Stress

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The Hidden Cost of Social Distancing

I’ll admit it, when COVID-19 came to town this past March I was secretly excited that we were ordered to quarantine. Finally, I thought, a legitimate excuse to hunker down at home and stop the hustle!

Work slowed down. I embraced my role as chief laundry-doer-dinner-maker-house keeper. I created a cleaning schedule, tackling one section of the house each weekday. I planned all the meals. Once a week I put on my mask and headed to the grocery store to stand in line and wait for my turn to head inside.

With my freshly wiped down cart, I social-distance-shopped while dozens of personal shoppers walked through the aisles, glancing at their phones and filling shopping carts with someone else’s grocery list.

Life felt simple. Every day felt like a staycation. As someone who regularly practiced yoga at a local studio, I was thrilled to be able to rotate through a roster of classes with my favorite instructors, all in the comfort of my own home.

I was so happy and content—until I wasn’t.

Over the last six months of self-imposed quarantine I have gone from feeling secretly validated as a closet introvert, to feeling trapped, aimless, purposeless, disconnected and depressed.

social distancing effects

I know that I am not the only one.

We’ve been asked to stay home in order to stay healthy and to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But a healthy society requires more than the physical health of its members. A healthy society requires its members to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.

Tragically, our collective society is experiencing an erosion of mental and emotional health, because isolating ourselves, or limiting healthy social interaction, has negative consequences, including the manner in which it impacts our neurobiology.

Research shows that social isolation and perceived loneliness are associated with activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), otherwise known as the stress response (fight/flight/freeze). This response is designed to provide us with the ability to quickly defend ourselves from harm (fight), or to help us escape danger (flight).

In moments of perceived danger, our brains and bodies are turbo charged with hormones and biochemicals that are very useful in times of threat or danger. But when this system is chronically activated, as a result of social isolation, it turns from helpful to harmful.

The global pandemic brings no shortage of stressful realities and has impacted every one of us. Loss of jobs and incomes are creating financial stresses. Those who are employed as essential workers are facing health risk stressors. Those who have been impacted by the virus experience the stress of illness and loss.

And all of us are (ideally) practicing social distancing as the new public health initiative, which means that we are all at risk of experiencing the negative impact of the associated chronic stress. These impacts can be felt in a variety of ways, ranging from constant fear or anxiety, to general malaise, to depression, which can cause us to feel constantly exhausted, stuck, unmotivated or immobile (freeze).

Engaging in healthy social interactions does much more for us than we might think. When we have meaningful connections with others, we experience important human emotions like empathy and compassion (which we do when we reach out to someone for support, or lend an ear to someone we care about during a hard time).

These social/emotional experiences stimulate the production of important hormones and biochemicals like oxytocin and vasopressin, which can be mitigators to the development of stress and stress-related issues like depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the fewer healthy social interactions that we have, the less our brain is able to produce these “feel good” hormones, further heightening our risk or of developing depression and anxiety.

As our mental health erodes, we become susceptible to developing social anxiety or social dysfunction, leading us to isolate further. This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that feeds itself. Over time we feel like our feet are stuck in quicksand. Reaching out for connection feels impossible, even if we know it’s the helpful thing to do.

If all these weren’t concerning enough, continued isolation and the associated continuous activation of the HPA axis (stress) creates inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is the source of many autoimmune and physical ailments ranging from arthritis to cancer. The negative health implications of prolonged social isolation could be very dire, and won’t be fully recognized for years to come.

What to do?

It’s important to recognize how you are feeling (in your body), even if you don’t necessarily know what you are feeling (in your mind). To become aware of the physiological effects of the chronic stress associated with long-term social isolation, it helps to turn your awareness inward—to your body.

Distressing sensations in your body are the visceral impact of all those toxic stress hormones and can be felt in any number of ways, including a heavy feeling in your chest, sick feeling in the pit of your stomach or tightness in your throat. You might also notice you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing heart
  • Jittery legs
  • A general feeling of being trapped or confined

These sensations underpin emotions like fear, anger, irritation, resentment and so on. They are also a good indication that you’re experiencing a feedback loop of stress.

Practicing a variety of simple stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, and even dancing can interrupt this feedback loop. But if you feel unable to proactively engage in these types of activities (remember that quicksand feeling), simple breathing exercises (like the one described below) can be just as effective.

Breathing can be used anytime and if done correctly, your nervous system will shift from the high rev SNS to the calming and relaxing parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). It’s like turning the flame on a stove from all the way high, to a manageable simmer. If done regularly, your body will eventually learn how to stay calm and relaxed on its own.

Balloon Breath

balloon breathing

Sit or lay down. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Inhale and inflate your belly and chest like a balloon (feel your hands moving as your body inflates). Exhale and let your belly and chest relax. Repeat at least ten times.

Breath and mindfulness practices are a good start for calming your body’s stress response. But to reverse the long-term negative impacts of social isolation, authentic connection with other human beings is a must.

Socializing (as we knew it) is still tightly regulated, but we can find opportunities for authentic connection with friends and family via apps like Facetime, House Party, or the video chat option on Facebook. Support groups like AA, Alanon, cancer support groups and others have all shifted to Zoom, allowing us access from anywhere in the world.

These are some ways in which we can connect with other humans, express care, empathy and compassion, and feel the benefit of all those good biochemicals.

As for me, I’ve been facilitating online TIMBo (trauma informed mind body) groups for women since mid-March. The connection I feel with these women is surprising and remarkable. We may not be in the same room, but over an online platform we share our thoughts, feelings, and struggles.

We connect, resonate, feel compassion, empathy, joy and, sometimes, grief. I thank technology, this program, and these women every day because without the opportunity to connect in such a meaningful way, I’m quite sure the world we’re living in would get the best of me.

So if you’re feeling off, increased social isolation might be at the root. Be proactive, see what’s available, find something that resonates, and start connecting.

We all need each other right now to help us get through these uncertain times. Our health, and the health of our society really does depend on it.

To learn more about TIMBo, go to www.timbocollective.org. Suzanne’s award-winning book, There is Nothing to Fix: Becoming Whole through Radical Self-Acceptance, is available in paperback, kindle, and audiobook.

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Could You Have Imposter Syndrome?

We’ve all heard the term “fake it until you make it,” which refers to the idea that by acting confident and, as though you know what you’re doing, you will eventually make that a reality. But, what if that reality never comes and you feel like you’re faking it all the time?

Everyone occasionally feels like they’re just winging it. We hope no one notices that we don’t really know what we’re doing. But when you live constantly feeling like a fraud and worry about being exposed you may have what is called imposter syndrome.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome refers to the persistent feeling that you aren’t actually responsible for your own achievements or success. People with imposter syndrome often feel like they’ve been lucky, in the right place at the right time, or that others are really the source of their success and feel guilty because of the praise that they’re receiving.

These feelings are often found in high achievers but can affect anyone in any walk of life, and both men and women can experience them. And it’s not just in the workplace.

Imposter syndrome can affect any positive area in your life – relationships, school, money, or family. Feeling that you don’t really deserve any of the good things in your life and are completely unworthy of what you have is a primary characteristic of imposter syndrome.

Feeling this way causes stress, anxiety, depression, and can make even the most successful people afraid to take on new challenges and unable to live with the worry of being exposed.

If this sounds familiar but you’re still unsure, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you consider yourself a high achiever?
  • Do you feel you’re lucky and worry your luck will run out?
  • Do you worry your achievements will make people expect too much of you and you’ll ultimately disappoint them?
  • Do you often feel like you’re mediocre or incompetent?
  • Does a new situation make you desperate to feel prepared, cause you to obsess over the details, or feel like nothing can be left to chance?
  • Are you controlling when it comes to events, projects, or anything else with which you are associated?
  • Do you experience constant self-doubt?
  • Are you worried that if people look too hard they’ll find flaws in your work?
  • Are you concerned that people will find out you’re not as smart or as good as you seem?

If you answered, “yes” to most or all of these, you are likely dealing with imposter syndrome. And while we can all experience these feelings occasionally, when they become persistent and get in the way of your happiness and ability to enjoy your success, they become a problem.

How To Get Over Feeling Like A Fraud

having imposter syndrome

One of the biggest problems with imposter syndrome is that no amount of success and happy achievements make it go away. In fact, it’s often the case that the greater the success, the more intense the feelings of being a fraud and being found out can become.

For some people these feelings can serve as motivation. They work harder, do more, triple and quadruple check everything just to validate themselves and increase their feelings of worthiness. But is that a healthy motivation? Not really. Using feelings of fear and self-doubt to motivate yourself is draining and costly to your mental health and overall happiness.

Finding a way to overcome imposter syndrome and feel secure in your achievements isn’t easy, however. If you suffer with this, it likely has deep roots. So to get past it you will have to truly examine your past experiences and beliefs about yourself and your abilities.

To do that consider some of the following truths:

  1. While others may have helped, you had a major role in your own success.
  2. Hard work pays off. If you have worked hard you have earned the right to be proud of what you’ve achieved.
  3. Positive or negative, other people’s opinions aren’t as important to your own mental health and happiness as yours is.
  4. You belong as much as anyone around you.
  5. Everyone around you has insecurities and feels like a fraud sometimes too. You’re not alone.
  6. Failure doesn’t make you a phony.

Although these are all true and need to be remembered, accepting them as truth can be tough. You may need work to believe them, and to that end consider using the tips below to assist you:

  • Keep a notebook of praise and compliments paid to you. Reviewing these can help you feel more secure and counter your negative self-talk.
  • Stop thinking about yourself and focus on adding value to those around you – but not in an obsessive way. The point here is to eliminate the, “What will they think of me?” train of thoughts and negative self-talk. Helping, pitching in, and doing things for others will not only make others appreciate you, it breaks down walls, brings you closer to other people, and will make you feel good about yourself.
  • Make a list of the things you’re afraid people will find out about you. Then review them and find the reasons they aren’t that bad or unique and recognize that others have the same or worse concerns about themselves.
  • Talk to someone and tell them how you feel. Doing this will take some of the fear away, allow that person to reassure you, and you may discover they have had very similar feelings.

