Reinhold Niebuhr was attributed to first creating the “serenity prayer” in his sermons.  Winnifred Crane Wygal, a pupil of Niebuhr, included the prayer in her 1940 book, We Plan Our Own Worship Services,attributing it to Niebuhr. The prayer has been adapted and changed into what we read below today and is used in many mental health and 12-step programs.

sprayer

To break down the ideas in this simple prayer:

  • Don’t sweat small stuff
  • Accept things you cannot control or
    Let them go
  • Pray more for wisdom and strength.

Stress and the Serenity prayer

This is a simple prayer or phrase to remember and remind yourself when you are feeling stressed out. It is freeing to realize that we do not have to control everything, as humans, we cannot control everything. Instead it is helpful to have a higher power to take control of the things we cannot control. Although, this statement can be adapted for people who do not recognize a higher power. The principles are still true, despite religion. You are only in control of yourself and no one else. While in life, there are many things that one cannot control, so the goal is to let those things go and not stress out about those things.

Muscle Relaxation to reduce stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a common intervention that does really help people relax.  This is a great, easy intervention that can be done in a chair or laying in bed. The image below shows the how-to steps. Basically, you focus your attention on one muscle group at a time by tensing/tightening the feet up for ten seconds then relaxing that same muscle group after ten seconds. Next you move to the next muscle group. progressive-muscle-relax

The chart above goes backwards from how most experts suggest doing this exercise. I find it is better to start with feet and then work up to the face, like the chart below shows.progressive_muscle_relaxationAnother tip for this exercise is to remember to focus on breathing through-out the process. Attempt to take in deep belly breaths of oxygen. Remain as calm as possible and just relax. This exercise can put you to sleep, even after a long, stressful day at work.  If you are having trouble focusing and doing this exercise alone, have someone else do it with you. Better yet, find a professionally trained counselor, social worker or life coach who can help you facilitate this intervention. This expert will help you remain calm, focus on breathing and learn to relax.

 

Count Your Blessings

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A very simple intervention to help reduce stress is to focus your thoughts and mind on the good things in life and off of the negative things in life. Take a moment to think of three things you are grateful for right now. Also list three things you like about yourself!

count your blessings

You may be surprised when you do start counting all the little blessings in life. They rally add up!count-your-blessings

 

Especially in America, we are so blessed and have so much to be grateful for! What are you thankful for today?

Dancing and Stress

Dancing is a fun, fast and potentially even romantic way to burn calories!

Dance-Calories-Per-Hour

Dancing, whether a focused formal type of dancing, a social Zumba dancing or a wild night at the club, all have many other health benefits as well.

dance

Dancing is a great way to distract yourself from a stressful day at work. So get out there with friends, or go-it-alone and just have some fun and “just dance” as Lady Gaga suggests.

Listen better to alleviate stress

hardheads

 

Stress and Listening

         When we do not feel heard, we feel frustrated. Not being able to communicate what you are feeling as well as not feeling listened to can be stressful.  This is because as human beings, we all need to feel loved and heard. We need some attention and meaningful social interactions. In schools, some teachers instill rules for “good listening.”

 

 

 

 

listenn          This poster is a great reminder that it takes some effort to actually execute good listening. Good listening is focused or active listening. The first step to active listening is getting in touch with the body’s sense of a particular situation or issue.  The old adage, “know thyself” is key  before trying to help or listen to others. Recognize your own emotional and physical status. If you are having a rough day, then you will have to work even harder to pay attention to other people’s emotional status.

The next step is to focus in on the situation.  Pay close attention to the particular event and/or feelings around the event.  Look for specific words or images then come to describe the felt sense. For example, when you see a fellow friend or colleague walking around the office, look for his or her body language. Is he or she looking down or up? Notice his/her facial expressions. Are his/her shoulder and neck bent a certain way? Notice tone of voice. Listen to the words this person uses….are they positive, neutral, sarcastic?

The next  component is the focusing attitude. It entails staying respectful, friendly, and welcoming towards whatever emerges. If you are judgmental and critical, that attitude stifles the inner voice and closes off communication with your deeper self. Active listening  requires you to be mindful of other people’s emotional vibes and then also keeping your own emotional status in check at the same time. It can be an incredibly difficult task.

