Tag Archives: remedies for work stress

Recipe for Resilience

There are times when it appears the tide has washed ashore.  Your boat has sprung a leak. The sun has set in your backyard.

During these temporary dark periods it appears that no matter how quickly you bail out water, paddle up stream, reach for safer ground, you still get nowhere.

You may widely open the window; nevertheless, it is you who refuses to let in the sunlight.  No one else is refusing to count the multiple blessings, nor adopt an attitude of gratitude.

Snap out of it I say. Pronto! Press the reset button. Take action immediately.

Stop watching the same old movie. No more complaining!  Sing a different song. The pity party ends right here, right now!

Instead, laugh yourself silly. Put the spring back in your walk. Get your groove back. Put the smile back on your face. You have the power. It’s sticky.  It will catch up with the rest of you, promise.

Start over immediately. There isn’t a second to lose. Why not start the day with a fresh new attitude?

I was reminded of this and the power of resilience by my children. I taught them that no problem is insurmountable. All issues large or small, simple or complex, common knowledge or private, could be handled collectively. They were raised to believe not much could not be cured at the dinner table, or through my home baked chocolate chip cookies, a pot of meatballs, and a large dose of laughter.

Years have progressed, problems have multiplied and grown in complexity; nevertheless, the rules of engagement, secrecy and comfort via the dinner table still apply. Last week my son relayed a story of such intense magnitude my hair practically stood up on end. My daughter’s reaction: “That is horrible”, visibly shaken. “So sad”, (Compassion)! Next, “We really dodged a bullet.”(No codependency there). Finally, “Pass the kale”. (Movin’ On)

I taught them well.  Be compassionate. Know what is yours. Move on.

Foodie that I am, here is my RECIPE for Resilience. Thanks for the inspiration, kids.

R is for Response, Reaction & Relationships:

Your response and reaction to any given situation makes a world of difference in how things will turn out. Some people love a good challenge. Other people’s reaction: why me?

My rule of thumb:

Adversity = Opportunity

I say seize the opportunity. What is the nugget you can grab to learn, grow or prosper?

Can you turn adversity into a stepping stone for personal growth and greatness?

Connections are the heart of my world. My relationships run deep.

In relationships I used to only show up as my personal best. Now I understand that is utter nonsense. It’s exhausting! It is only by allowing ourselves to expose our imperfections, flaws and weakness, that one can fully explore, gain insight and restore emotional equilibrium.  Love me or leave me I say. That’s how I sort out the excess.

Choose your confidants wisely.

Rule of thumb:

To have a friend you need to be a friend.

You can learn a lot hanging around the playground.

E is for ENTHUSIASM:

I truly have a zest for life.

It has been said that my mood and attitude on my worst days resemble that of the average person on their best.

I dance like no one is watching. I sing at the top of my lungs, anywhere, always.  I have no business singing anywhere, ever. Every song is my favorite, ask my kids.  I dress everyday as if I am going to a party. I always wear matching undergarments, in case of accidents. I will try any, I mean any, exercise craze, check out my basement.  I begin each project with total commitment.  I enter all relationships with my whole heart and total abandon.

This is how I roll. This is how I am wired. This is my genetic default button.

How does this help build resilience?

I fake it till I make it.  I never let them see me sweat.  I set the mood and hope the rest of me catches up. Eventually it does.

There are times in life when you will be presented with obstacles. You can view these as challenges or fight to the finish line. Or sing, dance, and look great doing it. Your choice! J

C is for CYCLES & CHANGE

This too shall pass. What goes around comes around. What seems life altering today will not raise your blood pressure six months down the line.

This is hard to fathom when you are swimming upstream in the muck. It is true.

I have heard it said if you round up your friends, colleagues, and even a random stranger or two; put your problems in a hat, you would most likely take back your own.

It is also likely true that the dream job, home, boss and romances unrequited; were really nightmares and bullets dodged.  We just didn’t realize it at the time.

