Overwhelmed? How to Regain Focus

Do You Have Cognitive Overload?

“Information overload is a symptom of our desire to not focus on what’s important. It is a choice.” Brian Solis

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-woman-cubicle-overworked-stressed-image5934154We receive so much data that we can barely comprehend all that is coming into our minds. Right now, you may be thinking about your next meeting, responding to a text, planning your tweets for the day and answering a call. Whew- no wonder we have information overload. Our brains are overwhelmed with all the distractions.

A recent Stanford study found that those who spend lots of time on social media, surfing the Internet and multi-tasking had poor cognitive skills. They could not distinguish well between what was important and what was trivial. “They are suckers for irrelevancy.”

How to Regain  Focus:

In his book, Search Inside Yourself. Chade-Meng Tan of Google, shares some keys to regaining cognitive clarity.

Monitor what you read and how you do it– If you find your mind wandering while reading, bring your attention back to what you are doing. Keep practicing this skill.

Use active listening Have someone speak for 3 minutes and you listen, Then repeat back to the person with the preface ” What you said is important. Do you mind if I repeat it back to see if I have it right?” (People LOVE this- they love to be heard.)

A few tips from me:

Do 1 thing at a time. That’s it. One thing and do it well and complete it. Take satisfaction and then move on to the next one thing. Your focus will improve. Multi-tasking is terrible for your brain.

• Go tech free for a day this weekend. Lots of research show the value of this. It’s like rebooting your brain.

• Get quiet and go outside in nature.  Life becomes much simpler away from the office and computer.

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Stressed? Get More Sleep

The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.
~E. Joseph Cossman

Sleeping Well Can be a Puzzle

Exhausted woman from Stress Express!That you can put together. Most of us are sleep deprived, which can lead to all sorts of dangers to your health and the health of others (when you drive tired.)

The World Health Organization says less than 7 hours a night may cause cancer and you are likely to carry an extra 20 pounds of weight. With less than 7 hours, you are functioning at a cognitive disadvantage and are 3x more likely to get a cold or flu. Neurobiology of Aging says those who get less than 6 hours of sleep are 4 times more likely to have a stroke.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Turn off all computers, cellphones and screens an hour before bed. Stop looking at them. The blue light from these devices interferes with your body’s ability to relax and keeps you hyper. Be sure your alarm clock is red light. Lower the temperature in the room and make sure it is cool and dark.

No electronics in your bedroom. Your bedroom is for sleeping and making love. That’s it.

Get ready for bed an hour before you go to sleep. Actually get in bed 30 minutes before you want to sleep and read something uplifting and paper. (Not an electronic reader.) Reading helps relax you.

Take a hot bath with epsom salts before bed. Or get your legs wet up to your knees in warm water.

Try all natural sleep remedies at health food stores. Check with your doctor. I have used these successfully at different times- most are herbs: passion flower, valerian root, holy basil, L’theanine, calcium, magnesium, etc.

Exercise is a great sleep inducer, if you do it several hours before bedtime.

Sleep better and perform better in every area of your life!

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Stressed?- Here’s an Instant Reliever

meditation as stress reliever from Stress ExpressYou can never have too many….

The Astonishing Power of Breath

Try this. Hold your breath for as long as you can- until it almost hurts to let it out. Unless you are a professional athlete or extreme yogi, you probably couldn’t hold it for long. Without breath, the body, mind and spirit cannot function.

And yet we all forget what an incredible resource this is. Breath literally keeps us alive, fuels our interactions and enables us to function. Without it, we are severally hampered. Having had pneumonia a few years ago, I learned quickly how very debilitating lack of breath can be. We all take it for granted.

Breathe to Relieve Stress

Breathe deeply at least 3 times. Put your hands on your lower belly, fill it up all the way and let it out…slowly. Do this several times to regain control and calm your system. Notice how you feel.

Use breath to monitor emotions. We are not our feelings and when our emotions take over, we are not our best selves. When experiencing anger, upset, frustration, fear, stop and breathe deeply. Visualize a positive scene in nature, perhaps mountains or beaches. Focus on that. Let go.

• Learn how to meditate. Meditation is a powerful healing agent; it:
o lowers blood pressure; increases circulation
o improves immune function and memory
o shortens hospital stays
o decreases insomnia
o helps relieve stress, ADHD
o helps reverse heart disease

There are many different ways to meditate. Here’s one:

Start with the deep breathing above and focus on the breath. If thoughts come up, observe them, let them drift by like leaves in the wind. Picture a beautiful nature scene in a forest, visualize a waterfall. Imagine you are standing in the gentle waterfall and let all your worries and fears wash away. Practice this over and over until you can meditate for at least 10 minutes. It can make a huge difference in your well-being.

You can control your stress rather than having it control you.  Try deep breathing as a solution.  It’s fast, easy and free!

 

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How’s Your EQ?

The Key to More Effective Relationships at Home and Work

Listening handshakeOracle Vice President Meg Bear says empathy is the critical 21st century skill. In an article in Fortune Magazine, business experts cite emotional intelligence as one of the most needed business skillsets for the coming decades.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

It’s the ability to be aware of and manage the emotions of yourself and others, and constructively communicate as a good team member.

