What To Do When You Are Overwhelmed

Take Control of Something Small

When you have too many projects going on and suddenly another lands in your lap, when your kids’ activities seem too onerous on your already hectic schedule, and when you can’t imagine where you would find time to exercise, stop.  Take a few minutes to yourself and breathe.

Stressed out Woman from Fired Up! and Stress ExpressOverwhelm is very common in  American society. We are on 24/7 with cellphones and computers and that means for some of us, our brains never stop.  The danger with that is you never get the critical rest your body and mind desperately need, and you don’t have any resources to fall back on.

Next time you are overwhelmed and feel out of control, try this.  Take control of one small thing that has immediate visible, tangible results.  Like clean off your desk.  Or file the mountain of paperwork sitting on top of your file cabinet.  Something you can see right away.  Afterwards, you will feel a sense of power and accomplishment and you can handle the next task. You’ll feel more balanced.
Then you can prioritize your highest leveraged activities and start managing them in peace and quiet with your phone off for a good 90 minutes, for maximum productivity.

You can conquer overwhelm and gain control of your time. Try it.

 

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©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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You Do Make A Difference When You Volunteer

Building a garden at a local schoolPlus It’s a Great Stress Reliever    

One of the last things you might think of doing when you are very stressed is to take the time to help someone else. But it can truly be the best thing you can do. The value of volunteerism is that it gives you perspective, awareness of how blessed your life really is, and away from the anxiety of stress.

Volunteering:
• promotes connection and sharing
• decreases stress and depression
• improves interpersonal skills
• increases gratitude and empathy
• improves understanding of community issues
• strengthens your ability to cope
• makes you feel good about yourself and your gifts and talents

Cornell University studied  the impact of environmental volunteerism on seniors, and discovered  those who volunteer  outside became more physically active and benefitted from being in nature. They had more energy, a greater ability to cope, and stronger emotional well-being. Younger nature volunteers had increased concentration, reduced aggression, decreased stress and improved self-esteem.

If you have not volunteered lately, there are so many groups who need your talents and ideas.  Check your local listings for area non-profits and get started. You DO make a difference.

 

 

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©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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I’ll Do it Later, & Other Reasons We Procrastinate

The Illusive Someday….

Clock from Stress ExpressWe all have things we put off, whether it’s the laundry, key tasks at work, filing, etc.  And we have perfectly good reasons, like “I work better under pressure,” “I’ll get to it later,” “It’s not high priority.”

The thing is, enough of those things we have not done pile up into large incompletions, which sap your energy and pull away from what could be much more significant.  Incompletions are a form of self-sabotage which can create anxiety, worry and tension.

Why do we procrastinate and what can we do?  Here are three reasons and solutions….

1. Perfectionism. Let that go. As my friend Paul Evans says, “Done is better than perfect.”

2. “I work better under pressure.”  Most of us don’t really, and it creates unnecessary stress. Map out 90 minutes of uninterrupted time and get the high level high leverage activity done! 

3. Overwhelm. Chunk the project into small steps that you can easily tackle.  Note your progress, record your successes each step of the way and the project can get done smoothly and efficiently.  Learning to manage your time more effectively can have so many benefits, from greater personal satisfaction to increased income to more time with your family.

 

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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Are You Out of Time?

Time Management for Superstressed People – Part I

Stressed out Woman from Fired Up! and Stress ExpressIn this age of constant information, over scheduled lives and frenetic activity, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that you DO have control over your own time.  If you’re a parent, you probably don’t feel that way, but there are definitely steps you can take to make the difference in your life and schedule.

First, as Tony Jeary writes in his book, Finding 100 Extra Minutes a Day, ask yourself “What is the greatest use of my time right now?”several times throughout the day.  Make sure it is the highest leveraged, biggest ROI activity you can make it. And that does not mean necessarily a financial ROI.  It could be an emotional ROI where you spend much needed time with a neglected loved one.

Prioritize your week’s schedule according to your top priorities, which have the biggest leverage.  Make everything else work around those priorities, whenever possible. If you know you have to take your son to soccer practice two days a week, plan to bring your laptop or iPad and do work while waiting.  Maximize your time so when he comes off the field, you can focus on him.

Get in the habit of saying no.  Don’t over schedule yourself.  My brother had been shuttling his son to 2-3 different sports throughout the week, taking up way to much time.  They let him pick the sport and now it is down to one.  My brother and his wife have much more time to tend to their priorities.  You will, too, once you make decisions that support what is best for the entire family.

Part 2 on Wed.

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. 
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Don’t Sit on Your Anger- Let it Go

Keeping It In Can Be Very Unhealthy

Screaming man who is very stressed outAnger can make you ill.  When small children have a temper tantrum, they get it all out and are fine half and hour later.  Adults tend to not be so lucky. They site and fume and let the anger build until they explode, often at a loved one.  This is clearly not the way to build healthy relationships.

Your body reacts in all sorts of ways when you get angry:
• your muscles tense up
• your heart rate increases  (average heart rate of 80 climbs to 180 beats per minute)
• your blood pressure soars (120/80 quickly rises to 220 over 130)
• your blood sugar drops (dangerous for diabetics or hypoglycemics)

Prolonged stress and anger can lead to many health disorders: heart attacks and stroke, memory impairment, stomachaches, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.  Don’t sit on your anger; defuse it.

