All Articles Tagged "stress"
Seasonal Stressers: How To Unwind At Work, At Home, and Everywhere in Between During This Holiday Period
End-of-the-year work crunch. Holiday shopping and entertaining. Crowded public transportation and traffic jams. This can all lead up to major stress. But you can take steps to de-stress and enjoy the season to its fullest.
Stressers at work can be at an all-time high at this time of year, as projects may need to completed before the year’s end, you may have more meetings with potential clients to ink deals to start 2013 off, or you just want to get organized before the new year comes in.
There are ways to elevate pressure on the job, especially before a major presentation or meeting:
- Keep a photo of your significant other or close friend with you. “A minute or two spent looking at the photo before you are ‘on’ can reset your nervous system. You’ll then feel more relaxed and confident because you’ll feel more grounded and at home, even in an uncomfortable or unusual setting,” writes Inc.
- Keep something on your desk to play with, like a squeeze ball. “The process of squeezing and tensing muscles and then letting go–even if just using fine motor movements–drops your heart rate and makes you less nervous. You can also play with beads or roll stones in your hand; that’s why playing with a pen helps many people focus,” according to the magazine.
It’s hard not to bring the stresses from work to home, and during this season you may find more tensions in the household, what with planning family events, cooking special holiday meals, and decorating your home holiday hosting. So it is important to have peace of mind on the home front as well.
- Continue or start an exercise routine. “It always feels like money in the bank when you get your exercise in, in the wee hours of the morning. A good brisk walk or run just before the day begins will work wonders on holiday stress,” explains Marlene Adelmann, certified herbalist and founder of the Herbal Academy of New England. “Take some deep breaths of fresh air, literally fill your lungs. Hold it just for a second or two and then let it out.”
- Sleep works wonders. You will perform better at work and have more energy to get all that Christmas shopping done.
- Skip the coffee. “A cup of chamomile tea after dinner (not right before bed because it may cause you to wake to visit the bathroom) will insure sound sleep,” Adelmann tells us in an email.
- Self massage. Yes, give yourself a massage when your get home. After a long day at the computer or maneuvering all the crowds during shopping your muscles will be tense. The shoulders and neck always hold in tension, so it is a great idea to massage that area. “Reach with your right hand (across your body), resting the palm of your hand on top of shoulder (with fingers on your back) and most importantly with the base knuckle of your thumb pressing against neck muscles,” offers licensed massage therapist Michele Merhib, founder of Elements Therapeutic Massage. “Slowly rotate your head and neck, pressing neck muscles against thumb knuckle. This will massage your neck muscles. Keeping hand in same place, press into your back muscle (between your shoulder blade and spine) with fingertips and rotate your left shoulder blade. Reach and relax the left arm to massage the upper back/shoulder region. Repeat on other side.”
At Holiday Events
The season is filled with may obligatory holiday socializing, whether it be the company Chirstmas party or holiday dinner with friends or family get-togethers.
- Make an appearance and a graceful exit. “If you have social commitment that you’re dreading, be targeted about how you spend your time when you get there. Arrive early and spend a few minutes one on one with the host. Put in your face time, do the necessary networking and be on your way,” advises organizational expert Barbara Reich, author Secrets of an Organized Mom.
- And it’s okay to declines some offers. “Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to those events that you truly don’t want to attend. It’s having too many obligations that makes the holidays stressful instead of enjoyable,” Reich says in an interview.
So take a few minutes to unwind, you will be able to perform at work better, stay energized during your shopping and then enjoy spending time with others this holiday season.
“Do you remember last year when we were hanging out at ___’s house and you said that I was shady?”
That’s what a former girlfriend said to me during a phone conversation last year where all my past faults were laid out on the table to nitpick over. Unfortunately for both this friend and me, I had no idea what she was talking about, and she couldn’t even remember the conversation that we had that led to this argument, which allegedly led to me calling her the s-word. Seeing as how I couldn’t recall such an incident and it seemed outside my character to even say something like that to anyone, I had to call her on bulls**t. She didn’t like that too much, probably as much as I didn’t like to be accused of things, nor did I like being expected to apologize for things I didn’t remember doing, so it’s safe to say we couldn’t come to an understanding. We haven’t spoken since.
