Posted on Oct 29th, 2006

Stress - whether it’s from the hectic pace of your daily routine or a traumatic life event - can take its toll on your body. Prolonged stress can compromise your immune system, making you more vulnerable to serious illness and infection. If you stress is related to your lifestyle, it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities and slow down a bit. If life has thrown you a curveball, such as the breakup of your marriage or the loss of your job, you may have to ride it out. But, regardless of what’s causing your stress, it’s important to do what you can to counteract its harmful effects. Here are five ideas to get you started:

1. Change your perspective: You may or may not have control over the source of your stress, but you can control the way you perceive it. If you’re on the verge of a meltdown because you’re facing an impossible deadline, for example, ask yourself if the Earth will stop spinning on its axis if you’re a day late. If you’re dealing with a marital separation, acknowledge the pain and sadness, but internalize the knowledge that those feelings will lessen over time. Sometimes a change of perspective frees you to ask for that deadline extension or to feel your sadness but move on through your day.

2. Get moving: Exercise releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that act as a natural mood-elevator. If that’s not enough to give you a boost, setting aside time each day for exercise will help strengthen your body to more effectively fight off stress-induced illness. Be sure to make your exercise goals achievable, or you’ll run the risk of adding to your stress!

3. Take a time out: Schedule a period of time each day for your personal "time out." Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, block the time on your calendar as you would an appointment or meeting. Keeping your appointment with yourself must be non-negotiable, and don’t dare use your time out to catch up on household chores or read your business report. Spend the time in meditation, read a trashy novel, or create a flower arrangement - whatever will make you feel as though you’ve put yourself first.

4. Nurture your body: Set aside at least one hour a week to pamper your body. Get a manicure or a pedicure, or spend an hour soaking in a bubble bath. At least once a month, consider having some bodywork done, such as a massage, an exfoliation, or other spa treatment. Not only will you be able to soothe away your stress, but you’ll also let your body know that you appreciate all it does for you.

5. Reach out: Stress builds in isolation, so reach out to family members and friends. You don’t necessarily have to share what’s stressing you out - you just need to connect. Knowing that you have a solid support system in place can get you through the most stressful times.

Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies on the web. Visit this Health and Beauty Website and Majon’s Health and Beauty directory.

Posted on Oct 29th, 2006

According to the StressPulse survey by ComPsych Corporation completed at the end of 2003 and is still valid today:

· Employees in the category of high stress have increased by 15%
· More than 29% of employees come to work five or more times a year when they are too stressed or distracted to be effective
· 63% have high levels of stress with extreme fatigue or feeling out of control
· 32% have constant but manageable stress levels
· 43% lose one or more hours per day in productivity due to stress

The Definition of Burnout

At some point in your career you will experience burnout. No matter how much you enjoy your job there will come a time when you just do not feel like doing it anymore. If you could choose between being sick enough to stay home and not lying about being sick or going to work, you would actually choose to be sick! Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Who has not felt stressed or frustrated in life?

The exact causes of employee burnout can vary from person to person. Employee burnout can be caused b the workplace, i.e. lack of recognition or lack of control, by the employee, i.e. unrealistic expectations; inability to set and maintain boundaries, or by poor employee/workplace match, i.e. personal values conflict with job values or lack of skills. Employee burnout is not a temporary situation after a difficult workweek. It is a physical, emotional, and mental state of exhaustion caused by a demanding environment and/or the inability or desire to meet those demands.

Burnout does not happen only to those who are stressed or frustrated. Maybe there are no apparent problems or issues that need to be resolved. Work may seem to be going along smoothly. You get along with your boss, co-workers, and clients. Then suddenly one day you feel a tight knot in your stomach when you think about work. You can’t seem to come up with any new creative ideas. You let your email pile up. You cringe when the phone rings. Yesterday you loved your job and today you hate it. You notice that you feel sick and take more days off to spend in the doctor’s office. What could have caused this to happen? Many of us work long hours because we actually love our jobs. We have work that needs to get done and we choose to spend ten hours a day or more doing it.

