Stress: What’s It Costing You?

Stress is Costing American Business Big Dollars and Costing You Your Mental Health

According to a recent study done by Mental Health America (formerly National Mental Health Association) stress now costs industry $500 billion annually in sick days, lost productivity, absenteeism and turnover.  One third of study respondents miss 2-30 days a month because of a stressful work environment.  As many as 10% of US employees miss work several days a month due to stress.  80- 90% of all doctors' visits are stress-related.

For you personally, stress may be costing you in these ways:The cost of stress
illness and body aches and pains
lost sleep, which is dangerous to your health
declined performance when others around you may be difficult to work with
eating the wrong foods
smoking, drinking or other less than healthy habits
less patience and more frustration
less energy to do the things you want to do
• lowered overall well-being

6 Ways to Reduce Stress Right Now

1. Whatever you're doing, get up out of your seat.  Sitting too long is a major health hazard. Walk around.  Drink a glass of water. Most of us (80% of North Americans) are dehydrated, which reduces your energy and can cause back pain and headaches.

2.  Close your eyes. Take three deep belly breaths.  Picture a beautiful peaceful place and see yourself there.  Spend a few minutes imaging it.  Use this as reference point in stressful situations.

3. Ask yourself, "What would be fun for me this week?"  What are some of your favorite activities or hobbies? Pick one and schedule it in for sometime this week and don't cancel it for any reason.  Doing more of what you love makes you happier.

4. Take a break from your devices tonight.  No email, no surfing the net, no comparing yourself to others on social media.  Let your mind have some technology-free down time.  It's amazing what creative ideas come to you when you stop all the distractions.

5. Spend time with someone that brings you joy.  An hour, an evening, a weekend.  The more joy you can bring into your life, the happier you will be. Laugh together and your stress levels will go way down.

6. Ask yourself, "Who can I help this week?" And then do it.  Kindness benefits the giver as much, if not more, than the recipient.

You can manage your stress and avoid being one of the statistics above.  It's all about choices and priorities.  Take care of yourself first and focus on joy and laughter.

Wishing you peace-

Snowden

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Kindlings: How to Deliver Bad News

A common issue I have encountered working with hundreds of speaking and training clients all over the US is failure to deliver bad news in a timely manner.

Most people don't deliver bad news because they are afraid of the reaction.  They know the co-worker, employer or customer will be unhappy, maybe even angry. And yet all of those reactions are so much worse the longer you delay.  There are keys to delivering bad news quickly in a way that's designed to minimize fallout and prevent big reactions.

What to Do:

• Prepare  Do your homework. Get as much information as you can. Get all the facts and have solutions to the issue already in mind.

• In person and timely  If at all possible, go and deliver the news in person and do it immediately.  Never deliver bad news in snail mail or email. It's cowardly.

• Be direct, clear and honest  Tell them exactly what's happening, why and what you can do about it.

Demonstrate Empathy and Compassion  Acknowledge that this is upsetting to them.  Truly listen and say things like, "I understand."

Show them a way out- a positive solution. Spend most of the conversation on the solution and how this will help them.  If you don't have one, brainstorm with them about possible ways to resolve the issue.

• Key words to avoid and to say instead (from Kristin Robertson, KR Consulting)

AVOID THESE                                 SAY INSTEAD

“ You should”                         “We can do this together- let me show you”

“ You can’t”                            “One alternative for you would be”

“ I can’t”                                 “Here’s what I CAN do for you”

“ No”                                      “I’m sorry- that’s not possible because”

Always reference what’s in it for them.

Listen fully and correct any misunderstandings.  Get your information and promises correct and keep them to the letter.

Ask for their continued support and willingness to work with you. Express your sincere desire to have an ongoing positive relationship and ask them to give you the chance to make it right.

All of us face challenges and problems in our businesses, and we all have bad news to give at some time.  The way you do it makes all the difference in the outcome.

 

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Reduce Holiday Stress by Setting Boundaries

Set Boundaries to Cut Down on Stress this Season

Stress Express; Family FightingThere's no question that the holidays can bring out the best and the worst in people, particularly families.  There's so much pressure to decorate, get the right gifts, prepare for visitors, cook and clean and handle excited children, all on top of work.

So how do you reduce holiday stress?  Set boundaries and say no more often.

• if you're hosting an event at your home, ask those coming to bring a dish or a beverage.  Be specific and clear about what you want.  Don't try to do it all.