Although, it can also be an incredibly freeing task. Nurses, often use this focused listening on the job. This sort of focused listening gets their focus off of the immediate traumatic stress and puts the focus on the client. Not only does this help the nurse to distract from stress, it also improves the treatment and care that the hospital provides. Through active listening, you may be able to distract yourself from your own stress by focusing in on someone else. Also this becomes win-win as you can make someone else’s day by actively listening for them.

 

Learn something new daily

breaks

Learning new things is a distraction or break from your current life situation stressors. Learning new things has many benefits. Learning something new can reduce stress. Once you find a new hobby that you enjoy, that hobby is a break from reality, it is distraction from our daily worries! When we have success in our new hobbies, we gain more confidence in ourselves. When these two things are combined together, you will also improve your mental health. One reason why learning has a positive impact on our mental well-being is that it is often about setting goals or targets and achieving these. This sense of achievement is an important part of  your mental sanity.

Healthy Eating, Less Stress

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Stress and Food

               Many recent studies confirm the importance of healthy eating. Starting with a broad study links obesity with stress. If you’re overweight, you may be at greater risk for stress-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a new study. Moving to more specific studies like this one, showing how fruit and vegetable consumption is not only good for physical well-being, but also mental health.

Foods that fight stress include:

  • High-fiber carbohydrate food
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Foods that enable stress that should be avoided:

  • High fat-food
  • High sugar foods
  • Caffeine

Below are nine nice visualization of how many fruits/veggies you should be eating in a day:FruitandVeggiesThis is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Daily Recommendations. The CDC reported in 2010 that only 33% of adults were eating the daily recommended amount of fruit, and even fewer —27% — were meeting their veggie quota. They went on to explain in a 2000 calorie daily diet a person needs to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables everyday.

 

Reduce Clutter

Clutter and stress

Do these images stress you out?
clutter3 clutter2 clutter1

 

For most people, they do. This is because clutter is linked with stress.  A stress survey conducted on behalf of the Huffington Post revealed home organization is one of the most common stress triggers. 84 percent of those polled worry their home isn’t clean or organized enough, and 87 percent of the women polled experience anxiety over maintaining their homes.

reducing-clutter-to-reduce-stress

When you leave a room, clean up after your mess, to save a headache later. Also have a place where everything belongs. If you cannot store it, then get rid of it. If you find that you are no longer using items anymore, consider donating them to someone else who will use the item more often.

Clutter, both mental and physical, can do a number on our productivity and eat away at our time. Think of all the minutes we waste looking for items that aren’t where they should be. Plus the sheer stress of a cluttered life means we may miss deadlines, work longer hours, and lose important stuff. Clutter equals stress.

Some other tips: Instead of focusing on stuff, focus on function of the room. If it is a play room, then there will be a lot of toys for example. Think of a system to keep them all organized. In another room, maybe the intention is “office” but it has become cluttered to the point of almost no return. In this case, remove items that are not meant for the “office.” Place items in a storage room or donate the items that are no longer in regular use.

Some great questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you like to have your home neat enough to have drop-in company? Are you happy to be company-ready after 15 minutes of cleaning?
  • Is  your home organized enough that you can generally find everything you’re looking for without having to search?
  •  Can you truly relax in your home, or is it an energy drain (feel stressful)?

Smile More

 

Laugh

 

Stress and Smiling 

            There are many benefits of smiling. Smiling is good for your health as it can actually make you feel happier, reduce stress and help you live a healthier life.  Check out these fifteen benefits put together in more detail at Charlie Pulsipher:

  • 1Lower Heart Rate
  • 2 – Reduce Stress
  • 3 – Better Mood 
  • 4Increase Productivity
  • 5 – Encourage Trust
  • 6 – Produce Empathy
  • 7 – Avoid Regret
  • 8 – Kill Pain
  • 9 – Increase Attention
  • 10 – Contagious
  • 11 – Build Attraction
  • 12 – Earn Success
  • 13 – Look Younger
  • 14 – Longevity
  • 15 – Boost Immune System

That is a wonderful list! Better yet, it is not the only list.  Inspiyr.com offers 9 benefits of smiling and About Health offers 10 reasons as well. The research is  bright and shiny. So this should be a good reminder to offer your teeth to those around you, not only could you make their day, but you will be benefiting yourself also.