Then one day we realize that many months have passed since we had a vacation, a full weekend off, or even a relaxing evening at home. There is no life balance in our lives. The scale has tipped over and we are just mechanically moving through our days. We have less patience and coping with stress is becoming more difficult. Burnout out is caused by imbalance – an imbalance not caused by overwork, but by neglecting personal values. Not balancing the body, head, and heart leads to a misaligned life in which values of work, home, community, personal and spiritual lives collide. Burnout provides an opportunity to stop and listen closely to your body, to your family and friends, and to your heart.

Stages of Burnout

Physical, Mental and Emotional Exhaustion

You may be holding it together at work and as soon as you get home you grab something from the fridge, collapse on the sofa, and remain comatose for the rest of the evening. Does this sound familiar? Doing more with less, having additional responsibility but not enough authority, or juggling with an unmanageable schedule is taking its toll.

Shame and Doubt

You are not feeling confident about the future and you are feeling lousy about the present so you may even start discounting your past accomplishments. You wonder if your colleagues, friends, or family members will detect that something is wrong.

Cynicism and Callousness

In response to that prolonged feeling of insecurity or vulnerability some people feel that there is only one thing left to do – put on the heavy armor and develop an attitude of looking out for number one. In the short run, the strategy often works. This hard exterior can eventually become a burdensome, self-defeating strategy.

Stress has many physical symptoms. Some are obvious while others are not. Obvious symptoms include fatigue, irritability, crying jags, anxiety attacks, loss of appetite or weight gain due to lack of exercise or overeating in reaction to stress. Less obvious symptoms are teeth grinding, increased drug, alcohol and tobacco use, insomnia, nightmares, forgetfulness, low productivity and inability to concentrate. Untreated burnout can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, headaches, depression, chronic illness and chronic diseases. After an extended period of time burnout can cause physical and mental breakdowns, which include suicide, stroke or heart attack.

Burnout will affect how you do your job. It can show up as poor job performance, absenteeism and lateness, lack of motivation, and poor customer service. The cost of burnout is high to both workers and employers.

There is hope! There are several techniques and tools available to help you move beyond burnout to deliberately living a life on purpose that is balanced, fun, creative, and valued.

Seven Steps To Reduce Stress

1. Pursue the Joy of the Unpredictable

We derive joy from pursuing interests and passions that do not produce any obvious benefits. Unfortunately many people believe that joy should reside in the world of hobbies or retirement. Not so! Do something that gives you energy that resonates with you and motivates you to jump; no, fly, out of bed in the morning. Joy is about surprises and the unexpected. It’s not tranquil and it’s not spurred by attaining material possessions. It’s about feeling the thrill of life. It’s about experiencing moments that you will never forget.

2. Start Liking Yourself

You will find on the outside only what you possess on the inside. Deep down most of us do not have a lot of self-respect. Use your downtime to fix whatever problems keep you from following the best track. Self-discovery and self-improvement are a good start. As a result, improved self-respect often produces better jobs, better outlooks, and better lives.

3. Spend Time with Family and Friends

We tend to hide both physically and emotionally from loved ones and colleagues when we are burned out. We feel embarrassed because we are always canceling commitments or making excuses why we cannot commit. Instead of using downtime to reconnect with loved ones, we wallow in quit. It is too easy to get caught up in our work. It is too easy to treasure our trash and trash ourselves. We may feel important at work but we are only truly valued when we are with family and friends. We can be replaced at work. Our friends and family stick with us.

Burnout may be reserved for people who have more choices than they appreciate. It is an early warning system that can help us get back on track. Burnout may just bring with it a more satisfying life for you, your family, and your future employer. Listen to the disappointments, the sadness, and the regrets from your family and friends. There is truth behind the emotion that is calling to you.

4. Change the Way You Look at Stress

One way to change stress is to change the way in which we interpret any stressful event. We change how we interpret an event by changing how we think about the event. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this, it won’t work out”, try saying “I will break this project down into small steps and talk with my manager later to negotiate more time.” Even slightly changing how we choose to evaluate an event will greatly decrease the amount of burnout we feel. Try to eliminate words and phrases such as ‘Hate”, “can’t stand it”, “no way”, etc. Make a list of those negative words or phrases that you most often use, and then flag them each time they are said and replace them with a more neutral word or phrase.