If none of these helps and you still find that you feel like a fraud, it may be time to talk to a counselor. As I mentioned earlier, these thoughts and feelings are usually deep-seated. Getting past them will mean that you need to address their source and work through those issues before you can really move on and find the happiness and self-confidence you need.

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3 Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety Before Going to Sleep

Having a lot of stress and anxiety is harmful for anyone during the day. Having a whirlwind of negative thoughts when you lay down to sleep is even worse! These anxious thoughts make it so difficult to get the sleep that your body and mind desperately need. My past experiences with living in unsafe neighborhoods and moving multiple times after eviction, have caused me to have negative and anxious thoughts every time I lay down to sleep.
After working on reducing my own anxiety for many years, I have found these three strategies help me fall asleep when I am having anxiety before bed.

Take a warm bath or warm shower

calming my anxiety at night

It is ideal to take a warm bath, but not all of us have a bath tub. I surely have had apartments that do not have the option to soak your stress away. A warm shower would do the trick as well. The warm water helps you relieve tension in your muscles and leaves you feeling fresh.

Set yourself up to relax by making the environment calm and peaceful. Create dim lighting with candles or a lamp. The bright lights of a bathroom can be overwhelming and prevent you from truly taking time to rest. Reduce the noise and turn off your phone. It becomes too distracting when my phone keeps ringing or notifying me about emails and social media. Allow yourself during this time to disconnect from those distractions and, let’s be honest, worries.

Also, add some bubble bath, a bath bomb, or epsom salts for an aromatic bath experience. For a relaxing shower, use a fragrant soap or body wash. Take your pick from the variety of products that are meant to promote stress relief and good sleep.

Laugh

Find a way to add humor to your evening plans. Laughing has a similar effect as exercising. They both increase the flow of oxygen in your body and release endorphins to help your mind feel more relaxed. An activity that helps make me laugh is to watch a funny sitcom or one of my favorite stand-up comedy specials.

Another way to laugh is to call up a relative or good friend and remind them of a funny memory you two shared. It is so helpful to share a laugh with someone else. For instance, there are many memories from school years that my brother and I love to chat about.

If you prefer a non-screen option and do not want to pick up the phone, then dust off an old photo album and remind yourself of happy memories. Pay attention to the scenery and people in the pictures, trying to remember how you felt at that time. The hairstyles and fashion of your past will likely help you reminisce and laugh out loud.

Make a gratitude list

calm my anxiety at night

As you lay in bed, say the names of people and things you are grateful for out loud. It is helpful to close your eyes and visualize the faces of the people you are thankful for.

Imagine them feeling happy and fulfilled. Once you start with one person, it causes a waterfall effect and keeps going. You will find that it is easy to imagine many more people in your life that have been helpful to you.

Allow yourself to focus on these people and extend the list as far as you can go. Remember that all of these people and things that you are grateful for are real and true. Some of your anxious thoughts are not true but are actually worries about the unclear future. When stating this gratitude list out loud, you might notice that you start to smile and your anxious energy melts away.

In closing, those negative thoughts that come up at night might be for a good reason. However, anxious thoughts do not get to control how much you sleep. My sleeping patterns were impacted by worries and made me more tired and less focused at school and work. Reducing anxiety before bedtime can improve your sleep and increase your energy during the day. By releasing muscle tension, laughing, and reminding yourself of who you are thankful for, you can reduce your anxiety and enjoy your sleep just like I do!

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How To Let Go Of Things That Cause You Stress

One of the few things you will experience in life is emotional stress. Inevitable as it is, the question is how to get through heartaches and let go of the things that cause us stress. While we try to move on and forget everything that reminds us of the past, the process has never been easy. After all, the art of letting go is not without challenges.

There’s nothing wrong with being hurt when people do things that are, well, hurtful. However, it doesn’t mean that we should just sit idly and suffer. It is also an undisputed fact that we feel greater distress when the offense comes from the people we trust. If you want to move forward and reclaim your sense of peace, this article offers some tips.

Distancing

It is good to distance yourself from people or things that cause us pain. If you’re in a relationship with someone and they do things that hurt your feelings, walking away from the toxic relationship is the best step. The mistake most people make is that they get blinded with love, and they find it difficult to let go. However, the more we see them, the more we want them back in our life. This is why distancing ourselves from whatever causes us pain is a great way of letting go of things that hurts us. Always remember that in most cases, out of sight is out of mind.

Be thankful

Be thankful for what happened and don’t get stuck with the question of why it is happening to you. Talk to yourself whenever you get hurt and find out why it’s good for you to be apart from that thing. Whether it’s heartbreaks from your partner, see the good reason why you had to leave and don’t keep on reminiscing on why it must happen.

Focus more on yourself

focus on yourself

Focus more on yourself rather than thinking about the past. Find something you love doing and get attached to it, find your purpose, and don’t worry about the stressor. When you’re addicted to what you love doing, you spend time doing it and you forget whatever might be hurting you.

Focus on the present

Practice focusing on the present and not the past. The more you learn to live in the present and not the past, the more you’d be stronger in life. Accept the fact that whatever had happened in the past can’t be changed, but the present can be worked on just to get a brighter future. Holding onto the past will do nothing but steal your present and shatter the future.

Understand the situation

Understanding that the person or thing causing stress was never meant to be yours (maybe you just lost something precious, or someone you ever loved so dearly just broke up with you). Believe that the very best will come your way with ease; if it were ever meant for you, it wouldn’t cause you pain and stress.

Don’t complicate issues

Be gentle with yourself in the process of letting go if you haven’t been through it before. You need to understand that it takes time to heal from your pain. Don’t rush it because it’s a step by step process. If you go hard on yourself, you’ll only get hurt even more.

Eliminate the stress indicator

Eliminate whatever reminds you of the bad experience or stress you are going through—eliminating works when the stress indicator is something materialistic, human or emotional. Take out whatever reminds you of bad moments that cause stress pending the time you get over the stress.

Make friends

letting go of stress

Don’t be afraid to make new friends. Friends, especially the real ones, have a way of cheering us up whenever we’re down. Your friend can help you get over stress by taking you out for brunch or dinner: you laugh together and get a nice time out. It is an undisputed fact that stress and emotional breakdown always want to make one distant himself/ herself from the social world. However, the best you can do for yourself is to make new friends. The good times spent with friends have a way of relieving pains.

Move on

Don’t expect apologies if what is causing you stress is human. Sometimes we get to hurt ourselves more with expectations. When people hurt us, we wait for them to apologize. Expecting apologies and not getting it makes you feel worse.

The takeaway

Whenever you are stressed or troubled, don’t give in to the pain. Your peace of mind should be the priority. Always remember you need to be stronger than ever and never let anyone/anything be in control of your emotions and happiness. You are the perfect person to handle stress and emotional pains.

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How To Handle Burnout And Toxic Stress In The Workplace

Whenever you’re stressed, your cortisol levels, which is also known as the stress hormone, increase 2-5x from their normal state. However, not all stress is equal. Humans can experience two types of stress: short-term or chronic. The difference?

One has a clear endpoint while the other never ends. An instance of short-term stress would be worrying about meeting a deadline. Why? A deadline is a tangible goal with a clear endpoint, ultimately challenging your cortisol to excel toward it.

On the other hand, chronic stress is permanent, and will eventually rewire your brain. Your brain is in survival mode when you’re under chronic stress, causing you to focus less on higher-order tasks which provides no outlet for your increased cortisol. Overall, stress in the workplace can go on to make you feel burned out.

What Is Burnout?

work stress burnout

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies burnout to be a consequential syndrome caused by workplace stress, with symptoms of feeling exhausted, being mentally detached, and having poor performance. Interestingly enough, 51% of the American workforce have felt burned out more than once and 57% say stress generates feelings of being paralyzed.

Meanwhile, 43% of employees are invigorated by stress, which may be why 64% of U.S. workers feel stressed or frustrated while at work at least once or more on a weekly basis. Moreover, 77% of American professionals and 84% of millennials have felt burned out at least once. What are the causes?

In the U.K., employees have many theories that create a recipe for office stress. 44% report high-pressure environments contribute to their work-related stress, 38% say it’s due to a lack of support from management, and 30% say their leadership’s unrealistic expectations are what stresses them out.

In addition to those, 1 in 3 U.K. employees say technology is to blame. 45% say technology increases their workload, 33% say it gives them tighter deadlines, and 29% say it makes them feel socially isolated.

Technology is a double-edged sword, though, as mindful use of it can decrease your workload. Tech that helps you work smarter, not harder, such as messaging bots, Grammarly, Slack, and more can decrease your workload and, subsequently, your stress.

How To Cope With Workplace Stress

burnout and work stress

Although it has somehow become normal for stress to exist in our places of employment, it is survivable. In fact, burnout is best treated by making simple lifestyle changes.

Take it from Jacky Francis Walker, a psychotherapist and the man behind The Burnout Bible, who once said, “Someone on the brink will probably begin to feel emotionally numbed or mentally distant. Like they don’t have the capacity to engage as much in the ordinary things of life.” Saying this, here is how you can spot the signs of impending burnout, and what you can do to steer clear of stress.

The biggest red flag you’re on the road to experiencing burnout is that you have this unshakeable feeling your work quality is diminishing, and that you’re not showing your full potential. The first thing you should do in this case is to get to the root of the problem. As a tip: overwhelming time constraints, working for a company whose values are misaligned from yours, and oppressive work environments are often to blame for burnouts.

Furthermore, it’s important you establish a routine and prioritize each day you have on the clock. Having a routine that’s predictable can help you so that when stress does strike, it’s still manageable. Creating a list of tasks is also a great way to prioritize the things you need to accomplish on your day-to-day. 

By doing this, you know what to expect when you go to work as unpredictability can often cause you stress. In your lists, strive to have a semblance of balance that’s long-term rather than trying to cram everything into a single day’s work.

Bea Arthur, who is another psychotherapist and the Founder of The Difference, once said, “You know what is urgent in your life, like seeing your family and friends more… Even if the work is still there when you get back from vacation, you’ll come back better.” Keep this in mind as you reorient your workflow to preserve your mental state.