As much as I hated the fact that my friend did such a thing to me, I can say that I’ve played the “Do you remember when you hurt me?” game with others. Boyfriends to be specific. After having a big blow up about something that hurt my feelings, I would let it go for the sake of ending an argument and pretend (though sometimes I thought I was over it) I had really moved on. Let my ex do something that he didn’t seem very apologetic about or that conjured up old feelings and I was ready to bring back up the past beef in an effort to prove a point about how awful I felt I was being treated in the relationship. Though I would watch my ex yell about the fact that I never let stuff go, at the time, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. But when the tables were turned and my friend pulled out of her a** things that she either pretended to be over or held inside from me and others until she was ready to blow, I finally realized the error of my past ways. However, I’m not the only person who does this or has been through this. If you do this type of thing, know that while you might think you’re just simply getting things off of your chest, nobody wants to hear that s**t.
It’s extremely important to let people know how you’re feeling when you know that it isn’t something you’ll be ready to let go of soon. When you know it’s not as simple as, “Girl, you still haven’t returned my necklace,” but is more like, “Girl, you embarrassed me in front of my people and I don’t respect that,” the truth must come out. Not only is it good for your own health (who wants to hold all that anger in forever?), but it’s good for the health of your friendship or relationship. If you don’t put folks in check when they hurt you or disregard you, whether it’s intentionally or on accident, they’ll continue to do it. On top of that, they won’t be given the chance to learn from their mistakes and do better as a friend or partner before you’re ready to jump down their throat later. And from experience, I can say that you’ll never get the response you’re looking for from a person if you pull out a long list of grievances way after they’ve happened. It almost comes off as an attack even if you’re simply seeing it as the chance to communicate open and honestly with the person you care about. You can’t expect people to be excited about apologizing or explaining their reasoning for doing something that happened three years ago. Be happy if they can even remember whatever it is you finally decided to get off of your chest.
From my own experiences I can say that while you should know when to let things go (of course, not everything is that serious), it’s imperative to know when to open your mouth and let people know when you feel slighted. If you wait until much later to spill your guts, your feelings might not be met with such understanding, but rather, anger. Know when to open your mouth and be proactive, not passive aggressive (as in, don’t get mad about something and become unreliable, stop talking to folks and constantly complain about everything else because you’re disappointed). If you choose not to, don’t expect people to be so apologetic, because if you snooze, you lose.
You’re getting ready to head into a big meeting or a huge company presentation. Your legs are shaky, your palms are sweating and you can’t think straight. It’s normal to feel nervous and stressed before a major event, but there are ways to calm your nerves.
At Your Desk
Take a few moments before you head off to your event. “Bounce a ball or use a squeeze ball if in a confined space. The repetition is mesmerizing and gets you in the zone,” says life management expert Kimberly Friedmutter.
Have a cup of tea or sparkling water. “Lay off coffee after breakfast because it agitates you. . . you need a calming,” she tells us.
Get Clued In
Make sure you know what the task calls for and that you are up to the challenge. “Get clear on what your role and responsibilities are,” says Laurie Erdman, founder of Chronic Wellness Coaching. “When we are unclear of what is expected, we tend to take on more than required. There is a time and place to be an overachiever but if it is causing unnecessary stress, it’s time to cut back. Focus on impressing the boss by doing a great job in your role and not someone else’s.”
Don’t ingore the stress, try to figure out what is making you stressed. “Often, we’re stressed but we don’t take the time to sit down and deal with it. Instead, we continue rushing around, absentmindedly stressing about how stressed we are,” says registered yoga instructor Sara DiVello.
Focus on Positive Thoughts
Don’t dwell on things that can go wrong, it will only make you feel more stressed out. “Recall one pleasurable sensory experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours. It might be something delicious you ate, something beautiful you saw,” Dr. Marlene Caroselli, corporate trainer and author of Principled Persuasion.
Relieve stress through a few exercises. “Stand in a doorway and press your palms against the door frame on both sides. Hold your breath and keep increasing the pressure. You’ll feel warmth rushing to your face, head, and neck. Hold as long as you can. Release. Inhale deeply. Repeat three times,” suggests Caroselli.
Also use your own hands to soothe your nerves. “Self-massage. Imagine your hands are a magic healing and tension-relieving tool. Breathe slowly and deeply as you massage yourself. As you inhale, feel your breath flowing directly to the tense places in your body. Try to “see” your fatigue, soreness, discomfort, tension, and worry escaping through every pore,” Caroselli tells Madame Noire.