5. Build Your Personal Foundation

The personal foundation process involves deliberately investing in one’s self. A strong personal foundation includes 10 distinct stepping stones which, when linked together, provide a solid yet personalized base on which to build one’s life. In a world that sometimes appears to be built on quicksand, we all need a personal foundation base. This includes some foundational components such as reduce and eliminate tolerations in your life, simplify, create and use daily habits, creating reserves, and reorient around your values. If you cannot manage this on your own, I recommend finding a personal or life coach to help you in the process.

6. Work to Have Fun at Work and Build Creativity into Your Day

You do not need to throw a party to have fun at work. You can have fun by talking to a co-worker, listening to music, or by just increasing those tasks that you enjoy at work. Attempt to complete tasks that you do not enjoy right away so you do not think about them all day. Check with your manager to see if you can eliminate or delegate these tasks to someone else. If you honestly cannot find anything you enjoy about your work, you might not be experiencing burnout at all, but a true feeling of needing a new job. This might be a good time to do some self-discovery work, take a career assessment, or hire a career coach.

If you go in the same door everyday, sit at the same desk, and start the day off with the same phone calls, a routine can easily lead to boredom. Add some job creativity to your day. For example ask to change your start time, redecorate your office or cubicle, or ask to take on some new tasks that you enjoy. Do not ask to take on additional busy work. It is far more important to ask to take on a new assignment that will fuel your creativity, add interest to your day, and give you positive feelings.

7. Ask for Some Control in Your Job

If you need permission to take control, ask your employer to take a risk by allowing you to take control over your job for one week to see if production increases. If they do not allow you to take full control, ask for control over one small aspect of your job. They slowly ask for more and more until you have as much as you want.

How to Stay Motivated and Live in Balance

· Honor your own values – 365 days a year/24 hours a day
· Live life authentically
· Appreciate and acknowledge who you are – NOT what you do
· Become more conscious about how you are with others
· Access your heart to help you manage the feelings of stress and manage burnout
· You do have a choice about how you feel
· Get help when you need it

Deborah DePorter, CPCC, RCC Licensed HeartMath Stress Management Consultant and Coach Author: Get Your Life Back Today: Overcoming Chronic Illness One Day at a Time C.H.A.N.G.E. Associates, LLC P.O. Box 650338 Potomac Falls, VA 20165 571-276-5528 - E-Mail: deb@stressmanagementarticles.com http://www.changeassociatescoaching.com http://www.getyourlifebacktoday.com

Posted on Oct 28th, 2006

Stress management in the workplace is a reality that most of us have to face for one reason or another and coping with it is key to long-term career success.

Some careers are more stressful than others and some companies and managers you work for might provide you with more stress than you’d otherwise like.

Having some stress can be helpful because it can provide motivation that allows you to work with a bit of a sense of urgency and purpose.

When stress in the workplace reaches a high level and carries over to your personal life in a negative way though, this is a sign that you need to do something to properly manage it so that it doesn’t spiral out of control further.

Here are some suggestions for successful stress management in the workplace:

    1. Try to address issues that might be affecting your stress level that you might not readily think of, especially the ones you can change. Do you drive 1 hour to work each day and feel beaten up by the time you get into the office each morning? Are there ways you can lighten your workload? Do you need to learn how to say “no” to certain requests from time to time? Look for ways of changing how you to things especially ones you have some control over.

    2. Look for ways to improve your time management. Often, stress is a result of simply not having enough time to complete everything you need to do. Stop wasting time talking with colleagues and making personal phone calls, stop surfing the Internet for personal reasons, and eliminate other time wasters. Shut your office door if you have trouble with people walking in and distracting you or find a quiet office where you can work undisturbed if necessary.

    3. Find some sort of athletic endeavor to take part in. I like working out at the gym but you might find jogging, playing squash or taking yoga classes will help. Try something athletic that gets your mind off work. Start by going for a walk at lunchtime just to get out of the office for a bit.