Change is inevitable. I never like to get too comfortable in life because as soon as I do, boom, disaster.   Nine out of ten times the change is good. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

Chin up. Keep the faith. Retain your attitude of gratitude.

For this I keep a Gratitude List:

Every night before I got to sleep I write down at LEAST three things I have to be grateful for.

Even in our darkest periods, we still can count our blessings. Try it and see how quickly the cycles turn in your favor.

I is for INDEPENDENCE:

You were brought onto this planet alone and you will leave it alone.

The truth is, no one is going to save you but YOU.

I spent the first half of my life waiting for my ship to come in; unfortunately I was at the airport.

There was no knight in shining armor for me.  No quick fix. No magic bullets. No happily ever after. Thank goodness!

That is what built grit. The perfect playing field for transformation. When the hard work was necessary the magic could begin!

You can lean on your family and friends. You can read, download, mainline and listen to self-help audiobooks till you become the foremost authority on inner strength or your eyes and ears bleed. Attend all the latest and greatest “kick life in the butt” seminars and workshops. Do yoga, meditate, and stand on you head till you are centered yet blue on the face. In the end it is YOU who will need to take control of your destiny.

Vow to wake up tomorrow knowing that YOU have all the ingredients YOU need to have a fabulous life. YOU have the power to be and do anything YOU want. YOU will be, and do anything YOU want, provided YOU are willing to do the work.

P is for PREPARATION & PLAN B

You can never be too prepared in life; nor should you be without a carefully drafted backup plan. I fondly refer to this as a Plan B.  Doesn’t hurt to have a Plan C and D just in case.

Don’t wait till the floor drops out beneath you, you are gasping for air, have your finger in the dam, while balancing on the ledge by your pinky toe.  The time to spring into action is now!

It will not help if you wait till you are down-sized to update your resume, Bio, and LinkedIn Profile. Update them today! Keep your coach and recruiters closely on hand too.

Don’t continue to linger in negative relationships.  Take control and ask for what you want. Do the soul searching required. Have the confidence necessary to get what you need, or move on.

Don’t wait to go on a diet. Go back to school. Sign up for the webinar. Update your computer skills, or get a new haircut. DO IT NOW!

Whatever you want to be, do, and have, is in your grasp.   If you are willing to put in the work.

I always have my back up plan at the ready. I pack my parachute with a plan B and C.  I keep a plan D and E tucked up my sleeve and shoved in my back pocket, just in case. Life has dealt me an interesting hand. I revel in it. Think of me as a Resiliency Eagle Scout.

Having a backup plan takes commitment and energy.

I work at it hard. I set challenges and hurdles beyond my grasp. I envision the outcomes. I imagine I have already achieved the goal and initiative. My credo, “Failure isn’t an Option”.  In my case it really wasn’t.  It was a matter of life or death. Eat or be eaten. Feeding your kids or not feeding you kids.

I recommend getting an Accountability Partner.  Someone to share your goals and aspirations with.  Someone to send your weekly goals to, who will hold you accountable. They will listen to you when you lose faith. Steer you back on track when you turn left instead or right. Become your confidant, guidepost and most trusted advisor. Most importantly they celebrate your wins!

Second tip, do three things a day toward your goals each day.  It does not matter how big or small.

What happens when you fail to take action?

Answer: Nothing

E is for ENERGY

Energy is the life force of the universe. Since this is a business blog I will spare you my spiritual mambo jumbo  and hide my Zen a bit.  I will not pontificate on the point.

Simple stated, what you put out into the universe will return. The earth is a cosmic boomerang. Like attracts like. Positive attracts positive.   Kind acts will beget more kind acts.  Compassion and empathy the same.

Careful here folks. In Reverse, evil will attract evil. Negative thoughts will bring on more negative thoughts. Disasterous thinking can bring on catastrophe.

What’s a girl to do? Change you attitude, obviously. Tall order. Difficult at best. Not impossible.

Here’s my trick.  Think of yourself as a bucket of energy.  Grab a piece of paper and make a line down the middle. On one side jot down all of the things that zap your energy; on the other side write down all the things that restore your energy reserves.  The goal is to always keep the bucket balanced. This will restore you to sanity.