Limit sugar intake yourself and for your children.  Sugar just adds another layer of craziness to the stress.

Say no when asked to attend an extra event or make a batch of cookies.  Take care of yourself first.

Ask for help- from your partner, your children, etc.  Ask them to help decorate, clean up, do the laundry, etc. at this busy time of year.

Avoid familial conflict.  If two family members always fight during festivities, speak to them in advance and ask them to avoid each other or be kind.  Tell them if they can't, then they are not welcome in your home.  If they start trouble, they will be asked to leave.  Make it clear your home is a "no fighting" zone.

The holidays can be joyful and meaningful times to celebrate faith, love and hope.  Take care of yourself and reduce your holiday stress by setting boundaries that support you and your peace of mind.

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How to Truly Give Thanks at Home this Week

Giving Thanks: Thursday is More than Just a Day for Food and Football

Two friends giving thanks for each otherIn the United States, it's Thanksgiving this week.  As we prepare delicious food, plan on parades and games, take the time to  give thanks  and acknowledge others in special ways, especially at home.

Do things for others without being asked. Go the extra mile to help clean, wash laundry, buy groceries. And get them something you know they will love.

If you're skillful with tools, ask if you may fix things around the house of the one you're visiting. Ask what needs to be done.

Listen to an older family member.  Ask questions and give them your full attention.  They don't have it very often. Give thanks for their wisdom and knowledge.

Use touch to convey your thanks and love. Giving a shoulder rub can ease tension instantly. Hugging your mother will melt her heart.  Patting a child on the back and letting them know they did a good job elicits a smile.

Cook with love.  Make foods that you know people dear to you appreciate and crave.

Do something unexpected but highly appreciated. Perhaps bring a new game for the kids or take everyone outside on a nature walk.  Share photos of recent work you have done.  Interview family for a future archived family video.

Don't take others for granted. If your family is small enough, write a hand-written card for each one letting them know what you specifically appreciate about them.

Turn off your devices and be present with others.

Enjoy your holidays by expressing gratitude from your heart.

 

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Set the Correct Tone For Every Meeting

Cheering women How You Start Your Day and Your Meetings Makes a Big Difference

No matter what is going on in your company and organization, highlight the positive.  Start every meeting and the first email of the day with a positive story, comment or statement of praise about someone in your organization.

It will set the tone for the whole day.  It will encourage others to look for the good.  This is in contrast to what most people do, which is focus first on the news, which is usually bad.

Here's why that's a dangerous mistake.

Research done by Michelle Gielan and Shawn Achor of the Happiness Advantage uncovered that just 3 minutes of negative news in the morning ups the odds of your having a bad day by 27%!

Give your team, your employees and co-workers good news in the morning and set their tone for success. You have the power to influence them for the good.

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2 Ways to Increase Your Influence

Burchard bookYou Can Have Greater Influence on Others

Brendon Burchard, in his excellent new book, High Performance Habits, shares some excellent tips on how to increase your influence.

  1. Teach people how to think. When you are working with others, whether in a team, on a committee, or your employees, ask compelling questions which make others think.  Some might include:
    "What do you think about...?"
    "What would happen if we tried...?"
    "How should we approach?"
    "What ideas do you have about..?"
    Get others thinking and contributing. Listen to their feedback and don't shut them down. You influence them by thanking them and considering what they have said.  Do this more and more often at every meeting.  Let them know you expect new ideas and creative thinking from them.

2.  Challenge others to grow. Let them know you hold them to a higher standard.  Whether it's your employees, family members or friends, ask them what their next steps are, how they can get better at what they're doing, how they can treat others better, how they can improve.  Let them know you believe in them and that their excellence inspires them.

You have an impact on others.  You have the opportunity to influence others more than you know  By encouraging their thinking, their growth and their ideas, you influence and empower others.

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Could Ecotherapy (Being in Nature) Relieve Your Stress?

Nature:  Free and Easy Cure to Anxiety and Depression

Did you know that most Americans suffer from nature deficit disorder?  A typical American spends 80-90% of their time indoors- and sadly too much of that time is spent sitting.  The more time people spend inside, the more anxious an depressed they get.  The solution is simple and free: spend time outside in nature.   Doing so can:

• Cut anxiety and depression

• Boost feelings of well-being

• Improve your health and reduce blood pressire

• Increase your social interaction with others

• Improve your breathing and intake of Vitamin D if you spend 20 minutes in the sun

Gardeners have long understood this, as having your hands in soil relieves stress and connects you to the earth.  Doing so helps you get out of your head and your worries, and enables you to focus on the present- one of the keys to being happier.