    4. Don’t neglect your personal life. Remember to try to find the proper balance between your work life and your work outside of work. Try when possible to leave work at work. A separation between work and personal life is paramount.

    5. Carefully consider whether or not you are in the right job. If successful stress management at work is just not possible and if you yearn for your time with a previous employer when things were better, maybe you’re in the wrong job. Do you like what do you or is it simply a job to you? If it’s simply a job there might be other jobs that are less stressful that are better suited to your personality. Stress management in the workplace is critical to your long-term career and long-term health. When stress management is simply not achievable through change, consider consulting a doctor for a medical opinion in case you are suffering from more than just stress.

    Carl Mueller is an Internet entrepreneur and professional recruiter who wants to help you find your dream career.

    Visit Carl’s website to separate yourself from other job searchers: http://www.find-your-dream-career.com

    Sign up for The Effective Career Planner, Carl’s free 5-day course: http://www.find-your-dream-career.com/effective-career-planner.html

    Ezine editors/Webmasters: Please feel free to reprint this article in its entirety in your ezine or on your website. Please don’t change any of the content and please ensure that you include the above bio that shows my website URL. If you would like me to address any specific career topics in future articles, please let me know.

    Posted on Oct 28th, 2006

    We strive for excellence in our lives, going at full throttle, but sometimes we are faced with a situation where all we do is "hurry up and wait".

    That’s when we need to learn about coping.

    C is for Conscious.

    Conscious slowing down is required here, as we take stock of what is really happening in our life. It is not like tuning out, we are fully aware that we are in the moment and observing ourselves, as it were. Life has hit us with something sudden and usually it is somsthing, unpleasant or unwanted, such as divorce, death of a loved one or a job loss.

    O.Opt-in.

    Opt-in to the process in your time and at your own pace. Again this does not mean "zoning out", as the kids today say. It means that you will face the situation in your own personal style. Do you need to be alone to cry, meditate, do some journaling? Are your friends and family what you need? Say so!

    P.Participate.

    This is much like opting in, however, where the former one is more an attitude the latter is more hands on. Take part in your eventual re-emergence this issue or event. Again, at your pace. If you feel you are not ready to see a certain person or attend a function, make a courteous refusal. You can explain that you don’t feel up to it, but would like to be asked again in the future.

    I.Involved.

    Your ongoing involvement is a big part of the coping process. There will be steps that you must go through that will taking you closer to coming out on the other side of the experience. It’s more beneficial for you to take small,timely, forward moving steps than to make huge leaps and then have to retreat or re-start.

    N.Negotiate.

    Negotiate with yourself or your support circle for things you need help with. If there children depending on you at this time, there are things others can do for you, so you can have more strength and focus to provide the relative stabilty that the children will need. Can someone shop for groceries, so that you can pick up the kids from school? Maybe that’s all you can manage for the day. Get help preparing meals, doing laundry, etc. Some of us find it very hard to ask for help, but using your energy wisely is a must, if you are to recover your "old" self.

    G.Gratitude.

    Gratitude is important for so many reasons. It shows acknowledgement and appreciation, with no regard for the magnitude or humbleness of the gift, it’s enough that it was given. So thank everyone for their help during your challenging time. Don’t be driven to try to "pay" them back! A sincere, heart-felt thanks with a well chosen card is enough. They"ll be happy just to have the old you back. Gratitude for the lesson to be learned in the crisis may take a long time. But that may eventually come. For now you’ve survived and your alive with possibilities…again!

    Yvonne is the one who her family, friends and customers turn to for great skin care advice and product recommendations.

    Please visit her website at: http://www.freewebs.com/herbalhealthyskin/self-improvement.htm

    Posted on Oct 27th, 2006

    If you reach a point where you feel you can’t take it anymore, you’ve arrived—at a point of overwhelm that pop psychology refers to as “burnout.” It is a point of emotional exhaustion, mental confusion, and even physical fatigue.

    The word itself originated from a description of a busted light bulb.