SWAT and Guerilla Restoration Tactics

Some weeks are harder than others.  It feels the elements have conspired against you. G-d has thrown down the gauntlet.

For these times you must strap on the heavy artillery. Dig deep into your bag of tricks. Create a recovery Pu-Pu Platter of sorts, if you are to find your way back home.

These are the Sundays I play my Fight Song, dance with abandon, and sing along at the top of my lungs.  Your Fight Song is the song you keep on your iPod that revives your energy stores. Makes you want to pump your fists. You know the one that makes you know you can fight another day.  If you do not have one, get one immediately.  I have a whole playlist!

Take your Fight Song on the road. Walk, run, jump, cycle, spin in circles for all I care, MOVE.  I do yoga till my muscles shake at these times. I breathe, release, I MOVE ON!

Once depleted, I dance barefoot in my kitchen while donning a facemask, in between cleaning out closets. Multitasking is as essential as self-care during times of stress.  I will do this while stirring a pot of meatballs, and baking a fresh batch of cookies.  As the sauce simmers and the sweet smell of baked goods wafts through the house, it further settles any residue stress.  I then calmly prepare for the week ahead. I am ready.

As I gather my family back at the dinner table to share a meal and solve the world’s problems; I am now ready willing and able.  Resilience restored, they can hit me with their best shot.

We have gone full circle my dear readers.

As my son gathers his things to drive off into the sunset, I know all is well in my world.

I hope you too digested this recipe and are full of hope and new possibilities.

 

Happiness Is ……

“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”.
I recently came across this quote by Helen Keller that gave me reason for pause. It made me contemplate whether life had become so complicated that we have raised the bar too high on how we measure happiness? When we finally do get what we want in life do we stop to savor the moment? Do we move right on to the next big thing? Do we ever slow down long enough to appreciate the little things that bring us happiness every day?
When I was growing up I loved the Peanuts’ song, “Happiness is………..”. I know it was a simpler time, but they were really on to something. They based happiness on uncomplicated principles like, “Two kinds of Ice cream”, “Finding a firefly” and “Tying a shoe for the very first time”.

 

Happiness is 2
One can also learn a thing or two from to the Vantrap family during “The Sound of Music.” Talk about setting a positive example; while escaping occupation, Maria counseled the children to focus on a “Few of their favorite things”! Again, she based happiness on simpler things like “Raindrops on roses” and “Whiskers on kittens”. She further instructed them about the power of positive thinking by prompting them that when “the dog bites” and the “bee stings” that if they simply remembered their favorite things then they won’t feel so bad.

p2p-europe-photo-austria-sound-of-music

These examples of course are not based on reality. They were not working toward their next big promotion, saving for their dream homes, dealing with work life balance issues or recovering from the recession. Nevertheless, the antidotes they offer may be just what we all need?
I decided to take their advice and create a list of my own to keep handy during challenging times. Just thinking about the my favorite things made me smile and lifted my spirits immediately. I suggest you make a list of your own.
Here are a few of my favorite things. Happiness is:
1. The first sip of coffee in the morning.
2. The first crisp fall morning that requires me to run back in and grab a sweater.
3. A clean new note book and any kind of new office supply.
4. A book that is so good that I lose all sense and time. When I turn the last page I am actually bereaved because I will miss the characters.
5. Drinking a bottle of wine that I have saved for many years that it is well worth the wait!
6. Sitting around my farm table with my whole family talking long after we have finished the last bites of dinner.
7. French fries, pizza and ice cream with mix- ins.
8. A great sale!
9. Boots, jackets and hand bags!
10. Getting an A in school.
11. Stretching past my comfort zone and learning a new skill.
12. Date night with my husband.
13. A great meal and cool new restaurant.
14. Walks with my girlfriends, long talks on the phone, and Sunday movie dates.
15. Helping anyone.
16. Time with my family (bears repeating).

