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. Eustress vs. Distress or How To Turn Stress into Energy

    December 16, 2013

    How To Turn Stress into Energy

    Modern anti-stress techniques urge us to deal with stress, to nip it in the bud and to build a life without it. We are striving to gain well-balanced life and are searching for methods of “defeating stress” to avoid anxiety and depression resulting from too much stress. Yet, we do not take into account one important issue: stress is life itself, you cannot live your life without experiencing stress. What matters is the way you handle stress. The only step we need to take in a stressful situation is to transform stress into energy!

    Stress is one of the most “fashionable” topics. Many scientific papers are devoted to stress. We are discussing stress on TV screens and radio programs. And it is impossible to count how many techniques aiming at fighting with stress have been created recently! Stress is to blame for all our problems and diseases, starting from depression, hair loss and menstrual disruptions ending with unsuccessful relationships and deficiencies in parenting. Stress is a cult that needs to be maintained! But otherwise, we are living in conditions that require us to produce urgent and emergency reactions and decisions, as we know, these decisions and actions become a reason for stress. Do you really believe that our ancestors did not know what stress was? Do you think that only in the age of information technology we are facing this problem?

    In 2009, Canadian scientists examined the remains of the ancient Incas in order to find samples of cortisol (a stress hormone) in hair. The result was unexpected: people living in the 1530-1550 years BC were not just familiar with stress, they lived in conditions of constant stress. Thus, we can’t blame civilization and our informational society for problems caused by stress.

    It’s normal to be nervous!

    Try to avoid stress is the same as avoiding life. Stress is a natural reaction to any psychological or physical effects, causing loss of balance in our organism.

    There are two types of stress:

    Eustress – positive (favorable) stress

    Distress – negative (unfavorable) stress

    Eustress helps us to concentrate and defend ourselves in case of threat or danger. In most cases, eustress positively affects a person: strengthens the immune system, improves physical and emotional endurance, develops abilities for adaptation. However, please note an important point: eustress usually does not last long. In other words, in a stressful situation, the human body, “released” hormone cortisol, mobilized forces, solved the problem and immediately relaxed. This is a kind of training.

    Distress is another thing. It occurs when, despite of all efforts, the problem can’t be solved and the organism can’t relax. The body remains in an extremely tense state. Immune system suffers first leading to further health problems. It is possible to cope with distress only with the assistance of a specialist. But, fortunately, such situations are infrequent in our everyday life. Usually, what we used to call stress is eustress. Therefore, our task is to benefit from it!

    Eustress as a source of energy

    Imagine the situation: a person lives a quiet, even boring life. He doesn’t have to make special efforts to do something. And suddenly he faces a serious problem, for example, he is dismissed. Suddenly he has to survive, thus, a person has to try new areas and things and eventually succeeds. Under stress the body prepares to deal with danger and this generates a huge amount of extra energy. Our task is to “catch”  the moment and send this energy in the right direction. If you learn to manage the specified energy – you can achieve anything you want!

    Dealing with stress

    The logical question is: what to do when you experience stress? First of all let’s see what we are forbidden to do:

    – to get caught in an endless loop of negative situation or rather perception of it as negative;

    – to ignore stress (even a small problem can turn into distress in case you choose to do nothing);

    – suppress stress (the problem remains unresolved, the organism can’t “relax”). This is your sure route to clinical anxiety and depression.

    It is important to understand that stress needs to be managed! Once you find yourself in a difficult situation you have to do something and try to fix it. It is important to act, even if actions do not bring the desired effect. After surviving stress you should help the body to recover and simply relax: at physiological level the muscle tone will go down and excess cortisol will be neutralized.

    5 effective ways to manage stress

    Physical activity. During the stressful situation, and especially after coping with it, you need to give your body the physical activity that will bring a desirable muscle relaxation. If relaxation is not achieved, you cannot come out of the stressful state, even when the danger is left behind. So get used to end any negative situation with physical exercises. After an argument with a colleague, you can go outside and walk briskly. Difficult day can be finished with the training in the gym, etc.

    Breathe!  If you are extremely nervous, the wisest decision will be to step aside and make 10 deep breaths. In this situation, an additional dose of oxygen will be useful and  will help to gain relaxation.

    Meditation! Take advantage of the method of meditation excellent for you: audio (listen to music), light (look at the calming color, starry sky, the candle flame) or dance. The main purpose is to stop the flow of negative thoughts. Neuroscientists recently proved that meditation repairs damage to your brain cells and is the best stress recovery tool you have in your disposal.

    Speak! The most ancient method of solving the problem was speaking about it. Talk to a close friend, share the situation on the forum, or just talk to yourself.

    Laugh! Laughter is one of the best remedies against stress, as it accelerates the synthesis of serotonin (the hormone is efficient against stress hormone). Watch a fascinating comedy movie or communicate with a person having a great sense of humor and you will see that the problem is fading away.

    Psychologists claim that stress is not the situation itself, it’s our attitude towards it. In order to successfully fight with negative emotions, you need to work on yourself. Remember, stress is the potential that can lead you to a dizzying success!

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71038389@N00/3278662048

  3. Learn How To Defeat Stress

    October 5, 2013

    defeat stressby Sam Cleveland

    Stress can get incredibly burdensome. It can affect both your productivity and health. This is why it pays to take control of frustrating situations by training yourself. With good coping skills, you can surely take on seemingly unbearable challenges of the day. Below are practical tips for you to handle pressure, and enjoy more out of life.

    Find the Source of Your Stress

    First, you need to know why, how, and when you feel pressured, so you’ll have a better perspective of yourself.  This can be difficult as there are many factors which disgruntle you. For other situations, the reasons for stress may not be obvious.