    However, while you can’t do anything about a light bulb that won’t work anymore, there is plenty that you can do with psychological overwhelm. You might even say that unlike a light bulb, a human being is a self-renewing system.

    Here are seven simple remedies to renew your mind, body, and soul.

    One. Step out into nature. Go to the mountains, the forest, or the ocean. And if you’re really strapped for natural resources, go to a local park. I’m not sure how this works, but when you spend a sufficient amount of time in nature, you feel rejuvenated and your mind comes up with fresh ideas on how to cope with your pressing situation.

    Two. Reframe. If you feel stressed because you are doing a task that you dislike, use your imagination to make it more enjoyable. For example, if you’re raking leaves, and you just hate gardening, then imagine that you’re raking in money, and that each leaf represents a hundred dollar bill. This will actually spark creative ideas in your mind on how you can improve your income.

    Three. Energize. Go to a health-food store and get an energy supplement. Vitamins, minerals, and herbs can help your metabolism recuperate from the stress. Most health-food stores have someone to assist you, as well as reference books and videos on what to take for your particular condition.

    Four. Introspect. In a notebook, write down everything that bothers you until you can come up with a way that you can change the situation. Start with a question. “What can I do about…?” Then keep writing until you come up with an answer. I once did this for two hours and came up with a new model on how I could radically improve every aspect of my life.

    Five. Try music. Listen to beautiful, serene, uplifting music. Don’t do anything else as you listen to the music—or you’ll simply find a way to tune it out. Listen to every note, every word sung, and every interval of silence in the music. It’s amazing how this will transform you. Music has been said to tame a wild beast. It will do the same for the wild beast of your major upset.

    Six. Relax deeply. Massages, hot baths, and stretching exercises can all be used to unknot your muscles. It’s impossible to be unhappy when your body is completely relaxed. The rise of stress hormones in your body, create a fight-or-flight response in your nervous system. Systematic physical relaxation reverses this condition.

    Seven. Talk to an expert. Visit someone who can help you or read a book or hear an audio program by a stress reduction expert. As you open your mind to new information, you shift your stuck thinking and find new ways of dealing with the troubling situation.

    Using any of these simple remedies or a combination for burnout will help you get your perspective back.

    Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you’re interested in finding out about software that will reprogram your mind for total success, replacing burn-out situations with a fresh, empowering alternative, then go to http://theempoweredsoul.com/softwareletter.html

    Posted on Oct 27th, 2006

    Looking for some quick stress relief?

    Edward W. Smith, motivational speaker, author and TV show host, who specializes in quick tips on how to move your life ahead even faster, offers the following advice.

    It is helpful to understand that significant stress reduction can occur in minutes, you do not even have to leave the place where the stress is occuring.

    First, as soon as you feel stresses coming just say "Stop" to yourself. Saying "Stop" will actually help reduce the stress right away and give you a sense of being in control, which is what you need at that point. Next, breathe. Take a deep breath. Hold for 8 seconds and slowly let the air out.

    Then, reflect: Now that you’ve interfered with your automatic stress response you should be able to focus on the real problem or cause of your worry. Ask yourself "why do I leap to the most awful conclusions?" "What is the emotional hook that sets my stress reaction going?" "Am I exaggerating the threat?"

    Finally, choose: Decide what your real goal is and what’s the best solution to the problem. Then put together a plan of action or possible solutions that will deal with the situation. See don’t you feel better already?

    Contact Information
    Edward W. Smith, 201-568-0019, edsmith@stressmanagementarticles.com, www.brightmoment.com, PO box 8106, Englewood NJ 07631-8106

    Copyright Edward W. Smith 2005

    Edward W. Smith is the author of Sixty Seconds To Success, he produces and hosts the Bright Moment TV show, is a motivational speaker and is president of the Bright Moment Seminars.

    Posted on Oct 26th, 2006

    Your fears, anxieties, and other business related problems have the best of you and you don’t know what to do. You try to manage your anxieties, but are not able to do so. At this point, what you need to do is to be smart in how you manage your stresses.