Lastly, here’s what you can do to reduce your stress hormones. You should work these tips into your daily routine as this is the best approach to staying stress-free long-term.

51% of Americans deal with burnout by talking to friends or family. In other words, socializing is among the best ways to reduce your cortisol levels since isolation will only increase your stress hormones. Sleeping is also important. Stress causes trouble sleeping and that, in turn, leads to stress — which is why 50% of Americans fight burnout with sleep.

On the other hand, 44% of Americans use exercise to combat their burnout and stress. By engaging in physical activity, you can reduce your cortisol levels. Similarly, any form of meditation or conscious breathing will help to slow down your heart rate and decrease the negative effects of cortisol. 30% of Americans fight burnout through regular meditation.

Most importantly, seek help whenever you’re feeling stressed — in the office or out. Support increases your resiliency toward stress; and the earlier you seek help, the more likely it is you’ll be able to avoid the complications it brings.

See Also: How to Relax After A Stressful Day At Work

Contrary to the norm, burnout isn’t inevitable. Read more below for more on chronic stress in the workplace.

Burnout and Toxic Stress
Source: Online PhD Degrees

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The Art of Cultivating A Sense of Purpose In Life

There are times in life when we all feel aimless. However, as long as we don’t let those temporary feelings define our lives, we will come out the other side. Knowing your purpose in life is what gets you up in the morning and keep you going when the going gets tough.

But did you know that having a sense of purpose can also prolong your life?

Best of all, a strong sense of purpose is something you can cultivate starting today. There’s no special equipment required.

It’s Hard To Feel A Sense of Purpose When You Are Under Stress

our purpose in life

People are under all kinds of stress, from family issues to work-related problems. It can be difficult to feel you have a purpose in life when it’s all stress from all angles. It’s also difficult to feel like there’s any hope for the future when you have been through trauma.

You see, trauma reshapes the brain to be overly cautious and pessimistic. It can make you fearful of the future and cause intolerance of uncertainty. Trauma can disrupt your daily life and cause all kinds of other mental health problems that prevent you from living life to its fullest.

Fortunately, an exercise known as reframing can help you look at traumatic and stressful events in your life. It will enable you to reshape them as valuable experiences.

See Also: 7 Easy Ways to Remove Negative Energy and Unnecessary Stress

What Purpose Can Do For You

Across all age groups, people who have a strong sense of purpose have a 15% lower risk for premature death. In one study, seniors were followed for several years and had periodic checks of their sense of purpose. Those who reported little purpose in their lives at the start of the study were 2.4 times more likely to pass away during the study. That’s in comparison to those who reported a strong sense of purpose in their lives.

Where To Cultivate Purpose In Your Life

purpose in life

Things like family and career can lead to a strong sense of purpose, but those aren’t the only things you should be relying on. Families have struggles and when children leave the nest, it can lead to a sense of aimlessness.

While it is important to cultivate strong family relationships, it is equally important to cultivate a sense of purpose in other areas of your life as well. The same goes for your career. While it is important to build a career that gives you a sense of purpose in life, it can’t be the only thing or you will reach retirement and not know what to do next.

For some people, religion is a nice way to keep a steady sense of purpose going throughout their lives. If religion isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other things that can give you a strong sense of purpose.

Lifelong learning is a great way to keep your mind active and give yourself a sense of purpose and belongingness. Curiosity and chasing the next big goal can keep your mind from withering away. They can also drive your sense of purpose as there is never a possibility of learning everything there is to know.

Likewise, hobbies and other interests are areas where you can continue to learn and grow for the rest of your life. There are also hobbies that come along with new friendships and meaningful contributions.

Doing inspiring activities, whether they are work, hobbies or something else, can keep you engaged in something even when other areas of your life may be in rapid change. It’s important to keep that balance among the various activities you enjoy. That way, when there is trouble in one area, there are still constants you can turn to for stability in the other areas.

It’s not always easy to feel a strong sense of purpose in your life. It’s something you will often have to put work into. But cultivating that sense of purpose can add life to your years and years to your life. In the end, there’s almost zero downside to cultivating a strong sense of purpose in your life.

Learn more about the art and science of purpose from the infographic below!
The Art and Science of Purpose
Source: Online College Plan

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5 Essential Tips on How to Overcome Burnout in the Workplace

The modern working life is a complicated entity, with as many people thriving as there are those who struggle to get through their daily routine. Whether you’re the former or the latter, the fact is that everyone is susceptible to falling victim to workplace burnout. Learning how to overcome burnout is what sets people apart and falling victim to burnout can easily cause someone to leave a job in some cases.

As such, understanding the root cause and the ways in which to battle workplace burnout are two things which go hand in hand.

How to Tell You’re Suffering

The first step to recovering from burnout is to understand and recognize that you are suffering from it. Although you can’t technically diagnose it, knowing yourself and how you function in the work environment can help you.

Sometimes, burnout can be very subtle, even subtle enough to fool yourself into thinking you’re fine. Ultimately, the biggest indicator of workplace burnout is the consistent dread that comes from being at work. It’s usually paired with apathy as to whether or not you achieve anything in the process of working.

Dread and apathy are the biggest clues that burnout is occurring, so don’t simply ignore them.

Understand Why

The source of burnout can vary massively from person to person. The fact is that one person could experience burnout from too much pressure while another may experience it due to lack of important things to do.

Either type of burnout is valid and the more important part is learning to recognize how the burnout happened in the first place. Once you diagnose its cause, you can start to treat the symptoms and hopefully lead yourself to the cure.

If you can’t find the source of your burnout, then recovering from it can be almost impossible. As with anything, treating the disease at the source is the most effective road to recovery.

Organize Your Time

to overcome burnout

Do you dread going to work every day? Is the idea of getting up in the morning tiring? Is there just too much work to do and not enough time to do it?

Chances are you’re suffering from an organizational problem. After all, the more organized your day becomes, the better you will start to feel about the work ahead of you. You will be able to manage each day a little bit easier.

Learn to Say No

“No” is a powerful word. It can be seen as a negative factor but overall, it can actually be a positive force in your daily working life. After all, too much work and stress can fall on your shoulders, thanks to saying yes far too much.

Saying no can help alleviate the pressure ever so slightly or completely, depending on your current coping methods. For example, if you’re not coping, then saying no can be a massive help to your everyday life.

Having no time for yourself and feeling worn down by both work and your personal life can be overwhelming. This is where learning to say no can become so important. Say no to the extra work, the after-work activity, and giving up your all-important ‘me time’.

Invest in it and you’ll be surprised by how much better you start to feel over a short period of time.

See Also: The Courage To Say No

Sleep More, Work Less

Sleep isn’t a cure-all, but you might be surprised as to the number of ways sleep can work to improve your life or conditions you may be suffering from. One of the easiest ways to exasperate your feeling of burnout is to add a constant sense of fatigue to your daily life.

Tiredness can make work harder to cope with, which leaves you feeling sluggish and makes everything you do in a day harder to achieve. Practicing a good sleep routine is important to alleviate burnout and improve your general health.

And if you have a habit of taking your work home with you, just stop. The fastest way to exhaust yourself is to work throughout the day and then continue when you get home. You need to give yourself a time of day to switch off and relax.

Eat Well and Exercise

overcome burnout

Eating well and exercising should be a simple part of everyday life, but it can also help you recover from everyday burnout and weariness. It gives you something to do every day, which isn’t thinking about your work-related concerns and complications.

Ultimately, a healthy lifestyle can help spill over a new level of positivity into your work life as well. So ensuring that this is the case can be vitally important, especially when you want to try and help yourself recover from burnout. Take healthy lunches to work, exercise before you get into the office everyday, and make sure that you are working toward more positivity in your everyday life.

As a whole, working to recover from burnout can be just as tough as all the things that got you into a burned-out stage in the first place. But, you can’t live your life falling into the same routine that’s causing you a tremendous amount of stress.

Work at giving yourself time and take back control over the factors that caused the burnout. Those are the first things you need to do if you want to know how to overcome burnout.

See Also: How To Avoid Burnout At Your Job

The post 5 Essential Tips on How to Overcome Burnout in the Workplace appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Fighting Back Against Back Pain

Did you know that back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide?

There are a lot of ways we can sustain a back injury in our everyday lives, from work life to home life. Once you have that type of injury, it is very difficult to recover from it. That’s because recovery takes time and resources and many people just don’t have the sick days or additional resources to cover a prolonged recovery period.

This is why it’s so important to protect our backs at home and at work so back injuries don’t happen.

Preventing Back Pain In The Workplace

use equipment for lifting

Many workplaces have repetitive tasks that have to be done the same way over and over. One person can end up doing the same task repeatedly throughout the workday.

If it’s possible, switch tasks with others so that no one is doing the same task over and over again. Varying repetitive tasks can protect you from repetitive strain injuries.

There are also impact injuries that can happen when lifting heavy things. If possible, get help from others or from special equipment to lift heavy objects. If lifting heavy objects is a standard part of your daily activities, it’s important to:

  • Wear a back brace
  • Lift with your legs, not with your back
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch

Even desk jobs come with risks. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your lower back more than standing or laying down by far.

Sitting in an ergonomic position can help you to prevent back pain from taking over your life. It’s also important to pay attention to the position of your keyboard and computer monitor.

Keyboards that are too low can cause you to hunch forward while computer monitors that are too low can cause you to crane your neck forward. Both will put your spine out of alignment and cause unnecessary strain. Putting monitors on risers and raising up your desk can help prevent neck and back pain from repeated strain.

Taking breaks from sitting is also important. Standing desks are a huge craze right now, and for good reason. Having the option to go from sitting to standing is a great way to give your lower back a much-needed break once in a while. Also, getting up and taking a short walk from time to time can help exercise the muscles supporting your core.

See Also: How to Take Care of Your Back When You Have a Sitting Job

Protecting Your Back At Home

prevent back pain

While you probably aren’t doing the same repetitive motions at home as you are at work, there are still ways to protect your back from injuries that come from common household accidents.