    To avoid the confusion, you need to be more attentive on your daily tasks. You may realize how certain deadlines can always put you on the edge. Perhaps heavily reading through documents make you feel drained. A good way to find the sources of your stress is to make a journal. You can plot the days when you mostly experience straining activities, and which times are more relaxed.

    By identifying the culprit scenarios, you can find ways to avoid or control them. If your keyboard is not easy to use, you can have it replaced. When it seems you have too much task to work on, discuss it with your supervisor. In time, you will see the pattern of your stress levels. When you understand how you react in given situations, you can find a way to lighten your load.

    Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep

    Sleep recharges your body after a whole day’s work. Try get to less of it, and you’ll end up feeling lousy the day after. It also doesn’t help if you’re constantly stressed out with irregular sleeping habits. You end up feeling tired and when it’s time for you to finally rest, you’ll have more difficulty to snooze.

    It’s best to sleep for six to eight hours a day. This is the optimum amount of time for your body to rest through the night. You should also rest early, so you won’t feel pressured of dozing off within a scheduled time. If you are having a hard time to get sleepy, try doing a breathing exercise. This helps you lessen the tension in your body as well as the stress hormones in your body are lowered.

    Visit a Health Retreat

    Most people experience lifestyle tensions due to pollution, noise, and other urban environmental factors. You can to recharge your body by taking a trip to a health retreat centre. This venue is not just a resort for you to go to on vacation. It’s specifically made to make sure you establish a healthy state of mind.

    Most health retreats consist of specialised facilities such as day spas, heated pools, and dance studios for yoga sessions. They can even be located in mountainous areas, so visitors could engage in mountain trekking, hiking, or other physically enriching activities. Health retreats also serve nutrient-packed dishes. All in all, the activities, facilities, and food selections help to detoxify your body. When you get home, you’ll be more ready to fight another batch of stress-related challenges.

    Organize your life

    Clutter in your office, home, and even your car can mentally influence you. It shows disorder, and these would make you feel even more stressed out. You’ll end up thinking of a schedule to get your place in order. You might often feel out of focus in your daily work task because of the mess. Important items such as the keys to your car might be lost in the shuffle. Organising your desk, the rooms of your house, and everything else you see in your life can benefit you. It can give you a clear mental state which aids you to combat stress.

    To have a healthy state of mind, remember to be active and organize. You should also consider a trip outside the city to help you in lowering your stress levels.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaparral/730400293

  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. 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?

    Image Credit: sunshinecity

  6. Celebrating Stress Awareness Month by Mastering the Art of Positive Thinking

    April 24, 2013

    Positive thinking

    Image Credit: Wagner Cesar Munhoz

    by Melissa Page

    April 1 marks the beginning of the National Stress Awareness Month, which was designated since April 1992. What better time to engage in stress-relieving steps for a happier and healthier life than today?

    Articles on managing, if not relieving, stress has gained a great deal of attention in the recent years. From what we’ve heard and read, positive thinking (aside from relaxation and coping techniques) has proven to be helpful in decreasing a person’s stress levels.

    What is positive thinking?

    Positive thinking is an attitude that makes you face life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the bad ones; instead, its about approaching stressful events in a more positive light.

    You may have heard the question Is the glass half empty, or half full? a hundred times. It may sound ordinary, but your answer to that question actually illustrates your general outlook in life.

    If you answer the second option, you’re on the right track. Why?

    Benefits of thinking positively

    According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking is more than just a stress buster – it eventually leads to a drastic improvement of one’s health. Researchers have found that a person who thinks positively is most likely to have an increased lifespan, decreased depression rate, greater resistance to the common cold, better psychological well-being, reduction of death through cardiovascular disease, and better coping skills.

    Ways to promote positive thinking

    1. Avoid negative self talk.

    Does your inner voice focus on negative thoughts? Do you mentally tell yourself you’re no good? Try to take a moment to stop and assess what you tell yourself.

    If your thoughts center on negative ideas, turn that negative self-talk to positive self-talk instead. Replace your negative statements with milder wording. For instance, instead of saying “hate,” say “don’t like.” Sounds less negative, right?

    2. Develop a list of affirmations.

    Do you think your life is a mess and you are a failure? To overcome this negative feeling, developing a list of affirmations may help. Positive affirmations help you reprogram your thinking and gives you positive attitudes and thoughts to promote self confidence.

    Affirmations such as “I finish my job with ease” or “I see challenges as an opportunity to grow” are good examples. List them down and read them to yourself at least twice a day!

    3. Surround yourself with positive people.

    As the adage goes, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” More often than not, the people we mingle and stay close to have influence on us. How your friends react will eventually be the way you react as well.

    It helps to be with people who think positively. When you are together, you get to learn and follow their type of thinking in response to different situations. If you stay with negative-minded people, your habit of negative self-talk will be difficult to change.

    4. Smile and laugh often.

    A real, genuine smile can help change how you see things in life. Although it can be really difficult, it is important to stay open to laughter, humor, and lightness. Sometimes, when you see potential humor in a situation, you tend to reduce stress and lighten your mood.

    So next time you’re under a cloud, try watching something funny online or read a joke you always crack up to. Smiling and laughing helps you psychologically and physically, too!

    5. Cultivate optimism.

    Even if you are an optimist since birth, positive thinking needs effort. Staying optimistic is like strengthening a muscle –  the more you use it, the stronger it will become. When you start to engage in negative thinking, don’t hesitate to ask help and encouragement from friends and family.

    Are you now ready to enjoy greater happiness, health benefits and well being? Start thinking positive!