    The most important thing to remember is to manage your fears and anxieties one step at a time. Some people make the mistake of trying to get rid of all of their fears at the same time. When they do this, they are unsuccessful and the fears and anxieties continue bothering the person.

    Try to find out what is causing all of your anxiety. If you have trouble, then use the services of a professional to find out what is the source of your fears.

    Once you know the source of your anxieties, then try to break the source of your fear into a series of smaller steps. Completing these smaller tasks one at a time will make the stress more manageable and increases your chances of success.

    For instance, let’s say that you have a fear of speaking in front of a large group of people. In order to get rid of this fear, get into the habit of speaking in front of 10 people. Once you feel comfortable, then try speaking in front of 20 people, then 30 people, and so forth. As you feel comfortable doing this, gradually increase the number of people you speak to. Breaking the overall goal into a series of steps will make it easier to get over your fear of speaking in front of a large group of people.

    In addition, learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming month, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. Focus on the present and stop trying to predict what may happen next week. Next week will take care of itself.

    As a Layman, I realize that our anxieties and stresses can sometimes get the best of us, however remember to tackle each fear one step a time. It might take some hard work and persistence, but eventually you will be successful in conquering your fears.

    Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear” an easy to read book that presents a overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: http://www.managingfear.com

    Posted on Oct 26th, 2006

    WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS

    Experts in the stress management field have traditionally found it difficult to pinpoint how much stress is optimum. A very recent study, carried out by the University of Ohio, showed the relationship really depended on your definition of performance. In this study, subjects’ ability to recall simple facts seemed to improve as their stress increased, while their ability to think flexibly and apply those facts to new situations deteriorated.

    This is interesting for those of us who learned back in basic stress management theory that the relationship between stress and performance always followed an inverted ‘U’-shaped curve. The top of this curve is our optimal stress level. Insufficient stress will leave us feeling bored, tired and lethargic. The closer our stress levels to that ‘optimal stress’ point, the more excited and enthused we become about our work and our lives. Once we get beyond that optimum level, however, things start going downhill fairly quickly. All manner of negative stress responses kick in, and our performance starts to decline.

    Unfortunately, useful as both the new research and the old concept are in terms of general understanding, they’re equally frustrating for those of us who are looking for practical ways to optimise our performance. Even if experts could agree on the relationship between stress and performance, it still wouldn’t tell us where our own optimal levels stress lay, because stress responses are so individual.

    FOCUSSING ON THE EFFECTS

    If we want a practical guide to optimising our performance, it’s probably more useful to step away from the research and redirect our focus. In the same way as we’ve been taught to ‘know a tree by its fruit’, perhaps the most practical way we discover our optimal stress is to look at the effects. We know that a limited level of stress can have positive effects on our performance, including:

    - Motivation to start new projects
    - Motivation to finish them on time
    - Motivation to produce higher quality work
    - The feeling that comes with conceptualising tasks as challenges that can be met

    At the same time, we also have well documented cases of too much stress leading to:

    - Lack of concentration
    - Procrastination and demotivation
    - Anxiety and/or insomnia
    - Emotional overreacting (irritability or tearfulness)

    If we focus on these effects, we can identify our optimum stress level by looking at our current performance and motivation levels. It’s not always easy to be objective. Sometimes asking for a second opinion from a friend or colleague can help. Other times a little time spent reflecting – journaling or just thinking it through alone - may be all that’s needed.

    Either way, it’s important to look at what stressors are present, and where performance and motivation levels are. It can also be helpful to look at whether there have been any noticeable shifts in either recently, and what events or changes were taking place at the same time (whether or not they felt like stressors at the time)

    Once we have a feel for what stressors we’ve been facing, and how we’re really performing, we’re in a better position to understand the relationship between stress and performance in our lives. And once we understand that, ensuring the right level of stress for optimum performance becomes a matter of details.

    Copyright 2005 Tanja Gardner

    Optimum Life’s Tanja Gardner is a Stress Management Coach and Personal Trainer whose articles on holistic health, relaxation and spirituality have appeared in various media since 1999. Optimum Life is dedicated to providing fitness and stress management services to help clients all over the world achieve their optimum lives. For more information please visit check out http://optimumlife.co.nz, or contact Tanja on tanja@stressmanagementarticles.com.