Heath and wellness consultant Akwesi Munir Asante offers another exercise. “Sit upright without forcing or creating more tension. Remove your shoes and simply close eyes. Rub the palms of hand together and cupping them over the eyes. Stay like this for a minute or two.”
What if you are in the middle of the meeting and feel a panic attack? “If you’re in a meeting and can’t do something obvious, try utilizing the ‘fire point’: Press the tip of your tongue to the little mound right behind your top two front teeth. You’ll feel your jaw relax and your whole face melt and your shoulders drop,” says DiVello.
“Breathe. Yes, it sounds simple, but it really works. The act of taking a long, slow, deep breath brings you out of that fight-or-flight response and calms your brain,” advises DiVello. “You can also try one of these yoga breath work practices for anxiety: Breathe in for a count of 4 and extend the exhale for a count of five, six, or seven… even eight.”
It’s Not Brain Surgery
Don’t let your thoughts overwhelm. If you make a mistake during your meeting, speech or presentation, move on. “Keep it in perspective,” says DiVello. “If you are working on the cure for cancer, world poverty, and childhood hunger, fine. If not (or even if you are), rein yourself in. Of course, we all get caught up in the importance of what we’re doing and everything feels so very vital, but putting it in perspective–and being able to laugh at yourself as you do so–will help you in managing it.”
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I sat across from my mother as a million and one thoughts and images flashed through my head. Our lovely Saturday afternoon lunch outing had just gone south as I learned that my checking account had been hacked and for the last three days someone had been going on unauthorized shopping sprees at my expense. I put my head in my hands as I moaned and groaned something about people who chose to steal from others instead of earning an honest living. The more I thought about it, the more upset I got. This had never happened to me before. I felt so violated. As I scrolled down the list of my most recent transactions on my banking app, I grew more and more angry. “The nerve of this person,” I thought to myself. As crazy as it sounds, I even began drudging up an image in my mind of the person who had broken into my account by looking at the different purchases they made. My mom eventually talked me off the ledge and I calmed down long enough to call the bank and explain what happened. They quickly put a hold on my account and reassured me that my money would be returned to my bank account within a couple of business days. For some reason though, I didn’t let out the loud sigh of relief that one would expect me to. I actually didn’t feel relieved at all. I knew all along that the bank would refund my money, but that wasn’t really my concern. It was the fact that it even happened to me in the first place that upset me the most. I had taken this unfortunate occurrence way too personally, which is something I seemed to do pretty often.
Red and itchy hives began to appear on my arms and legs, which seemed to be something that had been happening more frequently when I found myself getting extremely worked up about something. I released a loud sigh on my drive home as I realized that my “mini soap opera” had been over for almost thirty minutes, yet, I had allowed myself to get so worked up my body was still reacting to it. “This can’t be healthy,” I thought to myself.
By stressing and internalizing every little thing I was not only putting my mental and emotional health at risk, but my physical health as well. As a young woman, there are so many things that I desire to experience and accomplish. I wish to enjoy life in its full capacity and certainly do not want to be hindered by stress-induced illnesses. During that drive home I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that I would try my best to refrain from stressing over things I had no control over. A scripture from Matthew 6:27 quickly came to mind, which reads, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Although I read that scripture several times before, in that single moment it put so much into perspective. Worrying never really changed anything and stressing never made anything better. These behaviors are actually often counterproductive.
Do you find yourself stressing over things you have no control over?
By Kavita Patel
Last week, I had a three-hour intensive session with a client, during which we talked through how my client, Kerry, owns her own business and feels like she is constantly working hard at her job and in her persona lrelationships. She is tired of being single and wants to feel supported in her life by a man she loves. And while I completely understand what she was saying, a red flag went up for me when she said she consistently feels like she has to do it all on her own.
As we were discussing her relationship with her parents, I started to see a pattern of her admiring both her mother and father for the fact that they always have her back. Her dad exemplifies this — not only in his relationship with her — but with his entire family and friends. I dug a little deeper and asked her why is it so important for her to feel like someone has her back. She said, “Because then I know that I am fully supported.”
The dots started connecting for me. When we admire something about our parents, we put them on a pedestal around that specific characteristic. When you place one or both parents on a pedestal, you put pressure on yourself to be just like them. Usually, you do not give yourself credit for already being great in this area and continue to work toward being just like your mother or father.
This was showing up in Kerry’s life in how she so desperately wanted a man to have her back and somehow kept attracting men that did not. This was happening for Kerry because she was putting so much pressure on herself to constantly uphold the values of her parents. Always being someone else’s support system meant that their was no space for someone else to be her’s. Hence, she was consistently feeling like she has to control her life and is tired of not having a man be her support system.
Read Kavita Patel’s advice for how to ease up on yourself at YourTango.com.
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Soon after my sister revealed she was pregnant for the second time, she informed me that I’d be a godmother for the first. I was panicked about this for months; I know what it means to be a godmother, I think.
Being a Godmother for the first time is scary but not as scary as the pageantry that has to happen in order to call oneself a godmother -would I remember the prayers? Would I fumble during my spotlight moment? What would I wear? I hope I don’t have to say anything. How long would the whole thing be? Not to mention, a few days before the christening, I decided that I was taking a date; not just any date but the man I’ve been dating and talking to my family about for the past seven months.
The days leading up to the christening, I went back and forth on the idea. I continuously asked my boyfriend if he wanted to be there and every time he nervously looked at me and said “yes” I prayed he didn’t recognize that I was more nervous than I imagined he was. I kept thinking of all the inappropriate stories that could possibly come up during this meeting; the forsaken baby pictures that always find there way out in public during family gatherings. Who would reveal what?
As I prepped at my sisters’ house for the christening, sadness took over; I didn’t want to do this. Yes, I wanted to christen my nephew (he’s the cutest thing alive) but did I really want my family to meet my man? Did I want to ruin this honeymoon already?
The night before, I told him, there was no need to attend the service. I arranged to have him meet them, at the party after; after they all had drinks, after they’d taken off the dresses/suits and shoes that weren’t so comfortable, after they’d eaten, I had to make sure that I controlled as much of this meeting as I possibly could.
As I entered the church, a certain calm took over (places of worship always have this effect on me). I listened to what I could hear from the priest and as the prayers flowed from my lips, my angst about the meeting that was going to happen in a few hours, or the consequences of it, faded away.
The ceremony wrapped without incident and as I stepped out the pew, I noticed out of the corner of my eye what I thought to be a ghost. My ex was at the church, standing at the end of MY pew, acting as though he didn’t notice me. Just like that, my serenity and peace evaporated.
Ray J had a rough Billboard Music Awards experience all around. After issues with security and Pat Houston over seating, Ray J apparently had an even tougher night because the next morning he was found “out of it” in his hotel room and he couldn’t get out of bed. An ambulance was called because the singer was so disoriented and he was immediately taken to the hospital.
According to TMZ, the cause for the hospitalization was a combination of exhaustion and stress. In the entertainment world, we know exhaustion is usually code for drug abuse but Ray J did have a pretty hectic schedule this past weekend. On Sunday, he had just returned from a 32-hour round trip to China and when he landed he immediately drove four hours to Las Vegas for the awards show. Add that to Pat’s shenanigans during Whitney Houston’s tribute and you can see how Ray J would be a bit out of sorts.
As of earlier this morning, Ray J was still in the hospital with no word on when he would be released. Hopefully he’ll get himself together. Whatever that means for him.
What do you think about this hospitalization?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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I am rarely ever opposed to being vocal about how selfish I believe my younger brother to be. His attitude is self-preservation above all else. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll do the occasional favor or two, but at the end of the day it is all about his wants, his needs, his pleasure, his car, and his girlfriend. But can you really blame him? That seems to be all most guys care about at 19 years old. I on the other hand am the exact opposite. I am always putting others before myself. I live, eat, and breathe with a favor or two, or three on my to-do list. People call on me for all kinds of favors from babysitting to borrowing money and somehow no matter how hectic my life may be at the moment I find it in me to muster up a yes.
But, lately I’ve been pondering why my response is always yes when the majority of the time the person inside of me is screaming “HELL NO!” While I believe my little brother’s selfishness to be a tad obnoxious, I can’t help but to admit that I secretly admire his ability to say no. On any given week, I can list at least three to five things that I’ve agreed to do, which I have absolutely no desire to carry out. I often find myself walking away after agreeing to do something asking myself, “Why in the world did I just agree to that?” I mean is it really that difficult to utter one of the shortest words in the English language? It has gotten to the point where I am starting to believe that people have learned to play on my inability to say no. While some would say that I need to just get a backbone and learn to pass on some things, I can’t help but to believe that there’s more to it than that. As time progresses, I am slowly realizing that my inability to say no is unhealthy. It’s very stressful, and of course, enough stress can make you ill. How productive can I actually be to the commitments of my own life when I am constantly carrying out tasks and doing favors assigned (not even “asked” mind you) by others?
