July 9, 2012

Motivation Monday-Dealing with lifes daily struggles

Tips to deal with daily struggles at work, at home, and life in general
Sometimes, despite our best intentions and efforts, we struggle at work, at home, and in life. Life can transform itself from an engaging challenge into an endless struggle complete with de-motivating bosses, fastidious co-workers, and irate customers. On some days, it’s overwhelming! So what can you do?  How do you deal with daily stress? 

1. Stay Active
Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. If we do not help ourselves, how can we effectively help others? Relaxation and exercise rejuvenates the body, mind, and spirit and leaves us better equipped to handle stressful situations when they come.  Try to find something that you enjoy and do it every day. If you can set aside time for relaxation and/or exercise, do it. Try to set aside a designated, uninterrupted time and stick to it.
Many people state they don’t have time to expressive and/or relax, but it is really not that time-consuming. You can take 10 minute breaks of breathing/stretching exercises throughout the day. Walk instead of drive whenever possible, take the stairs, try to set aside 30 minutes a day of uninterrupted exercise, no matter what it is, just keep moving. Most people say they don’t have the time, but almost everyone makes the time to watch an hour of TV at night, so if that is the only free time you can seem to find then slash it in half and use the other half to stay active.  Can’t miss your favorite show?  Exercise while watching it, no excuses.

2. Write it out
According to Social Psychologist James Pennebaker, one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and productive, amidst the emotional storms that can engulf you at work, at home, and in life, is to keep a journal. This is not a new concept people have been keeping journals for years, but what Mr. Pennebaker was able to do was prove and quantify that the beneficial impact of journaling was not only psychological, but physiological as well.  Mr. Pennebaker found that writing about traumatic or upsetting experiences not only helps people cope with their emotions; it also strengthened their immune systems and significantly improved their mood and behavioral responses.

Participants in these writing studies were usually given the following set of instructions:
For the next 4 days, I would like you to write your very deepest thoughts and feelings about the most traumatic experience of your entire life or an extremely important emotional issue that has affected you and your life. In your writing, I’d like you to really let go and explore your deepest emotions and thoughts. You might tie your topic to your relationships with others, including parents, lovers, friends or relatives; to your past, your present or your future; or to who you have been, who you would like to be or who you are now. You may write about the same general issues or experiences on all days of writing or about different topics each day.

According to Mr. Pennebaker, writing provides a unique medium through which we can become completely uninhibited in the disclosure of troubling emotions surrounding traumatic events. This process of disclosure through writing “puts a powerful brake on the torment” that we sometimes feel when we face difficult work/life challenges. Writing, it turns out, is a powerful form of catharsis. Keeping a journal can help you gain a clearer perspective on your emotions and the true nature of the issue(s) you may be facing.

Journaling is a tool that too few of us put to good use. All it takes is a few minutes each day and you can do it offline or online. For some people, there’s nothing like the feeling of pen on paper to capture their thoughts, but for some, typing away on their laptops is best. But whether you prefer a notebook or software tool, the important thing to remember is to spend at least 10 minutes a day and to write freely and uninhibitedly about whatever it is that’s troubling you at work, at home, or in life. Don’t worry about grammar let your thoughts, ideas and emotions fly. Then, simply walk away until the next day. It’s such a simple thing and yet so powerful.

3.  Exchange attitude for gratitude.

Our attitude has a profound effect on how we deal with situations. Negative attitudes affect our physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing.
When in a particularly stressful situation, try exchanging attitude for gratitude. When you are running late for a meeting because you are stuck in traffic, change your attitude. Instead of being frustrated about the traffic, find some gratitude. Look around and think of all the things you can be thankful for. Sometimes you can find gratitude in the smallest things. You can be thankful for life, health, strength, friends, family, nature, etc. Focusing on gratitude can definitely change your attitude.

4. Look at the big Picture

Evaluate your stressful situation from a big point of view.  Ask yourself “how important is this, and will this matter in the long run?”  If the answer is no, it’s not likely worth your time and energy.  Stress does not have to be part of life.  Stress management is all about learning how and when to take control. It’s important to remember that you control how things affect you. An emotional response to a difficult situation is normal and only human.  However emotions have to be channeled appropriately or they can manifest negatively within our own personalities and affect ourselves in general. Research, too, confirms that emotionally-reactive individuals confronting even relatively minor challenges in their lives are prone to increased physical problems and diseases.  Emotions are channeled to fester, which leads to the development of a victimized mindset.  You may not realize it, but believing that your life is a teary saga may be the anchor weighing you down and preventing you from moving forward.  So, be conscious of how you channel your emotions.  You can temper them with positive thinking.  If you show any signs of having a victimized mindset then you need to snap out of it and adopt a more positive and reality based mindset instead.  That will help you get out of your difficulties faster.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
- Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

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