    Posted on Oct 25th, 2006

    Twenty-first century life can be defined using one word - stressful! The noise, the deadlines, money, expectations, and time restraints. Sleep deprivation and food cravings, where does it all end? As busy as we are, taking care of all the things that pass our way, the truth is that we create an enormous amount of stress for ourselves. Our minds are stress factories, constantly taking in information, processing it, and creating unnecessary panic that we add to our drained emotions.

    The good news is that you can do something about this! The truth is, sometimes we just think too much. We spend hours thinking about things we have to do, things we want to say, things we want to buy or find, etc. We replay our mistakes over and over in our heads. No wonder we have no energy! Instead of using your time and energy storing all this stuff in your head, put your thoughts on paper.

    1. Things to do

    One wing of this mental stress factory is named, "Things I have to do." Don’t rely on your memory to get you to all your important appointments. When it fails you you’ll be three times as upset. Maintain lists of things to do, and mark next to each task how long the task will take. Number tasks in the order in which you should perform them or group them by priority. This will help you break your larger projects into smaller tasks so they don’t seem overwhelming, and will prevent you from forgetting important deadlines.

    When you assign each task a time limit, you can also schedule them right into your day planner. Then you can see that you only have to struggle through your thesis in thirty-minute increments, and then you’re free to go out and play. Bonus!

    2. Things to say

    The stress factory in our heads has another wing named, "What I want to say." Amazing creatures as we are, we regularly spend hours and hours thinking about conversations, arguments, presentations, and situations in our head. At the end of it all, we’re entirely exhausted, and the real work hasn’t even begun!

    If you’re stuck on a conversation with yourself, write it down. You’ll remove the worry of trying to remember what you’re going to tell your boss when you give your notice, or how to phrase that difficult question to your son. Your mind will be free to move on to other, more important and enjoyable tasks.

    3. Learning experiences

    The most challenging output that you get from this stress factory comes from the wing titled, "What I did wrong." Life is one learning experience after another, cunningly disguised as something we like to call "failure." In the age of better-faster-stronger-first, we’re not encouraged to make mistakes. The winning ticket goes to those who can do it right the first time, straight out of the chute. Just because this mindset is popular doesn’t make it right, and when we don’t get the results we expected, we’re overly harsh about it.

    Just like a conversation, work out your situation on paper. What happened? How did it happen? What did you learn? What questions will you ask next time? What do you need to complete the experience? End your journaling with a short note to yourself, congratulating yourself on being smart enough to allow yourself to learn something new. This is the essence of self-growth, which all strong and intelligent people must accept and embrace.

    We know how self-defeating our negative thoughts can be, but who would have thought that most of these thoughts could be tamed so easily? Practice these techniques often, and enjoy the lifestyle that comes with having less stress and anxiety. All it takes is paper and a pen!

    Kimberly Dawn Wells is a freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books. For more articles by Kimberly, visit http://www.k23enterprises.com/articles.

    Posted on Oct 25th, 2006

    CHICAGO - According to a recent article in the September 27 issue of Newsweek magazine, 60–90 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related illnesses. Stress affects us all and it is especially rampant at the office, where it is not only costly to employees but also to the companies they work for in terms of absenteeism and poor performance. Under stress, you cannot perform at your optimum level.

    Following is a list of ten ways to deal with office stress that can help you not fall prey to its ill effects:

    1. ORGANIZE!

    The most important element in overcoming stress is organization. You must learn to organize your time, your records, and even your interruptions (more about each below).

    2. PLAN!

    End each work day by evaluating what you’ve accomplished that day and, more importantly, by reviewing your schedule for the following day. Schedule telephone calls for times when you are most likely to reach the other party and plan the topics you want to cover prior to the conversation. Review your "to do" list, see what appointments are coming up, what projects you need to work on. List them in order of importance. It needn’t take more than 10 minutes. Then close the book on that work day and go home. Even if you’re stuck in traffic on your way home, your mind should be congestion-free. You’ll even sleep better.

