1. Tips for Professionals: Stress Management with Positive Thinking

    May 15, 2013

    fight stress with positive thinking

    by Lindsey Dahlberg


    If you are a professional, you know how difficult positive thinking can be.  You are constantly surrounded by negativity, aggression, selfishness, hostility, suspiciousness, and cynicism.  Plus, there aren’t enough hours in the day and stress can often get the best of you.

    The demands of the job are intense and stress can wear you down. Just when you manage to survive one week, the next week is quickly upon you with an ever growing pile of work.

    There are days when there is nothing left in the tank, but you still have to deal with difficult clients and ominous timelines. You limp home tired and worn out. Stress and negativity seem to be sewn into the very fabric of what it means to be a professional. It doesn’t matter what field you are in either, or how big the company is – the burden on your shoulders can be too much at times.

    How can you survive the day to day beatings you are subjected to?


    Identifying the Source of Stress

    What exactly is causing you so much stress? The work itself is not easy and is probably the main cause for your stress. Being a professional is demanding and the work can be difficult. To compound this problem, there is a lot of this demanding work to be done – mountains of work that seem unassailable.

    The deadlines creep up on you and feel like an ever tightening noose. You spend more time in your office than anywhere else. There are a lot of days when you get to the office in the dark and leave in the dark. Time is a scarce and precious commodity, and nowhere is it truer that time is money.

    Add to the mix office politics and dealing with other professionals and clients. The competition can be intense and draining, confrontations can be ugly. Plus, you have to deal with clients and customers who can be hostile.

    Female professionals can have even a tougher row to hoe with the added pressure of responsibilities at home. Childcare and domestic concerns add a whole new dimension to the stress level of a professional.


    Understanding the Results of Stress

    Growing stress levels can only stay bottled up for so long before an eruption occurs. In the meantime, stress will wear you down like a corrosive acid. Your emotional and physical being will be impacted. Muscle aches, high blood pressure, upset stomach, ulcers, and a weakened immune system are just some of the physical symptoms of stress. Depression, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness are the hallmarks of emotional stress.

    This stress will impact all other areas of life. Because you are filled with stress and other strong emotions, a slight bump in the road can easily cause some of those emotions to spill out. Your family may end up taking the brunt of your stress. It should be no surprise that successful professionals have high divorce rates. Others fall into the trap of substance abuse to try to deal with their stress load.


    Stress Management and Positive Thinking Techniques

    Different people deal with stress in different ways, and there are various ways to achieve and maintain a positive mindset.

    The following techniques have helped a lot of professionals manage their stress load and find time to take care of themselves. If the problems you face seem insurmountable and hopeless, talk to a professional counselor or medical professional for options and treatments.


    Analyze Your Thoughts and Emotions

    Top-notch professionals are often stereotyped as being tough and hardened individuals. They are seen to be logical, analytical and detached. While being detached from certain things is good, being detached from your thoughts and emotions is not healthy.

    In order to deal with your emotions and thoughts, you will need to slow down. Ask yourself what you are feeling and why. Are you struggling with fear? Are these fears realistic and sensible?


    Prioritize and Schedule Tasks

    The pressure of time can be especially stressful. When facing a big task that will involve a lot of time and energy, we can often procrastinate by busying ourselves with projects of lesser importance. Being busy for the sake of being busy is not an effective use of time.

    Priorities need to be established and tasks need to be done according to level of importance. Set deadlines, prioritize tasks by importance, and consider the amount of work involved with each obligation.

    Lists are a great way to keep you on the straight and narrow; they help keep you from meandering through your work. Make a list of all your long term projects; record deadlines, due dates, and generalities of these long term projects.

    Make a second list for everyday tasks. This will look more like a ‘to-do’ list and will help you get through the smaller tasks. This will give you a good idea of what you are up against.  You won’t have sudden deadline surprises or forgotten items to deal with. You can leave at the end of the day knowing that everything is under control and organized.

    Some professionals have a daily list that is even broken down by hour. This may not be a great strategy as this can easily add to your stress load. You will feel like your day has gone off the rails if one of the items extends into the next hour.

    Keep a calendar for all of your scheduled events. Make sure you carefully work around this list.


    Make Time to Relax

    As mentioned above, stress can take a toll on the physical aspects of a person. You may have your time management down pat, but you are still feeling the effects of stress.  A few minutes throughout your day is all you will need to combat stress that has physical ramifications.

    Your body is not designed to sit in a chair for hours at a time. Get out of your chair periodically and stretch. Work from the top of your body and stretch your way down.