David Strayer, a psychologist at the University of Utah, takes students out in nature  to reconnect with their creative problem-solving and mental clarity.  With so many distractions and constant technological stimulation, our brains get tired and don't function as clearly as they should.  His backpacking group of Outward Bound participants did 50 percent better on creative problem-solving after only three days in the wilderness.1

So the next time you are feeling down or overwhelmed, get outside in nature.  Just 20 minutes can revive your body, mind and spirit.

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  1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/07/13/ecotherapy.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20170713Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM150364&et_rid=2078706039
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Are You So Busy That Nothing Gets Done?

"Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to." Rob Bell

Exhausted woman from Stress Express!Too Busy for Life?

My next book is on women and overwhelm, and I find that in general, with the digital world being on 24/7, we have so much more to do.  And less time to do it.  And than results in major stress and burnout.  I know what it feels like to have worked hard for 8 hours and wonder at the end of the day, what did I get done?  Here are a few cures:

The Solution to Busyness

Do a Data Dump In the course Managing Accelerated Productivity, I learned how to do a data dump. Write down everything you have to get done in every area of your life.  The list is usually several pages. Afterwards, organize it into categories: Urgent, Important, Someday Maybe, Next Week, Next Month, etc. And then schedule each item in your calendar. The Someday/Maybe need not be scheduled, but write it somewhere so your mind won't have to carry it around. (Evernote is a great app for this.) )It  helpa to actually write it all out and then highlight it in your favorite colored marker when you have assigned a time and date to it. Your little kid inside loves that!

Evaluate your calendar Are you too busy because you want to be? Are there things you should be saying no to?  How much of your day is driving your kids to activities or wasted in meaningless meetings? Take back your time.

• Use  smarts tools  Kanbanflow®, Sanebox® and other software can help with your time management, email and overwhelm. Try different apps and strategies to save yourself time.

Accept the Inevitable We will never get it all done because there is not enough time in the day and because we want a good quality of life. Life balance is important. Realize some tasks are less meaningful and just won't happen. And that's ok. Delegate, decide not to do and enjoy your life.

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Break Free of Your Comfort Zone and Create More Success

We all get  into our comfort zone from time to time and just sort of coast on life.  There's no ripples, no changes, and after a while, it can become pretty boring.

That's where breaking out of your comfort zone can be so liberating.

Have you ever tried something way out of your self-perception, something scary and intimidating, but despite the self-doubt, you did it anyway? Do you remember your heart beating fast, the adrenaline rush and the exhiliration when it was over? Congratulations-  you broke through your comfort zone and expanded your limits.  This is such a necessary skill for personal growth and for dealing with stress.

One of the scariest and most memorable moments in my life was when I walked on hot coals during a firewalk. We had discussed fear for 4 hours. When I took that first step in my bare feet, I felt heat and then I relaxed into it. When I camFired Up! flamee off the long strip of coals, miraculously, my feet were not burnt at all…I had walked on fire and survived!
That experience was a turning point in my life.  It is a reference point of going beyond my preconceived notions of my capabilities.

Every time I get scared now by a new challenge, I can look back on that firewalk and think- "You've got this."

What about you- what have you done that challenges you?

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Stressed about Money? Focus on this…

As the new year starts. many of us are looking at holiday bills and worrying about money.  Anxiety and stress about money can cause anxiety attacks, sleepless nights and depression.

Stressed about Money?So what's the solution?

Focus on gratitude!
The next time you start feeling poor or experiencing lack, pull out paper and pen or use your cellphone and make a list of everything in your life that you are grateful for.  Include the fact that you have access to clean water, clothing, shelter, food, friends, healthcare, etc.  Those are all luxuries to a large portion of the world.

You will notice that as you do this, your stress abates.  It may even disappear.

There's a simple reason for this. What you focus on manifests, and when you focus on lack or scarcity, yu create more of that.  But when you focus on abundance and gratitude, you attract in more to be grateful for.

And if you've done this exercise several times and are still super-stressed, go volunteer at a soup kitchen, or work with the homeless.  Your perspective will change, I guarantee it.

 

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