Those will poor self-awareness tend to be brusque, rude, narcissistic, critical and rigid . Those with poor self-management react strongly, yell, interrupt and disrespect others. Those with poor self-motivation procrastinate, blame others.

 Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

• Become an excellent listener. Don’t interrupt, have open body language and
don’t check your cellphone while listening.  Give full eye contact and attention. Summarize what they said and ask questions.

• Develop greater empathy.  Show caring, even if you haven’t have the same experience.  You can say things like “That sounds hard for you.” “I understand this is difficult.”

• Get to know yourself more.  There are great books out like Strengths-Finder
and plenty of free personality tests on line.  Discover your strengths and areas for improvement.  Often work conflicts are the result of personality differences.

Workplace problems• Pay attention to the body language of others.  What is not being verbally said?

• Be a source of positive encouragement to others. Find the good.

Those are just a quick start on how to improve.  Put them into practice and watch your life get better.

 

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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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Buy Stock Photos? Don’t Make this Mistake

Buyer Beware

dreamstime_s_43391176I’ve been buying stock photos for over two decades, back when one photo might cost $1000 to use.  Nowadays, most people buy from royalty-free stock photo houses, and I have also been doing that for years.  As an author, I understand intellectual property rights and protecting artists, photographers,writers, etc. I know how it feels to be ripped off, as some stole 1/2 of one of my newsletters and inserted into their blog. (Try copyscape.com)

So imagine my surprise to get a nasty email from a lawyer saying I owed over $600 for a photo I had used on my blog 5 YEARS AGO!!! I was shocked, called them immediately, and apparently one of the photos was not in fact royalty-free, but rather rights-protected.

I then went back to all the sites where I had bought photos searching for that one.  Hundreds and hundreds of photos. Could not find the purchase date or license agreement. In fact, some of the photos I bought years ago were not even there any more. There was no way around it- I owed the money. Yikes!!!

Here’s What I Learned:

• Every time I now buy a photo, I print out the photo picture and licensing agreement number and I keep it in my business records.

• At the end of each post of newsletter, I put which company I got the photo from.  The one above is © Iluzia | Dreamstime.com – One Hundred Dollars Photo

• Whenever possible, use your own photos and copyright them.

• Do not repost photos from Facebook®- you do not know where they came from.

Don’t get caught with an expensive bill. Protect yourself!

 

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© Iluzia | Dreamstime.com – One Hundred Dollars Photo

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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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Your Worst Enemy Could Be You!

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”
Richard Bach

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-business-woman-cubicle-overworked-stressed-image5934154

75-85% of those most of our daily thoughts are negative. We judge ourselves severely, we think we should do it better, we compare ourselves to others and find fault with ourselves. Oprah said, “Comparison is violence against oneself.” Powerful!
In her book, Your Body Believes Every Word You Say, Barbara Levine shows that a simple statement like “so and so is a pain in the neck” can create shoulder and neck pain quickly. Pay attention to your self-talk and make it positive.

How to Handle Negative  Self-Talk

• Awareness is key Ask this question and write down all the answers that show up: “I can’t be totally successful right now because…” Don’t censor yourself. Write down everything that shows up, no matter how silly. Now go back and examine each one of those reasons. Most of them have no basis in reality. None of your reasons are good enough to stop you. Now
draw an X through them right now. Say to yourself “These are not true.”
And when you find yourself thinking them, say “STOP” and put in a positive statement in place instead. You can retrain your brain. Do it.

Make a strengths inventory. Several great books help you discover your strengths, including Strengths Finder. (And several free surveys on the Internet.) Find out what your unique talents and gifts are and work on developing those. Gallup’s research on millions of professionals shows that those people who develop their strengths and not their weaknesses become the most successful.

Feed your mind with positive nutrition. Read uplifting books, magazines like Success Magazine, listen to audios, watch inspiring videos on youtube. Ignore the negativity out there; good things happen every day. Change the channel when something disturbs you. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

You are far more powerful, talented and wise than you think you are.

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Give the Gift of Your Presence

Me and Cinderella
Me and Cinderella

Be Here Now

In the US, we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday.  My own mother died when I was 21, after a long terminal illness.  I still miss her delectible meals, artistic talent and haunting beauty.  While she ill, I was cared for by an incredible woman named Cinderella. I was so blessed to have her in my life. She gave me my love, my hugs, my values and my unconditional support.  Sadly, she died a few years ago of Alzheimers. I am so grateful I got to see her before she died, and she knew who I was.  Those moments meant everything.

We’re in the season of so many celebrations, weddings, graduations, birthdays.
Be sure you give a meaningful gift, one of your physical presence.  Without distractions, your presence can meet more to someone than any store-bought gift.

How to Make Your Visit More Memorable

• Turn off your cell phone, beeper, and any electronics when you are with your loved one. No TV’s either.

• Make eye contact most all the time you are there.  Lean in and let the person know you are truly listening.  Feed back what they have said and ask them questions about it.

• Spend some meaningful time.  10 minutes is not enough.  You know what is.

• Do things for this person that they can’t do themselves.  Help them out with grace and dignity.

After this kind of visit, both of you will feel the love.

 

 

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