Getting back to basics: How to naturally improve your sense of well-being

Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness. ~ Eckhart Tolle

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Are you stressed at work? Try these helpful tips to manage it well - PART 3 of 3

 How’s it going?

I’ve really enjoyed hearing from folks who have been implementing some of the tips to reduce work stress!

I hear about work stress so often that I felt the need to do my part to help squash this epidemic (yes, I said epidemic!). :) So many people are working so much - and under high pressure - that their results are leading to feeling super drained after work, which runs into the quality of your personal life.

As previously mentioned, the high level of stress occurring CHRONICALLY causes wear and tear on our bodies and puts us at risk for illness. I review a ton of hospital medical records for my work at the Atlanta Regional Commission and the adverse health effects resulting from behavior, lifestyle and chronic stress are astounding. The prevalence of heart disease and hypertension (among other conditions) is though the roof. I don’t want this to be fear-based post or focus on that; what I would like to focus on is prevention and what we can do for ourselves to improve our overall well-being. With anything, we can make the decision to be responsible for ourselves and make healthy choices. That being said, here are a few more tips to reduce work stress:

~ Focus on what is going WELL and what you are grateful for. There are a lot of positives, and they will become apparent if you choose to look for them. When you find yourself down about your work, creating a list of these items will help you shift your perspective.

~ Honor your energy. Schedule the tasks that you feel take more focus and concentration during the times of the day when you feel you have the most energy. Schedule the lighter tasks during times when you generally feel less energetic. (As mentioned in other posts, of course do what you can to get to any root cause for low energy, too :). There is no need to fight or resist what you&rsquo ;re feeling as that can lead to feeling more drained and frustrated. You’ll find yourself more productive when you honor how your body feels.

~ Focus on one thing at a time. Yup, I know this is a tough one and I know that we’re always juggling multiple tasks. Give it a shot if you don’t do this already: block out a time for email only instead of responding to every email all day long as they come in. When you’re working on a project that requires focus, close all other windows if you’re working on a computer. I find that I’m more productive this way. Set a timer on your phone or computer and make an effort to focus in order to complete your project during that set period of time.

Final note: Be sure to take care of yourself outside of work and remember that you teach people how to treat you. If you answer a work email that arrives at 10pm - unless you’re on call or it’s absolutely necessary for your job - then people will come to expect that from you. You don’t have to put other people’s priorities before yours or your well-being. The email can usually wait for a response until the next day. So I chose the tips from this series from a bigger list I created as I feel they are some of the most effective.

What other mechanisms do you have in place for self-care in the workplace? Please share your ideas by commenting below!

Want personalized support with this or other areas of your life? I'm here to HELP you! All you have to do is hit the contact link above to say hello and we'll set up a get acquainted call. :)

Are you stressed at work? Three (more) helpful tips to manage it well - PART 2

Walk outside for a work break
Walk outside for a work break

As promised, I’m following through on my “stress at work” series with a few more tips. I’m making this short and concise because I know you’re busy and again so you can have time to implement!

As one of the main concerns that I hear on a daily basis is feeling stress at work, whether the location is an office environment, at home or elsewhere. Given that most people have their plates full and seem to work long hours, self-care is especially critical for your health and well-being. The following are three more ways to decrease your stress level at work:

  • Let go of what you cannot control. Remember that you have control over your own actions and behavior. You do not have control over other forces or over others’ behavior. And how other people react to you is their reality. Do your best to excel at what you can control and make a decision to let go of everything else.
  • Get physical, especially if you work a desk job. Take short walks. Stretch. Get some fresh air. Research (and implement) desk yoga poses and stretches you can do. Making a conscious effort to do this will do get the oxygen flowing to your brain and also wonders for your mind, body and soul.
  • Create uplifting self-care rituals throughout the day. Treat yourself to your favorite hot tea and use peppermint essential oil for a boost in focus and concentration. Some people listen to their favorite music. Make a list of “mood boosters” that you can pull out at any given moment at work so you have them handy when you feel you could use them.

Sometimes we forget about self-care and get in the same routines every day. When you make a conscious effort to decrease your stress level, you health and well-being will thank you!

Please feel free to share insights and next steps below!

Are you stressed at work? 3 helpful tips to manage it well - PART 1

   

To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life. ~ Jill Bolte Taylor

 

One of the main concerns that clients come to me with is being stressed out at work.