Now I am not suggesting for one minute that you stop striving for greatness or that we should not set the bar high to reach our goals and ambitions; I am however suggesting that we take some time to enjoy and notice the things that bring us happiness along the way.
What is on the top of your list? I would love to know.

“Roll with It” – Tips for Embracing Life’s Ups and Downs

   At the risk of sounding cliché, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”

 I used to spend a lot of time and energy trying to reach equilibrium in life and chasing the status quo.  I have now learned to live in a world of uncertainty and embrace “peaceful connected moments” as they arise.

 What is a “peaceful connected moment” you ask?

 When I first got remarried my husband did not understand what I was talking about when I kept referring to “peaceful connected moments“.  That was before he moved in with my teenagers and we both entered the world of management.

Peaceful connected moments at work are the days you actually finish a project instead putting out fires. You catch up on your e-mails, instead of running from meeting to meeting, or you actually stop to eat lunch, instead of running down the hall while sipping soup out of a mug!

running with soup

 Peaceful connected moments at home are weeks in between college and job interviews for your young adults. Nights you go home after work instead of running to sports events, back to school nights or concerts.  Months where you are not moving into or out of dorm rooms or apartments, your kids come home at a decent hour, and no one smashes the car!  

 They also consist of weekends when you have no scheduled plans and you can just lie on the couch in your pajamas reading and catch up on your favorite programs.

 Let’s face it, if you are anything like me these “peaceful connected moments” described above are few and far between, and I only just brushed the surface! 

 So how can one cope with the frantic pace of a busy live?  I suggest you “roll with it.”

 Here are some of my favorite tips for coping with life’s crazy pace:

 1. Embrace it – Life goes by so quickly; what I would not do now to go after work to watch my son run track or go to my daughters art show!

 2. Learn something– often when work is  most challenging  I learn the most.  Maybe you will need to take a stretch assignment, a new system will need to be created and put into place, or an important lesson needs to be learned for the future.

 3.  Reach Out– Find someone who has walked this path before and contact them. We all like to believe we are terminally unique, but chances are if you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed others are feeling the same way.  I always keep my personal network close at hand during these times to give me personal or professional advice, or talk me off the ledge if necessary!

 4. Take a breath– I am a hugely into meditating.  Now I know that this is not for everyone, but surely you can close your eyes and take a couple of breaths to re-center.  Keep in mind that if you practice traditional meditation in a public setting or at the office people may think you are strange.  (Take it from me and just breathe till you get home.)

Yoga at work

 5.  Look your best   My Aunt Phyllis always used to say, “If you can’t play tennis, then get a great outfit and learn how to jump over the net.”  Put your best self on display.  Only you need to know that you feel overwhelmed.  My sister in law always used to say to me, “You look great, what’s wrong?”

woman jumping over the net

 6.  Exercise- this is the best method for keeping stress at bay. My assistant always takes a walk around the block at lunch before we start a new project.

 7.  Eat well   Although chocolate and potato chips (in that order) offer the perfect diet solution for most of what ails us, you will then be dealing with two issues. Better to eat well and look and feel your best, (see # 5).   I highly recommend the running with soup diet. (See #6)

 Woman running with soup

 8.  Read a book– I was raised to believe that this is the solution for everything; in this case it offers a great diversion.  Audiobooks work too if you are too stressed to concentrate.

 10. Sleep   nothing helps you cope better with stress than getting a good night’s sleep.  Naps are also a great way to regroup and gather the energy you needed to go on. (Do not do this at work, it will be seen as counterproductive)

woman sleeping at her desk

 11.  Have Fun– we never laugh harder at work than when we are stressed out! At home I always make sure to have something fun planned on the weekend, especially at the end of a particularly hard week.

 12.  Have Faith– this too shall pass, IT ALWAYS DOES!

   So the next time work and life have got you stressed, grab this list and “Roll with it”!   Whether you decide to take a breath, exercise, call a friend or read a book, it won’t be long before you are creating your own “peaceful connected moments“.

 This to shall pass