1. Making the Time: How to Gain an Extra Hour in Your Day

    March 7, 2014

    Making the Time: How to Gain an Extra Hour in Your Day

    “I don’t have the time.” How many times have you heard that excuse before? How many times have you used it yourself? You’re probably saying to yourself: “Hey it’s not an excuse! I really don’t have the time.” Well, first of all, time is a matter of perception. Meaning it has to do with the way you perceive the world and the concept of time, rather than a real and tangible thing. And how many times have you felt overwhelmed with the amount of work you still have to finish before going home (or bed)? Sounds familiar? Managing effectively your time seems to be an order of the day thing. But this article is not about being more effective in your work, it’s about gaining an extra hour in life for some quality time. Keep on reading.

    Why do I need an extra hour for?

    You might ask. To work more? Definitely not! An extra hour in your day to do whatever you feel like will re-energize you and help you take off steam. What would you love to do? Do you want more time to play with your children? Do you desperately need to relax after a day’s work?

    Use your extra hour for that. Take some time to think. Where can you make the time? Your extra hour will make up for itself. After spending an hour doing what makes you feel good, you’ll have energy to do what’s necessary.

    But first let’s make a few things clear:

    No-one owns time.

    One of my college professors once said during a class (to justify why he wouldn’t tolerate anyone missing paper deadlines) that “time is the most democratic thing there is. It’s exactly the same to everyone.” You can’t buy more time, but you sure can use it in a more effective way. But of course he was German and a working machine! But he was right and I’m glad he taught me that lesson.

    Time doesn’t rule your life.

    You don’t have to be running around everywhere always stressed and trying to accomplish the impossible: beat the space-time continuous and prove it’s possible! Because it’s not, Physics says so. The clock doesn’t rule your life, time is what you do with it (forgive me for using the famous ad sentence). You have a choice: you can live enslaved by the clock or you can make the time for yourself. What’s going to be?

    A few Steps on how to gain an extra hour in your day:

    • Organize yourself. This one seems obvious. Make lists, organize schedules, and make appointments with yourself to take the time to relax.
    • Prioritize. Is it urgent or could it be done later on?
    • Prevent distractions. Yes, drop all social networks right now! How much more focused can you get if you spend an hour without social networks?
    • Can anyone else do it for you? Delegate! Don’t go all superman or wonder woman and try and do everything. Other people can help and that doesn’t make you look weak.
    • Force yourself to stop. Perfectionism is not good for your mental health. You might need to work on your compromise and pronounce it “the best you could do”.
    • Gain time. Is there something you could do less or that will save you time? Why not instead of cooking you can have take out once a week?
    • Procrastination is your worst enemy. And it will clog your life! Take it from someone with experience in procrastination! Get the worst and most unpleasant tasks out of the way first and then move on. If you have that awful chore hanging in your head it will use up precious space in your mind.

     

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/6745404691


  2. Say Goodbye to Stress for Good

    August 1, 2013

    stressed out

    Stress is a killer. It is something that grows and grows inside you and without the proper attention it can lead to all sorts of problems including serious health conditions. Stress isn’t good for anyone but it is hard to escape from so what can you do to make sure it doesn’t take over your life?

    Managing Your Stress

    It’s impossible not to get stressed from time to time. Even the smallest things can raise the blood pressure and release the stress hormone, known as cortisol, into your system.  This is a natural process and there is no getting away from it but you can help yourself manage the effects of stress and refocus your brain to deal with things in new, less harmful ways.

    Mediation isn’t Only for Hippies

    You have to relax but many people choose to do this in front of the television which isn’t ideal. You need to use a different technique that involves some pure peace and quiet so your mind is able to fully relax without any stimulation from the outside world.

    Meditation is the perfect relaxation technique to learn – it’s free and you can do it at any time of the night or day. Get comfortable, there’s no need to get into the lotus position, just sit or lie down and try to control your thoughts. You should aim to keep your attention in the present and focus on your breathing. When thoughts about your family, job or your to do list enter your mind chase them away and come back to the present moment. Start mediating for about five minutes per day and keep practicing – in time you will be able to do this for longer periods.