After much deliberation, research, and a close analysis of my personal interactions, I have come to realize that my struggle with the word no comes from my desire to not deal with the consequences that could arise after I release my “no” into the atmosphere. I’d much rather inconvenience myself than to disappoint, hurt someone’s feelings, or cause confrontation. Let’s just call it what it is: I’m a people pleaser.
For example, at this very moment that I’m writing this piece, I’m facing the struggle of trying to meet several deadlines for school, six to be exact. At the same time that I am juggling multiple homework assignments from six different classes, I am also babysitting my four-year-old godson. I have an aunt on one line asking if I can babysit my little cousin for a few hours this weekend, a sister on the other line asking if I can keep my niece overnight, another family member asking if I will accompany them to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a few requests from several members of my church, and a cooky cousin clogging my voicemail box asking if I can help her create a Facebook page for the family reunion that she’s planning. *Sighs*
In the midst of my frustrations, I can’t help but to think that my brother would never have this problem. That carefree individual would’ve simply declined and been on his merry way. Actually, people would have known not to ask him for a favor in the first place. I can’t even place the blame on those around me for the millions of favors that I am asked to do on a daily basis. It is my own fault for not being stern enough to say no, and while I don’t believe they’d love me any less if I declined, it still doesn’t take away my desire to refrain from disappointing them.
I find it ironic that as I am facing my demons with the word “no” by writing this article, I am also being brought to a crossroads in my personal life. I can either go left or I can go right. I can appease all of the people around me by granting the requests they’ve made and possibly lose my mind AND miss my school deadlines at the same time, or I can find a no from deep within and put myself first as I should have done a long time ago.
Are you someone who is always doing for others and doesn’t know when and how to say no?
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On a reunion episode of “The Challenge” Johnny Devenanzio, also known as Johnny Bananas, quoted his father by saying: “holding a grudge is like *crapping* in your pants. No one else feels it but you.” Trying to find truth in a reality show is sometimes like having enlightened conversations with a toddler. It doesn’t happen often; however, this was something that stayed with me because I do have a problem with holding onto grudges. But like my daughter’s diapers when she “craps” too much, you learn that it can rub off in other areas of your life, making them stink to the high heavens.
So to you, dear reader, are a few reasons why you should drop whatever grudge you’ve been holding onto.
A supervisor has complete control over your most basic human needs. Your ability to put food on the table and a roof over your head. These are powerful motivating factors that allow a difficult supervisor to control people out of fear of losing these basic needs. We may not be able to always correct their behavior, but we should never have to live in fear and let our difficult boss control our lives. -Tristan Loo
If you’re reading this then I know you understand what it’s like to have a toxic boss and work in an equally uninspiring work environment! It usually starts with the Monday morning groans on Sunday night when you begin to think about what awaits you at the start of the week. Ugghh, not another daaaay you say!
If this is you, then read on. It’s important to know how to manage a toxic boss but also knowing when and how to exit a situation that has become untenable for both your sanity and professional reputation.
Identifying And Understanding A Toxic Boss
In the beginning we start by giving them several passes but as the pattern of incompetence and bad behavior rears its head, only then do you realize the beast you’re dealing with is actually your boss who has the ability to make your life hell because you need to put food on the table. Slowly you begin to question their competence, lose respect and perhaps even feel unmotivated. Even if you like your job, the emotional BS that you have to put up with is just too much.
Most of the time this has to do with a need for control and respect while masking a deep level of incompetence they are deathly afraid of being discovered by their employees. Once discovered, then the passive-aggressive and vindictive games begin because they’ve been exposed. This voracious need for control also has to do with their inability to maintain any semblance of the control in their personal lives. Thus the only place they can maintain control is in the workplace. But as with their personal lives, things fall apart, eventually.
They lie and deceive their employees because their fragile egos are rarely able to handle the truth. Because of this refusal to hear the truth, this is almost always coupled with the fact that they aren’t great communicators which results in confusion for their employees. The information highway in the organization is typically a one way street where employees aren’t encouraged to speak up about the white elephants in the room because the only traffic that matters is the manager barking from the top down.