    Another tactic is proper breathing. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Hold your breath for a moment and then release your breath out slowly. Continue to do so until you feel some of the stress and anxiety decreasing.


    Deal with Your Stress

    Find what works for you. Office exercises and breathing techniques might be the ticket. Or you may find a brisk walk at lunch to be effective. It is also suggested that you find an outlet to clear your mind and deal with stress. Sports are great for that; there aren’t many people who limp off the racquetball court with a head full of stress!

    The key is to strike up a balance in your life between work, home, family, and your interests. Don’t let yourself slip below waves of stress and negativity.  Take control and tackle the stress head on.  Keep thinking positively and you’ll do great!

    How have you learned to deal with stress in your busy workday?


    Author Bio: Lindsey Dahlberg works for a lawyer in Clearwater.  Her obligations at the law office – dealing with nasty divorces, handling the delicate issues of estate planning, providing legal assistance to a variety of harassed clients – leaves her feeling drained and exhausted at the end of the day.  Like any other lawyer or business professional, Lindsey has experienced firsthand the devastating effects of stress. She has also seen how proper stress management techniques, combined with a positive attitude, can really make a big difference in her professional life as a lawyer and her personal life at home.

    Image Credit: sunshinecity

  2. Robotic Pets for Animal Therapy?

    May 2, 2013


    animal therapy

    by Sandy Cosser


    You may have heard of animal therapy. In fact, you have almost definitely heard of animal therapy because it was used quite a lot after 9/11 to help survivors deal with the trauma. It is exactly what it says on the tin; animals (pets) are used as therapeutic aids. They’re used in a variety of circumstances. Psychologists use pet therapy to help autistic children, ADHD children, children in hospitals, and the elderly in aged care facilities. In fact, animal therapy goes back all the way to Greek God of Healing Asclepius.

    You may immediately think of dogs as therapy animals, but a number of animals can be used, including cats, birds, and horses.

    Even robotic seals get in on the action.

    Say again?

    Paro is a robotic seal that was first developed in Japan (where else) as a substitute for real pets in aged care homes. This was way back in 1993 – well, that’s when development started. By 2002 he was setting world records (for the most therapeutic robot, so he’s not alone in the world), and by 2004 he was winning over people in old age homes. In 2009, he started to achieve international success, especially in Denmark (web-japan.org).

    It’s not as crazy as it sounds because the furry therapeutic robot has proven to be as successful as real animals. In fact, Paro has a couple of advantages over the real thing; foremost of which is that he doesn’t need to be house trained.

    He’s also hypoallergenic, so there is no worry that ill children or fragile old people will end up in hives or with chronic sinus problems. And, there is no chance that he will be spooked or get overexcited and hurt someone (therapy animals are carefully selected for their mild nature, but let’s face it, all animals can be unpredictable – people included).

    Thanks to his robotic nature, Paro is not merely a passive toy, absorbing cuddles and giving nothing back. Shibata Takanori, senior research scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), designed him to be interactive. He responds to attention – spoken and tactile – and even has a range of facial expressions to express his joy at being petted. And, he doesn’t like it when people get too rough, which helps teach autistic kids some important lessons.

    Better than the real thing?

    Surely a robotic seal, no matter how cute and hygienic, couldn’t be preferred over a real live dog or cat? Well, it seems that the aged in Japan really do prefer their automated therapy.

    In April 2010, Robotic Zeitgeist reported that the demand for Paro was so great that Fujitsu was inspired to make its own therapeutic aid, this time in the form of a robotic teddy bear. It also comes with sensors galore so that it can respond to touch and voice.

    So, is it better than the real thing?

    Not everyone is sold on the idea of robot animal therapists. People in western world, for example, haven’t taken to robots with the zeal of those in the Orient. Perhaps too many sci-fi books and movies have made us wary of artificial intelligence, at least as far as trusting it with the mental health of our loved ones goes.

    As far as children are concerned, it seems that real animals are better than the robotic kind. This is because children form a real bond with the animals. In many cases, the animals have their own disabilities to overcome, which deepens the bond and promotes healing on both sides.

    Whether you like you therapy pets with real flesh and blood or with programmed emotional responses, there is a growing body of evidence that proves furry friends can play a vital role as companions and therapeutic aids in hospitals, aged care facilities, and even jails.

    Author Bio: Sandy Cosser writes articles for Skilled Migrant Jobs, a niche job board that helps professional immigrants, such as healthcare professionals, find jobs in Australia.

    Image Credit: yogamama.co.uk