Slips and falls can cause serious problems so ensure floors are level and any rugs are nonslip. Household chores like mowing the lawn can be strenuous. Ensuring you have the right equipment for the job can really help. Setting up your home office and kitchen to be ergonomic work spaces is also a great way to prevent unnecessary back injuries.

Lifestyle changes are critical in preventing back pain and injuries, too. Even something as simple as going for a walk every evening after dinner can make a big difference in your fitness and help you prevent back injuries.

Bad posture, obesity, and stress are common causes of back pain. When left unchecked, they can lead to more serious problems. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight are your first line of defense against back pain.

See Also: 10 Stretches To Do Right Now For Back Pain Relief

Back Pain Is Costly

Lower back pain costs Americans $100 billion per year and half of people of working age report having missed work because of it. But back pain can also cost you your peace of mind and quality of life.

A periodic checkup of things that could lead to back pain could save you in the long run.

Is back pain going to cost you big at work and in your life? Pay attention to your posture and motions at work and at home. Make lifestyle adjustments to deal with potential issues before they arise and take over your life.

Learn more about preventing back pain from the infographic below.
Back in Pain: How Everyday Activities Hurt Our Spines
Source: Online Mattress Review

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7 Awesome Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress on Weekdays

Stress is a silent killer and if you’re not doing well in coping with stress at work, it can spell problems for you.

Stress can strike anyone, even the most optimistic and energetic of people.

Your boss or teacher might not help as they keep pushing you to hit your goals. The next thing you know, you’ve lost your focus, energy, and confidence. You start going home late with stoop shoulders and a heavy feeling.

Then, you start seeking sweet treats to lift your mood.

Studies show that stress is one of the leading causes of chronic health conditions. Heart disease, accelerated aging, and diabetes are linked to stress. And if you’re not careful, this can lead to depression, too.

Yes, stress is inevitable. But there are many ways to manage it effectively on a daily basis.
Here are the best ones to help you start coping with stress at work.

Identify the nature or cause of your stress

To start coping with stress at work, you need to be more self-aware. Every time you are stressed out, step back and find out what’s really dragging you down.

In the workplace, stress can be due to the fear of being laid off. It can be due to an overwhelming workload or because of the leadership or management style of your boss.

At school, stress can be due to project deadlines, an unfavorable environment, and teaching style. Stress could also be due to financial and time constraints. It can also happen after a recent loss of a loved one.

To handle these situations, it’s best to talk to experts.

Control yourself. Eliminate your triggers to avoid feeling negative.

Allocate time for your hobbies, exercise, and social life

Set aside a couple of hours to hit the gym, do some painting (or writing), and commit to other hobbies. Choose who to hang out with. And, if possible, talk to an expert to get the social and emotional support you need to stay positive.

Coping with stress at work starts with your mornings

When you wake up early, you sleep early. This is especially true if you’re productive throughout the day and be more tired at the end of it.

It’s also the best time to apply Tony Robbins’ 15 Minutes of Fulfillment wherein you allocate the first 15 minutes of your day doing positive visualization. You may extend the 15 minutes to 30 minutes or an hour if possible.

Mel Robbins also promotes the 5-Second Rule that helps you avoid pushing your alarm clock’s snooze button. These principles can help you get on your feet fast and ready to take the day.

The secret to waking up and starting a great day really lies in your bedtime routine. Before you sleep, spend some time to pray, meditate, and write a one-liner gratitude journal. It also helps to plan, organize, and prioritize your to-do list for the next day before you sleep.

Choose your breaks strategically

Taking a break just because your friend invites you for a short cigarette or coffee break isn’t a good idea. Stopping in the middle of a task can disrupt your flow. When you get back to work, you won’t be as focused as before.

Learn to say no.

You can use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time. This technique allows you to transition from work-mode to relax-mode without compromising your productivity.

See Also: Hack the Pomodoro Technique to Boost Your Productivity

Don’t compromise your sleeping patterns and your healthy diet

It’s easy to fall into the trap of hanging out with friends for too long after work to ease your stress. But remember, the best way to ease your stress is to get adequate sleep.

Eating sweets may seem to alleviate stress, but indulging on sweet treats after work and at night can increase your insulin levels. The next thing you know, you’re having trouble sleeping.

Instead of sweets, eat foods that will help you fall asleep faster. A dinner consisting of almonds, turkey, walnuts, fatty fish, and kiwi is best. You can pair this up with chamomile tea, tart cherry juice or passionflower tea.

Take advantage of online time management, productivity tools, and stress management apps

A plethora of apps and tools are now available to help enhance productivity. These can help you get more things done in a day. Specifically, you may get started with the following:

Pomodoro Timer– to allocate time for work and rest

Pocket, Wunderlist, Trello – to create and organize tasks

Pocket Yoga – to meditate and exercise on the go

Spotify, Deezer – to listen to your choice of soothing, stress-relieving, or inspiring music or audio

Don’t forget to equip your web browser with a plug-in that limits your use of social media and other non-work related websites.

Be consistent and be patient with yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

You have to understand that handling stress is a skill that needs to be developed with consistency and commitment. If you think you failed today, plan and commit to doing better tomorrow!

Doing this helps you avoid the feeling of being stuck with self-blame and self-pity which also causes stress.

The reality is this:

Stress is as constant as change in the world. So don’t feel helpless and depressed when you’re experiencing it. This is normal and everyone has their own kind of stress.

You just have to know how to start coping with stress at work. And for that, what you need to do is to commit to following the tips above to fight stress and live a happier and longer life.

The post 7 Awesome Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress on Weekdays appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why Am I Not Happy? (I Should Be)

You look around you and think, “I have a great life, I should be happy, but why am I not being happy?”

Does this sound familiar?

Perhaps your career is going well, your relationship is strong, your family is great, and you have all the material things you need. So, why are you still plagued by a feeling of unhappiness?

Happiness is a tricky thing and measuring it is even trickier.

But before we start considering why you may not be experiencing the happiness you feel you should, ask yourself this question.

Are you not happy or are you not satisfied?

Happiness and satisfaction are often confused but there is a distinct difference.

To begin with, happiness is an emotion whereas satisfaction is not. If you are looking at your life and the various components that give you pleasure, it is likely you are not unhappy but rather dissatisfied.

Feeling dissatisfied is fairly common.

We are conditioned to want certain things in our lives– money, houses, cars, work accomplishments. Without them, we might feel like we haven’t satisfied certain criteria for success. We feel that we are missing things.

We are also never told that there is a point where you can feel, well – done. In other words, once you achieve the things you were aiming for, most people want more and will ask (or feel like asking) “what’s next?”

The feeling of dissatisfaction or “what’s next” is a frustrating one. It can prevent us from really enjoying our lives and the people in them. It can cause us to always look for the next thing.

So, although you may have everything you need to feel happy, dissatisfaction may be keeping happiness at bay.

But what if it isn’t dissatisfaction and you truly do not feel happy in spite of what seems like a pretty good life?

Feeling unhappy in a seemingly happy life can happen for a number of reasons. Give some thought to those below.

Happiness is subjective

Measuring with the wrong ruler is one of the biggest issues with happiness. What makes one person happy is not necessarily the same thing that will make another person happy.

So, if you are not happy and feel like you should be, think about what you are evaluating.

You deny yourself

limiting happiness

Do you love to draw, dance, write or read? The list could go on and on.

If you deny yourself things in life that are a release or an outlet because you feel like they are silly or superficial, you could be limiting your happiness. Hobbies, no matter which ones you choose, are an important part of life and happiness.

See Also: 7 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Happiness And What You Can Do About Them

You feel guilty

Yes, this happens.

Too often, people don’t think they have a right to their own happiness. They feel guilty about enjoying their lives because so many others struggle. You never need to feel bad about having a happy life. Enjoy it.

If more people did, the world might be a better place.

Anxiety, worry, and stress

No matter how happy you are, these three are a factor in nearly every life to some degree. The key is managing them.

There have been chapters written on how to do this but your approach will depend a great deal upon what it is that’s plaguing you. If one or all of these things are a problem in your life, it can impede your ability to be happy.

You’re unhealthy

This is another factor that comes in various degrees, but study after study shows a direct link between being physically active, eating well, and happiness. If you haven’t already, it may be the right time to make some positive changes to your physical well-being.

You don’t know what makes you happy

Have you checked all the boxes and still don’t feel the happiness you think you should feel?

Maybe they’re the wrong boxes.

This goes back to using someone else’s ruler. Many people never get to know themselves well enough to really know what makes them happy. They follow the guidelines that have been generally accepted by society and expect happiness to come from doing so.

Remember, everyone is different.

You are depressed

depression

Many people suffer from depression. It isn’t a passing sadness or dissatisfaction but a persistent feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness.

Depression doesn’t typically go away on its own and should not be left untreated. If you suspect that you are suffering from depression, seek professional help.

See Also: 15 Symptoms You Are Depressed (Even When You Think You Aren’t)

If you have reached a point in your life where you are questioning if you will ever actually feel “happy”, take some time to really consider what that means to you. If your definition seems to be what you already have, look a little deeper. You may actually be dissatisfied or perhaps just one step away from getting where you want to be.

The post Why Am I Not Happy? (I Should Be) appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

4 Types Of Stress At Work And How To Deal With Them

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Work is meaningful and essential. Work is a part of life. It’s utilizing our talents in order to get something in return. It is a give-and-take process that benefits both parties for the betterment of society.

Through work, you get to feed yourself and your family, pay the bills and get to buy your wants and needs. It is a comfort to the people who have it because it is the answer to their needs.

Unfortunately, not all jobs fit everyone. Some are unfortunate to land a job they dislike while others simply fall out of love from their jobs. This makes it harder for them to work efficiently.

The Common Factor That Makes People Hate Their Jobs

There are a lot of factors that make people hate their jobs.

For some people, it’s the imbalance in their work and personal life. For others, it’s the overwhelming workload and the toxic people they need to work with. The list can get long but one thing is present in all these factors- stress.

Stress is the body’s natural response to pressure or danger around you. It produces hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, that activates the ‘flight-or-fight’ response of your body. Every day, we encounter stress. However, too much stress can have negative effects on your health.

Here are the common types of stress at work and how to manage them.

Time Stress

time stress

This is the most common type of stress at work. You usually experience this when you think there’s not enough time for you to finish a task. Panic sets in and you struggle to finish as many things as you can. You rush until you get burned out, do all of them half-way or, worse, not get any work done at all.

How To Manage Time Stress

When facing time stress, it is important to manage your time and get your priorities straight. Filter your tasks so you can easily see which ones you need to do first. You can use the Eisenhower matrix for this.

Here’s how:

Do First. Tasks in this category should be your first priority. Anything that is placed here should be done as soon as you’re able and not later than the day after tomorrow.

Schedule. This could be important tasks but are not so urgent. These kinds of tasks are either important scheduled meetings or an article with a set deadline.

Delegate. Tasks in this section are not important but still urgent. It could be a follow-up call to a client or a request for your presence for a presentation. These can be transferable to people you can trust, though.

Don’t do. Tasks in this category are neither important nor urgent. You can either do it when you have nothing else to do or not do it at all.

You can use this method if you like prioritizing things the traditional way. However, with today’s technology, you can use apps like Evernote and Toggl to boost your productivity and manage your ideas and time easily.

Anticipatory Stress

anticipatory stress

This stress is associated with the feeling of anticipating the future a little too much. You anticipate so much that uncertainties of what could happen in the future overwhelm you.

Here’s How To Deal With Anticipatory Stress

Be Positive. The best way to deal with anticipatory stress is to not let fear get the best of you. Positive visualization of outcomes helps by cutting off the negative stream of thinking. Meditation and calming yourself down can also help you from stressing yourself out.

Be Prepared. Face the unknown and tackle it head on by visualizing both the best and worst case scenario. If you think that something is going to go bad in the near future, be prepared and formulate back-up plans that you can use.

Be Brave. Anticipatory stress is mostly caused by the thought of failure. In order to combat failure, prepare yourself by visualizing possible obstacles in your path. Take those obstacles as challenges and see failure as a chance to learn and grow.

Situational Stress

situational stress

Situational stress happens when everything starts to go out of your control. It appears suddenly and you will have no clue on what to do. It is the time when you think that everything is going smoothly but suddenly, in a blink of an eye, everything goes downhill.

It could be a time when conflict suddenly erupted near you and you are caught in the middle of it. Or it could be the time where your boss suddenly mocked you in front of many co-workers.

Getting Over Situational Stress

Everyone reacts to situational stress differently. You can act out based on your behavior or on how your automatic response work in specific situations. In a sudden eruption of conflict, you either join the conflict or back away.

Be Self-Aware. The most important point is to be self-aware in whatever you will be doing. Being aware of yourself, your actions and with everything around you, will help you think of a solution despite the stress you are under.

Be Calm. Keep hold of your cool and use your head instead of your temper or emotions. Keeping calm lets you assess the situation before doing something that can negatively affect you, your reputation or your job.

Be Patient. Be patient by hearing each side of the conflict before deciding how to solve it. Meet them halfway in order to come up with a peaceful end to it. If you are dealing with situational stress with your boss, hear him out before reacting.

Encounter Stress

encounter stress

This stress involves the feeling of being overwhelmed by meeting new or too many people. All of us can be overwhelmed by a lot of people, whether we are introverts or extroverts.

It might be because you don’t like them or they don’t like you, but you have to interact with them. It might also mean that it’s the first time you’ll meet them and you worry about how they will react or how they will perceive you.

Handling Your Encounter Stress

Practice People Skills. In order to be able to manage a lot of people well, practice or even perfect your people skills. Be confident with interacting with them, so that you can take control of the situation. You’ll be calmer knowing that you can handle any problem that can arise.

Be Emphatic. Empathy is understanding another person from their point of view. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes will make you understand them deeper and feel what they are feeling without judging them. It’ll avoid possible conflict and strengthen relationship bonds at the same time.

Breathe. Whenever stressed, it is important to breathe. Deep breathing has the ability to reduce stress in the body. This signals the brain to calm down and the brain sends the message all over the body.

Other Stress Management Techniques

Write. Studies show that writing about your feelings or anything that makes you happy reduces stress. Take time, relax and write anything you can think of.

See Also: Writing Therapy: How It Can Make Your Life Easier

It is very important for you to be able to take care of your well-being in order to continue doing what you love and sharing what you can do to everyone. Equipping yourself with a healthy body, engaging mind and a positive attitude will make you go a long, long way.

See Also: 4 Ways To Reduce Stress Inside and Outside of Work

 

The post 4 Types Of Stress At Work And How To Deal With Them appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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How NOT To Breathe When You Feel Anxious

‘If you feel nervous, just take a few deep breaths. In, then out. In, then out.’

This feels like an obvious advice. Everyone knows that slow, deep breathing can calm the heart rate and lower feelings of anxiety. You may have tried this breathing technique to calm your nerves at a job interview, a presentation or a date.

It’s also obvious how to breathe. It’s intuitive, after all.

As you breathe in, the intercostal muscles expand, the ribs rise and the shoulders rise and spread. Then, as you breathe out, it all relaxes. You inhale up and then exhale down. Breathing expert Belisa Vranich says that 9 out of 10 people breathe this way, using what she calls ‘vertical breathing’.

The Bad Things About Vertical Breathing

Unfortunately, vertical breathing happens to be tremendously inefficient.

It uses enormous muscular effort. The rib cage is heavy and your neck and back muscles take most of the weight. The effort of hiking up the rib cage on inhalation can cause neck and back pain.

That extra effort stimulates the ‘Vagus’ nerve, the ‘wanderer’ nerve that travels from the gut to the brain. The brain uses the wanderer nerve to check up on how the body is feeling. When you’re breathing vertically, the body sends up ‘danger’ signals to the brain.

vertical breathing

So, just breathing badly can elicit feelings of anxiety.

Vertical breathing also robs your brain of oxygen. Think of the shape of your lungs. They’re pear-shaped, with the large parts at the bottom. Raising the ribs fills the thin, narrow parts of the pear, leaving the oxygen-rich bottom unexpanded.

Oxygen energizes your brain, blood and muscles. Visitors to London’s ‘oxygen bar’ -UK’s only licensed vendor of oxygen- can attest to that.

If your friend feels anxious, tell him to ‘take a deep breath’. Their shoulders rise, their ribs expand, their neck strains, their vagus nerve pings ‘danger’ and their brains de-oxygenate. Most likely, they’ll feel more anxious after that.

So, what could you tell your friends to do differently?

See Also: Suffering From Anxiety? This Is How I Deal With Mine

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When in doubt, trust Sesame Street. In 2012, they released ‘Belly Breathe’, featuring a rabid ‘monster’ Elmo assisted by Common and Colbie Caillat. In it, they place Elmo’s hand on his belly. He breathes, his belly moves and he returns to his normal self.

Breathing from the belly is otherwise known as diaphragmatic breathing. As you breathe in, the belly expands and this creates an internal cavity for the diaphragm to drop into. The bottoms of the lungs fill with oxygen. The ribs stay still, relaxing the neck and shoulders. Also, the Vagus nerve sends calming signals to the brain.

As you breathe out, the belly deflates inwards. The movement is horizontal, not vertical. This is good breathing.

But, I have a small critique of the Sesame Street method. Their lyrics go: ‘put your hands on your belly and you slowly breathe in’. This seems perfectly innocuous on the surface, but good teaching can sometimes be about changing your wording.

The instruction to ‘breathe in’ is dangerous. Watch the kids in the Sesame Street video. Their hands are on their belly, but they’re breathing with their shoulders. A producer told them to ‘breathe in’, and their brain went ‘Oh, I know how to do that!’ and they breathed badly. In my sessions, most people do the same.

So, it’s not enough to know the technique. We need to reframe how we think about breathing and that’s where I’d like to make my contribution.

When you feel anxious, don’t take a deep breath in. Breathe out first.

In Summary

Breathing out is very hard to get wrong. Your belly always deflates. You’ll feel it going back towards your spine if you breathe out firmly enough. Some people say “But I need to breathe in first. There’s no air in my lungs!”.

That’s not true. Only puncturing the lungs can empty them. You have a little bit of air in them all the time. It’s called the Resting Expiratory Level and you can use it to breathe out.

And when you’ve breathed out all of your air, don’t think ‘breathe in’. Just think ‘relax’ and notice the air passively returning to your lungs. Notice the belly relaxing back outwards and keep the shoulders still. Yes, that’s diaphragmatic breathing.

  1. Breathe out.
  2. Relax.
  3. Repeat.

See Also: 3 Healthy and Inexpensive Ways to Cope with Anxiety

 

The post How NOT To Breathe When You Feel Anxious appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Someone made a fidget spinner for adults

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The Infinity Cube is an upgraded fidget toy for your restless hands. This cube is meant to improve focus and relieve anxiety and stress. It’s perfect for brainstorming ideas at work, answering your phone calls, or when you’re outside waiting for a friend.  Read more…

More about Boredom, Anxiety, Stress, Mashable Video, and Relieving Stress

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Someone made a fidget spinner for adults

TwitterFacebook

The Infinity Cube is an upgraded fidget toy for your restless hands. This cube is meant to improve focus and relieve anxiety and stress. It’s perfect for brainstorming ideas at work, answering your phone calls, or when you’re outside waiting for a friend.  Read more…

More about Boredom, Anxiety, Stress, Mashable Video, and Relieving Stress

Powered by WPeMatico

Someone made a fidget spinner for adults

TwitterFacebook

The Infinity Cube is an upgraded fidget toy for your restless hands. This cube is meant to improve focus and relieve anxiety and stress. It’s perfect for brainstorming ideas at work, answering your phone calls, or when you’re outside waiting for a friend.  Read more…

More about Boredom, Anxiety, Stress, Mashable Video, and Relieving Stress

Powered by WPeMatico

The Secret Mind Hacks That Can Change Your Life Today

Have you ever wondered about that little voice in your head? What it actually does to you and your way of thinking?

In reality, it’s possible that it mostly does you harm. It puts up invisible self-sabotaging barriers for you. What’s worse is that it creates habitual, unconsciously negative emotions in your body that can lead to real physical pain over time. Eckhart Tolle, author of “Practicing The Power of Now”, calls this “the pain body”.

The good news?

It’s just your mind, NOT YOU! That voice is just one of your brain’s many tools. It can definitely be turned off. And by doing that, you also gain the power to consciously choose your thoughts, emotions, and responses to the outside world.

In this article, I’m going to tell you how to first shut that voice off so it doesn’t bother you and how to make your mind work for you. You’ll get actionable insights on how to make fast changes, delete horrible, life-long habits and set your mind to put you on the fast track to success.

Freeing Yourself From The Toxicity of Your Mind

Studies suggest that humans think between 12,000 – 70,000 thoughts daily. Around 80% of these thoughts are negative.

With this number, it’s easy for your actions to turn into habits.

Keep in mind that thoughts coupled with feelings become emotions. Emotions, when felt frequently and consistently, become actions. Actions then become habits which shape our entire lives.

This makes it important that you free yourself from the negative, self-sabotaging thoughts and self-talk. Replace them with positive, empowering thoughts that can move you into a better, happier place.

How?

By becoming intensely in the “here and now” and shutting off that chatterbox in your head. You can do that through physical activities, like Yoga or meditation.

practice meditation

Meditation trains and strengthens the “choosing muscle” in your brain. By monitoring what goes on in your mind, you become intensely focused in the here and now.

With daily practice (10-20 min), meditation can remove the toxicity from your whole being. It can help you shut off your senseless thoughts and bring focus into the present. Meditation has an amazing 76 scientifically confirmed benefits.

See Also: Questions and Answers: A Beginners Guide to Meditation

The most important relationship in your life is between you and your mind. It’ll make you or break you so make sure you build a healthy and strong relationship with it.

5 Hacks to Make Your Mind Work For You

The majority of people are stuck in the same, limiting ways of thinking and feeling throughout their entire lives. These limiting beliefs, fears, habits and thoughts consistently disempower and damage them.

Mohammed Ali said: “A man who sees the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life”. Remember, what you think and feel frequently, you BECOME!

The good news is that there are powerful mind hacks that can help you break the chain and let your mind work for you. Here are five of them:

Your Mind is Hard-Wired to Like Pleasure Than Pain

“The secret to success is learning how to use pain and pleasure, instead of having pain and pleasure use you” – Tony Robbins.

What does that really mean?

If you want to change, your current situation has to be more painful than the pain of change. That can happen either by circumstance or through your own effort.

For example, if you wanna stop the habit of procrastinating, one of the best mind hacks you can do is to think of what may happen if you don’t change it.

procrastinating

Take, for example, the following:

– The more you procrastinate, the more time you waste
– Self-loathing
– Loss of self-respect
– Horrible self-esteem and confidence
– Feeling constantly anxious until it’s done
– Less creative
– Poor health
– Less money
– Missed opportunities
– Possibly get fired from your job for low productivity or poor quality of work
– The longer you wait, the more stressful it will be in the end
– Forcing yourself to stress at the last minute

If you wanna change a bad habit, you absolutely have to reward yourself when you act on a new, better habit. That can be done through strong, positive, inner self-dialogue. You choose how you want to reward yourself, but make it pleasurable and good for you.

See Also: 7 Mentally Damaging Habits You Need To Let Go

Your Mind Loves Familiarity

The key here is to make the familiar unfamiliar (through pain) and the unfamiliar familiar (through pleasure). Reward yourself when you do something good that’s unfamiliar to you and watch what happens.

Smoothly Build High Self-Esteem

You know what the major reason for depression is?

Harsh, hurtful, critical words you say to yourself- repeatedly.

You know the best way to build your self-esteem?

Praise yourself, especially if it feels odd to give yourself compliments. That’s a tough one for many people to do but you absolutely have to do it. Your happiness and self-esteem depend on it.

Don’t wait for external validation. It’s not as effective and it rarely comes in sufficient amounts.

My own inner dialogue was like poison to me, until I came across Marisa Peer’s video.

It’s deeply changed me and many people. I now consistently feel more whole, self-loving and free from worry of others’ opinion of me.

Practice your inner dialogue by saying these lines 3 times, with strong emotion:

“I am Lovable. I’ve ALWAYS been Lovable. I am Enough!”

No matter how odd it feels, say it and make it a habit.

Your Mind Gives You Specifically What You Ask For

Have you ever experienced hoping you wouldn’t get sick on an important day and then you got sick? Wished you wouldn’t be late for a meeting and that’s exactly what happened?

Your mind can’t tell the difference between your sentences and ideas. It takes everything as a yes.

So, instead of beating around the bush, the key is to tell your mind exactly what you want. It loves specifics.

Example:

If you really want to lose weight, say 5 kg or 10lbs, then soon enough you’ll start seeing pieces of advice everywhere on how to lose that weight. You’ll see and hear them online, from your friends or at the gym.

What your mind thinks, it attracts.

Two Things To Change How You Feel

How you feel at any time is tied to two things: the images you hold in your head and the words you say to yourself.

Imagine two people preparing to do the exact same workout at the gym.

One is telling himself how much he hates it and would rather be home, watching TV on the couch. The second one, meanwhile, is telling himself how exciting it is to go to the gym and push harder than last time. He’s thinking of all the benefits he could get from the workout.

The first person was able to exercise but didn’t feel too motivated to do his best. The other person was able to happily finish his workout despite how tough it is.

Don’t let your mind wander with random thoughts. Actively choose good words and imagery. They shape your life.

 

The post The Secret Mind Hacks That Can Change Your Life Today appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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7 Reasons Why Life Is Overwhelming You (And How To Fix Them)

You may be feeling overwhelmed with life, burnt out, and losing energy.

You have work commitments. Your friends want you to come out for drinks after your busy schedule. Your personal space, that you intended to tidy when you got back from work, is still cluttered.

Simply put, your plate is full.

Although you don’t want to feel this stressed out all the time, there just isn’t enough time in the day to do the things you really want to do. And it’s destroying you and your self-esteem.

The good news is that it doesn’t always have to be this way. Here are seven reasons why you’re feeling overwhelmed with life and how you can easily solve them.

Reason #1 – You are going to bed too late

sleeping late

I know what you’re thinking. You go to bed late because the evenings are the only time you get to yourself. I get it.

But consider this:

Going to bed late leaves you feeling sluggish and lethargic the next day. This has an impact on the rest of your day because you’ve woken up and jumped straight into your busy routine without a moment’s thought about yourself.

The Solution

Go to bed one hour earlier and wake up an hour earlier. I know it’s tempting to go to bed as late as possible and lay in as much as you can, but by waking up an hour earlier every morning, you’ll have time to care for yourself.

You can journal, meditate, read a book, or workout. Starting your day like this sets you up right for the rest of the day. No matter what happens from there on, you know you’ve already had one hour to do something meaningful and worthwhile.

See Also: Get Strong, Sleep, Repeat: The Importance Of Sleeping

Reason #2 – You are financially stretched

We live in a society where we are advertised to all day long. We are bombarded by adverts and offers constantly. You’ll feel like you just need to keep up with the latest trend or you’ll feel like you’re ‘falling behind’.

This can easily make you feel overwhelmed, especially when you don’t have the money to buy all of the latest things. It can make you feel frustrated to the point that your self-esteem gets damaged.

The Solution

Create a budget and live within your means. If you really want to buy the latest gadget or devices, save a portion of your income until you can afford to buy it without going into debt. Set aside money to pay your bills and living expenses.

If you need to spend any more money, ask yourself if it’s really a necessity. Say “no” more often to everyday situations that require spending money unless it’s something that’s really important. The reason why you’re financially overwhelmed is because you’re not yet disciplined enough to say no. You’ve been conditioned to spend your money.

Reason #3 – You are socially bombarded

socially bombarded

So you’ve had a busy day at work. You can’t wait to get home, grab something to eat, and put your feet up. Then out of nowhere, your phone rings. It’s your best friend. She wants to go out for a couple of drinks to celebrate her promotion. You accept and tell yourself that it’s alright and you’ll have time for yourself at the end of the evening when you return home.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to resist your Whatsapp and Facebook messages that you end up laying in bed for hours and replying to your friends’ messages. No wonder you wake up feeling so lethargic and unmotivated.

The Solution

There’s nothing wrong with socializing with friends. But when you really don’t want to, just say no. Saying yes when you really mean no can only make you feel more overwhelmed.

Set an arrangement with yourself to put your phone on the other side of your bedroom at a certain time of night. For me, that’s 10:00 pm. That provides me some time to brush my teeth, get into bed and read a book before turning in for the night.

Reason #4 – Your personal environment is ‘visually noisy’

If your personal space is untidy and cluttered, it can create all sorts of disordered thoughts and feelings even if you don’t realize it. A pile of books on the nightstand, a countertop full of dishes and random items cluttered together on the dining room table can make you feel more stressed out.

Just looking at and being around all those things can release the stress hormone Cortisol. It can make you feel tired and unmotivated.

The Solution

Select one area of your physical space that you want to tidy up and start there. It might be your nightstand, dining room table, or your desk. It doesn’t matter where you start – just start somewhere.

Once you’ve tidied away the clutter and got rid of any trash, you need to maintain a habit of tidying your space so that things won’t build up again. It can be as simple as putting a book back on the shelf or putting a cup in the sink rather than leaving it empty on the table. Make a point of being mindful about this every day and notice how different you feel as a result.

Reason #5 – You don’t have a calendar

Or maybe you do, but it’s poorly organized. One of the biggest causes of stress and overwhelm is the feeling of not being in control of your time. It’s really easy to give away chunks of your time to those who request it even when you don’t want to. As a result, you’ll end up feeling like you’re doing everything for everyone else and neglecting your own needs. It can lead to burnout and feelings of resentment.

The Solution

Take back control of your time! Get yourself a calendar and block in your most important and non-negotiable activities, such as work or medical appointments. Next, set appointments with yourself. Use this time to do what’s meaningful to you.

It just comes down to saying no and guarding your time wisely. It doesn’t always mean that you won’t help anybody. You just need to have self-respect to dedicate some time to your own development and to do things that make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Reason #6 – You lack self-perspective

Self-perspective is the ability to look at your life objectively without attaching emotions to it. When daily life is stifling you and you feel overwhelmed by everything, it’s really hard to zoom out and see the big picture.

The Solution

This is where a couple of dots are connected. By either 1) getting up and hour earlier or 2) putting your phone on the other side of your bedroom before you get into bed, you are giving yourself that time to reflect. If you like to journal, then this provides a great opportunity to zoom out objectively and be honest about what you see.

Reason #7 – You lack self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to go inward to feel what’s going on inside you, rather than what’s going on outside of you. When you lack self-awareness, you aren’t connecting with your feelings. Essentially, you are ignoring the warning signs that your body is giving to you. This leads to you not being able to act on what your gut is telling you and that may leave you feeling trapped in certain situations or circumstances.

The Solution

This is the perfect time to start a daily meditation practice. You’ll only need ten minutes per day but this little window of time is enough to provide you with amazing benefits. You’ll be able to check in with your feelings so that you can be calmer, sharper, and much less stressed.

Imagine waking up in the morning feeling energized and eager. Imagine what it’d feel like to sail through the day with confidence. You know exactly where your life is going.

Feeling overwhelmed sucks. However, once you know the things that make you feel overwhelmed with life, you can easily resolve the issues and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your life will change.

See Also: Questions and Answers: A Beginners Guide to Meditation

You can step off at any time. You are in control.

The post 7 Reasons Why Life Is Overwhelming You (And How To Fix Them) appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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7 Signs Of Overworking (And What To Do About Them)

A lot of people work more than they should and don’t get enough rest. Paired with being underpaid, these things can easily make anyone unhappy. They can also cause a handful of health issues.

If you are wondering if you’re at risk of these negative effects, here are some of the telltale signs of overworking.

You Have Trouble Sleeping

trouble sleeping

Studies have found that overworking can negatively impact your sleep. The stress you get from working too much in a day can disrupt your sleep cycle. The result is what sleep experts call “sleep debt” and it can raise your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

What to do: Make sure that you get enough sleep every night, preferably 7 to 8 hours. Don’t listen to “sleep experts” that say you’ll be fine with just five hours of sleep.

Your Work Quality Suffers

Researchers have found that stress and exhaustion brought by overworking can reduce efficiency in workers. Inefficient workers are more likely to make mistakes and poor judgment. They find it harder to communicate and they take a longer time to finish their tasks

What to do: Take lots of breaks while working. Don’t work if you can’t think straight. Outsource admin or writing tasks so you can use your time to rest.

You are Gaining or Losing Too Much Weight

When you’re stressed, you’re less likely to pay attention to your eating habits. Because you’re too worried about work, you may not notice that you’re eating less or more than what you are supposed to.

What to doLog your food intake and count your calories to make sure you’re having enough for the day. Try to move away from your desk and do little exercises even for a few minutes while working.

You Find it Hard to Be Creative

Wonder why some days you can easily finish a 2000-word article while there are days you can barely write 500 words?

Lack of creativity is one of the signs of overworking.

If you continue working even when your mind is troubled, you’re less likely to finish anything. You can even end up staring at the same blank page for hours.

What to Do: Relax after an hour or two of working. Do something that inspires you, like watching a movie or reading a good book.

See Also: Here’s How to Get Creativity Bursting Out of Your Eyeballs

You Get Pissed Off Easily

pissed off

Overworking makes you more irritable than usual. If you find yourself getting mad more easily or being rude to almost everyone, it’s time to take a break from work.

What to Do: Don’t make decisions when you’re mad, tired or depressed. Try to calm yourself by taking a bath, having a nap or taking a walk.

See Also: How To Make Better Decisions: 4 Smart Strategies You Can Use

You Look Older than Your Age

There’s nothing bad about growing old- we’ll all get there eventually. The problem, however, is when you start looking older than your actual age.

If you are still in your 20’s but you already look like you’re in your 40’s, there’s something wrong with your lifestyle. And it could be that you’re working too much.

What to Do: Stop stressing too much at work. Negative facial expressions won’t only drain your happiness but they can also make you look older. Smiling and staying positive, even under pressure, keeps the wrinkles away.

Your Heart Rate Increases

When you’re calm, your heart rate will stay at a normal range (60 to 100 beats per minute). However, if you’re overworked and stressed, your body compensates by increasing the blood flow to your heart and brain. This results in your heart rate increasing.

What to Do: If you find your heart rate increasing, try to get some rest. Take a short nap or sleep longer at night to conserve your body’s energy.

The post 7 Signs Of Overworking (And What To Do About Them) appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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What Are You Hungry For? The Real Causes Of Overeating

We’ve all been there: we went through a lot of stress and sleepless nights because of our newborn and so we chose to comfort ourselves with a big bucket of ice-cream. Hectic schedules and taking care of our children can often make us feel like nobody understands our troubles or we simply don’t feel like talking about it.

When you experience a burn-out of any kind, it’s easy to form a habit of binge-eating in front of a TV. And then you fall into a vicious circle and feel terribly guilty after the third bag of chips.

Poor nutrition causes feelings of fatigue, depression, and nervousness. Overeating is a direct consequence of an unbalanced emotional state or a long-term unhealthy behavior. Most frequently, our bodies try to cope with constant changes in blood sugar levels and hormonal imbalance, making it harder for a person to be productive, focused, and lose weight.

What are you hungry for? Read on to find out what causes overeating and how to deal with it.

Stress is taking its toll

High stress levels are the most frequent reason for emotional overeating as we use food to cope with anxiety. Researchers from Harvard explained the connection between increased levels of cortisol and disbalance of insulin levels – and food cravings most people experience after going through a stressful period.

When we experience short-term stress, we’re likely to lose our appetites. But when we’re exposed to it on a daily basis, overeating becomes a system for coping. Low blood sugar caused by rigorous diets, skipping meals, or poor nutrition is the reason why your body craves high-fat and sugary foods.

See Also: 9 Ways We Can Reduce Our Stress Level 

Physical activity puts you back on track

do yoga

When we feel low or depressed, it’s most probably due to a drop in serotonin levels. This is caused by lack of sleep or when we exhaust ourselves with great amounts of work, without leisure time or activities that bring us pleasure.

Instead of reaching for comfort food for a quick fix, try committing to some sort of physical activity. Exercising releases serotonin which is responsible for maintaining an optimal sleeping cycle, regulating mood and appetite. It is also a great way to handle stress, promote good mental health, and make that “feel good“ feeling stick for a while.

Try yoga and meditation as they will increase your metabolism, help you tranquilize and relax, and become more aware of your body and its needs. Jogging and cycling are also great options, as well as power walking. Consider using a body tracker app to measure real progress and motivate yourself, as scales won’t reflect your success. Muscles weigh more than fat so you might be seeing higher numbers on the scale when in fact – you are stronger and fitter than before.  

Don’t eat your emotions

Over a longer period of time, overeating can shut off the hormone that signals when we’re full which is a certain path to obesity, a recent study has shown. By repeatedly consuming excess calories, our body becomes overwhelmed and so cells stop producing uroguanylin, responsible for telling us we’re full.

This can be regulated with a workout regime and mindful eating. By shifting your perspective gradually, you can start perceiving food as precious fuel for your body – not a way to cope with negative emotions.

Focus on your calorie intake and keep a food journal to control your portions. Analyze the reasons you feel the need to overeat.

Is it triggered by some emotionally heavy situation you’ve recently experienced? Do you feel the lack of love from your closest ones? By mapping out your problems, you can focus on handling them more effectively instead of using food as a substitute.  

Understand your body’s needs

healthy alternative

Your cravings are indicators of the nutritional deficiency your body is experiencing. Whether you feel like eating something sweet and creamy, or extremely salty – you’re most likely to reach out to simple carbs (i.e. plain sugar) as they penetrate your blood stream almost immediately, giving you a nice sugar rush or feeling of fullness.

However, there are healthier alternatives. If you’re craving chocolate, your body lacks magnesium. A healthy alternative to milk chocolate is raw cacao, fruits, nuts, or seeds. If you feel like eating bread or pasta, you need nitrogen which can also be found in high protein foods (e.g. fatty fish, meat, or beans). If you crave for salty foods, you need chloride and silicon which are best consumed with goat milk, nuts, and cashews.

When you consume too much sugar, your body gets addicted to it. Don’t cut off all the sugar at once but do it gradually: your body will go through withdrawal and it will be exhausting. Drink lemon water to get rid of toxins and increase your liquid intake.

See Also: 7 Healthy Foods That Will Fill You Up and Prevent Overeating

With effort and devotion, you can beat food cravings and ensure a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Your body is a temple so treat it with respect.

 

The post What Are You Hungry For? The Real Causes Of Overeating appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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The Guide to TMJ Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

Do you have immense jaw pain? Do you hear a cracking noise in the jaw that did not exist before? Have you fallen victim to a locked jaw on more occasions than one?

If you have answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions, then you probably have TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. Let us see how to evaluate and treat it.

Evaluating TMJ

temporomandibular joint disorder

The exact cause of TMJ disorder and its symptoms are not similar for everyone. Dentists and ENT specialists make most of the diagnosis based on traditional symptoms. Every doctor has a different approach and may offer different treatments. Ideally, you should consider a second opinion if detected with TMJ disorder.

To begin with, you can opt for self-evaluation if you suspect TMJ disorder. You can try the following test at home:

• Place your finger over the joint in front of your ear.
• Slightly open your jaw.
• Keep opening the jaw slowly till you can feel the joint move.
• If you hear any kind of clicking, grating or cracking noise, or if you feel any tenderness when you press on the joint, it means that you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

Other symptoms to look out for during TMJ evaluation include:

• Popping jaw
• Dislocated jaw
• Pain in the jaw
• Clicking jaw
• Pain under the ear
• Earache
• Stiff jaw muscles
• Pain in the neck or any part of the face
• Locked jaw (inability to completely open or close the jaw)

It is not uncommon to confuse TMJ-related headaches and earaches with ear infections or migraines. This leads to a misdiagnosis, which is why you should always go for a professional check-up to determine whether you have TMJ disease or not.

Treating TMJ

Once a complete evaluation is done, the next step is TMJ disorder treatment. Based on the cause and intensity of the problem, you will be given the suitable treatment.

Traditional Treatments

Traditional treatments focus mainly on careful examination of the occlusion and the joints. Doing so pinpoints the probable cause of TMJ Disorder. In most cases, TMJ can be treated without requiring any kind of surgical intervention. If the pain is caused due to improper bite or misalignment of the jaw, it can be treated with restorations, appliance therapy, orthodontics etc. A thorough examination is the first and foremost step for narrowing down TMJ symptoms and treatment.

Surgery

tmj surgery

Surgery is generally the last resort when all the conservative treatments methods have been exhausted without any positive results. At the same time, one has to keep in mind that surgery may not necessarily resolve all the TMJ issues.

The surgeries are performed under general anesthesia. A minor procedure called arthrocentesis may be performed. In this procedure, the surgeon cleans the joints by dispensing sterile fluid through needles inserted into the joint area. In some cases, the surgeons may even insert a scalpel-like instrument inside the joint to remove any tissue adhesions. Further, they can reposition the disc in the joint hinge.

Arthroscopy is another type of surgery that can be performed. The surgeon makes a slight incision at the temple point in front of the ear. This helps in reaching an endoscope into the surrounding area, which enables the surgeon to get a visual guide. With the help of this, the surgeon can effectually reposition the disc, remove any adhesions or treat inflammation.

The option of an open-joint surgery is also considered for certain cases. This may be the only option which can provide access to deteriorating bony structures, chipped bone areas, severe scarring or tumors. Based on the problem, the surgeon may use a scalpel to remove or re-sculpt the affected area.

Alternative Treatments

These treatments are considered as less conservative and totally avoidable if you receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment right from the beginning. Alternative TMJ treatments include ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), radio wave therapy and trigger-point injections.

In TENS and radio wave therapy, you send low levels of electrical and radio waves of energy respectively to the affected area. This helps in stimulating the blood flow to the concerned joint and the surrounding area. The options that fall within the alternative treatment merely provide temporary and limited symptomatic relief instead of treating the primary causes of TMD.

TMJ disease can be extremely painful if not treated quickly. Do not rely on self-diagnosis and always consult a doctor. Make sure you get the symptoms and cause accurately so that the right TMJ pain treatment can be administered for positive results.

 

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9 Tips To Overcome Stress For Freelancers

You’re a freelancer. You work day in and out, Mondays to Fridays, and sometimes even during the weekends. You spend more than 8 hours a day sitting in front of your computer with occasional coffee and TV breaks. Your inbox is always full, you never run out of deadlines, and your unfinished work is piling up on your desk.

The question is: How do you survive?

Stay on Schedule

Stress is a feeling brought by lack of control of a situation. And it happens to me whenever I break my schedule. One of the ways you can combat the feeling of stress brought about by being overwhelmed by the number of jobs you have to do is to create a doable schedule that works for you.

I personally have an excel file which I name “work calendar” and here I list every project I need to do every month. Sometimes my calendar will have work booked for more than 3 weeks. Sometimes when I’m running low, I only have work for the next three days. That’s the time I know I have to hustle.

Having a schedule helps you control the flow of work. It creates order in your work life.

Tаke Brеаkѕ

breaktime

It may seem counterproductive to take frequent breaks while working but believe me when I say breaks are the only thing that will probably keep you sane while working freelance.

There will be times when you simply don’t feel like sitting any longer in front of your computer because your eyes hurt or your brain isn’t working anymore. Don’t ignore it. Follow your body cues and take short breaks for no more than 30 minutes to refresh your mind and body.

See Also: Not Getting Enough Work Done? Try Taking More Breaks

Dоn’t let уоur сlіеntѕ gеt уоu down

I used to worry and feel stressed when my clients are not 100% happy. But then I realized that I can’t please every client I have. And this is perfectly normal.

Most freelancers encounter difficult clients more than once in their freelance careers. Sometimes freelancers will encounter clients that are hard to understand, clients who don’t pay on time, or those that rush you for results even if it’s just a day after you started the contract.

Learn tо say NO

Being a freelancer means you have to go look for jobs yourself. And while the competition is fierce, that doesn’t mean you have to say “Yes” to every job offer that comes your way.

Don’t accept jobs if you’re already over-scheduled. Don’t write for free for a test job. Don’t slave away for work with little pay. Be honest if you aren’t comfortable in writing a subject far from your niche, and politely decline.

Set Rules Before Starting any Job/Project

Clarify everything before starting the project. This includes project due dates and pays schedules which will save everyone a huge headache later on. If a сlіеnt is ореnlу rudе tо you, drор thеm. Bе сlеаr аbоut уоur hours. If your client resides on the other side of the world, let them know the time to contact you. You don’t want to be answering client calls at 3 am in the morning.

Outsource

Now that you’re earning more than you can handle. It’s time to delegate tasks so you could accomplish more during the day.

If you don’t want to do your admin tasks, you can hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. If you’re a web designer, you can outsource web content to a writer who can do the job better than you. Sites like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and EssayPro.Club have available workers to help with tasks and projects for every kind of freelancer.

Write on your niche

niche writing

I found that when I’m passionate about what I’m writing, I tend to write more smoothly and quickly. In freelancing, it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you excel at writing humor pieces, don’t spend all your time writing boring tech pieces. Figure out what sets your writing apart and focus on the stuff that only you could write.

Bе рrераrеd tо defend уоur lifestyle tо ѕtrаngеrѕ

Sоmе реорlе wіll think you’re living an enviable life as a freelancer while others will look at you with fаіnt panic because іt dіѕtrеѕѕеѕ thеm thаt уоu’vе chosen such аn uncertain саrееr раth. Don’t let them get to you. Go to workshops аnd seminars, find your соmmunіtу of artistic ѕuрроrt, аnd trу tо lооk worldly and knowing in front of judgmental strangers.

Manage Time Wisely

Set work hours every day and stick to it. It will help if you set timers or batch your day for certain projects. For example, you can focus all morning to work on your website, the afternoon to edit your content, and the evenings to answer client calls. Make it work for you. Remember that you control your time as a freelancer.

See Also: 7 Convincing Reasons for Working as a Freelancer 

Closing Thoughts

Too much ѕtrеѕѕ саn hаrm your frееlаnсе wrіtіng career, аѕ well аѕ your mіnd and bоdу. Try thе above tірѕ tо ѕее іf they can work for уоu.

 

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Smart Ways to Navigate Office Politics and Emerge as a Winner

Office politics is part and parcel of the workplace. Sometimes, you are left with no option but to navigate office politics smartly to fast-track your career.

It doesn’t mean that you need to jump right in and push your agenda. You need to prepare yourself carefully and know a good time to get involved. Also, you need to stay away from things that don’t matter to you.

Here are six ways to navigate office politics and emerge as a winner:

Build on your influence

Being an influential personality within an organization is the first step toward winning office politics. An effective means of building your power is to focus on the business objective of the organization.

Try to become the dependable go-to person for certain things. When people ask for help, use this opportunity to make professional friends and alliances in the workplace.

Don’t share your private information with your office friends. However, do share non-confidential, work-related useful information that leaves an impression that you care for people and want to help them professionally.

Build on your image

navigate office politics

In politics, perception is everything. So they say! How do other employees view you? The image that you portray is imperative in winning office politics. Our image determines how others will interact with us.

You might have to make small sacrifices to build a trustworthy image of yourself. Also, avoid making promises that you can’t keep. If you are perceived as authentic and reliable, you are almost there.

The best way to create the right perception is to think of yourself as a television; whatever you do in office is being watched by everyone. This will make you responsible and prevent you from doing things that hamper your reputation.

Avoid taking sides

In the case of conflict between two groups in the office, avoid being on any side. Rather, create a platform where both teams can communicate and resolve their concerns. If you can’t do this, then stay away from people who amplify such conflicts.

If required, stand up for the cause you strongly believe in and not for any side. People will see you as a person who can support the right cause. This will help in winning the confidence of colleagues.

Understand others

Observe others and try to understand their reactions, attitude and behavior on important decisions of the company. All friendly people are not your friends.

Similarly, all those who oppose you are not your enemies. Understanding people is one of the most complex tasks. However, you need to observe your colleagues, bosses, and subordinates who regularly help you in making sound judgment. It will also assist you staying uninfluenced by office rumors.

Avoid getting personal

office politics

Office politics can get nasty at times and you may feel angry. Anger may drive you to get personal. Under this kind of scenario, exercising self-control and restraint is critical. Uncontrolled anger may lead you to humiliate others. Moreover, things become uncontrollable once people forget the objective and become personal.

So try to be objective in your communication and avoid personal attacks.

See Also: Keep Calm and Don’t Stress: Recognizing and Preventing Job Burnout

Don’t burn bridges

Do not have permanent enemies. Rather mend fences as fast as possible. Do not hold a grudge for long. Build bridges. Try to settle down the conflicts proactively. Never bring ego in the way of conflict resolution. Even if you don’t trust a person or hate a person, there’s no need to tell this to the person or anyone else. Be the nice guy.

Define your goals

Warring factions characterize office politics, and in many instances, you will find yourself drawn into other people’s wars. Therefore, to avoid such kinds of situations, you must define a goal and stick to it. If anything doesn’t help you attain your aim, avoid it. Your goals and career objectives should be above everything. Do what is best to achieve your goals and nothing else.

See Also: How To Set And Achieve Goals For Success In Career – 7 Tips

Conclusion

A strong faith in your abilities is crucial to winning political battles in office. You can’t choose your colleagues and you can’t control their behavior either. However, you can control the way you react to different situations. These reactions will determine how far you go in your career. And, it is not a one-time thing. You need to work continuously on your personality to control your emotions and reactions in hostile situations. In the end, whether you win or lose, never lose faith in yourself.

 

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