Here are 3 ways to release it safely:
1. Write it all down and then tear up the paper into teeny pieces and flush it. Or burn it in a fireplace. This is very satisfying.

2. If you want to hit something, hit a punching bag at a gym or pound pillows.  Stand with feet hip width apart and raise your hands over your head to really put the anger into the pillows.

3. Use empathy.  Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and try to see from their viewpoint.  Have compassion and use forgiveness to process through it.  Forgiveness is always the best healing agent.

Ask yourself, what is the anger costing you?  Usually, it isn’t worth it.  Let it go. You’ll be healthier and happier.

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. 
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More Vacation Days = Better Productivity

More Time Off  Means Better, Happier, Healthier Workers

Did you know that if women aged 45-64 took two weeks of vacation a year, they would cut the incidence of heart attacks in half!  That’s right, the simple act of going on vacation can save your life. (Boston College study)

Exhausted woman from Stress Express!According to Expedia, 34% of employed Americans  return from vacation feeling better about their jobs and are even more productive.  53% say they come back feeling rested and rejuvenated.

At Red Frog, the CEO gives his employees unlimited time off.  That’s right- unlimited time off.  And it’s never abused or taken for granted.  Because more time off means greater productivity.  You have time to recharge and renew; creativity abounds and you return to work with a good attitude, ready to take on challenges.

In 2011, 70% did not take all their allotted vacation time.  Managers: take note- this is not a good idea. Encourage your people to take all their time off, and consider giving them more.  You may just find you have even greater success and better results.

 ©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
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Time with Friends Helps You Sleep Better

Two friends embracingSleep is one of the most critical ingredients to health and stress relief. Less than 7 hours a night is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organization and makes you 3x more susceptible to colds and flu.  You operate at a cognitive disadvantage when you sleep less and are more prone to have 20 pounds of extra weight.

One new study shows that loneliness can contribute to sleeplessness, as well as high blood pressure and depression.  Make time with friends a priority.  27+ million Americans live completely alone.  20% of people feel so cut off from others that loneli ness is a major source of unhappiness. So cultivate new relationships, join clubs around your hobbies and interests, connect with others. Your health will improve and you will sleep better at night, plus you will have greater joy in your life.

 

 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
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The Single Most Important Health Action You Can Take

Just 15 Minutes a Day Can Save Your Life

According to the former US Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, 60% of all Americans do not get sufficient exercise to strengthen their own immune system.  Exercise helps release “feel-good” hormones like serotonin, beta-endorphin, and dopamine into your system.  According to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, even a “sometimes workout” can reduce the risk of heart failure by 18%.  And according to many other wellness sources, 15 minutes a day of some kind of exercise is a huge stress reliever and path to wellness.

So what does that look like? It could be 15 minutes of walking with a few quick sprints thrown in, 15 minutes of dancing, 15 minutes of yoga or tennis playing, 15 minutes of basketball.   The key to exercise is to make it fun and having an exercise buddy will help. Even modest exercise like standing an extra 30 minutes a day can add three years to your life!

So find something that works for you and do it regularly. You;ll live longer, be healthier and have much less stress!

 

 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
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Stress Express Tip: Get Lost in Someone Else’s Life

Relieve Your Stress by Being  Present in the Moment

When your life is too much to take, whether from business pressure or challenges at home, go visit a friend and be totally present for them.  Spend time helping prepare a meal, rebuilding a shed, playing with their children or pets- step into their lives for a day.

I did this when I went out of town to lead a stress management program.  A  friend of mine kindly let me stay at her home.

Giggling, bouncing 7 and 9 year old girls greeted me along with a very friendly golden retriever and a clever black and white cat. ( This cat can open doors by turning the doorknob!) They wanted to connect with me and I enjoyed meeting and learning more about them.  I forgot everything else in my life, came present and just enjoyed the moment.  And as I drove off to “Reignite the Fire” of others, I realized I had not thought about my life, my work or anything else but my friend and her family for several hours.  Refreshing & revitalizing!

 

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 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference.

Fire Up Your Communication with Clarification

Shaking hands  after disagreement to relieve stressMinimize the Stress of Conflict with Better Communication

So often when colleagues are disagreeing with each other, they rarely listen to what the other is saying. In today’s world, we are all so busy, it’s rare that people give each other their undivided attention.  To help diffuse a potentially volatile situation, do the following:

• turn off phones & beepers and give total eye contact to the other person

• be sure you understand exactly what the other person is saying. Rarely do we truly hear the message the first time.  If you are unclear, own it.  Say “I want to make sure I understand your perspective.  Could you please restate it in another way for me?”

That action alone will disarm someone, because they realize you truly want to hear them. We all have that basic need. Most people are delighted to elaborate on their viewpoint.

• While listening, if you find yourself getting more and more agitated, stop the conversation and clarify again, respectfully, carefully.  You could use phrases like:  “Can you elaborate more on that?  Please say more about____.”

Each time you do this, you honor the other person, you cool down and you actually clarify their viewpoint. You might also learn something new.  And best of all, you have diffused a potentially volatile situation that might have led to unpleasant working relationships. Listening well is key to good communication.

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 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference.