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An Intro to Energy: What is Reiki and How Does It Work?

An Intro to Energy: What is Reiki and How Does It Work?

Have you heard the term, seen the sign in your Yoga class, or heard your friend raving about Reiki? While some may call it too Woo, I will let you know right out the gate this practice has transformed my life. But before I get too excited, let’s start from the beginning.

Reiki is a unique form of energy healing that uses Universal life force energy to positively impact the body’s energy. In fact, the term comes from the Japanese words “rei” (universal) and “ki” (life energy). It allows your body a break from the stress of life and helps find a natural state of relaxation to heal.

My journey with Reiki began during my corporate career and I was burnt out and overwhelmed with life. Fast forward 10 years, I’m now a Certified Usui Holy Fire® III & Karuna Reiki® Master Teacher and practice with my clients weekly. And thanks to the wonders of technology we can work together from the comfort of their home – energy has no boundaries and it can be practiced virtually. 

What can Reiki do for you?

  • Reduce stress and promote relaxation
  • improve mood and sleep
  • ease physical pain
  • enhance the quality of your life

Curious about what to expect with a Reiki session? Check out this video for a nice overview of how it works and what you can expect.

 

Want to learn more about Reiki? I’m excited about my first Reiki training of the year! Come join me in Huntersville, NC on April 2nd and 3rd to learn more about this healing practice, receive healing yourself, and learn how you can practice this at home, work, and even with your clients.

Holy Fire® and Karuna Reiki® are registered service marks of William Lee Rand.

Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Do you ever feel pressure building up at work or at home? Pressure is great for growth; you need it to keep moving in the right direction toward your goals.

It helps you to expand and create in the way that only you can. You want to use pressure to benefit you, and don’t let pressure become stress.

The Pressure Cooker at Work

The thing about pressure, if it goes unchecked and just keeps building and building without any release (think of a pressure cooker), that’s when it can turn into the unhealthiest kind of stress called chronic stress. The stress that causes health and other issues.

You don’t want to let pressure become this type of stress. Learn about the 3 types of stress and what to do to if you’ve got chronic stress here.

As I look back at my previous career and work habits, I could sense the pressure building, feel it, and yet felt powerless against it. Over time without actively addressing it, the stress became chronic, taking its toll on my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

It’s common to feel this type of pressure regularly when in a high demand job or fast-paced work environment. The important part is to address the pressure before it turns to stress.

Pressure is a Sign of Growth and Change

Lately that familiar feeling of pressure has returned in my work life. I’ve begun some new coaching work. I typically work one on one with coaching clients, however, I started some coaching work for an external company where I must learn their systems and processes.

It’ll take some time to acclimate to all this newness, and I continue to remind myself that it’s part of the growth process and only temporary. This reminder helps in times when the pressure rises.

When you take on new assignments or when you’ve switched jobs to a new company, how was it for you? Those first 30-60-90 days can be rough.

You’re attempting to do the work you were hired to do, but getting up to speed with who’s who, how things are done, new systems and processes – it all takes extra time and extra effort.

When Pressure Becomes Stress

You may experience increased pressure due to other external forces too. Maybe someone was laid-off and now you have to take on the work they performed. Or maybe you’re experiencing more pressure from leadership, or a higher than normal work demand, or a lack of job security.

Even a lack of flexibility and autonomy in your work and your work schedule can leave you feeling stressed and as if you have no control. Over time or with too much pressure all at once, it can become overwhelming and stressful.

The effects of work-related pressure turning into stress is evident in your physical, mental and emotional health. Common ailments can include musculoskeletal problems like chronic back pain, joint pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Gastrointestinal disorders, like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers typically have a stress component.

Mentally and emotionally, issues like anxiety, burnout and inability to get good quality sleep (sleep disorders) are a result.

Pressure becoming stress also has adverse effects on a company’s performance and bottom line too. Increased healthcare costs and absenteeism are a result of chronic stress in the workplace.

Business leaders and owners should have an interest in managing the pressure and stress in their environments. But many times they get caught up in it as well.

Act with Intention: Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Here are some strategies to implement so you don’t let pressure become stress.

First off, stay present and conscious in the moment. In other words, realize that something is causing pressure. Pay attention to situations that you know will likely impact you.

Also, be realistic about what you can and can’t control. If the pressure is getting to you, take a few minutes to list out what the causes might be and circle the ones you can control.

Next, take action. For those items you can control, try a new strategy or approach to change the outcome. For instance, if you feel stuck in an unproductive weekly meeting and can feel the pressure beginning to rise as you think about the other work you need to be doing, have a direct conversation with the meeting leader. Give some suggestions for improvement like having a clear agenda with time allotments for each item. Or maybe suggest less frequent meetings with email updates weekly.

And for the things you can’t control, let them go. If you have a tendency to take on things that aren’t yours or that you have no way of influencing, it’s best to recognize that early on and let it go.

For instance, being late to a meeting due to a traffic accident causing traffic backup on the road, or technical problems on a webmeeting due to bandwidth overuse – let it go. Getting frustrated or upset doesn’t help. These things are beyond your control, and you when you recognize that and let it go, it takes the pressure off and allows you to move forward in a calm healthy way.  

 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Is a Fear Mindset Causing Your Stress?

Is a Fear Mindset Causing Your Stress?

A fear mindset could be the main cause of your stress

Your mindset is how you think and what you believe about yourself and your environment. It plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges.

What you think determines what you believe, and what you believe influences what you experience in life. Thoughts shape your reality.

The ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu wrote: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

If a majority of your thoughts are fear-based, you’ve got a fear mindset. It could be thoughts and even statements (your words) about fear of rejection, fear of failure, or fear that you’re not enough.

This fear mindset saps your energy. It keeps you in the predictable and comfortable, preventing you from challenging yourself to achieve your full potential.

Fear is a normal emotion and has its function. It serves as your natural response to possible threats to your physical or emotional safety.

Unfortunately, in our modern world this response can be misused, overused or chronic. (See my previous blog called Letting Go of Fear.)

Too much fear causes stress. A fear mindset is contracting, and exemplified in chronic tension, struggle and hardship. This unhelpful energy is energy you could be investing in growth, in achieving your dreams and desires.

People often give up on what they want because they believe that reaching their goal is beyond their abilities. They continue living in fear and settle into their lives, thinking they shouldn’t try at all.

Fear is part of the fixed mindset

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes about the power of mindset. She states that success is influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

People with a fixed mindset – those who believe that abilities are fixed – are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset – those who believe that abilities can be learned and developed. Fear is part of this fixed mindset.

The most successful people have a growth mindset. They don’t freeze up or flee when fear shows up, they embrace it and leverage that fear into taking action. When faced with a setback, they try harder.

They keeping looking for solutions and trying new strategies. They adapt and grow.

What mindset do you have?

What are your predominant thoughts and actions? If they seem fear-based or fixed, there’s no need to worry. The best part about your mindset is that you can change it.

You can move from a fixed, fear mindset to a love-based, trust-based, growth mindset where you’re more likely to flourish. Trust and love drives out fear. They can’t exist at the same time.

Intentionally Expand and Grow – Take Action

Use one or more of these techniques to move from a fear mindset that’s causing your stress to a new mindset of trust and growth.

1. Watch your thoughts.

First off, pay attention to your thoughts and the words you use. Are you frequently telling yourself fearful or limiting things? Things like: “I’ll never be able to get that promotion, I’m not experienced enough.”; “I’m not smart enough to lead this project”; “What if I fail – will they fire me?”

2. Choose to adopt a new mindset. Change your limiting thoughts and beliefs.

Start by challenging your thoughts the next time you don’t do well on a task. For example, if your presentation at work didn’t go well, and you hear yourself thinking “I never do anything right”, “I’m not good at my job”, or “I’m such a failure”, stop and ask some prodding questions.

What is the evidence for and against your conclusion? You can create a list of all the times your presentations were successful and when you were great at your job in the past.

You could think of reasons why it didn’t go so well this time, rather than concluding you’re a failure. Did you get enough quality sleep?; did you plan and prepare enough?; are there other things going on in your life right now causing you to be off your game?

Answering these questions leads to the new mindset. Figure out what new beliefs are more supportive and adopt those beliefs. Your internal dialogue of “I’m such a failure” can change to “If I’m prepared and feeling well physically and emotionally, I’ll always succeed.”

Keep in mind, these new beliefs take their place alongside the old ones, and as they become stronger, they give you a different way to think, feel, and act.

3. See everything as an opportunity to grow and develop.

Another way to change your mindset is to see every situation and person you encounter as an opportunity for expansion and development. When challenging events happen, ask yourself: “How is this calling me to expand and grow?”, “What am I learning?”, or “How can I improve?”

This strategy works well if you have a demanding or controlling leader at work. You can switch the focus of being judged or criticized to how this is calling you to develop.

It could be as simple as witnessing their behavior and realizing you never want to treat others that way, or maybe it’s a challenge about developing a relationship with a difficult personality.

If you stay in a fear mindset, the stress of living every day in fear of disapproval or of doing something wrong can become toxic. You may become paralyzed from moving forward in attempt to protect yourself.

Changing your mindset to embrace the challenge and grow allows you to take back control in what feels like a powerless situation and live up to your potential.  

4. Use the word yet

Adding yet to your inner dialogue may be enough to change your beliefs about yourself and what you’re able to do. It helps with motivation too.

You can change:

  • “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this yet”;
  • “I’m not good at this” to “I’m not good at this yet”;
  • “This doesn’t work” to “This doesn’t work yet”.  

One last thing. Make sure after you change your thoughts you step into those new beliefs. Take an action step in that direction to support the new thought.

Changing the fear mindset that’s causing your stress will change your outcome and results. With a new mindset, you can transform your life and the lives of others.

 

Photo by Bram on Unsplash

Who’s Taking Care of You? 3 Tips for More Self-Care and Self-Love

Who’s Taking Care of You? 3 Tips for More Self-Care and Self-Love

You’ve been stressed lately. There’s a big initiative at work and you’ve been putting in a lot of hours, even bringing work home in the evening and on the weekends, and getting up early to catch up on your email inbox that you never have time for during the workday.

You’re starting to feel the effects of too much work and not enough quality sleep. You’re feeling run down and hoping this itchy throat and congestion in the morning doesn’t develop into a cold or the flu.

You’ve got no time for anything you enjoy; you can’t remember the last time you had a massage or went out with friends during the week.

You try to unwind some nights by binge watching your favorite TV shows and Netflix, but that doesn’t really help.

You just want to start feeling better, to be full of energy, to really relax after a long day of work and running around. You want to stop working so much and have more fun with family and friends.

You want the control back in your life so life doesn’t feel like it’s running you.

This scenario sounds a bit out of control, definitely unbalanced at the least. It was my experience years ago when in my Corporate career and I wished someone asked me sooner: who’s taking care of you?

So, who is taking care of you? If the above sounds a lot like your current situation, you’re definitely not taking good care of yourself and I’m sure you know that. It’s time for a change.

It’s time for some self-care and self-love. In fact, if you’re not feeling well on a regular basis – physically, mentally and emotionally – it’s probably long overdue.

Self-care is actually part of self-love, and includes mostly physical aspects like going for walks, exercising, drinking plenty of water, and making sure you’re sleeping well. It’s taking care of your “self”.

Self-love includes not just your physical wellbeing, but also loving and caring acts for your emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing too. It’s about balancing and supporting all the parts that make you whole.

Self-love is having regard for your own well-being and happiness and doing the things that support it. And it’s also paying attention to when something isn’t working for you so that you can pivot quickly and make a better choice that’s more aligned to your best interests.

It seems pretty straightforward but many people act in ways that don’t support wellbeing, for numerous reasons. Sometimes they don’t even realize it’s happening until something makes them stop to listen, like a serious health crisis or the end of a relationship. It can go on for weeks, months, even years before being addressed.

Here are 3 tips to bring more self-care and self-love into your life, so that you take back control and start feeling better fast.

1. Get a pre-sleep ritual. Sleep is so important. For optimal health and wellbeing, it’s recommended that you get no less than 7 hours each night.

Make that happen by creating a ritual to help you de-stress at night. Take an epsom salt bath, read a book, meditate, do some stretching or relaxing breathing exercises. Do whatever works best to help you unwind after a long day.

2. Treat yourself like you treat your best friend. Most of us are our own biggest critic and we think and say some very mean and unhelpful things. Would you talk to your best friend like that?

Be supportive, be kind, and be loving to yourself. Compliment yourself without feeling guilty about it. Pay attention to what you say or think when you look at yourself in the mirror.

Shut down that self-critic quickly and replace any negative self-judgement with a more positive statement that supports you. Again, pretend like you’re helping your best friend.

Take a break from self-judgement; don’t be so hard on yourself. For example, call something you accomplished “good enough”, without worrying about all the ways you could have made it better.

Even if something goes wrong or you don’t get the result you wanted, make sure you treat yourself like someone you love. We’re all human and we’re supposed to make mistakes, that’s how we learn and grow.

3. Speak your truth. Express what you truly feel, think, or want to do – respectfully without regard for what people might think or how you may be judged.

We’ve all done this before: where you agree to help out a co-worker with a project, and then end up doing most of the work while he gets the credit and your own work gets put on hold. You were trying to be helpful and a team player, but as it kept taking more time away from your priorities, you began to really regret helping out, even getting short-tempered, frustrated and angry about it.

In these kind of cases, don’t hesitate to say “no” when you have to. Your most valuable assets are your time and your energy, and it’s an act of self-care and self-love to prioritize your wellbeing over any requests from others.

If you have a hard time with implementing self-care and self-love on your own, I urge you to pick one of these tips and commit to it for the next month. And after that month, spend 15 -30 minutes to focus on where you are and evaluate your progress. Has your overall stress lessened? Are you sleeping better? Do you feel like you have more control of your work life and balancing a healthy personal life too? Most importantly, are you feeling better and more in control? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Another act of self-love is to get help when you need it. If you feel like you could benefit from someone partnering with you to reach your career and personal goals, I offer Free 20 Minute Insight Calls for professionals. You’ll gain greater insight into your specific challenges and how coaching can help. Schedule your call directly by clicking here or via my website at www.energyrapport.com.

The Impact of Stress and Why You Should Care

The Impact of Stress and Why You Should Care

The impact of stress is well-known but often overlooked or ignored, and it could be negatively affecting you to a great degree without you even realizing it.

Too much stress can have serious implications and cause imbalances in your physical health, your emotional and mental wellbeing, your energy levels, and even spiritually (your connection to what brings meaning to your life).

Do you have a problem with stress?

Do you think you have a problem with stress in your life? If you’re anything like I used to be, you probably justify your stress as the normal challenges that occur at work and personally. Often people downplay the seriousness of it, and ignore what stress can become if not addressed right away.

Pay attention to the physical, emotional and mental signs your body is giving you

I recommend you check in with your body to see if there really is a problem. How do you feel when you’re feeling stress or under pressure? Do you start holding your breath or does your breathing become shallow and rapid?

I experience many challenging people and situations during my corporate HR career. During these times, I distinctly remember a burning, and tightening in my stomach, like a knot was forming in there. And sometimes that tight feeling would start climbing up to my chest and face where I could feel my face becoming hot and blood pressure rising. Talk about my body sending signals.

Another thing to consider is how much stress do you have, and are you managing this stress well. Is it happening on a regular basis? Is it going away within minutes, or lingering for hours, days or weeks in the form of physical, mental/emotional or energetic issues.

Here are some telltale signs of too much stress becoming unbalanced and unmanageable.

Physical signs may include:
  • Upset stomach;
  • Burning stomach or indigestion;
  • Pounding heart;
  • Serious cravings for food/sugar, nicotine, alcohol or other substances or activities to “numb out” or “take the edge off”;
  • Headaches or migraines;
  • Back pain, many times inexplicable or chronic;
  • Other body aches and pain;
  • Low energy, always feeling tired;
  • Immune system is weak, getting sick frequently;
  • Sleep problems (too little, exhausted upon waking, waking up during the night and unable to get back to sleep).
 Mental / emotional signs may include:
  • Feeling anxious or in a panic, often;
  • Mental fog, unclear thinking;
  • Difficultly concentrating;
  • Confidence problems, feeling off your game;
  • Angry often, usually snapping at others, very little patience;
  • Feeling overwhelmed or like things are out of control;
  • Unable to turn off work once home or when trying to fall asleep.

These are warning signs. They are your body trying to get your attention, warning you to take action.

If downplayed or ignored for too long, they can impact your energy levels to the point where you’re always feeling run down, unmotivated and unhealthy.

Like you, I’ve been there many times in my professional career, attempting to manage a high-pressure, demanding business environment with all the personal challenges life throws at us.

My stress seemed manageable; but, on two separate occasions throughout my corporate career, after ignoring some of the signs listed above while trying to be strong and push through it, my body took over and put the brakes on. My stress became chronic.

I developed a serious health crisis that made me take action to address and alleviate the stress at work and in my personal life. With the proper support and focus, and taking action against the root cause of my health crisis – the chronic stress – I was able to successfully get past it on both occasions.

Why you should care – the long-term issues of chronic stress

The really bad type of stress is chronic stress. It is when distress continues for a prolonged period of time, typically 21 days or longer. It can be shorter or longer depending on the stressor and how much you can tolerate.

This long-term activation of the stress-response system – and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones – can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.

It can put you at an increased risk of physical and mental/emotional health problems including diseases, chronic health conditions, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. You can read and learn more about the different types of stress, including chronic stress, and how to prevent it here: A Moment of Silence for Your Chronic Stress.

What you can do about your stress

There are numerous strategies and tools you can use to counterbalance your stress. Think of it like taking a proactive “time out” from work and other stressful activities in order to minimize the stress-induced symptoms that may follow.

Two things in particular are very useful: 1) getting and staying active and 2) finding a support network.

Daily activity and exercise is the ultimate stress buster. It strengthens the physical body as well as helps to release those feel good chemicals affecting our moods and wellbeing. Go for a walk with your dog, take a break from your computer and walk around the office, or dance around to some favorite song. Just move, every day.

A support network helps you stay connected to others and nourishes your spiritual side.  Make a list of people in your personal life and professional life who you like and trust and can confidentially share challenges and concerns and then brainstorm solutions.

Here are three additional resources with other options for you to consider and use to prevent or lessen the impact of stress regardless of the cause.

  • Do have a hard time letting go of thoughts about work or personal worries, to the point where it prevents you from falling asleep easily or wakes you up at night? Restful and rejuvenating sleep is the ultimate tonic to building your defenses against stress’s unwanted side-effects, like a low immune system or brain fog. Read more about stress and sleep and try the suggestions here: Too Stressed to Sleep? Here Are 3 Things to Try.
  • Do you need help getting centered and focused for the day ahead, so you’re in the best possible shape to handle any challenge that may come your way? Mornings set the tone for the rest of your day. That’s why most successful people have an intentional routine where they take care of their top priorities before the demands from work and others begins. Done consistently, it impacts your health and wellbeing and keeps your stress levels manageable. Read about options for morning routines here: Connect to Success – Every Day for Best Results­­
  • Being prepared and organized is a proactive way to repel the stress in situations. You can organize what’s going on inside, namely your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas in your mind. And you can also organize your physical space to release the things weighing you down, increase your energy flow and make room for new opportunities. Read and learn more about how to get more organized here: How to Take Back Control: First, Get Organized
Stress and spirituality

Spirituality has many definitions, but essentially it’s a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves. It’s not necessarily a specific belief system or religion, but comes from your connection with yourself, with others and with your purpose or meaning in life.

Some people find spirituality in religious services, church membership, prayer, belief in God or a higher power. For many, spirituality is found in nature, art, music, writing, gardening, animals or spending time with others that you connect with (community).

However you define spirituality, know that it has numerous benefits for stress relief and overall mental wellbeing. Having a sense of purpose and defining what’s most important allows you to focus less on the unimportant things and eliminate stress.

The belief that there’s a higher power allows you to realize you’re not responsible for everything that happens and you can surrender that “control”.

Cultivating more spirituality into your life brings more peace and calm and helps you cope with stress better.

In closing, it’s worth the effort

It takes some effort to manage constant sources of stress, or to reduce your chronic stress and become a more balanced person, but take it from me, it’s so worth it. It took almost 2 years for me to find the right help and support during my first health crisis.

My main message for you is to not let your stress get out of control, and get the help and support you need to manage as soon as possible. Make it a priority before it’s too late.

Try using the tools and strategies suggested above. And if you’re struggling on your own, find a professional who can provide the guidance, support and accountability to aid in your success.

 

Is Stress a Major Factor in Low Employee Engagement?

Is Stress a Major Factor in Low Employee Engagement?

Back in my corporate days, employee engagement was a big deal – and it still is today. As a Human Resources Business Partner, every year I partnered with Gallup and company leaders to run employee surveys, track metrics, and create and implement engagement programs with the goal to increase our employee engagement.

A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow. Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace survey finds striking differences between the most engaged workplaces and ones that aren’t, specifically: 21% greater profitability, 17% greater productivity, 41% less absenteeism and 24% less turnover. Gallup also reports in that same survey that 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Said in another way, only 15% of employees are engaged.

I think about employee engagement in a holistic way – looking at the employee as a whole person, not just the one that comes to work.

Human beings are complex, and multiple factors should be taken into consideration when looking to improve engagement including health, wellbeing, relationships, and finances. Because of my experience with chronic stress and burn-out, both personally and with helping others struggling, I know the impact that stress can have on engagement.

Think about it: when you’re under a lot of pressure, are you making the best choices or acting the same as you would when at ease? Even now, when I’m under a tight timeline to get something done, I can sometimes get short with colleagues and feel some unwanted anger and anxiety creeping in.

Too often at companies I worked for and with current coaching clients, I see conflict in the workplace due to the pressures of a fast-paced and toxic environment. The pressure and subsequent stress seemed to change the people and their typical behavior for the worse. They’d lash out, yell, get angry, and have to apologize later (some never did). It’s not the best behavior in a professional work environment, or any environment really.

Recognizing employees comprehensively, as complete people, is a great approach to increasing engagement. In fact, some companies are beginning to evolve their workplace wellness to address stress and provide unique all-encompassing offerings. For example, the company Asana has “nap rooms” where employees can de-stress and recharge. They also offer mentor programs that provide coaching, along with monthly workshops with different health-themed focuses like an immunity boost workshop before flu season.

Intuit’s program offers meditation and mindfulness classes as reimbursable expenses as well as incentives for employees engaging in stress-reduction habits, like practicing breathing exercises, taking walks or listening to calming music. Their website provides mindfulness resources and employees see “mindful moment” tips on the whiteboards in the conference rooms.

If you’re not fortunate enough to work at a company that provides these types of trailblazing programs, you still have options. If you’re in a leadership role, you can suggest bringing similar initiatives to your workplace, reinforcing the importance of high employee engagement and its impact on profitability.

Or you can personally pursue any of the examples above, like taking a walk, mindfulness classes, working with a coach or mentor, listening to calming music – until your company provides them. Yes, it would be better to have it included and paid for by your employer. But if you value your wellbeing, you’ll find the time and money.  

We all can benefit from learning more about increasing engagement and taking steps to increase it. Prioritizing and supporting employees’ success at work, and our own success overall as people, is key.

Too Stressed to Sleep? Here Are 3 Things to Try

Too Stressed to Sleep? Here Are 3 Things to Try

Experts recommend between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Think about the last time you had a really restful, comfortable sleep of at least 7 hours.

The bed was super cozy, the room was dark, and just the right temperature, and the pillow was supporting your head and neck in a perfect way.

You woke up feeling rested, refreshed and ready to tackle the day. And you felt energized and really good the entire day – no mid-afternoon sleepiness, no lack of focus – you were on your game.

So, when was the last time you experienced this?

If you can’t remember because it’s been so long, or you don’t think you’ve ever experienced this and good sleep is a challenge for you, keep reading.  

In a report published by Sleep Health the key components of quality sleep include:

  • Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
  • Waking up no more than once per night; and
  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.

Stress can affect your ability to fall asleep, to stay asleep and the overall quality of your sleep.

We all go through stressful situations in our lives, and many times that stress carries over into our sleep. Both minor everyday stress or chronic stress can impact your sleep.

Maybe you’re thinking about non-stop pressures at work, financial problems, or simply what’s on your plate for tomorrow. Or maybe it’s a situation that happened, like an argument that you had with a loved one that keeps running through your mind.

I could list a dozen examples that could ‘weigh heavily on your mind’ that then keeps you from having a good night’s sleep.

What is it for you?

Do you have a hard time turning off your busy mind?

Or does your heart race or are your muscles tense when you lay awake in bed, unable to sleep?

Do you wake up after sleeping for 2 or 3 hours, and then find yourself unable to get back to sleep? – and then get more and more frustrated as you check the clock and realize you’ve been up for 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours or more.

To make matters worse, not addressing poor quality sleep could lead to insomnia – the habitual inability to sleep that can lead to devastating effects, like poor focus and concentration throughout the day.

If it goes on long enough, insomnia may lead to problems in your career, in relationships, or while doing typical daily activities like driving (car accidents), etc.

An estimated 30-40 percent of Americans report experiencing insomnia each year.

Here are three things to try for improved sleep:

1. Increase your physical activity.

Physical activity taxes your body and your mind. It supports good quality sleep.

When I travel to new cities, I enjoy visiting the local botanical gardens. I walk for hours enjoying all the sights, and log 3 to 4 times my typical miles on my tracker. Not surprisingly, I fall asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

So if you’re not active enough like many of us professionals who spend a lot of time sitting in meetings or working on our PCs, find a physical activity that you love (walking, jogging, dancing, etc.).

Schedule it on your calendar like any other meeting, and do it on a regular basis; 30 minutes 3-5 times a week is a great goal to work toward, and you can start off small with 1 or 2 times a week.

2. Practice relaxation techniques right before bed to calm your body and mind.

Whether you choose a few yoga poses with slow rhythmic breathing, your own regular meditation practice, or a guided meditation on YouTube, engaging in a few calming exercises before bed can help quiet your mind so you can drift off to sleep.

Here are some to try and feel free to search for others on YouTube:

  • Body scan meditation, full body relaxation or Yoga Nidra meditation. These are especially good if your body is tense because you are guided to bring awareness to each part of your body during them. Here’s one to try: 20 minute yoga nidra.
  • Sleep Meditation: Release Worry Guided Meditation for a Deep Sleep & Relaxation (1 hour): 1 hour sleep meditation
  • Binaural Beats Sleep Music (8 hours each, you can play them throughout the night): Binaural beats for sleep 1 or Binaural beats for sleep 2

3. If you’ve been struggling a while, and have ruled out any serious medical issues as the cause, consider getting some one-on-one focused help like coaching.

Together with a coach’s guidance, you can dive deep into what the underlying causes of your stress and sleeplessness are, and come up with strategies to implement that reduce stress and improve sleep.

I coach many overworked and overstressed professionals, and when a client begins to understand and address the underlying causes of any issue, things improve quickly. And best of all, they see improvements in other areas of their lives too.

Photo by MMPR on Unsplash

6 Ways to Be More Productive While Working From Home

6 Ways to Be More Productive While Working From Home

Working from home offers so many benefits, to companies and employees. Companies are seeing the cost savings and now have home working policies that allow their employees to work either full-time, part-time or casually from home.