    Say Goodbye to Pointless Stress

    If you find an activity that you do stressful and it isn’t essential why should you keep doing it? If you hate your job start looking for a new one, you aren’t tied into your job so why sit and suffer? You could go to college, take on a new career, stop running a local club or visiting the same old bar that isn’t quite what it used to be. Change can be a very good thing.

    Do Some Exercise

    Exercise is fantastic for busting stress, improving your energy levels and increases your happiness too. When you exercise you release happy hormones called endorphins. You can exercise in any way you are comfortable with, talking walks, going for jogs, signing up to the gym or following work out videos and tutorials online.

    Make Your Home Your Sanctuary

    You must have at least one room in your home where you feel instantly relaxed. The space you choose should be a room that is free from mess or clutter and doesn’t have any little bits of DIY that need doing. Redecorate the space you choose, add your favourite belongings such as art work, a day bed or reclining sofas and finish off the little jobs so the room is perfect. Use this space to read or enjoy your hobbies or to simply sit and look out of the window.

    Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini

     


  3. The First Step to Coping with Stress

    July 27, 2013

    coping with stress

    by Andy LaPointe

    The first step to coping with stress is to better manage your sleep cycle. According to a survey conducted for Targeted Medical Pharma, 83% of Americans do not get enough sleep. This means only 17% of the entire U.S. population feels rested and ready to conquer the day when they awake. The results of this survey was revealed at the Sleep 2013 conference in June.

    So how does getting a poor night’s sleep affect an individual’s ability to cope with the stress of daily life? When dealing with a stressful situation, either real or perceived, your body immediately goes into the primal “fight or flight” mode. Stress does cause physical changes in your body including shallow breath, heightened sense of awareness and the release of adrenaline. All of these changes are preparing your body to immediately run from danger or face the threat head on. Unlike days gone past, when stress was usually caused by being confronted by a predator or other physically harmful situation, today the majority of stress is caused more by non-physical confrontations liking missing a deadline at work or arguing with the kids.

    However, since physically fighting or running away with co-workers or your kids wouldn’t be appropriate in today’s modern world, your body still reacts the same way. Thus, if your body’s stress is triggered several times per day and you don’t resolve it, you may end up with chronic stress. Chronic stress is where your body is continually in a “stress-out” state. This makes dealing with simple everyday situations (traffic jams, being late for an appointment, car repair issues, etc.) difficult to deal with and more complex issues, (relationship conflicts, work-related issues, etc.) nearly impossible.

    As time passes and stress continues to build, the individual may soon find it difficult to relax. Since relaxation is vital to enjoying a restful night’s sleep, falling asleep and staying asleep becomes more difficult. “Losing sleep” over a real or perceived situation not only makes it difficult to fall back to sleep but an individual may also find themselves waking up several times during the night.

    Strategies to Getting a More Restful Night’s Sleep 

    Several simple strategies are available to get a more restful night’s sleep naturally. The first strategy is to create pre-sleep meditation or night-time rituals. For example, avoid watching television and using electronics (computers, iPad, iPhone, etc.) at least an hour before bed. Electronic devices stimulates brain activity and prevents your mind from slowing down and relaxing, which is vital to falling and remaining asleep. The second strategy would be read a non-business related book to slow the mind prior to going to bed. In addition, avoid alcohol within a few hours of going to sleep.

    According the published research in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research drinking alcohol prior to going to sleep increases your chance of waking up during the night. In addition, it has been long known alcohol also reduces REM sleep, thus lowering the overall quality of sleep.

