The Most Important Thing to Do Today

Is Not Necessarily What Your Boss Wants You to Do

Setting priorities in today’s world can be challenging.  All of us have so many demands on us and managing multiple priorities can be like juggling with  boxing gloves on- something’s sure to fall.

The place to start is with meaning.  What is most important to you in your life? Is it taking care of your family?  Making more money? Prestige? Being the top of your field? Showing your wife or husband that you love them?  Getting a new promotion? Being there for your kids since your parents were not there for you?  What drives you?

If it is taking care of your family, then it may well mean doing what your boss wants you to get done first and foremost, so long as you can leave work on time to get to your son’s baseball game.  If you want to be the top in your field, you are going to have to work harder than others, study more, advance yourself and spend a good deal of time away from home.  Is that Ok with you?

Quint & Snow LRSMWe recently took time off from work to visit my brother and his family for my nephew’s high school graduation.  It was a lot of driving (16 hours) but it was worth it.  That’s him with me in the photo.  It was meaningful for me to be there.

The critical element here is you and your joy and purpose.  Know what gives you meaning.  Know what drives you.  And then prioritize your day to fulfill that meaning. Otherwise, you will burn out and not be good to anyone.

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Could Stress Actually Be Good?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-woman-cubicle-overworked-stressed-image5934154New Research May Change How You Think About Stress

Most of us know that stress is bad for us. It’s epidemic, costing business and industry in the US $300 Billion annually.  80% of all doctors’ visits are stress-related.

And yet new research has come out that says stress may actually be good for you– in a few specific ways.

Dr Kelly McGonigal of Stamford says that new research which studied  30,000 Americans over 8 years shows much of how you reach to stress has to do with how you view stress.  If you view stress as negative and bad for you, you are more likely to get sick.  But if you view stress as something that strengthens you, energizes your body and makes you feel more alive, you will react better to stress.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison study found that people who experienced  high levels of stress but didn’t think it was harmful thrived.  Apparently, your perception of stress makes a huge difference in its impact on your body.

Another positive result of stress is it makes you more social, according to a  2012 study at the University of Freiburg.  When you are stressed, you naturally reach out to others.

What does all this mean for you?

Start viewing stress as something that makes you stronger and more resilient. When you are stressed, look at the upside.  What did you learn from it, what can you do differently?  Your perception can make a huge impact on how stress affects you.

 

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De- stress with a Hot/Cold Shower

waterfallSmLRHydrotherapy Could Reduce Your Stress

Osteopath Vicky Vlachonis, author The Body Doesn’t Lie, recommends  hot/cold rinsing in the shower to reduce stress and revitalize the body.

Vicky says that changing hot water to cold and back again boosts your circulation and causes your blood vessels to expand and contract. It also impacts your lymphatic system.

Regular hot-cold bathing impacts both  the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing stress hormones.

WHAT to DO:

Nearing the end of your shower, make the water super hot- as much as you can tolerate, wetting all of yourself.  Then, make the water as cold as you can stand. Instinctively, you will take in a deep breath in reaction to the shock, and expand your oxygen intake. Keep the cold on for 30 seconds and then switch it back to hot. Do 3-5 full cycles and finish with cold.

Just one more way to reduce stress!

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Recharge Your Brain with Down Time

“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly -spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.” Susan Taylor

Access Your Creativity Through Quiet Time

meditation as stress reliever from Stress ExpressMost busy professionals have very little time for themselves. Deadlines, quotas, meetings, family, life obligations all take a toll on our personal time. Your brain never turns off.  You probably have “cerebral congestion.”

Recent study  by LexisNexis of 1,700 white collar workers in the U.S., China, South Africa, the U.K. and Australia showed employees spend more than half their workdays receiving and managing data rather than using it to do their jobs; 50% confessed that they were reaching a breaking point.
Most of our best ideas come from quiet time. Many great concepts that later became life-improving products originated in the shower.  Several companies  encourage employees to take one day a week to work on whatever project they want- whether it’s part of their job description or not. Some of these companies’ best innovations resulted. But if there’s no time, no quiet space, no daydreaming, there’s very little room for innovation.

How Can You Get More Quiet Time?

cut down on meetings and shorten them. Ask- could this be accomplished in an email or memo? Make a guideline that all meetings get done in 15 minutes or less. Tell people in advance to laser their thoughts.

exercise nearly every day-and instead of watching TV, talking on the phone or reading emails while you’re doing it, just be quiet. Play soothing environmental music. Or get outside. Let your brain wander while you are in nature.

sleep at least 7 hours a night. Sleep is critical to your overall health, well-being and memory. In true restful sleep, your brain synthesizes through various levels of consciousness and replenishes itself. The quiet of sleep is absolutely necessary for sanity, not to mention performance and achievement.

meditate. Even if it is only for 10 minutes a day, taking the time to be quiet and go inside, listen, and breathe deeply can give the brain a vital rest.

take your vacation time. In 2013, most Americans left 4 vacation days on the table. No laptops or emails or phone calls on vacation. Be truly off the grid and come back refreshed and revitalized.

get outside in nature. The new field of ecopsychology demonstrates that spending time in nature relaxes the brain, restores the body and spirit.

Your brain has great wisdom and gifts to share with you. It can only do so when it truly has a chance to recharge. Give it that time.

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Guest Post- Feeling Overwhelmed

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-woman-cubicle-overworked-stressed-image5934154You are not alone. Many friends and clients have said they are feeling overwhelmed right now. I am right there with you too. This past month if not longer, time seems to be moving faster, opportunities are growing, projects to be completed are increasing, and the flurry of activity seems to be everywhere and growing at light speed. It has been challenging. I searched for and tried many different techniques to handle everything on my plate. What I discovered is the power of two seemingly opposite ideas: discipline and letting go.

Discipline is the obvious choice for handling chaos. The more things get out of control, the more one needs to be disciplined in their actions. This is a time for routine, checklists, scheduling, and time management. This is a time to be aware of distractions and to recommit one’s focus to what is important. This is a time to maintain those practices which aid execution and resist the easy bandage quick fixes which actually slow things down.

This is also the time for letting go. Let go of the idea you need to do it alone. Let go of the idea that you are solely responsible for the results. Let go of any emotional investment in the outcome. Let go of the thought that it has to be hard. Let go of the attitude that it is too much. Let go of thinking that once this is all over then you will relax. Let go of the belief that you have to put your life on hold to take care of the tasks at hand.

Discipline and letting go are about listening to your needs. When things get busy, it is an easy choice to give up those things that are for our wellbeing in exchange for time to accomplish something of value. Let me be clear. Taking care of your self is the highest value. Do not give up lunch for a meeting. Do not give up your exercise routine to make more time for work. Do not exchange good healthy food for quick and easy junk food. Trading what is good for your wellbeing may give you a temporary boost in productivity, but it will not last. The healthier you are, the more clear and productive you are. I often quote Gandhi who said, “There is so much to do today. I must meditate twice as long.” The better we take care of ourselves, the more we can accomplish.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed. Regain your discipline. Note your true priorities. Ensure your daily practices of self care are in place. Then let go of everything else. You can only accomplish so much. Trust you will finish what truly needs to be done by you at this time. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.

Guest blog by stress reduction expert Melissa Heisler. Download a free chapter from her new book From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It

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It’s Not about YOU!

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-woman-cubicle-overworked-stressed-image5934154Other People’s Behavior is ALWAYS about Them!

I  recently had lunch with two great women who have achieved substantial success in life and business.  However, like so many people, they were taking way too much responsibility for others.  As I speak around the country about burn-out, I see this trend over and over.

You are NOT responsible for the actions of others.
 If someone comes into work in a bad mood, it’s not your fault.  Nor do you have to fix it.  Women in particular are great “fixers.”  Stop.  Focus your energy and attention on being the best you can be, and let go of worrying about the behavior of others. You can’t control them anyway, and you certainly cannot change them.  Let every individual make their own choices.

How to Stay Clear of Over-Responsibility

• Don’t Take it Personally  If someone is rude, short-tempered or curt with you, recognize it’s about them.  They may have been in a fight or lost a loved one or been cut off in traffic. It’s not about YOU.

 Take a Good Look at Your Schedule  How much of it is taking on others’ tasks and responsibilities?  Have you over-committed?  Are you doing the work others should be doing?  Stop, renegotiate those commitments, and don’t take on anything that isn’t yours.

• Lighten Up  Life is so hard if you continually worry about others’ opinions and problems. Yes, it is appropriate to give back to the community and do service work.  But not at the expense of your health and well-being. Focus first on your life, your needs and your issues, and allow yourself to relax and have joy, freedom and peace of mind.

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Your Life is a Choice

Choose Wisely

 
Jack WhitingLRNot long ago, we celebrated my father-in- law’s 80th birthday in Boston.  A successful businessman who’s mostly retired, he’s a vital, vibrant man who has chosen to live life on his terms.  He plays tennis several times a week, square dances regularly and participates fully in the lives of his children and grandchildren. He has a keen mind, a loving heart, a positive attitude and is an inspiration to me and so many others. 
 
In contrast, I recently met a woman who has chosen to be miserable.  She focuses on the negative, consistently.  As we discussed families and I shared that my father had passed away a few years ago, she declared vehemently that whatever I had gone through, her experience was 10 times worse.  I wasn’t aware that is was a competition. How sad.  My heart went out to her, because she was so attached to her drama and negativity.
 
We can all get caught up in our drama and problems.  But is that truly where you want to put your focus?  What you focus on, you create more of.  I would rather create more joy, success, love and peace.  How about you?
 
“To win or lose,
To love or hate,
To try or quit,
To risk or withdraw,
To accelerate or hesitate,
To dream or stagnate,
To open or close,
To succeed or fail,
To live or die.
Everyone of these starts with a CHOICE.”

Snowden McFall

 

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Having a Pet Could Save Your Life

Pets Heal on So Many Levels

CatbeingheldLR“Cathy, Eric and their son Michael Keesling had retired early after handling a flooded basement and setting up a gasoline pump to empty it. Their beloved mellow cat, Winnie, sat in the window enjoying the sounds of the evening. All of sudden, Michael passed out in the hallway. Cathy and Eric soon lost consciousness as well, because of a gas leak. The normally gentle Winnie sprang on Cathy, pulled her hair and yowled in her ear to wake her up. Cathy kept blacking out, but Winnie insisted. Finally, Cathy called 911 and the family was rescued. If Winnie had waited 5 more minutes, they would all be dead!”

Pets are amazing healing agents and powerful lifesavers.  Trained dogs today can detect bladder cancer by sniffing urine and fire dogs can identify arsonists by smelling gasoline on their hands.  Service pets save the lives of their owners every day. They are also great stress relievers.

One study cited on WebMD found that 48 stockbrokers who adopted a pet had lower blood pressure readings under stress than non-pet owners. Another study found that those suffering from serious diseases, such  AIDS or cancer, are far less likely to be depressed if they have a strong tie to a pet.

According to the the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Research Center, simply owning a cat can cut the risk of heart attack. After studying subjects for 10 years, those who owned a cat were 40% less likely to die from heart attacks.

doglickcatLRPet ownership:

• lowers blood pressure
• prevents depression
• reduces incidence of stroke
• helps improve physical activity
• helps people be more social
• reduces loneliness.

So if you are battling stress like 80% of Americans, consider adopting a pet at a shelter.  It could save two lives- yours and theirs.

 

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Women are More Stressed Than Men

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-woman-cubicle-overworked-stressed-image5934154According to American Psychological Association’s  Work and Well-Being Survey,women are more stressed than ever.

• 37% of women feel stressed at work, versus 33% of men.
• Only 48% of women feel work is an equal playing field for both genders, while 54% of men do.
• Only 43% of women feel they are paid enough, compared to 48% of men.
• Only 35% of women feel they have the chance to move up, versus 43% of men.
•To manage their stress, 34% of women say they have enough resources to do so versus 38% of men.
Women are under greater pressure in part because they are responsible for an increased share of their households’ earnings and because they are still trying to juggle more of the home workload.


How to Reduce Your Stress:

Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.   Any less and the World Health Organization labels it a carcinogen. You carry an extra 20 pounds of weight and are 3 times more likely to catch a cold or flu.

Drink water- lots of it.  80% of North Americans are dehydrated, and that leads to overeating, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbance.

Exercise in a fun way, preferably with a buddy- at least 4 times a week. All it takes is 15 minutes.  Exercise is good for you on so many levels, especially as a stress reliever.

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Are You Getting Enough Hugs to be Healthy?

You Need More Than You Think!

 

Me and Cinderella

Me and Cinderella- the woman who gave me my hugs growing up!

According to noted American pyschologist and educator, Virginia Satir, we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, and 12 hugs a day for growth.

Most people are lucky if they get 1 or 2 hugs a day.

So up your intake and give hugs freely.  Recently, I was visiting one of the non-profits I volunteer for and talking to a little boy, stroking his back. He just leaned in for a hug, which I was more than happy to give.  We all need touch, and in this day and age, hugging can heal so much.  Take the time to give full-on, heart-felt hugs to others as a way of sharing.  The rewards for everyone are so worth it.

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