 

When we continually over-extend ourselves, it can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. We are expected to do more with less. When we sacrifice our own well-being, it creates a ripple effect that can lead to illness and compromised relationships with others.

 

I’ve compiled a list of tips to help with work stress. This is the first part of a series of three which I’m providing as a gift to you.

 

I’m breaking up the tips into a series for several reasons. We tend to have short attention spans these days and I know you’re busy. (It’s all about prioritizing though. :)) Another reason is so that you can have time to implement the ideas.

 

Note: Many of my clients, readers and followers do not work traditional 9 – 5 (or sometimes more like 7-7) jobs. The tips still apply, just tweak as you see fit!

 

take a break1. TAKE BREAKS. Ok, it's in all caps because this is an important one. For some reason we have become a culture of eating lunch at our desks, or not eating lunch at all. Honor yourself and take a lunch break and / or smaller breaks through out the day. Schedule them in. Use a timer as a reminder to stop and breathe.

 

2. Remember what’s really important to you. Think of your values. Do you feel you constantly put work before your own life? Sit down and create a list of ways you can make changes, for example, committing to leaving work on time in order to honor your values.

 

3. Get to the root cause. I’m a big advocate for preventing stress, not just coping and managing. Do what you can to explore the root of what’s causing you stress and brainstorm solutions. Do you need to get to bed earlier to prevent irritability and sluggishness? Can you delegate? What are ways you can be more efficient? Could you utilize better communication when it comes to your needs?

 

I love to hear from you!  Please be sure to comment blow to share your insights and self-care plan.

 

decisions, decisions, decisions

   

"The human heart has hidden treasures…" ~Charlotte Bronte

 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that a big part of my message is to be mindful of when you make a decision because you think (or someone else or society thinks) you “should.”

 

I struggled with this myself for a while in so many areas of my life.

 

There was a tennis match between my head and my heart. Looking back, I don’t think I always listened to my gut or my instincts.

 

What I learned is to make a conscious effort to follow my heart and trust myself.

 

We’ve all had the feeling at some point when something isn’t “quite right.” Well guess what? Our heart and inner voice always knows what’s right for us.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people do something because they “should,” ultimately to realize or learn that the next time they will listen to – and trust – their own feelings and intuition.

 

Sometimes we tend to over-think things when we just need to sit still and listen to ourselves, God and the Universe giving us a nudge, even when it’s something that causes some fear to arise.

 

Can you think of a time in your life when something just didn’t feel right but you did it because you “should” or because you wanted to please someone else?

 

When something doesn’t feel right, trust the feeling. Again, I’m not talking about fear; I’m talking about when every cell in your body is resisting. Or you have that feeling in your gut. Just know there’s a difference between the universe giving you the nudge and not wanting to follow through out of fear. Some of the things we are being led to do may scare us…and that often means we need to do them. :)

 

Sometimes we feel the need to ask the opinion of everyone we know when we’re faced with a decision. This can confuse us even more because if we ask 10 people we will likely get a mixed bag of answers. And often people will tell us what THEY want.

 

When we stop resisting our feelings and start trusting ourselves more, we feel more in alignment with our truth, beliefs and values. Our actions will be more congruent with the highest good, and ultimately it feels like a weight is lifted. A sense of inner peace is what we’re going for, which can lead to a happier, healthier life.

 

Of course there will be things we do that we don’t enjoy, and I’m also not saying that you don’t need to plan strategically.

 

There will always be something we could do for our own growth.

 

It helps tremendously to meditate, pray / ask for guidance, and allow yourself to be still. When we listen to our “still small voice within” we will be lead down the right path.

 

Practice with small, everyday decisions. After all, it’s the smaller, consistent steps that lead to larger outcomes. Ultimately, there’s no wrong answer because we learn and grow from every experience no matter what. You’ll feel much lighter trusting yourself though.

 

And ultimately, we just KNOW. All the answers are within.

 

Be sure to share your insights and you next steps below. Specifically, I’d love to know in what ways you’re committing to listening to the voice within!

FLOW states enhance your happiness and well-being

In my flourishing workshops and courses on happiness, I almost always cover the concept of FLOW.

It is a fact that people who have a high level of happiness and well-being experience FLOW on a regular basis.

Artist Painting

So what do I mean by this?  Basically, flow occurs when we are highly focused and engaged in an activity. It transpires when time seems to stand still because we are fully absorbed with what we are doing. It also happens when our greatest strengths and talents are in use in order to solve a challenge. The concept of “flow” is often featured as it relates to creativity.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who has conducted numerous studies on flow, has noted that the primary elements of a flow state include:

  • Intense focus and concentration
  • A loss of self-consciousness
  • A sense that one will be able to handle and respond to whatever occurs next
  • A sense that time has passed more quickly or slowly than normal; and
  • A belief that the experience is rewarding, regardless of the outcome

Csikszentmihalyi suggests that flow can occur in everyday life, particularly if we are clear on the goal first and if we are using our natural abilities. It can also deter anxiety and boredom. Some people engage in hobbies to experience the state of flow. Flow also occurs quite a bit at work (more often than not!). And even though flow is more often experienced in the workplace, people are more motivated with leisure activities over work. (Hmmmmm…)

Flow is similar to what athletes call being “in the zone.” The flow and the enjoyment does not come necessarily with what the activity is, but more in how it is done.

Note! Since flow occurs when we are using our strengths to solve a challenge, if the challenge at hand exceeds our perceived capabilities, we can become anxious. A balance must also exist in that if we're engaged in a “harmonious passion,” we are more likely to experience flow and well-being; however, if the passion is an “obsession,” we are less likely to experience flow.

I encourage you to determine what type of activities get you to experience a flow state. Then you can consciously choose to participate in activities that incorporate flow in order to boost their overall well-being. As flow continues to be focused on a larger scale, the overall well-being of individuals of all ages will continue to flourish to give a sense of hope, decrease stress and enhance wellness!

Guided imagery and healing = an excellent form of self-care

Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. – Lucille Ball

Guided imagery and healing = an excellent form of self-care

By Nancie Vito, MPH, CHES

My clients often ask me for guidance on relaxation and stress reduction techniques, and I wanted to share one with you that has been in my toolbox for several years, since my days of leading workshops for people with chronic health conditions. Participants would absolutely love being "walked" through a peaceful country garden, for example.

Guided imagery is one of many different types of relaxation techniques that can produce a relaxation response. All relaxation techniques have a common goal: to produce physiological changes in the body order to lower blood pressure, decrease pain and reduce effects of stress or illness. Basically, with guided imagery, individuals visualize pleasant images in their mind in order to replace negative, stressful or unwanted thoughts and feelings. This process and “reprogramming” of the subconscious mind often results in an overall sense of calm. Imagery combines all senses, not only “seeing” or creating images in the mind, but truly feeling, smelling, etc. When we create images that we find pleasant in our “mind’s eye,” the process can also be meditative in nature since it goes deeper than the level of consciousness in which we operate in our daily activities. Memory is one example of a form of imagery. Dreams are also a good example of images being created in the mind, as the subconscious and unconscious are communicating with our conscious mind. (A main difference with guided imagery is that individuals are purposefully and consciously creating desired behaviors or situations in their mind.)

Individuals can learn guided imagery a self-directed exercise, with a “live” facilitator, or by using CDs, DVDs, MP3s, phone applications, and online programs. Fortunately, guided imagery is much more accessible in recent years that it once was.

Research has come a long way in developing evidence for the effects of guided imagery as in last few decades, as thousands of studies have shown guided imagery to have positive effects on cancer, depression, anxiety, pain, asthma, PTSD, chronic tension-type headaches, addictive behaviors, menopausal symptoms, and host of other conditions. It has been shown strengthen the immune system and even have positive effects on pregnancy. Some hospitals are starting to use it to help patients relax before surgery.

So here’s the deal: guided imagery can be beneficial for just about anyone and any situation where positive outcomes are desired. The bottom line of how it works? It helps to decrease stress as you can turn your focus towards something that is pleasing to you.

Some people use imagery to help make a personal goal a reality. This is also super duper helpful, for example, before public speaking. Really FEEL how you want to feel upon reaching the goal. The key to visualizing the desired outcome of a goal is to be sure to take action along with it. :)

SO…for positive outcomes for your health and overall well-being, this week why not check out some of the tools out there that are available to us online or via apps? Let me know how it goes by posting your insights below! I love to hear from my dear readers.