    Finally, drink a glass of tart cherry juice before bed. Tart cherries are Mother Nature’s top source of naturally occurring melatonin. One ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate mixed with seven ounces of water delivers over 130ng (nanograms) of melatonin. According to Dr. Russell Reiter from the

    University of Texas, to date no other fruit or vegetable has been discovered that provide more melatonin than tart cherries.  Dr. Russell Reiter is often referred to as the “Dean of Melatonin” by his peers.

    In addition to Dr. Reiter’s work on tart cherries, in 2010 Dr. Wilfred Pigeon a researcher at the University of Rochester conducted sleep research with tart cherry juice, too. The results of the research showed the participants who drank the cherry juice, slept an average of 17 minutes more. According to Dr. Pigeon, ‘Given the side-effects of some medications, it is encouraging to have a natural alternative.’

    So the next time stress and anxiety are preventing you from getting a better night’s sleep, create a nightly ritual, avoid drinking alcohol and enjoy a glass of tart cherry juice each night before turning in.

    Image Credit: Jöshua Barnett


  4. How to Manage Stress Based on Your Personality Type

    July 25, 2013

    stressed out

    by Jeff Hirz

    Today’s Western society, somehow, someway, for some reason, is more stressed than it has ever been. Combine long working days with a sense of entitlement, increased incidence of immediate gratification, and the marketing delusion called American (Consumerist’s) Dream, and you’ve got yourself the richest countries in the world that are also the unhappiest and the most stressed.

    So begs the question – what can we do to improve ourselves?

    Starting at the Individual Level

    I am a lowly, burgeoning writer, and thus my talents have what one might call a “fat chance” of impacting the zeitgeist of the age. Therefore my attentions have turned to the individual rather than society as a whole. “Start small,” mama always said . . .

    So how can we, as individuals, improve ourselves? Much of it comes down to simply managing stress. Lower stress levels mean increased dopamine levels (i.e. happiness levels) mean everybody wins, so let’s turn to the wonderful folks at Harvard University to give us some answers. We can qualify and categorize ourselves, which helps many people help themselves, by using the DISC Theory Personality Traits, developed by scientists at Harvard.

    DISC Theory divides human behavior into four categories (or personality types): driver, compliance, influence and steadiness. But how do we incorporate these on an individual level to assist us in effectively managing stress?

    How Driver Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    With much of a driver’s value system centering on control, drive personality types will likely have the hardest time managing stress of all the DISC personalities. A drive personality type, however, is an innovator and problem-solver, having little fear associated with risk-taking – this is a distinct advantage in the area of stress management. They know they have to do something, that they have to take some action, to de-stress. At a surface level, this can be extremely beneficial.

    Driver personality types desire results, and so a step-by-step program with achievable goals along the way is a great starting point. If you can introduce stress management as a challenge to be overcome, a driver will be that much more motivated to effectively manage their stress – likely with a direct correlation with their odds of success.

    How Compliance Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    Compliance personality types are your list-makers, your fact-finders, and your quality control managers. If you find yourself in this category, you’re likely much more likely to bury stress and let it build up, not wanting to cause a fuss or blur any existing boundaries.

    For compliance personality types to effectively manage stress, it’s important that you lay out clear advantages in logical order with plenty of detail – make a detailed list of what it is you want to achieve and map it out for yourself. A strength of compliance personality types is that they are clear and logical thinkers who normally don’t let emotion get in the way of a task, so practicality and preparation is key when discovering why reducing stress levels is important. Clear out the clutter so you can focus in and direct your attention to a singular, clear-cut task.

    How Influence Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    Your influence personality type tends to be the more sensitive one of the group, so consideration of esteem, emotional balance and social acceptance will go a long way. Difficulties that influence personalities will encounter may stem from the fact that they appreciate a little more sensationalism and excitement, so they may be unintentionally welcoming stress into their lives. If you’re not sure you fit this mold, ask yourself this question: “Do I watch Real Housewives of [insert city here]?” If the answer is yes, you may be an influence personality type.

    But there’s still hope! Associate your stress with that same level of excitement and need for a bit of drama and treat it as a problem to be solved – influence personality types are notoriously creative and thrifty problem solvers whose general personality trends toward the positive. View your stress level from a top-down approach with little detail and plenty of freedom for interpretation – the typical influence personality will put more stock in the ride than any type of end-goal or destination.

    How Steadiness Personality Types Can Manage Stress

    Steadiness personalities are, well, steady. They’re the patient ones, the understanding ones, and everybody’s friend. Stress builds up in steadiness personality types due to an inability to juggle multiple tasks, to adapt quickly to change, or to properly establish priorities.

    A good way for the steadiness personality type to manage stress is to take baby steps: lay out a plan where activities are able to be started and finished. Steadiness personality types take great pleasure in the small successes, and so having baby steps along the path to No-Stress Land is a great motivator to pull yourself out of that stressful mindset.

    Keep in mind: most people are a combination of several of these different personality types, so when using the DISC personality types to evaluate how to alleviate your own stress, take into account that you likely don’t fall neatly into any singular category. Take techniques for multiple personality types and combine them to form your own unique method of managing your stress.

    But just knowing your personality type is a good first step. Just remember to keep walking.

    Image Credit: Giulia Bartra


  5. How To Manage Stress During Your Job Search

    June 15, 2013

    Need to manage stress

    by Adrienne Erin

    If you’ve been looking for a job, you probably know that new opportunities don’t show up as quickly or as easily as you would like. There can be long stretches between jobs, when money and your happiness starts to run thin. When this happens, you can become frustrated and disappointed.

    No matter how long you’ve been looking for a new job, stress can enter in as part of the process at any time. Everything from customizing cover letters to waiting for a call from the hiring manager can cause major tension and anxiety. It’s important to cope with this stress, both for the sake of your sanity and for the success of your job search. Seeming desperate, depressed, or cynical can hurt your chances at scoring an interview or an invitation back.

    How do you manage stress when the phone doesn’t ring or there are no emails asking for an interview? Well, the good news is that although job hunting can be challenging, there are choices you can make to decrease stress.

    Get a Support Group

    Every stressful situation is handled more effectively when you have people around you who are supportive. Reaching out to your family and friends about how you’re feeling during your job hunt is a good way to relive stress and lessen the burden. These individuals can give you a boost of confidence right when you need it most and help keep you feeling motivated.

    If you don’t have a support group and you’re feeling uneasy with your job search, try joining an anxiety support group or a group for job searchers to help ease the tension. Being around others who are in similar situations will remind you that you’re not alone in your struggles. Plus, it can be great networking – most of you will not be in direct competition, and you may have contacts that could help your fellow members and vice versa.

    Don’t Overdo It

    Don’t apply for any and every job you find just because you’re feeling a little desperate. Take it easy and only apply for jobs you’re highly qualified for. Even if the bills are piling up or you’re fed up with your boss’s demands, applying for too many jobs will most likely result in a lot of rejection. It will also drain your energy and open the doors for stress to come into your life.

    Make Time for Relaxation

    Your job search should not consume your life and only take up a few hours of your day. Take time to relax and rest so you will be energized when you get back on the job-search grind. Have fun while you’re job searching by keeping an active social life with family and friends. You can also try to take on new, relaxing hobbies, such as organic gardening – this one is excellent to manage stress. It’s important to focus on positive thinking instead of looking at the downsides.

    When you are mentally relaxed, your job search will be more effective — and mentally relaxed candidates are more attractive candidates.

    Keep a Positive Attitude

    It can be hard to keep a positive attitude if you’ve lost your job or hate the one you do have, but you must have one in order to keep stress away. Your job search will be more useful if you remain focused and motivated throughout the process. If you don’t think you are worthy of being hired, this will be evident in your interview skills and affect your desire to look for work. Instead, put your best foot forward and focus on the positives. When you have confidence, it will show in your demeanor and transfer over to your job searching skills.

    Image Credit: Alec Couros