    3. PRIORITIZE!

    Not enough emphasis can be given to the importance of establishing goals and mapping a strategy that will take you there. Each successive step must be charted as a priority. Make a written list of everything that must be done in order of importance, then tackle the list beginning with the most vital objective before going on to the next task or project in order of importance. Avoid the common practice of procrastinators who usually do the easiest—usually less important—jobs first.

    4. TAKE MOOD BREAKS!

    At least once in the morning and once in the afternoon take time to leave your desk and do something that will energize you. The August ’04 issue of Entrepreneur magazine suggests trying the "…..stress-relief CD ‘Laugh It Off’ to lift your spirits. The CD features sounds of people laughing to help get you in a giggling mood. Don’t laugh: Experts say the technique works. Priced at $10, the CD is available at HYPERLINK "http://www.heyugly.org" and proceeds from each sale of each CD benefits this 501C3 nonprofit organization that helps teens.

    5. DECIDE!

    Do it, delegate it, or discard it. Once you get a project, decide how it will be handled and who will handle it. If you elect to do it, assign a priority to the project. If you decide to have someone else do it, act on that decision immediately. Such decisions and actions preclude inertia, work pile-up, and interference from unexpected projects that might later materialize.

    6. DELEGATE!

    Decide who is going to do the project and communicate your decision and the project deadline date to that person both orally and in writing to ensure no miscommunication or faulty memory. Beyond which, the written word provides visual reinforcement. If you are still overseeing the project, make sure the evaluation at the project’s conclusion is submitted in writing to the person responsible. Remember to commend the person’s efforts when warranted. If results are less than desirable, point out how they might be more effective in the future.

    7. CLEAR YOUR DESK!

    Desk Stress is made up of silent interruptions that infiltrate the workplace disguised as files that distract from the task at hand, numerous phone messages and reminders strewn on the desk written on tiny scraps of paper, etc. This is called "paper talk" as the files say "read me" and the phone messages scream "call me." The result is a trail of unfinished or unstarted tasks, unanswered letters, unwritten reports, unreturned phone calls, and unread memos and publications — all of which literally haunt your mind. It’s important that you work from a desk cleared of everything unrelated to the project at hand. Everything else should be in files, drawers or closets.

    8. GET IT TOGETHER!

    Basic to optimum organization is a system where all necessary information is accessible to you: calendar, telephone numbers, projects, goals, appointments, "to-do" list, notes, etc. Most companies and computer systems have management software such as Microsoft Outlook or Act! that will help you eliminate memo sheets, matchbook covers or napkins with notes and numbers. Such a system is essential to planning and tracking relevant activities. With everything in one place, you are reminded to call someone and are provided with the telephone number; while on the phone you can refer to pertinent notes, set an appointment without fear of a schedule conflict, and jot down results and/or future plans. You can reference a "to do" list and check off each item as it is done.

    9. DIVIDE AND CONQUER!

    When overwhelmed by the enormity of a project, break it down into smaller tasks and get a different (more reasonable) perspective. Deal with only one task at a time.

    10. ELIMINATE INTERRUPTIONS!

    Added to silent interruptions are the everyday noisy interruptions which occur once every eight minutes in the form of colleague interruptions, telephone calls, meetings, etc. The result is the daily loss of at least one hour of effectiveness. If your desk faces a hallway where you can see co-workers walking by, the chance of one of them stopping in for a chat or consult is strong. Turn your desk away from the door and this will eliminate stop-by distracters. Screen your phone calls so you can decide who you need to talk to and who can go into voice mail for a call–back at a more convenient time. Cut down on meetings or at least keep them to a tight, specific agenda and timeline so they don’t run over.

    Betty Hoeffner has been authoring articles for various media outlets for the past 30 years. She is currently president of Hey U.G.L.Y., Inc. NFP, a 501C3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teens with self esteem issues. U.G.L.Y. is an acronym meaning Unique Gifted Lovable You. As the organization says, U.G.L.Y. is the new beautiful.

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