Employees enjoy the flexibility, the quiet and comfort of your own home office, and the time and financial savings by eliminating a daily commute. These benefits were enough for me to stick with it for more than 12 years now.

I’ve worked from home during my Corporate Human Resources career in a Fortune 200 company, and more recently as a business owner and professional coach. Two very different environments for sure, but I’ve learned more than a few strategies to stay productive while maximizing work time with personal time, to get the best out of my professional life.

Here are 6 ways you can be more productive while working from home:

1. Pretend you’re not at home to minimize distractions. This was easy for me because I had the experience of working in a traditional office setting for years. But even if you’ve always worked from home it’s simple to avoid distractions by acting like you’re not at home.

That means not answering the door when someone is knocking, not putting the TV on (even on your lunch break, binge watching is real folks), and not cleaning the house during business hours. Stay focused on your work tasks.

Have a dedicated office area, with a door, especially if you live with others (spouse, kids, or roommates) that will be at home while you’re working.

You might miss a few things by pretending you’re not at home, but they’re most likely not important, and you’d miss them if you really were working in a traditional office building.

2. Work during your hours of peak productivity. Everyone has a particular time of day where they are most productive – we aren’t machines made to work 8 or more hours with the same level of productivity.

Pay attention to your energy levels and work output during the day and figure out what time of day is the best for you. Then schedule your most important, high priority items for that same time.

For some people, including me, the morning hours are when they can really crank out the deliverables or be most creative if that’s what’s required for their work. And they’ll schedule less demanding items like staff meetings, returning phone calls or working on email for the afternoon.

Others tend to do better in the afternoon or evening hours, and if they have the autonomy and flexibility in their work schedules like a business owner, writer, or artist may, will start their work in the late morning or afternoon.

3. Pick a time that is your official end of the workday, just like you would leave the office to go home in a traditional office. When working from home, it’s easy for you to think you have all day to do your tasks, or to carry them over into the evening if you have no other plans that night.

This could lead to procrastination and not getting things done in a focused and timely manner. If you don’t have an end to your workday, you’ll find yourself working all the time just because you can.

Separating your work and personal life prevents overworking and the burnout that is so prevalent these days.

During my HR career, and even now as a coach, I see how work-related burnout can lead to job dissatisfaction and health issues – very quickly and in many cases without realizing how harmful it is until you’re in the hospital with a serious health condition.

4. Shower and get dressed. During my time working in Corporate, we used to joke about people working from home staying in their pajamas all day or working from their comfortable bed. In fact, I really think some people were doing that, to their own detriment.

Having a morning routine that includes showering and getting dressed puts you in the right state of mind for getting work tasks done.

5. Keep friends away during work hours. It sounds like obvious advice, but can easily become a problem if you don’t set boundaries and expectations with friends from the beginning.

When I worked from home I had friends that either weren’t working for various reasons, or had different work schedules than me, and inevitably wanted to make plans during a workday to have lunch or visit. They thought I was home and available, not home and busy working.

Again, treat this situation as if you were working from a traditional office. Don’t invite friends over to your home during work hours – would you invite them to your office building while working?

Instead, go out to lunch at a restaurant and keep it to an hour or less, knowing you have to be back to work on time.

6. Plan, plan, plan. By planning everything out, things like your lunch breaks, email time, or prep time for a meeting, you don’t overcommit yourself and still have time to get your tasks done throughout the day.

Be sure to share your schedule with your coworkers where needed, so they know when you’ll be available and when you’re not going to be reachable.

One summer, in my teens I worked in a medical doctor’s office and quickly learned about planning your schedule, sticking to it, and setting expectations with coworkers and patients.

The doctor’s schedule was all planned out, with appointments during specific hours, specific times he would call the pharmacy and the times he would return patient calls.

So if a patient needed to speak to him, it was communicated to them when he’d be returning calls so they could make it a priority to be available then.

If you are fortunate enough to work from home be sure to implement one or more of the above strategies to increase your productivity and have a more fulfilling work life.

 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash